Full Steam Ahead – 10th June–17th July 2021
It’s been a ‘challenging’ year, but what has kept us going is to focus on the future: 2021 at Grange Park Opera, Surrey.
This season covers a deliberately broad range of productions from the traditional, a rarity for connoisseurs, to a brand new – and highly topical – work. And then there’s an old favourite thrown in.
The season curtain-raiser is an unmissable production of Falstaff with opera superstar Bryn Terfel in the title role. Of equal importance, is the world premiere of The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko, the tragic story of the poisoning of the Russian dissident, which has been rescheduled from the Lost 2020 Season. Opera giant David Pountney directs Rimsky-Korsakov’s hidden gem: the composer’s first opera, Ivan the Terrible – also known as The Maid of Pskov – and then there’s the world’s favourite opera, La Bohème, to round off the season.
Falstaff – Verdi
10th June-18th July
As the saying goes, “Shakespeare invented him, Verdi made him immortal” – and, surely, it was Bryn Terfel who defined him. Terfel first sung Falstaff in 1999, and in 2021 the bass-baritone superstar returns once more to the role at Grange Park Opera. This production by Stephen Medcalf was first shown in the 17th century Farnese theatre in Parma (2011) with designs that are truly Falstaffian including sensational backcloths by Italian master Rinaldo Rinaldi.
Natalya Romaniw, Janis Kelly and Sara Fulgoni are the conniving wives of Windsor in Verdi’s only comic opera, written when the composer was 80 – contradicting the adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The opera is a hymn to the irrepressibility of the human spirit.
As Terfel says, “It’s just a joy to portray on the stage, this loveable old rogue who can’t help but lie, eat, cheat and drink”.
Ivan the Terrible – Rimsky Korsakov
19th June–14th July
David Pountney directs a new production of one of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s hidden gems: the composer’s first opera, Ivan the Terrible – also known as The Maid of Pskov.
The tyrannical Tsar, Ivan IV, sweeps through the city of Novgorod, on a wholesale pillage. In the picturesque town of Pskov, Ivan billets himself at the house where he sees a beautiful young woman. Something stays his hand and the city is spared. Could it be because he has discovered his long-lost love child, Olga?
With its expansive music, dramatic plot and vivid crowd scenes, Ivan the Terrible is a spectacle.
The exciting cast includes Evelina Dobracheva as Princess Olga, Liubov Sokolova as Vlasyevna, Carl Tanner as Tucha, and Clive Bayley as Ivan the Terrible.
The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko
15th & 17th July
Composer – Anthony Bolton
Libretto – Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Exiled and living in London, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko learns that his former colleagues are using his face for target practice. Litvinenko had publicly accused his FSB superiors of extensive corruption and refused orders to assassinate, Boris Berezovsky.
A law is passed that allows Russian traitors to be killed anywhere in the world; a few months later – in November 2006 – Litvinenko is poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 and dies.
This real-life story is told through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards covering events in Russia that lead Litvinenko to seek exile and his family’s life in Muswell Hill. Extensive use is made of historic film footage.
The cast includes Andrew Watts (Head of the FSB), Andrew Slater (Boris Berezovsky), Adrian Dwyer (Alexander Litvinenko) and Rebecca Bottone (Marina Litvinenko).
Using a full chorus and a 52-piece orchestra, Bolton’s musical language is contemporary, yet incorporates the lyrical tradition of the Russian masters. He quotes from both opera and normal life: an army marching song, a Moscow football team anthem and the Chechen national anthem.
The opera is sung in English, with some choruses in Russian.
La Bohème – Puccini
12th June–8th July
Regularly voted as the world’s favourite opera – Puccini’s evocation of life, love and death in Bohemian Paris at the turn of the century has had audiences weeping into their handkerchiefs ever since its première in 1896.
When penniless poet Rodolfo meets seamstress Mimì they fall passionately in love. But their happiness is threatened when Rodolfo learns that Mimì is gravely ill.
Luis Chapa plays Rodolfo with Irish soprano Ailish Tynan as Mimi. William Dazeley is painter Marcello and Hye-Youn Lee his quarrelsome, needy girlfriend, Musetta.