Rhinegold Photo credit: Photos by Richard Lewisohn
Claire Booth in Poulenc's La Voix Humaine

Simon Smith

Grange Park Opera launches ‘Found Season’ of original performances

12:41, 1st June 2020


As opera companies around the world devise new and innovative responses to performing in an age of pandemic, Grange Park Opera, which was due to launch its 2020 summer festival this week, has announced that the show will go in its ‘Found Season’ of live performances.

When the UK government announced the national lockdown on 23 March, Grange Park Opera, Surrey – like all cultural venues across the world – had to cancel what should have been an action-packed summer festival starting this week. However, Grange Park Opera’s founder and CEO Wasfi Kani refused to accept defeat. She has devised an entirely new season of work that can be enjoyed online at grangeparkopera.co.uk from 4 June.

Kani said: ‘Grange Park Opera’s original 2020 programme will forever be known to me as The Lost Season. But culture is active and happening right now. Driven by this, I did not want to just share performances that people will have seen before, but to create an entirely new Found Season of brand-new works, and bring it to as many people as possible’

The Theatre in Woods


The Found Season consists of 15 performances which will be released over six weeks from 4 June – 12 July, featuring over 70 of the world’s leading singers and musicians – whose diaries would normally be frantic during this time. Eight of the 15 performances are being filmed without an audience in GPO’s home, the Theatre in the Woods, observing regulation regarding  social distancing both on stage and behind the scenes. Wasfi has chosen repertoire that embraces the times we are currently experiencing.

Performance during the Found Season  include:


Reflection: Baritone Roderick Williams performs Schumann

Reflection with Roderick Williams performing Schumann’s songcycle, Liederkreis

Anguish represented by two women who in different ways are victims of male oppression: in Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine; and Dominick Argento’s 1981 work, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night

Joy from the familiar face and voice of Wynne Evans (AKA Gio Compario in the long-running advertising campaign for the Go Compare insurance website) who will give a concert from his home in Wales, which remains in lockdown

Other events from the stage of the Theatre in the Woods, Grange Park Opera’s  home in the grounds of the Queen Ann manor house at West Horsley Place, Surrey.

Piano virtuoso Pavel Kolesnikov playing Chopin and Beethoven on a magnificent C Bechstein concert grand, supplied by Jacques Samuel pianos

For fans of Wagner, Iain Burnside’s music theatre piece The View from the Villa illuminates the interwoven lives of four extraordinary people (the Wagners and the Wesendoncks) with the words and music they inspired. Music includes Wesendonck Lieder and extracts from Die Walküre and Tristan und Isolde

Tamara Rojo CBE, English National Ballet’s artistic director, introduces a pas de deux from lead principal Erina Takahashi and first soloist James Streeter on the

Grange Park Opera stage, followed by an interview set in the idyllic gardens surrounding the Theatre in the Woods.

The supremely gifted violinist and winner of the string section of BBC Young Musician of the Year, Coco Tomito, will appear alongside her fellow locked-down colleagues from the Yehudi Menuhin School

The climax of The Found Season is Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, composed during the closing months of World War Two. Strauss took up his pen the day after the Vienna State Opera was destroyed, and his music mourns the loss of culture.

Wasfi Kani: All is not lost

Kani said: ‘The Found Season is dedicated to the 800 donor-patrons of Grange Park Opera whom we call the ‘Pandemicists’, who have saved our bacon. Their summer won’t be devoid of new performances. The spirit of Grange Park Opera, Surrey remains undimmed. It demands, that whatever the circumstances, we bring musical experiences which are original, stimulating and food for the soul.’

The 15 events in Grange Park Opera’s ‘Found Season’ can be accessed from Thursday 4 June at www.grangeparkopera.co.uk.

They are entirely free to watch, though donations would, of course, be welcome! To date, Grange Park Opera has distributed £138,000 of donations to artists and technicians who have lost their income on account of cancellations.

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