Jane Austen, the opera, makes an unscheduled debut near the riot zone

Jane Austen, the opera, makes an unscheduled debut near the riot zone


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2011

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.

24 Ashwin St
E8 3DL

Tickets £15
Box office 020 7503 1646 or www.arcolatheatre.com

Jonathan Dove


  • Janey says:

    This looks intriguing! Too bad I’m in the US. Why does it seem that so many new, interesting operas premiere in London, but not in NYC?

  • Nick Barber says:

    “out of reach of most Londoners” !!! What an arrogant statement! How many times have I had to travel to the capital to see things that don’t venture beyond the M25? I don’t see why people in London should have it all their own way. Get the car/bus/train/stay overnight. It’s what a large number of the country have to do.

  • Interesting point, Nick, and one of the many reasons we choose to base our company outside the Capital. As professional musicians we have taken what is viewed as the most unusual step of eschewing London as s base for rehearsing and touring. Your sentiments echo our own. Two of the reasons we were granted charitable status are that we offer performance opportunities for professional performers who choose not to base themselves in London, and that we offer high-standard professional performance to opera-starved areas. Maybe you’ll catch our next tour in Burnley, Wigan or Lancaster?
    Sarah Helsby Hughes, Artistic Director, Heritage Opera