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A haunting future

RODERIC DUNNETT praises two recent productions
at newly restored Grange Park Opera


Grange Park Opera, which stages three productions each summer in the Orangery of a crumbling manor near Winchester UK, once owned by the Barings family, has achieved the near-impossible. By raising 3.5 million pounds (around 5.5 million dollars) from a host of supportive donors -- the Carphone Warehouse is prominent among them -- it has completed the transformation of its auditorium, without intermission, in time for the current season. Smart work by architect David Lloyd-Jones and builder Martin Smith has enabled bow-tied punters, diners and picnickers to return for this year's triple offering of Verdi, Britten and Cole Porter.

The Grange
The Grange

As last year, one of the three operas -- Verdi's La Traviata - will be toured by Pimlico Opera, which conductor Wasfi Kani, the moving brains behind Grange Park's success, also coordinates. Suffering a surfeit of Traviatas, I plumped for the other two. Luck varies : the deluge on the Cole Porter night was worthy of a mid-Atlantic monsoon; happily the night I attended the Britten a band of 'heavy rain from Dorset' held off till the moment the opera ended.

Arguably The Turn of the Screw, recently seen again at the Royal Opera House in Deborah Warner's production, is also in danger of being overdone, although a worldwide series of productions last season (Berlin, Athens, Graz, Vienna) and this (Geneva, Chicago, Sydney) can have done Britten's operatic reputation no harm.

Grange Park's was a production full of interest, and with a striking twist at the end.

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Copyright © 15 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


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