Nominated for ‘Festival of the Year’ in the 2023 International Opera Awards, The Grange Festival is in celebratory mode as it moves towards its new season in 2024.
Having firmly established its place on the artistic world stage since its inception in 2017, the Hampshire-based Festival continues to hone its reputation and impress with its unique blend of exceptional singers, dancers, musicians, conductors, creative teams and innovative concepts.
The 2024 Festival opens on 6 June with the first-ever visit to the UK by The National Ballet of Brno (Národní divadlo Brno Balet) who will perform Oktetto, a specially-curated evening of classical ballet and dance, as part of their centenary celebrations. The Festival continues with new productions of three operas that span almost 400 years – Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Puccini’s Tosca and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress -featuring familiar and new faces amongst the casts and creative teams; and ends with A French Salon, two sensational evenings of Gallic-related music which showcase the spectacular artistry of multi-award-winning jazz musicians Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Dan Tepfer.
Two hugely-successful creative teams return in 2024:following their successful production of Agrippina in 2018 director Walter Sutcliffe and designer Jon Bausor reunite for another early opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea, whilst director Christopher Luscombe and designer Simon Higlett, the team behind Falstaff in 2019, will bring Tosca to The Grange Festival for the first time. Also returning are Festival favourites Anna Bonitatibus, Kitty Whately, Jonathan Lemalu, Andrés Presno and Alexandra Oomens with exciting debuts by Christopher Lowrey, Vanessa Waldhart, Francesca Tiburzi, Andrew Manea, Adam Temple-Smith, Michael Mofidian and Rosie Aldridge. In the pit, The Grange Festival welcomes the debut of La Nuova Musica, founded in 2007 by English conductor David Bates who will conduct the vocal and instrumental ensemble in L’incoronazione di Poppea. The Festival’s resident orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, then returns for Tosca under the baton of Festival stalwart Francesco Cilluffo, The Rake’s Progress conducted by Tom Primrose, and the latter half of A French Salon.
In celebration of the Company’s centenary and its UK debut, Mário Radačovský, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Brno, has curated Oktetto for The Grange Festival (6 June). From jewels of the classical ballet repertoire through neoclassical choreography to contemporary dance, Oktetto includes classical pas de deux from Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Harlequinade and Don Quixote, choreographed by Marius Petipa, to original choreography by Mário Radačovský with music by Schubert, Rossini and a newly-commissioned choreography of John Tavener’s The Hidden Face. A significant part of the programme will be Nacho Duato’s captivating ballet Gnawa, set to music incorporating Spanish and North African sounds.
Premièred in 1643 and regarded as the first great work of baroque musical theatre, Monteverdi’s last opera L’incoronazione di Poppea (7 to 22 June) is the first of three operas to be presented during the 2024 season. This new production, in partnership with Oper Halle, reunites the creative team of the Festival’s hugely-acclaimed production of Agrippina in 2018: director Walter Sutcliffe, designer Jon Bausor, lighting designer Wolfgang Göbbel and Italian mezzo-soprano Anna Bonitatibus as Ottavia/Virtu. The international stellar cast also includes debuts by British tenor Sam Furness as Nerone, American countertenor Christopher Lowrey in the role of Ottone and German soprano Vanessa Waldhart as Drusilla, with British mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately and New Zealand bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu returning as Poppea and Seneca respectively. Fiona Kimm sings the role of Nutrice, Frances Gregory in the roles of Arnalta/Famigliare 1, Gwilym Bowen as Soldato 1/Lucano/Famigliare 2, Jorge Navarro Colorado as Soldato 2/Liberto and Armand Rabot as Mercurio/Famigliare 3. David Bates makes his Festival debut conducting La Nuova Musica, an ensemble dedicated to the music of the Baroque and Classical periods.
A trio of exciting young stars come together in Tosca, Puccini’s “shabby little shocker”, which makes its first appearance at The Grange Festival (8 to 30 June). Having thrilled audiences throughout Europe with her portrayal of the great diva Floria Tosca, Italian soprano Francesca Tiburzi now sings the title role at The Grange, making both her Festival and UK debut. Uruguayan tenor Andrés Presno, a former Jette Parker Young Artist who made his Festival debut in 2022 as Malcolm (Macbeth), returns in the role of Cavaradossi, whilst Romanian-American baritone Andrew Manea makes his Festival debut as Scarpia. Comprimario roles are performed by Dan D’Souza (Angelotti), Vladimir Mihai-Sima (Spoletta), Stuart Orme (Sciarrone) and Darren Jeffery (Sacristan). This new production of Tosca is in the hands of conductor Francesco Cilluffo, director Christopher Luscombe and designer Simon Higlett, the team who unforgettably masterminded the hugely well-received production of Falstaff in 2019.
The Rake’s Progress, the third new production of the 2024 season (23 June to 6 July), will be created by the prize-winning director/designer Antony McDonald and conducted by Tom Primrose, a former chorus master at The Grange Festival. The cast is a line-up of great British and UK-based talent: emerging tenor Adam Temple-Smith and soprano Alexandra Oomens (who was critically praised as Euridice and Belinda in the 2023 double bill) sing the young lovers Tom Rakewell and Anne Trulove, bass-baritone Michael Mofidian is Nick Shadow, Rosie Aldridge Baba the Turk, Catherine Wyn-Rogers Mother Goose and John Graham-Hall the Auctioneer, Sellem. Having made his Festival debut in L’incoronazione di Poppea, baritone Armand Rabot, winner of the 2023 Grange Festival Prize for ‘Most Outstanding Young Performer, returns to the stage as The Keeper of the Madhouse.
The final offering of the 2024 season sees The Grange Festival delve once more into the world of jazz as it showcases the unique talents of two outstanding Franco-American artists, Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and pianist Dan Tepfer, with both musicians exploring their French heritage. They will be joined on the stage by their special guest, French pianist Thomas Enhco. Produced for the Festival by 23Arts, A French Salon presents a wide array of Gallic-related music over two nights (28 and 29 June), including chansons made famous by three great female singers – Josephine Baker, Barbara and Edith Piaf – and the world première of a song cycle written by Dan for Cécile and string orchestra with lyrics by Haitian poet Virginie Sampeur. Under the baton of Gavin Sutherland, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will accompany Dan in a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and will also join Cécile and Dan for a show-stopping finale of new orchestral arrangements by Philippe Maniez of French songs, including Édith Piaf’s captivating chanson Mon Dieu and Jacques Brel’s classic Ne me quitte pas.
Artistic Director Michael Chance comments: “The 2024 Grange Festival programme is a rich festive mix. Three anniversaries are celebrated (Giacomo Puccini, The National Ballet of Brno and John Tavener); the best and original piece of baroque musical theatre is given the full treatment, fizzing with delicious ear-catching intrigue; Puccini’s stirring melodrama seems ripe for our intimate theatre; and Stravinsky’s adored period-piece morality tale is going to be both stylish and visceral at The Grange, and we are delighted to have dance return to the Festival to open our 2024 season. And we welcome two young jazz luminaries, Cécile McLorin Savant, already laden with Grammies, paired with the ground-breaking extraordinary pianist/composer Dan Tepfer. Our resident orchestra BSO plays for all except Poppea for which we welcome La Nuova Musica, stars in their historical firmament. We cannot wait.”