Tuesday 1 December 2020

A bright spot in 2021: Garsington Opera's plans for its celebration of 10 years at Wormsley

Richard Strauss: Capriccio - Miah Persson - Garsington Opera (Photo Johan Persson)
Richard Strauss: Capriccio - Miah Persson - Garsington Opera 2018 (Photo Johan Persson)

When feeling low in the midst of stress or in the dark days of mid-Winter, it is often comforting to make holiday plans, to leaf through brochures. The plans may come to naught, but simply knowing that they might happen, that there is something to look forward to, is a big boost. It is perhaps in this vein that we should peruse Garsington Opera's 2021 season brochure, celebrating its 10th anniversary at Wormsley. There is much to anticipate.

There is a new production of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (shared with Irish National Opera and Santa Fe Opera) directed by Bruno Ravella [who directed Verdi's Falstaff at the festival in 2018] with Miah Persson making her role debut as the Marschallin [Persson made a fine Countess in Capriccio in 2018, see my review], with Hannah Hipp as Octavian [Hipp sang the title role in the festival's 2019 production of Offenbach's Fantasio, see my review], and Soraya Mafi as Sophie, with Derrick Ballard as Baron Ochs. The opera will be conducted by Jordan de Souza.

Another highlight is a new production of Rossini's Le comte Ory, an opera not performed anything like as often as it should be. Directed by Cal McCrystal [who directed ENO's 2018 production of G&S's Iolanthe, see my review] and conducted by Valentina Peleggi [who conducted Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at ENO in 2019], the cast includes American tenor Jack Swanson (making his role debut) and Robert Murray sharing the title role with Andrea Carroll, Katie Bray and Jacques Imbrailo.

Michael Boyd's 2016 production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin [see my review] is returning with Jonathan McGovern [whom we last saw as Andrei in WNO's terrific production of Prokofiev's War and Peace, see my review] in the title role with Moldovan soprano Natalia Tanasii as Tatyana and Sam Furness [whom we saw in David Sawer's The Skating Rink at the 2018 festival, see my review] as Lensky. Douglas Boyd conducts.

The above three operas will be using the Philharmonia Orchestra, but the English Concert will be in the pit for a new production of Handel's Amadigi. Written in 1715, it was the fifth opera that Handel wrote for London. It has some superb music and I have seen some very fine stage productions of the opera, but it is notorious because of the work's five characters all are high voices (contralto or soprano) and one character dies in Act One; there are no tenors and basses in the cast. Garsington's production will be directed by Netia Jones and conducted by Christian Curnyn, with Sonja Runje, Anna Devin, Rhian Lois and Tim Mead.

2021's community opera will be The Selfish Giant, based on Oscar Wilde's story with music by John Barber and words by Jessica Duchen.

Full details from the Garsington Opera website.

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