The Grange Estate on the banks of the Candover Brook in Hampshire provides a breathtaking backdrop for a summer celebration of opera and dance. Its festival – now in its second year and not to be confused with Grange Park in Surrey – opened yesterday (June 7) with an impressive line-up under the artistic direction of Michael Chance CBE, with creative support from Wayne McGregor, director of dance, and Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson. This year, however, a fortunate few can also look forward to an exclusive Behind the Curtain experience at the event (priced £1,000 per person for up to 10 guests) that will take place on June 17, June 24 and July 1.
The immersive experience begins with lunch at nearby Abbotstone Farmhouse, hosted by the Hon. Mark and Sophie Baring who will then treat guests to a guided tour of The Grange via private roads and buildings that are typically off limits to the public. Afternoon tea will be served at the Lake House, followed by a stroll through lakeside gardens and follies en route to a moon gate leading to the mansion – for a behind-the-scenes tour of the neo-classical building. From here, guests will be escorted to the gardens for pre-performance champagne and canapés, before settling into their premium seats for the evening.
Fine dining will be the order of the night during the 100-minute interval – one that guests can savour à deux, or be joined by The Grange Festival’s lively Michael Chance CBE, the internationally acclaimed countertenor. However, the festivities do not end at the close of the curtain as guests can join the after-party with the cast and crew before being chauffeured back to London – or on to the home of Mark and Sophie Baring for an overnight stay in bucolic surroundings.
New operatic productions this year include Handel’s Agrippina, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio – as well as a concert staging of Bernstein’s Candide, lighting up the estate’s 600-seat theatre set within a spectacular Greek temple.