Michael Chance Countertenor
Michael Chance Countertenor

Announcing the 2019 season

22 January 2019
The editorial piece for the September edition of Opera magazine bemoans the slightly halfhearted engagement with Baroque opera in this country. It writes that the UK used to be the world leading pioneer in this field, and now just goes through the motions, compared with the rest of the world, which has most certainly caught up. And rather pleasingly, the same article chooses The Grange Festival as the one which can and should take the lead in this area. We will.

We started two years ago with Monteverdi (The return of Ulysses) and have just scored what Hugh Canning in the Sunday Times called 'a dazzling hit’ with Handel and Agrippina.

I want us to be a broad church, but there is no doubt that my own operatic roots lie predominantly in the Baroque, and, more especially, we are blessed with a theatre in which dramatic musical theatre from earlier periods can shine brightly.

Our second festival proved pretty dazzling across the range. Those openings evenings of dance were inspirational. To see many of the famous names of British Ballet and Dance on the Grange stage creating transcendental images was, frankly, extraordinary. And they kept saying they want to come back and do more. Our doors are always open. And our Rossini and Mozart productions proved hugely popular.

On The Grange Festival website you will find details of five separate events in the 2019 festival, Dance, three operas, and a one-off concert.

Handel returns in the form of a full staging of perhaps his most dramatic oratorio, Belshazzar. This has hardly ever been performed as a staged opera, and so we are definitely taking the lead on that front. And Mozart also returns with the one we all want to see again and again. Le nozze di Figaro. For both these productions, we are thrilled with the top-level international casts. Belshazzar is also a celebration, the 40th anniversary of The Sixteen. I must claim a minor link, in having performed with The Sixteen’s founder director, Harry Christophers continually during our parallel careers and having also been one of the quorum present at the first get-together in his Putney flat of what became The Sixteen. We are thrilled to provide the forum for this notable event.

Our third opera is Verdi. His joyous Falstaff was his glorious operatic swansong, full of banter, fun, and exhilarating ensembles. We can promise a wonderful cast, one of the best young Italian conductors, and a well-known RSC and West End director creating his first opera production.
The crowning glory is the welcome return of The John Wilson Orchestra, who perform Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Berlin and Bernstein better than anyone else. Frankly, who can resist?

We are always determined that your whole visit from early arrival to reluctant departure should be a delight. I look forward to welcoming you.
Michael Chance, CBE

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