Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Interviews

Mark Padmore reflects on Britten's Death in Venice

“At the start, one knows ‘bits’ of it,” says tenor Mark Padmore, somewhat wryly, when I meet him at the Stage Door of the Royal Opera House where the tenor has just begun rehearsals for David McVicar’s new production of Death in Venice, which in November will return Britten’s opera to the ROH stage for the first time since 1992.

An interview with Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Oxford Lieder Festival's first Associate Composer

“Trust me, I’m telling you stories …”

In conversation with Nina Brazier

When British opera director Nina Brazier tries to telephone me from Frankfurt, where she is in the middle of rehearsals for a revival of Florentine Klepper’s 2015 production of Martinů’s Julietta, she finds herself - to my embarrassment - ‘blocked’ by my telephone preference settings. The technical hitch is soon solved; but doors, in the UK and Europe, are certainly very much wide open for Nina, who has been described by The Observer as ‘one of Britain’s leading young directors of opera’.

Bill Bankes-Jones on the twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival

“We need to stop talking about ‘diversity’ and think instead about ‘inclusivity’,” says Bill Bankes-Jones, when we meet to talk about the forthcoming twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival which runs from 24th July to 10th August.

An interview with composer Dani Howard

The young Hong Kong-born British composer Dani Howard is having quite a busy year.

Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy on Salzburg, Sellars and Singing

For Peter Sellars, Mozart’s Idomeneo is a ‘visionary’ work, a utopian opera centred on a classic struggle between a father and a son written by an angry 25-year-old composer who wanted to show the musical establishment what a new generation could do.

London Bel Canto Festival 2019: an interview with Ken Querns-Langley

“Physiognomy, psychology and technique.” These are the three things that determine the way a singer’s sound is produced, so Ken Querns-Langley explains when we meet in the genteel surroundings of the National Liberal Club, where the training programmes, open masterclasses and performances which will form part the third London Bel Canto Festival will be held from 5th-24th August.

Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park: in conversation with Alison Langer

“Sop. Page, attendant on the King.” So, reads a typical character description of the loyal page Oscar, whose actions, in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, unintentionally lead to his monarch’s death. He reveals the costume that King Gustavo is wearing at the masked ball, thus enabling the monarch’s secretary, Anckarstroem, to shoot him. The dying King falls into the faithful Oscar’s arms.

Martin Duncan directs the first UK staging of Offenbach's Fantasio at Garsington

A mournful Princess forced by her father into an arranged marriage. A Prince who laments that no-one loves him for himself, and so exchanges places with his aide-de-camp. A melancholy dreamer who dons a deceased jester’s motley and finds himself imprisoned for impertinence.

Thomas Larcher's The Hunting Gun at the Aldeburgh Festival: in conversation with Peter Schöne

‘Aloneness’ does not immediately seem a likely or fruitful subject for an opera. But, loneliness and isolation - an individual’s inner sphere, which no other human can truly know or enter - are at the core of Yasushi Inoue’s creative expression.

In interview with Polly Graham, Artistic Director of Longborough Festival Opera

What links Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Cavalli’s La Calisto? It sounds like the sort of question Paul Gambaccini might pose to contestants on BBC Radio 4’s music quiz, Counterpoint.

Six Charlotte Mew Settings: in conversation with composer Kate Whitley

Though she won praise from the literary greats of her day, including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound and Siegfried Sassoon, the Victorian poet Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was little-known among the contemporary reading public. When she visited the Poetry Bookshop of Harold Monro, the publisher of her first and only collection, The Farmer’s Bride (1916), she was asked, “Are you Charlotte Mew?” Her reply was characteristically diffident and self-deprecatory: “I’m sorry to say I am.”

"It Lives!": Mark Grey 're-animates' Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

“It lives!” So cries Victor Frankenstein in Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein on beholding the animation of his creature for the first time. Peake might equally have been describing the novel upon which he had based his 1823 play which, staged at the English Opera House, had such a successful first run that it gave rise to fourteen further adaptations of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novella in the following three years.

Unknown, Remembered: in conversation with Shiva Feshareki

It sounds like a question from a BBC Radio 4 quiz show: what links Handel’s cantata for solo contralto, La Lucrezia, Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, and the post-punk band Joy Division?

Remembering and Representing Dido, Queen of Carthage: an interview with Thomas Guthrie

The first two instalments of the Academy of Ancient Music’s ‘Purcell trilogy’ at the Barbican Hall have posed plentiful questions - creative, cultural and political.

Angelika Kirchschlager's first Winterreise

In the opera house and on the concert platform, we are accustomed to ‘women being men’, as it were. From heroic knights to adolescent youths, women don the armour and trousers, and no-one bats an eyelid.

Mascagni's Isabeau at Opera Holland Park: in conversation with David Butt Philip

Opera directors are used to thinking their way out of theatrical, dramaturgical and musico-dramatic conundrums, but one of the more unusual challenges must be how to stage the spectacle of a young princess’s naked horseback-ride through the streets of a city.

The Moderate Soprano : Q&A with Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam

Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam play Audrey Mildmay and John Christie in David Hare’s play The Moderate Soprano which is currently at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

No Time in Eternity: Iestyn Davies discusses Purcell and Nyman

Revolution, repetition, rhetoric. On my way to meet countertenor Iestyn Davies, I ponder if these are the elements that might form connecting threads between the music of Henry Purcell and Michael Nyman, whose works will be brought together later this month when Davies joins the viol consort Fretwork for a thought-provoking recital at Milton Court Concert Hall.

Garsington's Douglas Boyd on Strauss and Skating Rinks

‘On August 3, 1941, the day that Capriccio was finished, 682 Jews were killed in Chernovtsy, Romania; 1,500 in Jelgava, Latvia; and several hundred in Stanisławów, Ukraine. On October 28, 1942, the day of the opera’s premiere in Munich, the first convoy of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 90 percent of them went to the gas chamber.’

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Interviews

Garsington Opera Pavillion
29 Apr 2013

Douglas Boyd on Garsington Opera at Wormsley

“Aim for excellence”, says Douglas Boyd, new Artistic Director of Garsington Opera at Wormsley, “and the audience will follow you”.

Douglas Boyd, Artistic Director, Garsington Opera at Wormsley

An interview by Anne Ozorio

Above: Garsington Opera Pavillion

 

Excellence is an ideal he learned from his earliest days as a musician, playing the oboe in Claudio Abbado’s European Community Youth Orchestra and later in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. “Abbado has an absolutely enormous influence on me”, he adds, explaining how Abbado’s ideals shape his vision for Garsington Opera at Wormsley.

“Abbado instilled into us right from the start that excellence is a fundamental to strive for. It’s not a given. Although we were young, we played each concert as if our lives depended on it. So my mantra is “dedication and energy”. When you aim for the highest possible level of excellence, then you start with a fighting chance”.

Abbado also inspired Boyd’s approach to opera conducting. “He was one of those rare people who could allow singers room to breathe and also create a strong sense of ensemble between pit and stage. You’ve got to give musicians space. If you conduct them as if you were a military policeman, it’s horrible. Abbado was wonderful, he was tight in the best way, in the most musical way, and he had this incredible sense of the scope of the entire opera. He is an icon for me”.

With a solid background in orchestral music, Boyd brings a strong musical focus. He has conducted the Musikkollegium Winterthur, the Manchester Camerata, The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, most of the leading orchestras in Britain, the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne, Orchestre National de Lyon, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. He also conducts regularly in Japan and the United States.

Boyd comes to Garsington Opera at Wormsley at a critical phase in its development. “We all loved Garsington Manor because there was something so quirkily, beautifully English about it. But now we’ve got this wonderful new home at Wormsley. The Pavilion is world-class, it’s racheted things up to a whole new level in artistic terms. It’s still an intimate performance space, seating 600, but it was purpose-built so the facilities are better. The acoustic is very good, and we have an enormous stage space which we didn’t have before, and the backstage area is much better, too. This gives us opportunities to explore operas in a chamber-like setting where every gesture, every sound is vital to the audience’s enjoyment. Yet we still have that indoor/outdoor feel and natural light”. He adds “and we’re improving the heating system”.

“Wormsley is an idyll. You can’t underestimate how much it means to spend six weeks in the summer in this incredibly dedicated, caring environment. Yet it’s also near London and its resources. Mark Getty has vision. Anthony Whitworth-Jones did an amazing job when he took over as General Director in 2005. He was unique in that he involved conductors and directors together from day one. We’re involved together as a team, right from the first casting auditions, so what we do is an artistic team effort. That might sound obvious, but that doesn’t happen everywhere, but it has always been the case at Garsington Opera. That’s something to build on. We have a supportive Board and Jonathan Freeman-Attwood has joined us from the Royal Academy of Music”.

“Mozart has been a foundation of Garsington Opera since its first season in 1989. This year’s Wormsley season begins with a new production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail heard previously at Garsington in 1990 and 1999. The great da Ponte operas feature regularly. Mozart has many times fulfilled Garsington Opera’s tradition of showcasing specialist repertoire. Earlier Mozart productions include Der Schauspieldirektor, Il re Pastore, Lucio Silla, La finta giardiniera and even the extremely rare Der stein der Weise, to which the teenaged Mozart contributed several parts.

“Now that we have the scope and means to do more, it would be my dream to develop Wormsley as a Mozart centre, perhaps even, long term, with a Mozart house style, created by different conductors, all with individual perspectives but who share a sense of the rhetoric Mozart addresses. The orchestra is never just accompagnato, where every word in the singing is mirrored in the orchestra. The orchestra in Mozart isn’t celebrated enough, and I’d like to hear Mozart’s music become an important part of the festival at Wormsley. There are many good Mozart musicians to choose from, so there’s a lot of potential. I’ve just come back from conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, where the musicians have Mozart in their bones”, he adds. Boyd’s own credentials are substantial. He has conducted all the Beethoven symphonies. As opera conductor, he’s done Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni for Garsington Opera, Die Zauberflöte for Glyndebourne Opera on Tour, Salieri’s La Grotto di Tronfonio for Zurich Opera and La Clemenza di Tito for Opera North.

With his background as orchestral musician, he has a firm foundation in Mozart’s musical world. “I worked many times with Nicholas Harnoncourt. He’s extraordinary, he’s messianic. We’ve learned so much from him, and we have a duty to carry on his ideals. I don’t ever want to go back to the idea of Mozart as being dainty or fragile or pretty. Nor do I want to hear him played like any other composer. Mozart is in a completely different
sound world to, say, Tchaikovsky and the late Romantics. We need to speak his unique language. Harnoncourt conducted Mitridate, re di Ponto several times, and I’d love to do that at Wormley, where it’s never been done before. It’s not as great as the da Ponte operas, of course, but there are some good arias in it. And Mozart was only fourteen when he wrote it!”

“Wormsley has tremendous potential”, he adds, “and Mark Getty understands how it can contribute to the wider community, beyond opera. We are planning a Beethoven weekend next year, which will include Beethoven’s Fidelio, a revival of the popular Garsington Opera production from 2009. We’ll link the themes of brotherhood, freedom from oppression and sacrifice which run through Fidelio, Beethoven’s Egmont and the Ninth Symphony. The Beethoven weekend also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, so we could make a connection with the world of 1914. All will be revealed in July!”

“There’s so much we could be doing at Wormsley with the local community. We already have an extensive “Education” programme in place, although I don’t like the word much. I believe we are always learning, whether we’re 5 or 95, or even more, there’s always something to enjoy. This summer, we’re doing Road Rage, a community opera where Roman road builders are confronted by wild British birds. The text is Richard Stillgoe, and the music is by Orlando Gough. Almost 200 people are taking part. It’s vital to work with the community because that’s how you reach new audiences. We should be “exclusive” only in the sense that aspiring to musical excellence is exclusive. We want to inspire people with the idea of opera. We do young people a disservice by assuming they have short attention spans. At Wormsley and at West Green House in Hampshire, we work with local schools. If you can inspire young people to enjoy themselves, with luck, they’ll love opera for the rest of their lives without prejudices. I’ve seen it happen so many times. When young people engage with something it doesn’t matter whether it`s rock, pop or classical, as long as they are having fun”.

“I’d also like to do a world premiere at Wormsley. The opera world has changed in the last few years. Birtwistle’s The Minotaur, Adès’s The Tempest and George Benjamin’s Written on Skin show that modern music can be successful. A world premiere puts any opera house on the map and attracts interest from all over the world. We don’t have anything specific on the radar as yet but we know that the Garsington Opera audience is sophisticated”.

“At Garsington Opera, we’ve always worked with young talent. We have a very special pool of singers and maintain a relationship with them. Sophie Bevan, Paul Nilon and Matthew Rose, for example. At Wormsley, that’s an ethos we’re glad to maintain”.

The new season at Garsington Opera at Wormsley starts on 7th June with Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail. This will be followed by Giacomo Rossini’s Maometto Secondo in its first full performance in this country. Garsington Opera is famous for Rossini specialities. This will be the twelfth new Rossini production staged here since 1994. The main summer Festival concludes with Englebert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel.

For more details, please see the Garsington Opera at Wormsley website.

Anne Ozorio

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):