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August 18, 2014updated 01 Feb 2016 10:42am

Preview: Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at Winslow Hall Opera

By Spear's

The drama, based on Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel and set in the Borders, is particularly topical as the Scottish independence referendum looms

Set in a stunning seventeenth-century house in the gently rolling Buckinghamshire countryside, Winslow Hall Opera will be staging Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor this September. Based on Sir Walter Scott’s novel of 1819, this drama of war, passion and madness in the Borders is particularly topical as the final performance precedes the referendum on Scottish independence by just four days.

Suitably, then, the international cast will be directed by Scot David Penn, who has worked at Glyndebourne and the National Theatre.
This darkly romantic tale centres on Lucia – sung by Greek/Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis – who is caught in a fraught feud between her own family and the Ravenwood family.

The stellar cast also includes Argentinian tenor Pablo Bemsch as Edgardo, Romanian baritone Vasile Chisiu as Enrico, UK bass/baritone Chris Foster as Raimondo and Gianluca Paganelli as Arturo. The orchestra is to be conducted by Oliver Gilmour – the brother of Winslow Hall owner Christopher Gilmour – and set and costume design are by Olivier- and BAFTA-award-winning Deirdre Clancy.

As Winslow Hall Opera offers considerably lower prices compared with competitors such as Glyndebourne, Garsington and Grange Park, the opera relies on liberal patronage and the support given by friends. As such, ‘Friends’ donating ’25 will have their names listed in the programme, and this year Figaro Friends (those who donate at least ’75) receive two complimentary programmes and will be invited to a pre-festival drinks reception in the Christopher Wren drawing rooms of Winslow Hall to meet members of the cast.

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Carmen Friends donating ’750 will enjoy the privilege of Figaro Friends plus two prime reserved seats for the performance of their choice, along with a gazebo, table and chairs for the interval or pre-performance picnic, and be credited with supporting one of the principal singers.

Finally, Lucia di Lammermoor friends donating above ’2,500, in addition to all the Carmen benefits, will be recognised as sponsoring one of the matinee or evening performances.

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While welcoming support from its friends, Winslow Hall Opera also enjoys giving back and is therefore holding a champagne reception in support of the charity Medical Detection Dogs in the Hall before the performance on 11 September, for an additional charge of ’25.

Performances take place on 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 14 September. Tickets are ’75. For more information, email operawinslowhall@gmail.com

Picture: A shot from Winslow Hall Opera’s 2013 production of Carmen

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