The resourceful, streamed Found Season replaced this year's planned live programme. Now all eyes are on great works in 2021 by Puccini, Verdi and Rimsky-Korsakov, plus Anthony Bolton's new opera based on a shocking real-life story, The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko.
The 2021 season opens (10 June) with the first of eight performances of Verdi's Falstaff, with Sir Bryn Terfel in the title role of the comic opera inspired by Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. Terfel first sung Falstaff in 1999, and is a perfect fit for the larger-than-life rollicking knight, teased and taught a lesson by Mistress Quickly and friends.
This production of Falstaff by Stephen Medcalf was first staged in 2011 in Parma's beautiful 17th-century Farnese theatre, near Verdi's birthplace in northern Italy. Eye-catching effects includes backcloths by Rinaldo Rinaldi, a leading name in Italian theatre design.
Soprano Natalya Romaniw leads the wives of Windsor in mischief, in Falstaff. Photo: Patrick Allen
Natalya Romaniw, Janis Kelly and Sara Fulgoni are the women who get the better of Falstaff. Says Terfel: 'It’s just a joy to portray on the stage, this loveable old rogue who can’t help but lie, eat, cheat and drink.'
Distinguished opera veteran David Pountney directs a new production of one of Russian composer 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. He holds back and spares the city. Could it be because he has discovered his long-lost love child, Olga?
The international cast for this spectacular opera includes soprano Evelina Dobracheva as Princess Olga, Russian mezzo Liubov Sokolova as Vlasyevna, Carl Tanner as Tucha, and British favourite Clive Bayley as Ivan the Terrible. There are six performances, from 19 June to 14 July.
Tenor Bryn Terfel sings the title role in Falstaff
Postponed from 2020, the world premiere of The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko on 15 July is followed by a second performance on 17 July. Composer Anthony Bolton worked closely with the widow of the former Russian officer, Marina Litvinenko, to bring the story of his career, their marriage, and his murder to the operatic stage.
The libretto is by Kit Hesketh-Harvey, who tells the story through a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards. With the help of historic film footage, we see the events in Russia that lead Litvinenko to seek exile, his meeting with Marina, and their family life in Muswell Hill.
The cast includes Andrew Watts as the head of the FSB, Andrew Slater as Boris Berezovsky, Adrian Dwyer in the title role and Rebecca Bottone as Marina. The opera is sung in English, with some choruses in Russian, the language of the great operas whose music partly underpins this piece.
Closing the season is Puccini’s evocation of life, love and death in Bohemian Paris at the turn of the century, La Bohème.
Soprano Ailish Tynan sings Mimì in La Bohème. Photo Benjamin Ealovega
When penniless poet Rodolfo meets seamstress Mimì they fall instantly in love. But the relationship sours in the heat of Bohemian life, and it is only with the onset of a final illness that the couple are reunited.
Luis Chapa sings Rodolfo and Ailish Tynan is Mimì, and Stephen Barlow conducts. There are six performances, from 12 June to 8 July.
In the meantime, the newly commissioned A Feast in the Time of Plague is due to be staged to a small invited audience this September and streamed. Click here for details.
Booking for Grange Park 2021 is yet to open. Click here for more details.
|What||Grange Park Opera 2021|
|Where||Grange Park Opera, West Horsley Place, West Horsley,, Leatherhead, KT24 6AW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
10 Jun 21 – 18 Jul 21, four operas in repertoire, with long picnic interval; times vary
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|