Longborough Festival Opera’s exciting 2021 update

News about Longborough Opera in 2021

Longborough Festival Opera to stage three productions in Circus Big Top this season

Longborough Festival Opera has introduced a new venue for 2021: the Big Top. Three of the festival’s 2021 productions will take place in this new venue: Così fan tutte, The Return of Ulysses and The Cunning Little Vixen.

The indoor/outdoor space offers different and exciting theatrical possibilities for the creative teams, as well as excellent seating flexibility, allowing for a larger socially distanced audience than the Longborough theatre can offer. The space can also be turned into an outdoor venue as required, with the possibility of performing with the sides removed.

Longborough Artistic Director Polly Graham comments: ‘We are determined to bring our audience a wonderful and unforgettable season, and the safety of everyone involved is our priority. I am delighted that we can offer this exciting new venue for 2021 and keep live opera happening through such a challenging time. Opera in the round opens up so many different ways of expressing a story. Audiences will feel drawn in and almost part of the action. It’s opera undressed, as the focus shifts to the music, text and performance, rather than big sets and costumes, and the space itself also becomes a part of the storytelling.’The Big Top is a purpose-built auditorium with a socially distanced seating plan. The stage and amphitheatre will be clad in timber, to assist with the even spread of sound. As with the productions in the theatre, surtitles will be present for every production and visible from every seat.

2021 Performance Dates

Die Walküre: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14 June 2021
Così fan tutte: 23, 26, 27, 29 June, 1, 3, 4 July 2021
The Return of Ulysses: 13, 15, 17, 18 July 2021
The Cunning Little Vixen: 29, 31 July, 1, 3 August 2021

Fundraising Campaign: The news of the new venue follows the success of Longborough’s 2020 fundraising campaign, which generated over £300,000 for freelance artists involved in the postponed festival and the generation of future work.

Longborough Festival Opera announces schedule for Der Ring des Nibelungen: Longborough Festival Opera will continue its Ring cycle this June, with a performance of Die Walküre in the beloved Longborough theatre. The festival will then stage Siegfried (2022) Götterdämmerung (2023) building to the full cycle of Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2024.

About the new Ring cycle: Longborough’s ambitious new Ring cycle began in June 2019, with a critically acclaimed production of Das Rheingold: ‘Both epic and intimate, a fantastic journey that felt enthrallingly natural’ (Opera Magazine); ‘a new Ring with assurance and clarity’ – The Guardian; ‘a Ring to travel miles to hear’ (Opera Now); ‘Wagnerian excellence’ (The Arts Desk).

All productions in the new Ring cycle are created especially for Longborough. Amy Lane, Artistic Director of Copenhagen Opera Festival and previous Head Staff Director at The Royal Opera Covent Garden, will direct the entire cycle. Longborough Music Director and eminent Wagnerian Anthony Negus will conduct. Amy Lane says, ‘The Ring cycle is the most epic of tales with a score that is searing, desperate, sublime and so perfectly unfathomable. What an honour it is to set foot upon this glorious pathway and to commence this journey with Longborough” – Amy Lane, Director.

The 2021 concert production of Die Walküre: Although Longborough has introduced a new venue for 2021 (The Big Top) performances of Die Walküre will take place in the beloved Longborough Theatre. In an era of social distancing, this means expanding beyond the orchestra pit. Die Walküre will therefore be presented in a new concert production, allowing for additional musicians on stage alongside the cast. In the Ring year, 2024, Longborough will present a hitherto unseen fully staged performance of Die Walküre.

A destination for Wagnerians: Wagner is the lifeblood of Longborough founders Martin and Lizzie Graham. In 1996 they began building the Longborough theatre in the image of Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival Theatre. The first opera in the completed theatre was a performance of Das Rheingold (1998) from a reduced version of the Ring cycle which was adapted for the City of Birmingham Touring Opera by Graham Vick and Jonathan Dove. The festival has since been celebrated for its performances of Wagner’s work.

Longborough’s first full-scale performance of Das Rheingold took place in 2007, and the Grahams commissioned Jim Keeling to create a statue of the great composer to mark the occasion. The statue was displayed outside the theatre until Wagner’s birthday, 22nd May, when it was placed proudly atop the theatre roof, where it remains to this day.

In Wagner’s bicentenary year (2013) Longborough was the only UK company to host a fully-staged Ring cycle, described by The Times as ‘one of the summer’s most remarkable cultural achievements’. The success of the Ring cycle was a landmark for Longborough: it firmly established the festival as an annual destination for Wagnerians around the world.

Longborough is proud to have been a springboard for many Wagnerian singers, such as Alwyn Mellor, Rachel Nicholls, and Daniel Brenna. This new cycle features many more singers making role debuts, including Lee Bisset (Brünnhilde), Madeleine Shaw (Fricka), Freddie Tong (Hunding), Darren Jeffery (Wotan in 2019), Paul Carey Jones (Wotan), Pauls Putnins (Fasolt), Adrian Dwyer (Mime), Catherine Carby (Waltraute), Wyn Pencarreg (Donner), Mark Stone (Alberich), Mark Le Brocq (Loge) and Marie Arnet (Freia). Acclaimed Wagnerian Brindley Sherratt also joins the company for the first time, singing the role of Hunding in June 2021.

Explore Wagner on The Longborough Podcast: The Longborough Podcast offers a treasure trove of fascinating discussions between artists, journalists and leading industry figures. Recent highlights include:

– Music journalist Richard Bratby speaks with Longborough Music Director Anthony Negus and bass-baritone Paul Carey Jones about Wotan’s journey through the Ring cycle.
– Writer and librettist Sophie Rashbrook, historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and soprano Lee Bisset explore the roles and mythical origins of Wagner’s women.
– Longborough’s Artistic Director Polly Graham joins the acclaimed librettist and opera director Sir David Pountney, who was in the midst of staging his own Ring cycle in Chicago when the pandemic first struck. They explore where and how we can find comedy and humour in Wagner’s Ring cycle, and how it deepens our understanding of the story.
– Upcoming episodes include Professor Kenneth Hamilton and Anthony Negus on the relationship between Wagner and Liszt; and Alex Ross and Simon Callow in conversation about their respective books on Wagner: Wagnerism & Being Wagner: The Triumph of the Will.

CLICK HERE TO Listen to the podcast 

Wagner in Schools: Longborough delivers an ambitious education programme that introduces Wagner and other composers to local schools across the region where access to the arts is often limited. In workshops taking place across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands, students from ages 3 to 18 can get hands-on with the plots, motifs and characters of the operas within the Longborough season.

CLICK HERE to find out more

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