In 1997 Grange Park Opera was nothing more than a desire to stage great performances in a derelict house in Hampshire. By the 18th festival in 2015m our achievements included the entertainment of an audience of over 250,000 and an annual turnover of over £4m. More than 80 people from the local area worked at the festival, 97 schoolchildren performed there and 473 young people under the age of 30 attended the festival, in many cases to see their first opera.
In 2015 world superstar, Bryn Terfel, took the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof which was seen by more than 5,000 people in Hampshire and a further 6,000 at the BBC Proms, where tickets sold out in two hours. 95,000 tuned into the live radio broadcast.
From the beginning there was an ambition at GPO to stage world-class productions that inspire, challenge and entertain. It has become known as a small jewel with big performances; a thriving organisation of national and international importance.
– Building and raising the money for a 550-seat theatre in 2002 that won four architectural awards 2
– Staging lesser-known operas to international standards including Don Quichotte and Thaïs (Massenet), Enchantress (Tchaikovsky), Le Roi Malgré Lui (Chabrier), Les Carmélites (Poulenc) and Eliogabalo (Cavalli)
– Presenting more than 500 performances of 59 productions
– Collaborating with prestigious artists and orchestras (BBC Concert Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra)
– Nurturing younger artists with scholarships and performance development
– Widening the audience demographic and pioneering young audience initiatives
– Establishing partnerships with like-minded prestigious brands (Fortnum & Mason, Financial Times, Savills, Laurent-Perrier, Rothschild)
– Broadening income streams to fill the gap between the cost of the artistic programme and ticket sales; in excess of £20m has been raised from the private sector
Having built the theatre in Hampshire, the next goal was to present a more ambitious artistic programme; ambitious not just in terms of repertoire (Peter Grimes, Tristan & Isolde) but also in terms of artists.
Besides Bryn Terfel, the 2015 festival (Samson et Dalila, Eugene Onegin, Fiddler on the Roof, La Boheme) included presenting artists with truly international careers among its achievements: Susan Gritton, Gianluca Terranova, Brett Polegato, Carl Tanner (2016 Luigi in Il Tabarro, ROH) and Christophoros Stamboglis (ROH, Glyndebourne 2016).
Our 2016 festival (Don Carlo, Oliver!, Tristan & Isolde, La Fanciulla del West) received exceptional reviews. We presented Simon Keenlyside, Stefano Secco, Ruxandra Donose, Virginia Tola, Claire Rutter, Clive Bayley, Alastair Miles, Bryan Register and Rachel Nichols.