Capriccio/Tosca, Grange Park, Hampshire; Armida, Garsington Opera, Oxfordshire

By Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 6 June 2010]
Opera, says the Count in Richard Strauss’s Capriccio, “is an absurd thing”. Orders are sung. Politics are discussed in duets. Graves are danced on and stabs are delivered melodically. The Count has a point: it is absurd. What this imaginary 18th-century figure could not have known is that 21st-century English country house opera seems even more absurd than the old aristocratic version. Black tie is worn. Picnics are consumed. Country air is filled with the music of champagne corks.