Your first opera

March 28, 2019

Your first opera should be a life-affirming and unforgettable evening.

There are no rules when it comes to enjoyment of opera; your seat becomes a gateway to whatever you want to feel as the narrative, music and scenery combine to bewitch you.

We have compiled this information to make your visit stress-free, leaving you to soak up the elegance of the opera house, the enchanting gardens and make the most of your evening at our theatre in the woods.

Which of your operas is a good first time opera?

We would suggest Hänsel & Gretel and Porgy & Bess from our 2019 season.

The familiar Grimm’s brothers fairy-tale story is set to accessible yet sublime orchestral textures by Engelbert Humperdinck. Susan Bullock, a leading English soprano, is singing the role of the Mother and the Witch. A magical forest of lanterns and a sweetshop of colourful wonders are the backdrop to this tale of triumph and adversity.

Part musical, part opera, Porgy & Bess has it all: gritty themes, an operatic score that Gershwin has drenched with jazz and gospel and well-known songs such as Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So. Staying true to the Gershwins’ wishes, our opera will feature an all black cast.

How do I find West Horsley Place?

By road

West Horsley Place is just 23 miles from London.  If using satellite navigation, please use the postcode KT24 6AN. The entrance to West Horsley Place will be clearly marked with a yellow “Opera” sign.

Guests can park in the main car park.

By rail

Horsley station is a mile away. There are four trains an hour from London and the journey takes 45 minutes. The return fare from London Waterloo is £14.20. Board a train at 16.30 and you can be at the opera, champagne in hand, by 17.30.

The walk from the station through the back of the 300 acre estate takes about 20 minutes through peaceful fields.  Alternatively there is a transfer mini-bus with a return fare of £10. The last train to London is at 23:20.

Local taxi firms

Magnum Cars & Carriages: 01483281111

West Horsley Private Hire: 07973734501

What time does the opera start?

Our operas begin at 6pm. Our grounds are open from 4pm for guests to enjoy ahead of the performance.

What do I wear?

Most of our guests wear black tie and long dresses but we encourage stylish creativity. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Will I understand what is being sung?

Our operas are sung in the original language with surtitles in English projected above the stage.

This year, Hänsel & Gretel will be sung in German, Don Carlo in Italian and Porgy & Bess in English.

Is there an interval?

There is a long interval during the opera to allow for dining and picnics. The long interval lasts around 100 minutes. Guests can reserve a table in one of our restaurants for fine dining or reserve a picnic table in one of our marquees. Order a picnic through Fortnum & Mason here or bring your own picnic and stake out a spot amongst the apple trees in the walled orchard. It is not possible to purchase food on the night.

When does the opera end?

Each opera has a slightly different running time. This year Don Carlo is our longest opera with Hänsel and Gretel the shortest.

Please check back nearer the season for exact running times.

As an indication: the first half of the opera runs from 18:00-19:00 approximately.

The second half runs from 20:40-21:40 approximately.

This is followed by the long interval of approximately 100 minutes.

Guests are free to linger and enjoy the gardens at dusk until 23:00.

Why is opera so expensive?

There is no denying that opera is an expensive business; simply put, opera tickets are costly because of the vast numbers of people involved: orchestra, chorus, principals, crew and so on.  The result is glorious and the most “immediate” of art forms. At least 100 people are performing each evening with a further 30 people back stage. We receive no public subsidy; ticket sales cover two thirds of costs and members bridge the gap.

Do you have any schemes for young people?

Our Musical Chairs scheme offers free seats to young people aged 14-25 who would not have the opportunity to come to the opera, find out more here.  

Our Meteor Scheme offers those aged 35 or under tickets for £35, find out more here.

Photography and social media

The Crinkle-Crankle wall, the Venerable Spongy Lawn…the gardens and our opera house are an enticing photographer’s dream; please tag us in your photos and use our hashtags so we can revel in your evening.

Instagram: @GrangeParkOpera

Twitter: @GrangeParkOpera

Facebook: Grange Park Opera Festival

#GPO2019

#GPODonCarlo

#GPOPorgy

#GPOHansel

Please do not record or photograph during the performance.