Grange Park Opera

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

GRANGE PARK OPERA

Date: 8th June 2008

Have just had another unsuccessful attempt to load up some pictures for you in the Gallery.  I have a whole host of them but it would appear that I can only put them in one at a time and they appear to be taking ages.

Hey Ho.  I've just left a message for help but meanwhile I'll fill you in on the superb weekend we had down at Grange Park in Hampshire.

Doreen and I made friends with a very interesting man when we were cruising back from Capetown to Southampton. - he was the person who gave me a lovely oil painting to auction for the Orchid Cancer Campaign.

He invited us to Grange Park to the Dress Rehearsals of 'Bluebeard' by Offenbach and Puccini's La Fanciulta del West.  I'm not heavily into Opera tending to favour the more popular ones like Carmen and Aida.  When I told a friend that I was going to The Grange she replied that it was like Glynebourne used to be. 

Grange Park is a fabulous setting for an Enchanted Evening.  Although the house is only a shell (it was requisitioned during the war and the inside has been wrecked) it is still an imposing site - an edifice based on a Greek Temple.  The Orangery has been modified and is a superbly intimate theatre.  One picnics in the grounds and if you get there early enough you dine under the kind of 'tent' one sees where the gentry sat to enjoy Mediaeval Jousting Tournaments.  Beautiful coiffured Bay Trees and other plants are brought in huge pots and displayed around the extensive grounds. 

On the first evening, we thought we'd got there early enough to 'bag' a  tent but they were all taken.  A charming woman saw us wandering around with our picnic and volunteered to find us a seat.  We actually ended up sharing a 'tent' with the 'King' from the production of Bluebeard.  There is a 100 minute interval in which one partakes of food and whatever else and the King joined his wife and daughter.  What a small world it is, his wife - also an opera singer -  is about to go on a cruise on the Oriana - so I was able to assure her that she would have a super time.

Doreen and I agreed that, had we been given the programme and asked to choose, probably we'd not have gone to 'Bluebeard' and we really would have missed out.  It is actually an Operetta and great great fun.  As this is the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth, the director had introduced a Bond theme with a submarine and dancers in wetsuits and flippers.  All sounds weird doesn't it - but it really worked and we loved it.

The next evening was equally enjoyable in a completely different vein and we were knocked out by Cynthia Makris playing the title role of Minnie - a good hearted Saloon keeper who falls for the wrong guy and then ultimately saves him from a lynch mob.

The two productions were superbly staged and the English Chamber Orchestra played the score. 

Our weekend enjoyment was not solely centred around  Grange Park.  Jeremy had booked tickets for Kiri Te Kanawa and Brahms Requiem at Winchester Cathedral.  He booked late so we were behind a pillar but actually I think we had the best of the recital because we had a huge television screen in front of us on which we could see everything.

Kiri was faultless of course but I'm probably committing sacrilege by saying I actually enjoyed the Brahms Requiem far more and on two occasions had tingles down my spine.

Winchester Cathedral is one of my most favourite Cathedrals especially as many many many years ago I was invited to lunch and met the Architect to the Dean and Chapter - a Mr. Carpenter Turner.  He could see my interest and took me right up into the heights of the church - explained how they were taking off the frescoes onto silk and repairing the walls and then reinstating the frescoes.  They were also experimenting with trying to replicate the Fleur de Lys tiles which were very coarse and over an inch thick.  He actually gave me one but in the course of all my recent moves, it has disappeared.

Winchester is the Cathedral in which a 'Diver' spent 7 years of his life working underwater to find a way to ease the floor of the Crypt which flooded every Winter.  Winchester is built on a Marsh.  The compromise was to put in Diamond shaped slabs in such a way that they moved with the water.  I'm giving you a very amateurish explanation but it was shown to me over 40 years ago.  Currently there is an exhibition at the Cathedral celebrating the work of the Diver.  I hope we shall be able to attend when we go down for our next Opera Occasion at Grange Park which is Dvorak's Rusalka.  On that occasion we will be in full evening attire.

My car is repaired and back on the road but it has strengthened my resolve to buy another.  I shall be very sad because the Cougar is a beautiful looking car but they haven't been made for years or I'd have bought another one.  She is almost ten years old now and it's time to move on.  My son Jonathan very much wants to take it over.  I would get virtually nothing for it now so I shall let him have it with all due cautioning about speed,  the cost of tyres and spare parts etc - so at least it stays in the family.

Once again, I leave you with my solemn promise that I will, really will, get those photos into the Gallery.  I now owe you some from both cruises as well as some Cheetah ones.

Bye for now,  Jan

P.S. I am also trying to ascertain how I can get some short video pieces onto the Website - they are of Cheetah's purring and baby Cheetah's taking milk from a bottle - Aaah!

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.