Opera in luxurious settings – they’re all the rage at the moment. The original – Glynebourne – has inspired the likes of Opera Holland Park, Garsington, Grange Park Opera, and, this year, Grange Festival.
This isn’t a matter of cashing in, or aping someone else’s style. Each has their own character. Each has their own way of creating a sense of occasion out of a visit. After all, if everyone on the production is making a special effort to put on a show, why wouldn’t the audience want to make a special effort in order to watch it. Expect to see more and more of these appear in the next few years. We’ll know when we’ve reached capacity when a bank holiday run of The Ring is offered with options for glamping.
Grange Festival has another added benefit which I’m currently finding rather tempting – an interval 10 minutes longer than its parent Glynebourne, running to an astonishing 100 minutes. You’ve travelled all that way, why rush the experience?
That makes the prospect of GF’s September production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park a tempting prospect (though I’m advised that in autumnal September and out of festival, the interval is limited to just 30 minutes). Sure, the reviews of its 2011 premiere were glowing (all five stars), but it’s still a punt, isn’t it? Turn the visit an afternoon trot round a 17th century neo-classical Hampshire mansion, and a meal, and the pressure is off the new(ish) opera. If you end up enjoying the thing you assume you won’t (because its unfamiliar to you) then so much the better.
It’s a tidy package. What I’m not quite clear on is whether I’m finding it tempting because I’m getting older, getting tired of concert halls, or whether its because opera companies have hit on a saleable idea. And given that the top price ticket is £80 that makes the whole thing a better offer than a concert.
Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park is on at Grange Festival on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September 2017.