Waterperry Opera Festival has revealed its full programme for 2021. Taking place from 12-21 August, the event comprises six new productions and a revival of a past success, plus Young Artist events and a series of pre-show talks.
The headline show is Dan Ayling’s new English-language production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love (1832). These evening performances will take place in the open air on the front lawn of Waterperry House, Oxford. The production will be conducted by Festival Music Director Bertie Baigent and stars British-Irish soprano Alison Langer and South African tenor Thando Mjandana in the main roles of Adina and Nemorino, respectively. The libretto is by singer-songwriter Kelly Rouke.
A new chamber version of Humperdinck’s timeless fairytale opera Hansel and Gretel (1893) will be performed in the Waterperry woodland. This new English translation is directed by Associate Artistic Director Rebecca Meltzer along with Music Director Ashley Beauchamp. Scottish mezzo-soprano Katie Coventry and English-Japanese soprano Julia Mariko Smith sing the respective title roles.
Running at just over an hour, with no interval, the show is aimed at families and each performance will be preceded by a 45-minute music theatre and craft workshop exploring the opera’s themes.
A new dramatised production of Prokofiev’s symphonic fairytale Peter and the Wolf (1936) is a site-specific event taking place around the lily pond in the gardens at Waterperry. Directed by Artistic Director and CEO Guy Withers and conducted by Bertie Baigent, this immersive performance aims to “introduce children to classical instruments through vibrant storytelling,” Waterperry Opera said in a statement.
Messiaen’s chamber music piece Quartet for the End of Time (1941) has been reimagined by visual artist Anne-Héloise Dautel as a late-night music and light installation. Led from the piano by Bertie Baigent, it will be performed in Waterperry’s amphitheatre. It also features Matthew Wilsher on clarinet, Samuel Ng on cello and Gabi Jones on violin.
A revival of a 2020 production of Jonathan Dove’s song-cycle Ariel (1998) returns to the Mary Rose Garden. Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the piece offers an insight into Ariel’s world following the spirit’s release from Prospero’s command. Written for an unaccompanied soprano, it is performed by Daniella Sicari.
Two further newly staged productions will take place in the woodland: Clairières dans le ciel (Clearings in the Sky, 1914), a song-cycle by Lili Boulanger setting the poetry of Francis Jammes, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s On Wenlock Edge, a song-cycle setting the poetry of A E Housman. Written for voice, piano and string quartet, both productions are directed by Emma Doherty. The musicians will be joined by soprano Siân Dicker for the former and tenor Ted Black for the latter.
The festival also includes a range of free events. The Young Artist events will be performed, directed and conducted by the emerging talent on Waterperry Opera’s Young Artist Programme. Young Artist Opera Scenes will showcase artists taking part in this year’s programme, offering the opportunity to witness stars of the future perform well-known and beloved arias and ensembles.
There is a programme of talks throughout the festival. These will delve into themes prevalent in each of the operas being performed during the festival, as well as looking at relevant topics within the wider world of opera, including subjects as varied as how to create opera for the open air and accessibility within the artform.
Audiences can just show up to the talks, but free tickets must be booked in advance for the Young Artist events.
For further information and to book your tickets, visit the Waterperry Opera Festival website.
The 2021 Waterperry Opera Festival will take place this August and features a variety of new productions including well-known favourites Hansel and Gretel and The Elixir of Love.