Grange Park Opera

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
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.


Date: 30th June 2008


My friend Doreen and I were invited again to visit Grange Park and the Opera on this occasion was Dvorak's Rusalka.

As I think you may have gathered, I am no Opera aficionado but am enjoying the experiences afforded over the last month to attend the Operas in Hampshire.

This time it was actually the first night of Rusalks so we were in Evening Dress - well some of us were.  The Dress Code was Evening  - and it surprised me how many people simply hadn't bothered and it wasn't just the young.  Perhaps it is just me but I do enjoy a sense of occasion and if the Invitation states 'Evening Dress' then I adhere to it.  All too often these days the invitation will state 'Smart Casual' whatever that is - I'm either smart or casual but can't really do both. 

We didn't have the best of seats.  Our host had booked late so we were in the front row which had the double disadvantage of being able to see into the Orchestra Pit and being distracted by the lights, having to contort one's neck to read the Surtitles and not being able to see the effect of the 'Sea' out of which our Mermaid emerges - rather central to the plot.  I really do think they should have done away with that first row.   The organisers get so much sponsorship for absolutely everything that maybe someone could have sponsored the cost of going without the takings from that row!

The first time I saw 'Phantom of the Opera' it was part of a Weekend break with no choice of tickets and we were in Row B - well, thank goodness I thought, at least we aren't in Row A - however there was no Row A and we had our noses virtually on the stage.  They were dreadful seats but I loved the show so much, I've seen it many times since and probably the most enjoyable was at the Artscape Theatre in Capetown.  It was exactly the same production but one could hear every word - a criticism I have of so much these days - either the performers don't enunciate properly or they are drowned out by the very loud music.

But back to Rusalka.  It was sung in the original Czech - not a kind language on the ear.  We didn't enjoy it as much as the previous two productions we'd seen at Grange Park - Bluebeard which was very funny and  Puccini's 'Woman of the West' which was superb.

One of the most impressive performances, for me, came from Clive Bayley as the Merman.  I was underwhelmed by JeffreyLloyd-Roberts as the Prince - he seemed to be straining for some of the top notes, looked as though he hadn't said hello to his razor for days and simply didn't convince me that he was a Prince.  But then I'm only a pleb. when it comes to Opera.

Once again we thoroughly enjoyed the ambience of the delightful theatre and being able to picnic in the intermission.  As this was a proper performance and not a rehearsal, the delightful 'tents' which we so much enjoyed last time, were charged out at £180 and we noticed several were uninhabited - not surprisingly on top of the cost of the opera.  We dined in the main marquee and that was perfectly adequate.

All in All a visit to the Opera at Grange Park is a lovely experience and if you are ever down in Hampshire at the appropriate time, I would strongly suggest that you partake of one or more of the productions.  You'll have a delightful evening.

On Friday, went to a Dinner for a retiring Judge and met several very interesting people.  One very pleasant lady was interested in hearing about the Charity - Orchid which my son and I now support.  Bless her, she is going to organize a sponsored walk and give the proceeds to Orchid.  She said it won't be a great deal of money, but the important thing is to raise awareness of the early detection of Male Cancers.  You chaps are notoriously shy about visiting Doctors to talk about your nether regions and Orchid's latest campaign is 'Checked Out' to raise awareness of looking out for signs of Testicular, Prostate and Penile Cancers.  Jonathan and I are being interviewed for a piece which will be going out in The Mail on Sunday towards the end of July so I'll keep you informed. 

I'm afraid the tour of the Life Story of Stephane Grapelli, in which I was to have been the Narrator, has been cancelled.  So I hope something else comes up, workwise, or it's going to be a boring few months at the end of the year.

There's nothing on the Agenda at the moment, so I do hope you might make contact and let me know what you'd like to read about or I shall run out of material and will have to start telling you my life story - although it would be much easier to read it in my Autobiography - Addicted to Love.

Thank you for visiting my Website - I do enjoy jotting down my thoughts and feel as though I'm talking to you.  If only there'd been Websites decades ago, I would have had all my experiences written down and that would have made interesting reading.  Over the course of my working life, I've met and interviewed so many interesting people - Omar Sharif, Peter Ustinov, Jackie and Joan Collins to name but a few.

Take care.

Fond regards, Jan.

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