Wednesday 23 January 2019

Garsington's 30th anniversary season

Celestin Boutin, Paul Nilon - Death in Venice - Garsington Opera 2015 - photo Clive Barda
Celestin Boutin, Paul Nilon - Britten: Death in Venice directed by Paul Curran - Garsington Opera 2015 - photo Clive Barda
Garsington Opera celebrates its 30th anniversary this Summer with a season of four new productions including the UK stage premiere of Offenbach's Fantasio, plus Smetana's The Bartered Bride, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Britten's Turn of the Screw.

Offenbach's Fantasio is something of a missing link between his operettas and his romantic operas, Die Rheinixen and Les contes d'Hoffmann. Dating from 1872 Fantasio is much closer to romantic opera than sparky operetta, and the work rather languished until Opera Rara dusted it off and produced a recording in 2014 [see my review]. It feels like a difficult work to pull off, a mix of comedy and melancholy, but Garsington has had success in the past with Offenbach, and this new production will be directed by Martin Duncan, with designs by Francis O'Connor, conducted by Justin Doyle. Hanna Hipp sings the title role (a travestie role) with Jennifer France has his beloved princess. As part of Garsington's extensive Learning & Participation Programme, there will be a full performance of Fantasio by the Alvarez Young Artists for local school pupils and adults, all of whom take part in preparatory workshops to introduce them to opera and deepen their enjoyment of the performance. 

Having directed a super account Britten's Death in Venice at Garsington in 2015 [see my review] Paul Curran is returning with a very different opera, Smetana's The Bartered Bride which will feature Natalya Romaniw as Marenka. Jac van Steen conducts with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the pit. Curran's production will transport this very Czech piece to the heart of the English countryside.

Emerging American director Louisa Muller will make her UK debut directing the new production of Britten's Turn of the Screw with Sophie Bevan as the Governess, Ed Lyon as Prologue/Peter Quint (his role debut) and Katherine Broderick as Miss Jessel. Richard Farnes conducts.

Mozart's Don Giovanni will be directed by Michael Boyd whose recent productions of Eugene Onegin (featuring Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana) and Pelleas et Melisande have been so memorable. Jonathan McGovern sings the Don, with Sky Ingram as Donna Elvira, David Ireland as Leporello, and two UK debuts, Brazilian soprano Camila Titinger as Donna Anna and Canadian soprano Mireille Asselin as Zerlina. Douglas Boyd, Garsington's artistic director, conducts.

2019 also celebrates a new relationship for Garsington, with The English Concert which makes its Garsington debut in three performances of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 with soloists Mary Bevan, Sophie Bevan, Benjamin Hulett, Robert Murray and James Way, conducted by Laurence Cummings.

The season runs from 29 May to 26 July 2019, full details from the Garsington Opera website.

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