Country house opera

Country house opera

Country house opera is opera performed at a country house, whether in the house itself, in the grounds, or in an adapted or purpose built theatre in the grounds. It is a feature in particular of the English summer. Country house opera is usually initiated by private enthusiasts, and relies on private funding. This distinguishes it from the UK's state subsidised opera companies which, like most opera houses around the world, are based in city centres. Black tie is often de rigueur, in contrast with Covent Garden and other city operas where casual clothing is often acceptable.

The performances of country house opera are generally planned to provide a leisurely and elegant experience, with time for picnics on the lawns or a full meal in the interval, and often start in the late afternoon. "The English have always liked picnicking in the summer and if you can throw in a bit of entertainment, then that's even better" said a former manager at the Sydney Opera House, attributing the popularity of country house opera in England to "the wonderful adventurous spirit of the British.... The British like to go out and find a new place. No one in Australia would go out if they had to take a picnic and it was going to rain."[1]

The most important landmark in country house opera was the opening of Glyndebourne Opera House in 1934. Glyndebourne has gradually expanded so that it now has a 1,200-seat theatre and is one of the most prominent opera companies in the United Kingdom, performing both at its home venue and on tour. Other venues which put on a regular season include Garsington Opera, Longborough Festival Opera in Gloucestershire, Grange Park Opera in Hampshire, Bampton Classical Opera in Oxfordshire and Opéra de Baugé, established by an English family in the Loire Valley. There are also a number of touring companies that tour to several country houses each summer.

See also


External links

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