What’s in store at Waterperry Opera 2019

Highlights from this year’s Waterperry Opera Festival plus exclusive working costume designs from their production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen.

One of things that has been thrown into sharp relief post-Proms launch last week is how much more appealing other events running over the summer now present themselves.

Summer at this point in time is about planning a season of activities, discoveries, and indulgences. Waterperry Opera Festival is one such event. I’ll be writing about one of the others – the New Music Biennial – later this week.

The frisson of excitement around Waterperry Opera is part down to its scale and its impact.

Only in their second year, the young team of young professionals have quickly established themselves at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford as an energetic bunch, driven but affable, relaxed but professional.

They make a product which is easy to endorse: talk to any one of them involved and the energy they exude is infectious.

If an outsider like me can feel welcome, then the same warmth is going to be felt by their audience.

What’s appealing about Waterperry then is it’s unfussiness.

There’s an Enid Blyton feel to activities on-site – post-graduate entrepreneurs seizing an opportunity to fill a hole in a local community and doing so with style, grace and a down-to-earth kind of sophistication.

There’s something honest about it all. A rural summer opera festival built for a local audience – a mix of connoisseurs and the curious. No airs and graces. The kind of thing that just sells itself.

In that way they could just as likely be singing from a telephone book and I’d happily endorse them.

I am also wondering whether Waterperry could be one of those events which will in time highlight the next wave of talent. That’s going to take a few years to see happen as personnel permeate throughout the industry, but I like the idea of it.

And I wonder there whether that suggests another part of the appeal of Waterperry: its potential.

Working costume designs for Waterperry Opera’s 2019 production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen by Simon Bejer.

Let’s not overlook the most important thing: the programme. Highlights below.

  1. Mozart’s Magic Flute. Tick.
  2. A re-run of Jonathan Dove’s hugely entertaining Mansfield Park performed in an actual Regency house. Tick.
  3. Britten’s Canticle ‘Abraham and Isaac’ (I’ve never heard it). Tick.
  4. Purcell’s Fairy Queen. Tick. (The costume designs revealed at the fundraiser night are a joyful creation in themselves).

What’s key to all of these productions is the proximity of performance. In both the purpose built amphitheatre and Waterperry’s regency ballroom the proximity of audience member to performer makes for a more immediate chamber-like opera.

Working costume designs for Waterperry Opera’s 2019 production of Purcell’s Fairy Queen by Simon Bejer.

But there is another aspect which is important to flag. There’s variety riven in the Festival’s apparent simplicity and accessibility, and that variety represents a careful balance between pushing the performers and the audience. It’s an endeavour which seeks to embed itself in a community. That its done so so very quickly is impressive. I put it down to alchemy.

Waterperry Opera Festival runs from 25 – 28 July 2019. Booking opens Monday 22 April. Tickets will go fast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.