Monday, 18 April 2011

Garsington Opera 2011 - innovative pavilion, great programme

Garsington Opera starts its first season at Wormsley Park, in even more spectacular settings.  Pictured is the new pavilion, strikingly innovative, with superlative acoustics, which could set new standards for open air theatre.  Garsington Opera's specialist repertoire is geared towards baroque and chamber opera, so naturalistic, unamplified sound dynamics are essential.

The pavilion is conceived as an elegant lightweight structure, say the architects Snell Associates, "elevated above the ground giving the appearance of ‘floating’ above the landscape". It was inspired by traditional Japanese theatres, linking performance space, function and the aesthetics of nature and gardens. Kabuki theatres, for example, use hanamichi or flower paths, extended platforms and bridges which connect the stage to the audience. The Garsington Opera  pavilion contains covered verandahs and terraces, which provide bars and spaces to linger and enjoy the landscape. In an English summer festival, the weather can be unpredictable, so if it rains, visitors won't get wet. More leg room, too ! 

Evan Green, for Sound Space Design, (Bob Essert), who created the new Garsington Opera acoustic, says "Outdoor, temporary and fabric are words not normally associated with outstanding enhance the feeling of being enveloped by sound, surfaces which provide reflections from the side have been created by twisting the form of the auditorium side wall panels to create so-called ‘acoustic sails’. Furthermore, the roof has been specifically shaped to provide reflections to all parts of the audience as well as back to the stage and into the orchestra pit. These reflections back to the stage are particularly important to enable the singers to experience the room and develop a strong sound. The shaping of the acoustic sails and roof together help the orchestra sound to reach the audience and provide an excellent balance of singer and orchestral sounds". Suspended above the main fabric roof, a mesh covering will drastically reduce the sound of rain.

Mozart's The Magic Flute opens the 2011 Garsington Opera season. Because it's the first opera in what promises to be a grand new era, it should be stunning. Martin André conducts and Olivia Fuchs directs, They collaborated on the acclaimed 2008 Garsington Opera  The Rake's Progress. The cast includes Sophie Bevan, Robert Murray,William Berger and many others.

David Parry, Rossini expert, who has helped make Garsington Opera's reputation in the genre, conducts Il turco in Italia. Martin Duncan directs. He did the wonderful Rossini Armida in 2010. Read about it  HERE. This is a director who understands music. He and Parry are an excellent combination. Mark Stone sings, with Ana Durlovski, Quirijn de Lang, and Geoffrey Dalton.

In the true Garsington Opera tradition, a true rarity, Vivaldi's La verità in cimento, "The truth put to the test".Vivaldi wrote about 100 operas, not all of which are preserved complete. In 2008, Garsington Opera  presented his L’incoronazione di Dario. Laurence Cummings conducts this time too, and David Freeman directs. Paul Nilon, Jean Rigby, Diana Montague and others ensure the singing will be good. The Garsington Opera 2012 season will include, appropriately, Vivaldi's L'Olympiade.

Public booking for this year's Garsington Opera Festival opens on 18th April. Tickets are still available, so please visit the website.The season runs from 2nd June to 5th July.

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