West Horsley Revisited

Wasfi at West Horsley, October 2016.

One Sunday in October last year I went to look around the house and grounds at West Horsley (So you want to put on an Opera?). It is a Tudor house that the Gascoignes inherited and where Wasfi Kani OBE, of Grange Park Opera, was building an opera house. I went back on Saturday afternoon for Die Walküre.

This is what it looks like now; a remarkable transformation in nine months. Saturday was the last night of the season and now the builders can move in again to finish off the building.

The Theatre in the Woods, July 2017.

I hope it retains most of its rustic simplicity and doesn’t end up looking too pretty. The picture of the proposed ceiling in the cupula above the stalls is ominous.

Die Walküre was a triumph. Conductor, Stephen Barlow, coaxed the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to – oh so slowly – reveal Wagner’s leitmotifs while never allowing the dramatic tension to falter. On stage there were some powerful performances that did not flag in this most demanding of operatic marathons. Director, Stephen Medcalf, transposed the setting from the forests along the Rhine to a galleried museum within a Hapsburg or maybe Prussian 19th century palace. It doesn’t sound promising but at its best shone fresh light on the work. A case in point is the scene between Fricka and Wotan as they take tea together with a nervous parlour maid in attendance. Fricka, not literally, wears the trousers.

Three other points worth mentioning: the acoustics, at least in the Balcony, are excellent; the lighting was dramatic and effective; there are insufficient loos with queues of petulant ladies waiting. Wasfi hopes to build a tasteful loo block before next season. And what’s on next year? Oklahoma!,  Roméo et Juliette and Un Ballo in Maschera. Claire Rutter, who sang Sieglinde so well on Saturday, returns to take the part of Amelia in Un Ballo.

Garden at West Horsley, July 2017.

Much as I like some of the music, I will give Oklahoma! a miss next summer.