This season covers a deliberately broad range of productions from the
traditional, a rarity for connoisseurs, to a brand new – and highly topical
– work. And then there’s an old favourite thrown in.
The season curtain-raiser is an unmissable production of Falstaff
with opera superstar Bryn Terfel in the title role. Of equal importance, is
the world premiere of The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko
, the tragic story of the poisoning of the Russian dissident, which has
been rescheduled from the Lost 2020 Season. Opera giant David Pountney
directs Rimsky-Korsakov’s hidden gem: the composer’s first opera, Ivan the Terrible – also known as The Maid of Pskov – and
then there’s the world’s favourite opera, LabBohËme, to round off
10 June – 18 July
As the saying goes, “Shakespeare invented him, Verdi made him immortal” – and, surely,
it was Bryn Terfel who defined him. Terfel first sung Falstaff in 1999, and
in 2021 the bass-baritone superstar returns once more to the role at Grange
Park Opera. This production by Stephen Medcalf was first shown in the 17th
century Farnese theatre in Parma (2011) with designs that are truly
Falstaffian including sensational backcloths by Italian master Rinaldo
Natalya Romaniw, Janis Kelly and Sara Fulgoni are the conniving wives of
Windsor in Verdi’s only comic opera, written when the composer was 80 –
contradicting the adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The
opera is a hymn to the irrepressibility of the human spirit.
As Terfel says,
“It’s just a joy to portray on the stage, this loveable old rogue who
can’t help but lie, eat, cheat and drink”.
Ivan the Terrible –
19 June – 14 July
David Pountney directs a new production of one of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s
hidden gems: the composer’s first opera, Ivan the Terrible – also known as The Maid of Pskov.
The tyrannical Tsar, Ivan IV, sweeps through the city of Novgorod, on a
wholesale pillage. In the picturesque town of Pskov, Ivan billets himself
at the house where he sees a beautiful young woman. Something stays his
hand and the city is spared. Could it be because he has discovered his
long-lost love child, Olga?
With its expansive music, dramatic plot and vivid crowd scenes, Ivan the Terrible is a spectacle.
The exciting cast includes Evelina Dobracheva as Princess Olga, Liubov
Sokolova as Vlasyevna, Carl Tanner as Tucha, and Clive Bayley as Ivan the
The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko
15 & 17 July
Composer – Anthony Bolton
Libretto – Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Exiled and living in London, former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko learns
that his former colleagues are using his face for target practice.
Litvinenko had publicly accused his FSBsuperiors of extensive corruption
and refused orders to assassinate, Boris Berezovsky.
A law is passed that allows Russian traitors to be killed anywhere in the
world; a few months later – in November 2006 – Litvinenko is poisoned with
radioactive polonium-210 and dies.
This real-life story is told through a series of flashbacks and
flash-forwards covering events in Russia that lead Litvinenko to seek exile
and his family’s life in Muswell Hill. Extensive use is made of historic
The cast includes Andrew Watts (Head of the FSB), Andrew Slater (Boris
Berezovsky), Adrian Dwyer (Alexander Litvinenko) and Rebecca Bottone
Using a full chorus and a 52-piece orchestra, Bolton’s musical language is
contemporary, yet incorporates the lyrical tradition of the Russian
masters. He quotes from both opera and normal life: an army marching song,
a Moscow football team anthem and the Chechen national anthem.
The opera is sung in English, with some choruses in Russian.
La bohËme –
12 June – 8 July
Regularly voted as the world’s favourite opera – Puccini’s evocation of
life, love and death in Bohemian Paris at the turn of the century has had
audiences weeping into their handkerchiefs ever since its premiËre in 1896.
When penniless poet Rodolfo meets seamstress MimÏ they fall passionately in
love. But their happiness is threatened when Rodolfo learns that MimÏ is
product_title=Grange Park Opera, Surrey: 2021 season announced
product_id=Above: The Theatre in the Woods at West Horsley