Opera news: Another big country-house expansion

Opera news: Another big country-house expansion


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2016

Garsington has just announced its 2017 season – four new production, plus a world premiere.

That’s a tremendous effort for a self-supporting enterprise, surviving without public subsidy.


1 June – 30 July

The 2017 season will be the first time we stage four opera productions as well as the newly commissioned Silver Birch – more details outlined below. We also welcome the Philharmonia Orchestra who will join us for one opera production each year, and in 2017 this will be Pelléas et Mélisande.

George Frideric Handel
Conductor Jonathan Cohen
Director Annilese Miskimmon
Designer Nicky Shaw

The god Jupiter is captivated by Semele’s intoxicating beauty in a dramatic love story of the divine and the mortal. It cannot last, and Semele suffers the consequences. We welcome back Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director of Norwegian National Opera, with Jonathan Cohen making his Garsington Opera conducting debut.

1, 3, 9, 15, 24, 30 June & 4 July

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor Douglas Boyd
Director John Cox
Designer Robert Perdziola

It is the wedding day of Figaro and Susanna, servants of the Almaviva estate, but as events and the Count’s roving eye conspire to disrupt their marriage, all relationships are tested. A recreation of John Cox’s critically acclaimed 2005 Garsington production, Mozart’s sublime masterpiece is conducted by Artistic Director, Douglas Boyd.

2, 4, 8, 10, 17 June & 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 16 July

Claude Debussy
Conductor Jac van Steen
Director Michael Boyd
Designer Tom Piper

Prince Golaud finds a mysterious young woman in the forest and delights in making her his wife. A dangerous love triangle emerges as she grows perilously close to his brother, Pelléas. Michael Boyd and Tom Piper (Eugene Onegin, 2016) return with Jac van Steen (Intermezzo, 2015) conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in their Garsington debut; together they explore Debussy’s dreamworld of shadows and secrets.

16, 18, 22, 25, 27 Jne & 1, 7 July

Gioachino Rossini
Conductor David Parry
Director Martin Duncan
Designer Francis O’Connor

Prosdocimo, a toiling poet, finds his muse in the flirtatious Fiorilla and her husband, Geronio. When a dashing Turkish stranger arrives, a comedy of unrequted love and confused identity ensues. Rossini’s deliciously layered plot sees games go wrong and lessons learned. Martin Duncan’s joyous 2011 production is conducted by Rossini aficionado David Parry.

26, 29 June & 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15 July

Roxanna Panufnik
Conductor Douglas Boyd
Director Karen Gillingham

Garsington Opera’s Learning & Participation Programme presents Silver Birch: a new commission by composer Roxanna Panufnik and librettist Jessica Duchen, uniting professional artists with 170 members of the local community. Through music, dance and Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry people of all ages explore the extraordinary power of love in the devastating context of war.

28, 29, 30 July




  • Will Duffay says:

    “That’s a tremendous effort for a self-supporting enterprise, surviving without public subsidy.”

    Ticket prices start at £135. Evening dress recommended.

    I’ve no doubt the standards are very high and genuine opera lovers (as opposed to those there for social reasons) have a great time, but this persistent presentation of opera as only for the wealthy stinks. Or rather, it stinks because public subsidy of opera is declining, and focused largely on the ROH. This whole system, run by and for the benefit of the wealthy, keeps opera in its elitist ghetto.

    • Maria Brewin says:

      Can’t win though, can it? If it’s unsubsidised it’s too expensive*, if it’s subsidised it’s taking money from poor people to pay for the rich.

      I’ve met many people who use ticket prices and (often non existent) dress codes as an excuse because they don’t want to admit that they’re simply not interested. Hate to say it but men are the worst offenders. There is room for improvement but opera will be a small minority interest for the foreseeable future.

      IMO, the image of opera presented through casual references on TV and the lack of serious coverage on mainstream TV channels inflict more damage than rich people at Garsington.

      (* Not as expensive as, say, Andrea Bocelli at the O2 if the size of the venue is taken into account – seats within a reasonable distance of the stage by arena standards – £125.)

    • Halldor says:

      Opera without subsidy *is* only for the wealthy. It’s not how it’s ‘presented’, it’s how it is, and whether or not it ‘stinks’ that’s how it’s been for at least the last four centuries. Festivals like Garsington don’t detract from the publicly funded sector (in fact, Garsington has produced quite a lot of rare repertoire that the big public companies still haven’t touched); meanwhile they provide seasonal employment at their own financial risk to technicians, caterers, admin staff and over 100 professional musicians. Give ’em a break: on this occasion, Norman is quite right.

  • Mark Winn says:

    Well said that man…….!

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Opera expensive at £135 a shot? How about the ticket prices of this exceptional ‘artist’:


    …and I doubt there’ll be much in the way of scenery, costumes, orchestra, make-up, infrastructure to maintain (it’s the Kentish Town Forum), so if you want to fill this little chap’s pockets, then go right ahead.