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From Glyndebourne to Garsington, we bring you this summer's best opera festivals
The faded grandeur of The Grange – which, despite being one of Britain’s most important Neo-Classical buildings, barely escaped demolition in the 1970s – is the atmospheric setting for this summer opera festival, held in the Orangery’s award-winning theatre. This year’s fare comprises Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, Verdi’s La Traviata, Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Don’t forget to book a private pavilion to dine in style! For more details or to book a ticket, visit the Grange Park website.
Images courtesy of Robert Workman/Grange Park Opera
Britain's most famous summer opera festival started with a love story - that of John Christie for opera singer Audrey Mildmay. The two met at an opera evening (of course) were married in 1931, and decided to stage a summer opera festival on the picture-perfect grounds of John's country house, Glyndebourne. The festival, now staged in a large opera house built in 1994, has been going strong for eighty years now. This edition is a tribute to John and Audrey's son, George, who recently passed away, and sees three new productions - Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera, Verdi's La Traviata - as well as revivals of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Handel's Rinaldo. For more details or to book a ticket, visit the Glyndebourne website.
Images courtesy of Glyndebourne Opera
The quintessential Cotswolds setting adds to the charm of Longborough - make a picnic on the grounds is a must - but the quality of the performances is just as impressive. Longborough usually specialises in Wagner but this year work by the German composer only features in the one-off Romantic Concert evening. Instead, the programme focuses on Puccini's dramatic Tosca, Rossini's hilarious Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Handel's epic Rinaldo. For more details or to book a ticket, visit the Longborough website.
Images courtesy of Longborough Festival Opera
The Chilterns' gorgeous countryside is the perfect backdrop for Garsington Manor's excellent opera festival, which is staged in the beautiful Opera Pavilion. The programme always features a major opera and lesser known works - this year, it's the turn of Ludwig Van Beethoven's Fidelio (a departure from Garsington's traditional Mozart) plus Offenbach's Vert-Vert and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen. For more details or to book tickets, visit the Garsington website.
Images courtesy Mike Hoban and Garsington Opera
Every summer, London's prettiest park becomes the stage for one of Britain's best opera companies. Opera Holland Park's productions, held in a marquee, are often inventive, always innovative. This year's programme features new productions of Puccini's La fanciulla del West, Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Bellini's Norma and Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, as well as a revival of last year's Alice in Wonderland and OHP's first ever The Turn of the Screw. For an evening with a (sinister) twist, try the Turn of the Screw Ghost Walk, where a walk down the dark park follows the performance of Britten's bleak opera. For more details or to book tickets, visit the OHP website.
Images courtesy of Ingrid Rasmussen and OHP
If you really fancy a treat, splash out on opera at Verona's fabulous Arena. The Roman amphitheatre - one of the best preserved in the world - has been standing sentinel over the city for more than 1900 years but where gladiators once fought and chariots raced, opera is staged today. This year's season - the theatre's 101st - has a packed calendar with fabulous productions of opera classics Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera, Bizet's Carmen, and Puccini's Madame Butterfly and Turandot, among others. For more details or to book tickets, visit the Arena website.
Images courtesy Andreas Tille and Arena di Verona