Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Yes, as you probably heard by now, the owners of Garsington wanted their house back, so the opera had to move and is now operating on the Getty estate near Stokenchurch at Wormsley. Anthony Whitworth-Jones and the whole shooting match are now installed in a new, comfortable opera house (like Holland Park with fresh air at the sides). But the terrain is beautiful and lush, more so than any other country opera place in the U.K. that I know. Take a rug and a scarf. The food is first-class.

And the music/opera performance was up to the best Garsington standard. The work was Rossini's Turco in Italia on June 28, the other operas this year The Magic Flute and Vivaldi's La verita in cimento which does not mean Truth in Cement but Truth put to the Test (a British first performance).

Rossini was all of twenty-two when Turco was performed at La Scala in 1814 but the Milanese down-thumbed it, causing the composer to signify the fact to his mother on a postcard on which he had drawn a fiasco. But it soon turned into a success (a magnum?)

True, Turco does not contain as many hummable tunes as the Barber but it is an opera that works well on the stage, has a good plot (thanks to Romani) and fine music. It is an ensemble piece, therefore there are not many extended solos – but those there are are very effective, especially the heroine Fiorilla's big outburst where comedy turns serious (Rossini was influenced by seeing Cosi fan tutte in Naples) But irony is the name of Rossini's game as often as not. A link with Cosi is also forged by the presence in the cast of the Poet, an Alfonso near relation, who stirs the pudding, almost pointing the way to Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author a century later. Here in Turco we have a doting old husband, a flirtatious wife (Fiorilla) and a pair of exotic lovers: the eponymous Turk and the wife's youthful servant. The cast was consistently commendable, especially Fiorilla – Rebecca Nelson (UK début of a soprano from Texas) and her aged husband Geronino - the wonderful comic, supple-bodied baritone Geoffrey Dalton. The fluent production was by Martin Duncan and the witty sets were by Francis O'Connor. David Parry is a dab hand at anything he conducts. Here with the Garsington Opera Chorus and Orchestra he set the seal on an evening's entertainment that would merit a magnum any day of the week. Bravo, Garsington and congratulations on a successful move!

No comments: