Opera Vision features Der Rosenkavalier from  the Garsington Opera

For those of us not familiar with Opera Vision or with the Garsington Opera or with both, here’s a bief bit of background.

Supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe program, OperaVision builds on the success of more opera companies from more countries, under the editorial supervision of Opera Europa, the European association of opera companies and festivals. OperaVision brings together 29 partners from 17 countries and invites you to travel and discover the diversity of opera from wherever you want, whenever you want.

Garsington Opera gives performances of great artistic quality in a setting of extraordinary natural beauty. Performances take place in the spectacular Opera Pavilion, which sits within the rolling landscape of the Chiltern Hills, less than an hour from London.

Garsington Opera was founded in 1989 by the late Leonard Ingrams and his wife Rosalind at Garsington Manor, near Oxford. Following Leonard’s untimely death, Garsington Opera moved to the Wormsley Estate, home of the Getty family, in 2011.

The festival presents a program of four operas each year during a seven-week summer period, often including a Mozart opera, and also champions less-known works which have included a number of notable British premieres to include Haydn’s Orlando Paladino, Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade, and Rossini’s ArmidaL’equivoco stravagante and Maometto secondo.

Productions have also been taken to a number of European festivals and the company’s 2007 production of Richard Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena was presented at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

The current production of the Garsington Opera is Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. I am personally averse to updates of operas in which a director chooses to set a work in a time and place different from that intended by its original creators. This sort of practice often leads to productions where costuming and stage sets try to replace good work with singing actors and where characterization and behavior remains unattended resulting in mediocre acting trying to pass for good. The Garsington Opera Der Rosenkavalier production is set in a mid-century Vienna that could as easily be Paris or Milan or New York or any major city where Christian Dior’s fashion design ruled. The concept works and is enthusiastically embraced by director Bruno Ravella, who works wonders with his four principals and with a large cast of your artists and seasoned comprimarios. Jordan de Souza’s mastery of the score is remarkable.

In the current Der Rosenkavalier from Garsington Opera the Swedish soprano Miah Persson stands out as a superb Marschallin. Recognized for years as a gorgeous Sophie in the same opera, Ms. Persson, now in her early fifties brings tremendous dramatic poignancy to the role of a beautiful woman cognizant of the fact that her physical charms are disappearing, and along with them the hold she has over the young Count Octavian, easily three decades younger than her. In addition to her detailed and charming characterization, Ms. Persson sings as gloriously as any Marshallin in memory, and goodness knows that is some  very illustrious company, one in which she can now hold her own.

In the Garsington cast Miah Persson is in excellent company, with Polish mezzo-soprano Hannah Hipp an excellent, boyish Octavian, American soprano Madison Leonard an enchanting Sophie, and Derrick Ballard a bass-baritone who, for a refreshing change of pace, actually sings rather than barks Baron Ochs’ notes and is very funny to boot.

I found this production fresh, inventive, and invigorating and trust you will too.

Rafael de Acha    ALL ABOU THE ARTS