martin randall 2015

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Plans announced for new opera festival at Grange Park

21 October 2015

A new opera festival will launch at Grange Park in 2017.

With Grange Park Opera set to leave the Grange Estate after its 2016 performances, the establishment of the Grange Festival will mean that the annual opera season will continue to take place on the site.

The festival, which will run in June and July each year, will be overseen by Lord Ashburton and his son Mark Baring, owners of the Grange and its park at Northington in Hampshire.

The inaugural Grange Festival will be directed by counter-tenor Michael Chance. The board of trustees will be chaired by the Hon. Sir Charles Haddon-Cave.

Mark Baring said: ‘It has been wonderful to have opera at Grange Park each summer and we are delighted to announce that we will continue to do so. A great deal has been achieved in nearly twenty years, thanks to GPO, co-founders Wasfi Kani and Michael Moody and their staff, and the generosity and commitment of many supporters, donors and visitors.

‘We look forward to working with The Grange Festival to continue what has become a much-loved cultural event. We are extremely fortunate to have two very talented people to lead and chair the new company and, with the encouragement of many other loyal supporters, we much look forward to 2017 and many years beyond.’

Artistic director Michael Chance said: ‘I am particularly excited about the range of possibilities which this extraordinary venue, and jewel of a theatre, offers. I am confident that more than three decades of treading boards and vocal communication will stand me in good stead for this exhilarating challenge, and I look forward to building on the 18-year operatic legacy at Grange Park, which has been truly remarkable. My first task is to assemble a small experienced management team.’

A spokesperson for Grange Park Opera says: ‘We have been working tirelessly to secure GPO’s future since the decision by our landlords to terminate our lease early. The proposed terms for a new lease and certain conditions regarding the governance and management of the Grange Park Opera charity which our landlords sought to impose were not, we felt, in the best interests of the charity.

‘On Monday [19 October] we were advised by our landlords that they no longer wished to continue discussions around a potential new lease for Grange Park Opera at The Grange in Hampshire and that they intend to pursue their own interests there instead.

‘We have achieved so much over the last 18 years and we believe that this is only the start of the full potential that the charity and its team can achieve.

‘We are in advanced discussions over a 99-year lease at West Horsley Place in Surrey, just 23 miles from London, the estate inherited by Bamber Gascoigne from his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe. It is an exquisite place, intensely atmospheric, inherently dramatic with venerable trees, glowing brick walls, tiled roofs and secret walled gardens with woodland beyond. In short, it is an exciting new venture at a magical location that has the marked advantage of being closer to London – which will make it easier for many members of our audience, especially younger people.

‘Meanwhile, GPO is putting the finishing touches to the 2016 festival, its swansong at the Grange. This season’s productions are Verdi’s Don Carlo, Puccini’s La Fanciulla, Oliver! starring Simon Keenlyside, Tristan & Isolde in concert with Anja Kampe and a bouquet of arias from the much sought-after tenor, Javier Camarena.

‘This isn’t the end of the story, but very much the beginning of a bigger and brighter story. We hope that you will join us in our final season in Hampshire – and will follow us to West Horsley Place which is, without doubt, an exciting new chapter in the history of Grange Park Opera.’

Since 1998 the Grange Estate has hosted Grange Park Opera (GPO), an independent opera company, at Grange Park and the Baring family had hoped to agree terms to renew their lease. However, 2016 will be the last GPO season at the Estate.

The Grange Festival

Garsington opera award winners announced

14 October 2015

The winners of this year’s Leonard Ingrams Foundation awards have been named as Bradley Travis and Llio Evans.

The awards, which were launched in May 2006 in memory of Garsington Opera’s founder, aim to support, encourage and nurture talented young artists.

Travis, who sang a number of small roles in Garsington's production of Death in Venice and was winner of the Helen Clarke Award last year, said: 'This award has come at absolutely the right time in my career and amongst other things, will enable me to do an intensive course at the Goethe Institute, invest in a number of scores, have specialist coaching in modern music and continue my regular singing lessons.'

Evans, who understudied the role of Despina in Così fan tutte, said: 'Making the transition from student to professional is a difficult and vulnerable time for any young singer, and the Leonard Ingrams Award will enable me to continue to have regular lessons with my singing teacher, and also to develop my technique with leading international sopranos who specialise in the repertoire that I sing. I am extremely honoured to receive this award and overwhelmed by this incredible gesture of faith in my ability by Garsington Opera.'

Two further smaller awards were also presented: the Helen Clarke Award went to Oliver Johnston, and the Simon Sandbach Award to Daniel Rudge. These awards were made in recognition of their contributions to the company's 2015 productions.

Opera Holland Park announces independence

5 October 2015, London, UK

Dynamic duo: OHP's James Clutton and Michael Volpe
Dynamic duo: OHP's James Clutton and Michael Volpe(Photo: Opera Holland Park)

Opera Holland Park (OHP) has formally become an independent charity.

The change in status comes after nearly 20 years as a department of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The annual summer festival will continue to perform in its current venue while maintaining its founding values. OHP will receive a one-off grant of £5 million from the Royal Borough to provide a solid foundation for the festival’s future development – a significant sum compared with its annual funding budget of around £450k.

According to OHP’s website, the change was partly prompted by individual donors: ‘We have been encouraged by a significant upsurge in pledges to our new Founders Fund, something we always believed would be the case since donors tend to have a different attitude towards funding an independent charitable entity rather than Council initiatives.’

While acknowledging the Royal Borough’s significant investment in creating and maintaining OHP for so long, the festival’s management team says that its future needed to be secured without jeopardising other critical services – currently under huge pressure from local council budget cuts. OHP also believes that independence will offer them greater flexibility, freedom to plan and capacity to seek funding from other sources.

OHP general director Michael Volpe said: ‘We are very excited to be taking the company into independence after several years of working through the possibilities. Our board is extremely capable and the company itself is in good hands. As managers of the festival, we now have several degrees more flexibility and we know our patrons will be stepping up to the plate to support us. Artistically, our plans are as ambitious and as interesting as ever and our accessibility aims remain solidly in place.’

OHP announced the news on Twitter, dubbing it ‘OHP Independence Day’.

Opera Holland Park

Deficit forces Gotham Chamber Opera to shut

2 October 2015, New York, US

Neal Goren: 'I'm crushed'
Neal Goren: 'I'm crushed'(Photo: Pinnacle Arts Management)

New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera has ceased operations following the discovery of a significant deficit that had not previously been disclosed to the board. All of the company's future performances have been cancelled.

Gotham Chamber Opera president Beatrice Broadwater said: ‘We do not have, nor do we anticipate having, sufficient donations and pledges that would enable continued operations of the company.’

The deficit was discovered by Gotham Chamber Opera’s new executive director, Edward Barnes, who took up his position on 1 June. Barnes succeeded David Bennett, who is now the general director of San Diego Opera.

Within weeks of arriving at Gotham Chamber Opera, Barnes reportedly uncovered invoices and contracted fees that had never been accounted for in the organisation's budget.

Gotham Chamber Opera was founded in 2000 by artistic director Neal Goren and has presented critically acclaimed productions of rarities from the Baroque era to the present in unusual locations across the city, often partnering with other cultural organisations such as the American Museum of Natural History and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The company was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts towards their US stage premiere of Alessandro Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista, due to have taken place in February 2016.

Commenting on the closure, Neal Goren said: ‘I’m crushed.’

Gotham Chamber Opera

Luciano Pavarotti: An 80th anniversary celebration

1 October 2015

To mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of operatic legend Luciano Pavarotti, we've published a special 24-page commemorative issue. Below is an extract from the issue, which is available to buy here

“By the time Luciano Pavarotti died of pancreatic cancer on 6 September 2007, aged 71, he was without doubt, the most famous tenor in the world. In fact, he came to epitomise the species: a larger-than-life, lovable, pasta-guzzling bear with a belly as refulgent as his beard, arms outstretched with a large white handkerchief dangling from one side. The voice was sweet and sunny, poured out in generous measure and seemingly effortless. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, this became the stereotypical image of the Operatic Tenor, capturing the popular imagination – so popular, in fact, that in his own lifetime, Pavarotti sold an estimated 100 million records and was just as comfortable rubbing cheeks with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Sting and Bono as treading the boards of the Royal Opera House or La Scala with luminaries such as Joan Sutherland and Kiri Te Kanawa.”

In the commemorative issue:

  • Friends and colleagues of Pavarotti – including Sir Antonio Pappano, Bono and Herbert Breslin – pen tributes to the legendary tenor
  • Pavarotti’s most ‘quotable quotes’
  • Benjamin Ivry explores the vital role that conductors played in shaping Pavarotti’s artistry throughout his career
  • Paul Moseley, Managing Director of Decca Classics, tells us about the Pavarotti he knew
  • Mirella Freni, one of the great operatic divas of recent times and close friend of Pavarotti, recounts her memorable Pavarotti moments 
  • We showcase photographs from across Pavarotti’s lifetime, including him with Carreras, Domingo, Frank Sinatra, Dame Joan Sutherland and Sir Georg Solti, as well as him as a young man

£2.95 from | Also available in the October issue of Opera Now

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