Highlights of the 2019 summer season
This summer’s festival was a triumph, marking Grange Park Opera’s third year at West Horsley Place.
Porgy & Bess, Don Carlo and Hansel & Gretel received four or five star reviews and our special evenings with Joyce DiDonato and Simon Keenlyside were extremely well received.
Here are our festival highlights from this summer.
A Starry Night with Joyce DiDonato
On 11 July we welcomed Joyce DiDonato, the world’s most glamorous opera star, for a recital with pianist Iain Burnside.
The programme included Haydn, Mozart, Bellini, Pablo Luna, Rossini, Berlioz and Reynaldo Hahn. Joyce sang two encores, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and “Non ti scordar di me”.
Some audience reactions to the evening:
“In the presence of someone who is an artist in the fullest sense we knew the voice would be of the quality we’ve come to expect but the choice of programme from the Haydn to the Hahn was masterly and all so wonderfully nuanced –from the soul. It was important and magnificent and it must count as one of the very special days of one’s life”.
“Joyce DiDonato and her pianist were spell binding, I never moved a finger.”
The new colonnade has created a beautiful “passeggiata” (Italian for leisurely stroll), an area for the audience to foregather and linger ahead of a performance.
The larch columns of the colonnade are from a Sussex estate and fragrant roses have been planted at the base of each column.
The colonnade provides shelter from any showers and houses the new piazza bar which sells Laurent Perrier champagne and coffee for after the performance.
This year the Croquet Lawn Marquee served delicious, hand-made cakes from Strazzanti.
Strazzanti are a Sicilian, family run bakery based in London with many of their ingredients coming from small Sicilian farms.
We served Almond & Raspberry, Lemon & Pistachio and Chocolate & Hazelnut cakes alongside Fortnum & Mason teas and coffee.
The Red Drawing Room
This season we opened The Red Drawing Room for private dining.
Up to twenty guests can enjoy a three course meal with fine wines on the first floor of the 14th century house.
The most striking feature of this room is the red silk that covers the walls. Sewn together from different shapes like a patchwork quilt, the silk itself is from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Social media takeovers
During this festival three singers have “taken over” our Instagram account during dress rehearsals and live performances of Porgy & Bess, Don Carlo and Hansel & Gretel.
Lizzie Holmes, who was the Dew Fairy in Hansel & Gretel and part of the chorus in Don Carlo, took us behind the scenes of the Hansel & Gretel rehearsals at our London studio, at West Horsley Place and backstage during a live performance. Her takeover included wig and moustache fitting and chats with the production team and many different cast members. You can watch Lizzie’s full takeover on her YouTube channel. @lizziejholmes
Jessica Costelloe, part of the chorus in both Hansel & Gretel and Don Carlo, took us behind the scenes during Don Carlo dress rehearsals at our London studio and backstage during the opening night on 6 June. @jessicacostelloe
Julia Daramy-Williams, who sang the role of the Strawberry Woman in Porgy & Bess, took over the account during a live performance. Her takeover included interviews with many cast members about their characters. @juliadw_soprano
This year our seasonal staff received very complimentary feedback from our audience.
“The focus on service was truly exemplary and all the staff were tremendously charming and helpful.”
“Each person we met at Grange Park Opera came across as professional, engaged, charming and delightful which created a pleasant and friendly atmosphere”.
The seasonal staff had new uniform for the 2019 season, including black ties and aprons.