Anyone observing the resultant struggle to place the spare tickets would think that I was approaching people asking them to look after a leaking container of nuclear waste, rather than inviting them to something potentially enjoyable. Though the worst of it was that several invitees impressed upon me that they would really LOVE to have gone if only I hadn’t given them such insultingly short notice, so I will now feel obliged to spend several hundred pounds I have not got buying additional tickets so that I can repeat the invitation next year. Only to find, no doubt, that “you would not believe it, but we are already booked up for the second weekend in July, even though it is only September.”
I would believe it. Truly I would. I went through a similar experience in 2009.
I finally gave up and made a despairing call to the box office, prefaced with the words “I know I’m wasting my time, but …”
“Oh no,” came the reply, “Don’t worry. We have a long waiting list for tickets. We’ll sell them for you right away.”
And they did. Which was nice.
As English summer nights out go, Madama Butterfly at Nevill Holt was about as perfect an evening as anyone could ever aspire to. It is at least as beautiful a spot as any of the better-known country house opera venues, with its hilltop location making the horse’s head statues that are apparently de rigueur this year look vastly more striking than they do plonked on the lawn at Glyndebourne (see my entry of 5 June for the photographic evidence).
The weather was perfect. Our friends in the area had arranged an utterly delicious, if perhaps intimidatingly massive, picnic, with a fine magnum of Pol Roger, while I had arranged a private pavilion in which to consume it and brought with me a selection of other passable wines. The theatre within the stable block is delightfully intimate and the performance itself was simply stunning – probably the best thing I have ever seen from the Grange Park Opera team, with the young South Korean soprano Hye-Youn Lee making such a convincing job of the title role that two thirds of the ladies in our party were in floods of tears and even the hardened old businessman to my left was seen to reach for his handkerchief in an attempt to remove some irritant from his eye. A truly outstanding and exceptionally memorable night out. Do catch it if you can when it comes to The Grange, and to Cadogan Hall in London, in September.
Wish I could catch it. (sigh)
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