Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September 2017
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, as part of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations. Hailed as a “tour de force” of “boundless energy” (Opera) when it was first performed in 2011, Mansfield Park is the only one of Jane Austen’s works to have been adapted for opera.
Originally written for a cast of ten singers with four hands at a single piano, this new version was commissioned by The Grange Festival especially for the award-winning theatre at The Grange and will be the first production to be staged there outside of the main summer season. It will also be the first world premiere of a specially-commissioned work to take place at The Grange. A magical estate hidden away in the Hampshire countryside – the county where Austen spent most of her life – and famed for its Greek Revival architecture, open vistas to the lake, majestic staircase and dining room, it’s hard to imagine a better setting for the opera.
This new version of Mansfield Park will be fully-staged, with 13 musicians from The Grange Festival’s Resident Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, alongside students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music & Dance, outstanding young musicians on the brink of world-class professional careers.
The Grange Festival production brings together director Martin Lloyd-Evans, conductor David Parry and designer Dick Bird. The cast combines some of the best emerging talent with well-known singers including 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). One of Jane Austen’s best-loved novels, Mansfield Park is a rags-to-riches satirical comedy of manners.
Fanny Price, a Cinderella-like heroine desperate to fly the nest, cleverly fights her way through the moral perils of high society, from landscape gardening and balls to amateur theatricals and arranged marriages, to win the hand of the man she has loved all her life.
Artistic Director Michael Chance comments: “I’m delighted that Jonathan Dove has agreed to orchestrate Mansfield Park for The Grange Festival to celebrate Jane Austen 200. It’s such a perfect piece for our gem of a theatre. The setting and the conceit of a play within a play is a crucial part of Jane Austen’s story - in a house within the house which gives rise to a unique relationship between the opera and the company. The response to our first season, both from the audience and the media, has exceeded our wildest expectations. It is wonderful to be able to put on shows for our audiences beyond the summer festival season.”
Nicholas Suffolk, Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager at Hampshire Culture Trust, the team behind Jane Austen 200 said: “We are delighted that The Grange Festival is staging this premiere of Mansfield Park. The performances will form an important part of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations; a programme of exhibitions, performances, lectures and more, celebrating Hampshire author Jane Austen on the 200th anniversary of her death. We aim to bring national and international audiences to our county to celebrate Jane’s life in Hampshire, and partners like The Grange Festival are key to doing this. They make a valuable contribution to the cultural life of the county.”