Summer garden opera simply doesn’t get more glamourous than Garsington. The stunning lakeside setting at Wormsley, the Getty family’s oil-painting-perfect English retreat, sets off any picnic to perfection; there’s even an army of Scouts to carry your basket for you (tips go towards their Scout Hut). The evening should impress on stage too: Garsington’s elegant glass-sided opera pavilion (blankets provided on cooler evenings) attracts some of the hottest young talent around.
This year is no exception, with star billing for the gifted Mary Bevan taking the role of long-suffering harem queen Elvira in Rossini’s spirited battle of the genders L’italiana in Algeri, where the Bey of Algiers thinks he might try adding an Italian girl to his collection of ladies for a change – with hilariously unsuccessful results… Also watch out for the superb Katie Bray as Zulma.
If you’re still recovering from the loss of War & Peace, head straight for Tchaikovsky’s tragic, haunting Eugene Onegin, which will plunge you straight back into a long, beautiful, and very Russian dark night of the soul: think George Bernard Shaw meets Tolstoy, and definitely don’t forget the tissues.
Mozart’s Idomeneo, in which almost every character selflessly volunteers to sacrifice themselves to save the others from the anger of Neptune, until love conquers all, should prove magnificent in the hands of director Tim Albery, mastermind of the Royal Opera House’s searing recent Der fliegende Holländer: Albery has an instinct for conjuring the sea on stage.
Finally, the curveball: picking up on their strong incorporation of dance in last year’sDeath in Venice, Garsington are collaborating with dance company Rambert to produce The Creation, Haydn’s first oratorio, inspired by the Book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost. With designs from Argentine-born artist Pablo Bronstein, it may not be opera, but it should be interesting.