We went last night to Tristan and Isolde, the final performance of Grange Park Opera at the Grange, before they move to a brand new grand opera house at West Horsley Place, outside Guildford and closer to London (phew !). According to Simon Freakley, the chairman, who stood on stage before the performance, they have had 50 productions over 18 years. Now, their lease has been terminated. It was in some ways a sad occasion, standing on the terrace of William Wilkins’s great Greek Revival house, built for Henry Drummond in Roman cement in 1804, just after Wilkins had returned from three years travel in Greece and Asia Minor. But Tristan and Isolde was more tragic:-
There are few places more beautiful than the valley of The Grange on a summer evening, looking across the fields over the Baring’s estate with its nineteenth-century planting, some of which presumably dates back to the 1820s when Alexander Baring, the first Lord Ashburton, added the conservatory which is now the opera house. I went for the first night of Eugene Onegin, a wonderful opera, so full of drama and tragic misunderstanding.
This is the view from the Indian tent where we drank champagne and had tea after the performance:-
It was my annual visit to the Grange, always a pleasure to see Wilkins’s great Greek Revival mansion; and to find out what Wasfi has in store this year. It was Antony McDonald’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, not merely starring, but completely dominated by Bryn Terfel, his size, beard, acting and stage presence at least as much as his voice. It’s the first time I have ever experienced a full standing ovation:-