Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September 2017
The Grange Festival’s Artistic Director Michael Chance is delighted to announce the world premiere staging of a new orchestral version of Mansfield Park, the critically-acclaimed chamber opera by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton, 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 in patria, Bizet’s Carmen, Britten’s Albert Herring, as well as a performance of Verdi’s Requiem and an evening devoted to the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart with the John Wilson Orchestra. Mansfield Park, in September, is a welcome addition to the year, and the first world premiere of specially-commissioned work to take place at The Grange.
This newly-orchestrated version of Mansfield Park was 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 13 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 Revival 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 recognised 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 won a BASCA for The Monster in the Maze, a community opera commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and performed under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle in three separate productions.
The Grange Festival production will bring together director Martin Lloyd-Evans and conductor David Parry. The cast celebrates the best of British – a dream team of some of the best emerging talent with well-known stars. Casting includes Martha Jones (Fanny Price), Sarah Pring (Lady Bertram), Grant Doyle (Sir Thomas Bertram), Angharad Lyddon (Julia Bertram), Henry Neill (Edmund Bertram), Jeni Bern (Aunt Norris), Daisy Brown (Mary Crawford), Nick Pritchard (Henry Crawford) and Oliver Johnston (Mr Rushworth).
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 Culture Trust, said: “We are delighted that The Grange Festival is staging this 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 are key to doing this. They make a valuable contribution to the cultural life of the county.”