Tuesday 25 January 2022

Figures in a garden: Waterperry Opera celebrates its fifth birthday with a programme that imaginatively combines the traditional with the new

Jonathan Dove: Ariel - Daniella Sicari at Waterperry Opera Festival 2021 in a production directed by Rebecca Meltzer
Jonathan Dove: Ariel - Daniella Sicari at Waterperry Opera Festival 2021 in a production directed by Rebecca Meltzer

Amazingly, Waterperry Opera is five this year, so artistic director Guy Withers and music director Bertie Baigent have put together a celebratory mix of new and old music for the festival, which runs from 12 to 20 August 2022 at Waterperry House and Gardens, Oxfordshire. The performances take full advantage of the location, with various productions in and around the gardens, and whilst the main opera is a repertoire favourite around this is a constellation of new and innovative productions. Young people are at the heart of the festival, as well as supporting emerging talent via its Young Artists Programme the festival offers free tickets to the under 16s.

The main event is Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro staged on the lawn in front of Waterperry House. Bertie Baigent conducts and the production will be directed by Isabelle Kettle. Another particular highlight will be a staging of Serbian composer Ana Sokolović’s virtuosic a cappella opera Svabada (A Wedding), the work's first UK professional production. Written for six unaccompanied female voices, this coming of age tour de force explores the lives of six women as they discover how to navigate the poignant transition from adolescence to adulthood. Rebecca Meltzer, the festival's director of the Young Artists Programme, directs a production in the garden's Amphitheatre with an all female team

Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park was a great success in the festival's early days and Rebecca Meltzer will be directing an intimate production of the work at this year's festival, staged in the ballroom of Waterperry House. And the production will be touring the UK from May to August. Dove wrote Figures in the Garden for Glyndebourne's celebrations of Mozart's bicentenary in 1991. A wind serenade that celebrates the characters from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, the work is being produced at the festival in collaboration with dance students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and young local musicians from Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra.

The festival staged Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in 2021, to great success. Now Guy Withers' production returns for 2022, and will be travelling to Opera Holland Park too. This year will also included staged performances of other concert works including Janacek's Diary of One who Disappeared, a double bill of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and Wesendonck Lieder, and Flora, a work created by violist Anna Semple and dancer Emily Pahlawan Collinson, fuses music and dance in a creative response to the physical forms within Waterperry Gardens.

Full details from the Waterperry Opera website.

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