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Countryhouse opera names two orchestras

February 5, 2018 by norman lebrecht

17 comments.


Neville Holt Opera, the youngest of the countryhouse festivals, has signed the Royal Northern Sinfonia for Mozart and the Britten Sinfonia for Ades this summer.

It’s the first chance for symphony orchestras in the east of England to gain opera experience.

 


Comments (17)

  1. Will Duffay says:

    Back to the bad old days of patronage by the toffs. Opera only for the wealthy. (Curiously tickets are still available for the Ades. Prices start at £75. Toffs only like pleasant music to accompany their views and champagne.)

    1. Adrienne says:

      Snide, sneering, nasty, unnecessary.

      How is a new festival, in addition to what is already on offer, “Opera only for the wealthy” ?

      Lots of things cost £75 or more. Hard to see how a festival, which is subsidised, could do it cheaply.

      £200+ for Madonna anybody?

      1. Theodore McGuiver says:

        Spot on. Pop concerts can be far more expensive than opera. Three hours’ top-class entertainment is a snip at £75, considering there are probably no subsidies.

      2. Adrienne says:

        Should be “which is unsubsidised”, obviously.

      3. pooroperaman says:

        And try going to a Premier League match or test cricket anywhere in England.

    2. Allen says:

      I see, it’s in a country house so only “toffs” will be admitted. I think you’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey.

      £75 for a seat in a small, purpose built theatre with a decent sized orchestra sounds like good value compared with half that amount for a seat at the back of the upper circle in a conventional, city centre theatre.

      “Toffs musicals” or “toffs panto” perhaps?

      1. Saxon Broken says:

        Paying £75 pounds is similar to what you pay for a theatre ticket in a good seat in the West End, or a good seat at a premier league football match. I think it is about the going rate for these kind-of-things. Of course, not cheap.

  2. Strand Musician says:

    Neville Holt Opera is not new. It was an arm of Grange Park Opera from 2003 and has been independent for a number of years now. It has in the past employed a freelance orchestra ‘the Orchestra of Neville Holt’.
    There is a continuing migration of work from freelance orchestras to established AC subsidised orchestras. The Philharmonia are playing at Garsington, the ENO Orchestra is at the new theatre at Grange Park Opera, as is the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BSO is now playing at the Grange Festival (the old GPO theatre).
    As they have subsidy they are cheaper as they can substantially underbid any freelance rates. The playing field in not level.

    1. Allen says:

      “As they have subsidy they are cheaper as they can substantially underbid any freelance rates.”

      I’d prefer to see some figures.

      1. Saxon Broken says:

        There is a misunderstanding here. Public subsidy means they are 12 month salaried orchestras. But typically they are scrambling for work in the summer since concert series aren’t running in the summer. A fully freelance orchestra needs to be paid more money since they need to cover quiet periods in the rest of the year.

        Hence the opera organisation gets a professional full-time orchestra at lower cost, and the orchestra gets well-paying gigs in the summer during a quiet period (reducing the subsidy we need to pay them from taxes).

  3. Stuart Jones says:

    There’s an interesting debate to be had, clearly, about perception. And another about ‘accessibility’. Ticket price is one thing. However – what about the DJ, Train, Taxi, and Dinner? And what about the feeling that you might not ‘fit in’.

    Of the seven or eight Country House Opera Companies who perform between May and August which of them project a message that their work is for ‘everyone’ (as opposed to those who can take the afternoon off to travel halfway across the country for a picnic and a bit of opera in evening wear)?

    So – we can make comments about “£75 vs £200” (leaving aside the DJ, Train, Taxi, Dinner and afternoon off work – and definitely leaving aside the ‘youth performances’ at Glyndebourne which might as well be daytrips from Eton/Cheltenham) but let’s talk about the message that country house opera does, indeed, look like ‘opera only for the wealthy’ and, perhaps, needs to work with the rest of the industry to ensure the audience stands the test of time……

    1. Maria says:

      ‘as opposed to those who can take the afternoon off to travel halfway across the country’

      Not unlike Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight, or some sports events then? Lots of wealthy people at racecourses. And so far as evening wear is concerned, it doesn’t appear to be a problem at weddings or school proms. Even snooker players dress up occasionally.

      People who are not prepared to try something new rarely admit to it and tend to make excuses. I note that objections to opera, and to a lesser extent orchestral concerts, tend to be pretty much the same regardless of their location.

      I’ve tried on a number of occasions to get a group of newbies together for performances and relays in Trafalgar Square. Free, no dress code, no travel halfway across the country, but few takers.

    2. Bruce says:

      Well, um… it’s at a house. They can’t move it to where you are.

    3. pooroperaman says:

      ‘And what about the feeling that you might not ‘fit in’.’

      Entirely your problem. If you insist on having a chip on your shoulder, nothing will make it go.

    4. FS60103 says:

      Er, hate to rain on your parade of inverted snobbery but there isn’t a single ‘country house’ opera company in the UK that enforces an audience dress code. You can show up at Glyndebourne in jeans with a BLT sandwich bought at a Shell garage and no-one makes you feel even slightly uncomfortable (you supply that yourself, I’m afraid). I know, because I did exactly that last year. Taxi? It is possible to drive there in your own car, you know. How did I get the time off work? Er…I went on a Sunday. Seemed kind of obvious to me, but apparently not.

      1. Stuart Jones says:

        These comments will be a comfort to ‘Outreach and Audience Development’ Managers everywhere – they will always get work whilst attitudes such as this exist.

        Comments such as ‘they just don’t get it’, ‘it’s their problem’,’their inverted snobbery gets in the way’,’they should buy a car’,’they should have a go at dressing up for once – it’s jolly good fun’ or suchlike are exactly the problem here. These are the sorts of attitudes that are implicitly (imagery on websites, marketing messaging, price, location) and explicitly (I have seen, on more than a handful of occasions, young people, through to those not dressed or behaving ‘appropriately’, tsked at and, more than once, complained about) excluding new audiences. And we’ve all seen critics and commentators publicly send out the same sorts of messages.

        I’m afraid some of these comments whiff a bit of ToryBoy/Girl priviledge and re-affirm my view. We (as opera and music lovers all) should be doing EVERYTHING we can to open up doors to and evangelise about this art form. Otherwise it will die. With some of these attitudes. But die nonetheless.

  4. Bruce says:

    Thanks to the books I’ve been reading (Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Tales”), I can’t look at a picture like that without imagining a horde of marauding Danes setting fire to the place and taking all the silver. (I know my image is over 1,000 years off, but still.)


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