<< -- 4 -- Roderic Dunnett RICH HARVEST
Bampton Classical Opera's Oxfordshire Garden staging of La vera costanza (the UK stage première was by Garsington in 1992) -- the company's second Haydn production this year, after L'Infedelta delusa on an awkward raised church stage at Bridgnorth's English Haydn Festival -- proved arguably Bampton's best production ever, eclipsing even their joyously clever garden stagings of Salieri's Falstaff, the spirited UK stage première of the Mozart/Henneberg/Schikaneder Magic Flute forerunner The Philosopher's Stone, and Mozart's friend's (and the brother of the first Figaro Susanna) Stephen Storace's glorious The Comedy of Errors (Gli Equivoci). Bampton will stage 'the other' Don Giovanni, that by Giuseppe Gazzaniga (1787), this month and next at its 'other' venues in Gloucestershire (Westonbirt School, 28 August 2004) and London (St John's, Smith Square, 16 September 2004), with the splendid tenor Daniel Norman as the Don and the fast emerging baritone Nicholas Merryweather as his particularly unwelcome (as both Gazzaniga and Dargomizhky would have it) Stone Guest.
Nicholas Merryweather as the rich fop Villotto in Bampton Classical Opera's witty garden production of Haydn's 'La vera costanza'
Grange Park, too, has an outreach venue: the almost as delightful Nevill Holt, a beautiful and historic pre-Tudor complex above the valley of the River Welland near Uppingham, the junction where Rutland, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire meet, served up an eminently memorable, superbly cast (Nevill Holt makes a point of encouraging young singers) and invariably clever Così fan tutte (along with Grange Park's more racy Cinderella) in a brilliant hilltop bell tent -- as beguiling as a miniature Crystal Palace. A vital achievement. Taken on by Pimlico Opera, this capable Così will tour widely this autumn, just after Garden Opera's widely toured Don Giovanni climaxes with three performances in London (Sunday 29 August 2004, 3pm, Greenwich Park; Monday 30 August 2004, 5.30pm, Regent's Park; Thursday 16 September 2004, 7pm, the South Bank's Purcell Room).
Rebecca Bottone, the unforgettably sexy Titania in British Youth Opera's summer 2003 production of Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
And finally the ultra-talented British Youth Opera seeks to rival Lang's Buxton Hercules with its new production, at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall (7-12 September 2004), of Handel's Semele and Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen.
Barry Cryer and Roy Hattersley at the Buxton Festival's jolly train naming ceremony