Michael Chance Countertenor

The Grange Festival

Announcing the 2020 season
27 October 2019
Our aim is to whet your appetite and invite you into our world of dreams and passions. And when you have made your choices, and committed to your visits next summer, I sincerely wish that your hopes and desires will be richly satisfied.

I am thrilled to be staging our first Puccini: Manon Lescaut, his first great success. A heart-wrenching tale of passion and despair, starring two young singers who have already turned heads and ears on The Grange stage, Elin Pritchard (Alice in Falstaff) sings Manon Lescaut, and Samuel Sakker, a winner in our 2017 singing competition, returns as Des Grieux. Conductor Francesco Cilluffo galvanized the BSO so stylishly in Falstaff and undoubtedly will do so again. Stephen Lawless, a colleague of many years, will bring vast international experience to create a new production for us.

I was privileged to sing at Benjamin Britten’s last public appearance a few weeks before he died in 1976 and have enjoyed a long association with Aldeburgh and its Festival ever since. It gives special pleasure to be staging probably his most globally performed opera, A Midsummer Night's Dream, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of its first performance in Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Flail, exactly where I sang to its composer. Another longstanding operatic colleague, Paul Curran recreates for us his hugely acclaimed production made originally for Valencia opera house. Our chorus master since 2017, Antony Kraus, conducts. Hampshire school children will play the fairies, and the cast showcases new and established vocal talent of the highest quality.

There is nothing quite so likely to raise the pulse as a slow building Rossini aria, piling on virtuosic vocal display and madcap Italian idiom and gradually accelerating towards musical exhilaration. We heard such two seasons ago in the Barber, and, by popular demand both of audience and performers, we return, with Cinderella. I am pleased to welcome back many of the same team complemented by international stars, some appearing in UK for the first time.

We are proud to present three evenings of Dance@TheGrange curated by Wayne McGregor. One of the UK’s best loved national ballet companies under their new world-famous Director will appear alongside Studio Wayne McGregor. This is ‘quite something’ to be able to announce. I have no doubt that this will be one of the hottest tickets of the Festival. Classical and modern ballet and some incredible contemporary dance will take the breath away. We will give you the names as soon as we can.

And we offer two evenings of a 'bonne bouche’, if one of the best-loved musicals of all can be squeezed into that epithet. My Fair Lady in full symphonic form - orchestra and chorus on stage, with the principals playing and singing the drama downstage, will be memorable. I personally cannot wait.

We are hugely excited about the scale of our first community opera Jonathan Dove’s The Monster in the Maze which acts as the finale of our 2020 Festival. I look forward to telling you more about it.

Last year you came in great numbers (around 95% attended every performance) and we were showered with critical plaudits. It seems we are on a bit of a roll. I relish the prospect of seeing you all again next year, with even more of your friends, and relations. Let us all enjoy being the ‘touchstone of English summer opera’.
Michael Chance, CBE
Announcing the 2019 season
22 January 2019
The editorial piece for the September edition of Opera magazine bemoans the slightly halfhearted engagement with Baroque opera in this country. It writes that the UK used to be the world leading pioneer in this field, and now just goes through the motions, compared with the rest of the world, which has most certainly caught up. And rather pleasingly, the same article chooses The Grange Festival as the one which can and should take the lead in this area. We will.

We started two years ago with Monteverdi (The return of Ulysses) and have just scored what Hugh Canning in the Sunday Times called 'a dazzling hit’ with Handel and Agrippina.

I want us to be a broad church, but there is no doubt that my own operatic roots lie predominantly in the Baroque, and, more especially, we are blessed with a theatre in which dramatic musical theatre from earlier periods can shine brightly.

Our second festival proved pretty dazzling across the range. Those openings evenings of dance were inspirational. To see many of the famous names of British Ballet and Dance on the Grange stage creating transcendental images was, frankly, extraordinary. And they kept saying they want to come back and do more. Our doors are always open. And our Rossini and Mozart productions proved hugely popular.

On The Grange Festival website you will find details of five separate events in the 2019 festival, Dance, three operas, and a one-off concert.

Handel returns in the form of a full staging of perhaps his most dramatic oratorio, Belshazzar. This has hardly ever been performed as a staged opera, and so we are definitely taking the lead on that front. And Mozart also returns with the one we all want to see again and again. Le nozze di Figaro. For both these productions, we are thrilled with the top-level international casts. Belshazzar is also a celebration, the 40th anniversary of The Sixteen. I must claim a minor link, in having performed with The Sixteen’s founder director, Harry Christophers continually during our parallel careers and having also been one of the quorum present at the first get-together in his Putney flat of what became The Sixteen. We are thrilled to provide the forum for this notable event.

Our third opera is Verdi. His joyous Falstaff was his glorious operatic swansong, full of banter, fun, and exhilarating ensembles. We can promise a wonderful cast, one of the best young Italian conductors, and a well-known RSC and West End director creating his first opera production.
The crowning glory is the welcome return of The John Wilson Orchestra, who perform Gershwin, Porter, Kern, Berlin and Bernstein better than anyone else. Frankly, who can resist?

We are always determined that your whole visit from early arrival to reluctant departure should be a delight. I look forward to welcoming you.
Michael Chance, CBE
Announcing the 2018 season
17 January 2018
We are selling tickets fast for the next and 2nd Grange Festival in June and July 2018. The first season was hugely ambitious and terrifically successful. A total of five operas performed under the banner of The Grange Festival, four in the amazing theatre at The Grange, and one at The Wallace Collection in London in November. And in addition we also managed a brilliantly received performance of Verdi Requiem with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (together with our own), with no fewer than 147 performers on stage at The Grange, and an unforgettable night of Rogers with both Hammerstein and Hart with the heavenly John Wilson Orchestra. And we put on our first international singing competition. For that we received almost 150 entries from 28 countries. It sounds breathless and exhilarating, and it was.

Dance comes to The Grange this summer for the first time. But, in fact, it’s not quite the first time because in November we had a sneak preview of the extraordinary Akram Khan and his company who showed us and 150 Hampshire sixth-formers a glimpse of his new world-touring show. You saw it first at The Grange ! This proved an eye-opening, mind-altering prelude to our own Dance production under the inspirational guidance of Wayne McGregor and Ed Watson from the Royal Ballet which opens our 2018 Festival. Queues round the block for this one. And our last performance, Candide (our way of celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s Hundredth year) has also proved a box -office hit. Our 3 operas aren’t doing too badly either, all miles ahead of last year in ticket sales so far, several weeks before public booking opens. They are Handel’s first smash hit (when he was 23) Agrippina; Rossini’s and opera’s most beloved comedy The Barber of Seville; and Mozart’s play-with-song, The Abduction from the Seraglio, (many Mozart lovers' secretly favourite opera).

There is so much which is crying out to be performed at The Grange, not just operas, but more and more dance, drama (who wouldn’t want to see Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream there, for instance ?), concerts, both classical and jazz, and (my secret wish) a Christmas show with all the trimmings.

When I had to think on my feet and come up with a name for this new festival, it would have been obvious in many ways to be hip and trendy, and call it Art in Arcadia, or Opera works, it really does or something which would have established an immediate departure from our recent past, but which didn’t celebrate the place, our glorious setting in Hampshire, or allow us to do a wealth of live performance there, under the all-encompassing title of Festival. And festive is what we should always try to be, as well as entertaining, and thrilling, and transformative and memorable. I know of no highly regarded composer or performer who doesn’t want his or her work to be white-hot, edge-of -your seat stuff and world-beating in quality. Welcome to The Grange Festival.
Michael Chance
Grange Festival announces new opera events for first season
Hampshire Chronicle, 22 December 2016

Hampshire's opera festival has announced its major new events for its first season next year.

Verdi’s Requiem and A Celebration of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart with The John Wilson Orchestra will all take place at the The Grange Festival in June and July 2017.

The programme also includes three operas never before staged at The Grange: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bizet’s Carmen and Britten’s Albert Herring.

The Grange Festival was founded in 2015 to continue opera at Grange Park in Northington.

Casts include established artists and a host of up-and-coming international singers including Robin Blaze, Anna Bonitatibus, Susan Gritton, Alastair Miles, Paul Nilon, Paul Whelan.

The season will open with Monteverdi’s masterpiece Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, in the 450th anniversary year of the composer’s birth.

The Grange Festival’s artistic director, Michael Chance, British stage director Tim Supple and designer Sumnant Jayakrishnan will join forces to create the production.

Verdi’s Requiem, with the full force of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, will be conducted by Italian conductor Francesco Cilluffo.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will also return with a brand-new production of Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by the French conductor Jean-Luc Tingaud and sung by leading Israeli mezzo-soprano Na’ama Goldman.

In their debut at The Grange, John Wilson and his Orchestra are joined by a host of guest soloists for an evening of songs from hit musicals including Oklahoma!, Carousel, The Sound of Music and South Pacific.

Exactly 70 years on from its first performances at Glyndebourne, Britten’s Albert Herring completes the inaugural season, with an all-British line-up of performers.

Michael Chance, artistic director of The Grange Festival, said: “The variety on offer is wide, and the quality of performers and directors we have managed to secure humbling. I am personally delighted that so many of my deeply-valued world-class colleagues have chosen to spend the summer with us at The Grange.

"The determination and resilience of many loyal and skilful friends have ensured a first Festival of real substance and allure, and I look forward to welcoming audiences to the many treats we have in store at our treasured opera house.”

Priority booking for The Grange Festival is now open and audiences are encouraged to become a Friend or Founder to gain access to the tickets: www.thegrangefestival.com.

General booking opens in Spring 2017.

Press release

The Grange Festival announces world premiere of a specially-commissioned orchestral version of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austin

16, 17, 23 & 24 September 2017

The Grange Festival’s Artistic Director Michael Chance is delighted to announce the world premiere staging of a new orchestral arrangement of Jonathan Dove’s critically-acclaimed chamber opera Mansfield Park in September 2017.

This production of Mansfield Park puts down a firm marker for The Grange Festival’s desire to extend its work outside the festival season. The Grange Festival’s inaugural summer season, 7 June-9 July 2017, includes brand new productions of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Bizet’s Carmen, Britten’s Albert Herring as well as a performance of Verdi’s Requiem and an evening devoted to the songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart with the John Wilson Orchestra. Mansfield Park, in September, is a welcome addition for the year, and the first world premiere of specially-commissioned work to take place at The Grange.

This newly-orchestrated version of Mansfield Park has been commissioned from Jonathan Dove by The Grange Festival to celebrate the serendipity of two significant milestones for Hampshire occurring in 2017: the 200th anniversary of the death of Austen, and the inaugural season of The Grange Festival in the heart of the county with what promises to be a highly entertaining musical staging of one of her best-loved novels.

Mansfield Park was originally written by Jonathan Dove to a libretto by Alasdair Middleton based on the novel by Jane Austen for a cast of ten singers with four hands at a single piano. The scale of this new version, with 12 musicians instead of piano, is ideally suited to the theatre of The Grange, and its setting in the magical estate hidden away in the Hampshire countryside, famed for its Greek revivalist architecture and overlooking an ornamental lake. It can be imagined as Mansfield Park itself.

The commission also allows a continued relationship between the works of Austen, one of the world’s most recognized and admired authors, and Jonathan Dove, one of Britain’s most successful living composers. This orchestration of Mansfield Park follows a year in which Dove’s The Monster in the Maze, a new community opera commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, was performed under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle in three separate productions and was a finalist at the International Opera Awards.

The Grange will bring together director Matin Lloyd Evans and conductor David Parry. The youthful configuration of roles will allow the opportunity to cast some of the brightest and best of the newest vocal talents in this county, with full casting being announced in the Spring.

The Grange Festival’s Artistic Director Michael Chance said:

“I am so pleased that Jonathan Dove has agreed to orchestrate Mansfield Park for The Grange Festival. It’s such a perfect piece for our gem of a theatre. The setting and the conceit of a play within a play is a crucial part of Jane Austen’s story - in a house within the house which gives rise to a unique relationship between the opera and the company. My hope is that devotees of Jane Austen, of opera and of The Grange will all come to see what promises to be a highly entertaining musical staging of one of her best-loved stories.”

Nicholas Suffolk, Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager at Hampshire County Council, sad:

“We are delighted that The Grange Festival is staging the world premiere of Mansfield Park. The performances will form an important part of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations; a programme of exhibitions, performances, lectures and more, celebrating Hampshire author Jane Austen on the 200th anniversary of her death. We aim to bring national and international audiences to our county to celebrate Jane’s life in Hampshire, and partners like The Grange Festival is key to doing this. They make a valuable contribution to the cultural life of the county.”

Priority Booking for The Grange Festival is now open and audiences are encouraged to become a Friend or Founder to gain access to the tickets: www.thegrangefestival.co.uk .
General booking opens in Spring 2017.

For further press information, please contact:
Cécile Beauvillard Burman or Victoria Bevan at Albion Media
cecile@albion-media.com ■ 020 3077 4943 ■ 07527 490124
victoria@albion-media.com ■ 020 3077 4947 ■07917 764318

About The Grange Festival

The Grange Festival was founded in 2015 to continue opera at Grange Park in Northington. A magical estate hidden away in the Hampshire countryside, famed for its Greek revival architecture and overlooking an ornamental lake, The Grange has an award-winning theatre which is intimate yet flexible and known for its excellent acoustics.

The only opera festival in the country with a singer as Artistic Director, The Grange Festival is committed to bringing the highest standards of performance to audiences through a range of opera and theatrical work by working with world-class directors, musicians from the UK and abroad and creating the most exciting artistic collaborations. In the years ahead, The Grange Festival aims to make its work as accessible as possible through an ambitious programme of events and education work, which will utilise the theatre for more of the year, as well as extensive outreach work and a subsidised ticket scheme.


Opening in 2017
1 June 2016

Opening with four productions and nineteen performances, The Grange Festival is the largest opera company to launch in the UK in over a century. Based at the award-winning opera house at The Grange in Hampshire, the first season will feature operas by Monteverdi, Mozart, Bizet and Britten. Recent appointments to the board and management team include Sir Charles Haddon-Cave, Alan Titchmarsh, Managing Editor of Classic, FM Sam Jackson and the co-founder of Grange Park Opera, Michael Moody.

As Artistic Director, Michael will make The Grange an international hub of cultural excellence. The incredible artistic collaborations that Michael has created for 2017 have already made the headlines and there are exciting and innovative plans for 2018 and beyond.

For more information about the first season in 2017 and for details about how you can help support this new dynamic opera company, please sign up to the mailing list at www.thegrangefestival.co.uk

Press release
21 October 2015

New plans for Opera Festival at Grange Park

Lord Ashburton and his son Mark Baring, owners of the Grange and its park at Northington in Hampshire, today announced that a new company has been formed to continue the annual opera seasons, following the upcoming departure of the existing company after the 2016 Season.

The Grange Festival will have its inaugural season in 2017 in the widely-admired theatre, directed by internationally-acclaimed counter-tenor Michael Chance. The annual opera festival will continue to run as now in June and July with programming for 2017 due to begin shortly. A Board of Trustees is being formed and will be chaired by The Hon. Sir Charles Haddon-Cave.

Since 1998 the Grange Estate has hosted Grange Park Opera (GPO), an independent opera company, at Grange Park and the Baring family had hoped to agree terms to renew their lease. However, 2016 will be the last GPO season at the Estate.

Mark Baring said of the plans announced today:

“It has been wonderful to have opera at Grange Park each summer and we are delighted to announce that we will continue to do so. A great deal has been achieved in nearly twenty years, thanks to GPO, co-founders Wasfi Kani and Michael Moody and their staff, and the generosity and commitment of many supporters, donors and visitors. We look forward to working with The Grange Festival to continue what has become a much-loved cultural event. We are extremely fortunate to have two very talented people to lead and chair the new company and, with the encouragement of many other loyal supporters, we much look forward to 2017 and many years beyond.”

Michael Chance, Artistic Director of The Grange Festival, commented:

“I am particularly excited about the range of possibilities which this extraordinary venue, and jewel of a theatre, offers. I am confident that more than three decades of treading boards and vocal communication will stand me in good stead for this exhilarating challenge, and I look forward to building on the 18-year operatic legacy at Grange Park, which has been truly remarkable. My first task is to assemble a small experienced management team.”

More information on the company and programme will be announced in due course. Anyone wanting more information or to contact The Grange Festival should visit www.thegrangefestival.co.uk and email info@thegrangefestival.co.uk .

The Grange Festival, Hampshire
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December 22, 2016
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October 21, 2015
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