Four new productions at Grange Festival 2023 plus evenings of jazz

The Grange Festival is presenting four new productions (Così fan tutte, Orfeo ed Euridice / Dido and Aeneas and The Queen of Spades) combining new and established singers, including Dame Josephine Barstow as the Countess in The Queen of Spades. The Festival will have three conductors – Kirill Karabits, Harry Christophers and Paul Daniel – and in addition to the Bournemouth Symphony (The Festival’s resident orchestra), the season sees the return of The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra.

As is now Grange Festival style, the season finishes with a flourish with two evenings of jazz celebrating the extraordinary musical journey of the legendary American pianist and composer Duke Ellington.

Continuing its cycle of operas by Mozart, the 2023 season opens with a new production of the composer’s much-loved Così fan tutte (8 to 24 June), with a cast of established Mozartians as the star-crossed lovers. Soprano Samantha Clarke, a memorable Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2021, sings the role of Fiordiligi with mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately, a Festival favourite, as her sister Dorabella. Baritone Nicholas Lester, whose appearances with The Grange include Ford (Falstaff) and Lescaut (Manon Lescaut), returns as Guglielmo, whilst tenor Alessandro Fisher, winner of the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Award, sings the role of Ferrando. Having both appeared at the Festival in La Cenerentola in 2021, Carolina Lippo now returns as Despina and Christian Senn, renowned as a Mozart interpreter, takes the role of the puppet master Don Alfonso. Ukrainian conductor Kirill Karabits, Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, makes his Festival debut in this new production by director Martin Lloyd-Evans and designer Dick Bird, whose previous collaboration for The Grange was Mansfield Park in 2017.

In a rare and dramatically contrasting pairing, The Grange Festival presents an enticing early music double-bill: Gluck’s intensely moving Orfeo ed Euridice together with the first English opera, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (9 to 28 June). Returning to The Grange after their much-lauded collaboration on Belshazzar in 2019 and Tamerlano in 2022, is the creative team of Daniel Slater (director) and Robert Innes Hopkins (designer). Tim Claydon, who also worked on Belshazzar, is the movement director. In Orfeo ed Euridice, Heather Lowe, a Samling Scholar previously heard at The Grange in 2021 as Angelina (La Cenerentola), sings Orfeo, whilst Sophie Bevan (Asteria in Tamerlano) returns as Euridice and Alexandra Oomens, a Harewood Artist with ENO, makes her festival debut as Amore. All three singers also appear in Dido and Aeneas – Heather Lowe as Dido, Sophie Bevan as Belinda and Alexandra Oomens as 2nd Woman. They are joined by two rising stars also making their debuts with The Grange – James Newby as Aeneas and Helen Charlston as Sorceress/Spirit. This stellar cast is accompanied by the Choir and Orchestra of The Sixteen under their founding director Harry Christophers, making a welcome return to The Grange after their triumphant rendition of Belshazzar.

The fourth new production of the season – Tchaikovsky’s dramatic opera The Queen of Spades, based on Pushkin’s short story – will be created by Paul Curran (who directed the magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2021) and designer Gary McCann, and conducted by Paul Daniel in his debut at The Grange Festival (23 June to 2 July). A strong international cast is led by Ukrainian tenor Eduard Martynyuk in the demanding central role of Herman, with the acclaimed Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan, a former Jette Parker Artist, as his love interest Liza. A second Ukrainian, baritone Andrei Kymach, winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2019, makes his Festival debut as Count Tomsky alongside Russian baritone Ilya Kutyukhin as Prince Yeletsky and British bass Edwin Kaye as Surin. Returning to the Festival are British tenor David Webb as Chekalinsky, Christopher Gillett as Chaplitsky / Master of Ceremonies and Lucy Schaufer as Governess. Claire Barnett-Jones, winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2021, sings the role of Polina. The line-up is completed with the dream casting of Dame Josephine Barstow as the Countess.

Following its first foray into jazz in 2022, The Grange Festival will close its 2023 season with Ellington: From Stride to Strings – two nights in celebration of the extraordinary musical life of Duke Ellington, one of the jazz world’s most ground-breaking composers (30 June, 1 July). The evolution of Ellington’s music will be reimagined by a sextet of virtuoso musicians led by renowned trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, featuring iconic numbers such as Mood Indigo, Satin Doll and Take the A Train. These six musicians will then be joined by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra opening the second half of the evening with New World A-Comin’, featuring virtuoso pianist Mathis Picard. This will be followed by two specially commissioned works by Ethan Iverson, a composer and pianist known for his bold re-imaginings of familiar works: A Duke Ellington Symphonic Fantasy and a high-energy arrangement for orchestra and jazz sextet of the iconic C Jam Blues.

Artistic Director Michael Chance said, “Our 2023 festival is full of memorable music. Whether it is Orpheus singing of his deep loss, or Dido lamenting before her death, or the two unsuspecting young women wishing their fiancées a calm voyage away from Naples, or Prince Yeletsky’s powerful aria, these are all much anticipated operatic moments. And then we give you Duke Ellington. My expectations are high.”

General booking opens on 1 March 2023.

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