Its Act 3 ballet, the Dance of the Hours, is a popular orchestral interlude, but the opera from which it comes is relatively rarely sung. So Grange Park Opera is the place to catch the whole of Amilcare Ponchielli's La Gioconda.
Set in Venice at the time of the Inquisition, La Gioconda tells the story of the dutiful daughter of a blind mother, based on Angelo, Tyrant of Padua, a play in prose by Victor Hugo, 1835. When she is betrayed by her lover Enzo, she is dragged into the seamy underworld of La Serenissima.
Ponchielli briefly eclipsed the apparently unstoppable Verdi with this opera, which was first staged at La Scala, Milan, in 1876. Its librettist was Arrigo Boito, who collaborated with rival Verdi on Otello and Falstaff. But here he used a pseudonym, Tobia Gorrio, an anagram of his real name.
South African soprano Amanda Echalaz sings the title role, with Ruxandra Danose as hwe faithless friend Laura, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja as Enzo and Clive Bayley as Laura's husband.
Gianluca Marciano conducts the Orchestra of English National Opera. Stephen Medcalf directs this new production, a very promising offering and the opening production at this year's ever-growing Grange Park Opera season.
La Gioconda is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Performances are on 4, 13, 21, 23, 27 June; 1, 9, 12 July. West Horsley Place is 23 miles south of London. Southern Rail trains to Horsley are met by a shuttle bus.
|What||La Gioconda, Grange Park Opera|
|Where||Grange Park Opera, West Horsley Place, West Horsley,, Leatherhead, KT24 6AW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
04 Jun 20 – 12 Jul 20, eight performances, with long dinner interval. Start times vary
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|