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This Weekend: Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park at The Grange Festival


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This Weekend: Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park at The Grange Festival

See the first operatic adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, in the heart of Austen country

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This September, see the world premiere of a specially-commissioned opera at The Grange Festival; Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Michael Chance, Artistic Director of The Grange Festival, tells us more…

The Grange, photo: Joe Low

The Grange, photo: Joe Low

Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park at The Grange Festival 2017

When?

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September 2017

What?

As part of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations, The Grange Festival presents the world-premiere staging of a new orchestral version of the critically-acclaimed chamber opera by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton.

Mansfield Park is the only Austen work to be adapted for opera, and it will show in the heart of Austen country for this festival of music. This special show will be the first production to be staged at The Grange outside of the main summer season. This new version of Mansfield Park will be fully staged with 13 musicians from The Grange Festival’s Resident Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

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Where?

A magical estate hidden away in the Hampshire countryside, The Grange is famed for its Greek Revival architecture, open vistas to the lake, majestic staircase and dining rooms.

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Who?

Directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans, with conductor David Parry and designer Dick Bird. The cast includes Martha Jones (Fanny Price), Sarah Pring (Lady Bertram), Grant Doyle (Sir Thomas Bertram), Angharad Lyddon (Julia Bertram), Emily Vine (Maria Bertram), Henry Neill(Edmund Bertram), Jeni Bern (Aunt Norris), Shelley Jackson (Mary Crawford), Nick Pritchard (Henry Crawford) and Oliver Johnston (Mr Rushworth).

Michael Chance, Artistic Director of The Grange Festival, tells us more

Please give a quick summary of The Grange Festival, for newbies?

‘A dreamy location, the place of dreams. A secret Arcadian valley in Hampshire, with a great stately temple perched on a glassy plinth overlooking a lake. Behind an Ionic colonnaded portico is a stunning surprise, a beautiful intimate opera house. The joy of wandering around the park, dining in the semi-ruined historic house and seeing a world class performance of a great opera makes a day out at The Grange Festival a memorable event, looked forward to by many from all over the world.’

The Grange, photo: Joe Low

The Grange, photo: Joe Low

Why is Mansfield Park the perfect Austen work for opera?

‘The heroine, Fanny Price, feels a lot, but doesn’t necessarily express it. She has a rich interior life. There is also a strong sense of period, of rural landscape, and the contrast with the city (a key 19th century obsession), and there is a play within a play, or almost a play within a play – all of which suggest a lot for both a playwright (or librettist) and a composer. It’s an ensemble piece involving many closely related characters, and it’s exciting stuff. I remember reading it as a teenager and racing through it, so caught up was I with the story.’

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How did this come about?

‘I know Jonathan Dove, the composer, and admire greatly his ability to be hands on, to make things work in the relevant space, and to write music of fizzing brilliance as well as tell a good story well. His musical world is so approachable and so alive. His publisher suggested we look at the possibility of putting it on in the year of Jane Austen’s bi-centenary, in her county, just a few miles both from where she lived and where she is buried (in Winchester Cathedral), and in a house which could be Mansfield Park. Who knows if Jane Austen visited The Grange? It’s highly likely.’

What should visitors expect?

A visceral musical and theatrical experience. At The Grange, everybody feels close to the stage. One feels caught up in what is happening there, and I honestly know of no other opera house in the country where you are more likely to hear the words. We have taken great care to cast precisely according to the characters in the novel as well as for the individual demands of the music. And I am thrilled with the design – elegant, witty and flexible. Lots to see!

The perfect way to enjoy a visit to The Grange Festival (before and after the performance included)?

‘Take your time. Arrive early and be prepared to leave late. Savour the magic of the place, all of it, go into the opera house sensually alert and expectant, and emerge into the gloaming at the end tingling with excitement, as you linger longer than you should over a last glass, watching dusk settle over the lake.’

How?

Bookings for Mansfield Park and for the Finale of The Grange Festival’s first International Singing Competition are on sale now at thegrangefestival.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 01962 791020.

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