Jonathan Dove’s new opera of Mansfield Park has been touring stately homes in the north of England, bedding in gently before a big premiere. But a sudden cancellation at the Grimeborn Festival in Dalston, a mile downwind from the Tottenham riot zone, has parachuted it into the capital.
The premiere is on Monday. If you’re free, it should be worth a look. Dove’s airport opera, titled Flight and staged at Glyndebourne, sticks in my mind as an ingenious modern drama.
Here’s what they say about Mansfield Park:
Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, and the incredible generosity of some lovely angels, there will be a single performance of MANSFIELD PARK in the Grimeborn Festival this coming Monday.
The opera was commissioned by Heritage Opera and has been touring stately homes in the north of England, out of reach of most Londoners.
Accompanied by a piano duet, a cast of ten tell the story of Fanny Price, a Cinderella-like heroine, who quietly negotiates her way through the moral perils of early nineteenth century high society, from landscape gardening and amateur theatricals to balls and arranged marriages, and wins the hand of the man she has loved all her life.
A cast of unforgettable characters: the shrewish Aunt Norris; the indolent Lady Bertram and her pug; the beautiful but morally flawed Mary Crawford and her charming brother Henry; the bickering sisters Maria and Julia, make Mansfield Park the most subtly comic and moving of all Jane Austen’s novels.
Alasdair Middleton deftly compresses the narrative into an evening’s sparkling entertainment, in which Jane Austen’s voice can be clearly heard. Subtly evoking Regency manners, Jonathan Dove’s music catches Austen’s wit and pathos, giving a voice to her most private heroine.
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