“If there’s going to be equality between the sexes, then let us have it!”
An angry creditor, a reclusive widow, a loyal servant and a pair of pistols are the ingredients for an unlikely romance in William Walton’s adaptation of Chekhov’s comedy.
Filmed and recorded live on location in Stone House over two days in April 2021, Walton’s witty one-act opera reunites the cast and creative team of Opera Holland Park’s acclaimed 2019 production of Il segreto di Susanna.
Conducted by John Andrews, direct by John Wilkie, designed by takis and filmed by Simon Wall, The Bear stars mezzo-soprano Clare Presland, baritone Richard Burkhard and bass-baritone John Savournin. Also on screen are pianist Fran Hills, violinist Ruth Funnell, bassoonist Christopher Rawley, harpist Stephanie Beck and percussionist Glyn Matthews of Opera Holland Park’s resident orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia.
Making full use of the Georgian interior of Stone House, The Bear draws its audience into an argument that becomes an affair as Yelena Popova (Presland) and Grigory Smirnov (Burkhard) fall furiously in love, to the astonishment of Popova’s retainer and protector, Luka (Savournin). Laced with allusions to Massenet, Strauss, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky, Walton’s witty 1967 score sparkles in this chamber reduction by Jonathan Lyness.
The Bear will be screened every night at 7.30pm from 9–13 November on the Opera Holland Park website on a ‘Pay What you Feel’ basis.
ABOVE: Richard Burkhard as Smirnov, Clare Presland as Popova, John Savournin as Luka and conductor John Andrews in The Bear at Stone House for Opera Holland Park, 2021 © Laima Arlauskaite