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June 2, 2011 / Prof Cupcake.

Tristan and Isolde get down and dirty

Amidst the splendor of lush and gently undulating fields of Hampshire lies the partially derelict Grange estate. There is something about it with its crumbling roman façade and unkempt gardens that leaves one feeling as if they have left the world of the real behind and stepped into the symbolic.

Which is rather fitting for in the westerly wing of the Grange Estate lies the decade old Grange Park Opera Stage. On this season is a modern rendition of Wagner’s opera TRISTAN & ISOLDE, directed by David Fielding and featuring Richard Berkeley-Steele and Alwyn Mellor in the aforementioned title roles.

The opera in it of itself is worth the trip out to Hampshire. Neatly divided into three acts. Each one has a unique visual and auditory style which is nicely seduces one into forgetting that they are going to be spending the majority of the evening with their eyes fluttering between the stage and the surtitles. The plot is sufficiently operatic so no real surprises as to the ending or the plot, but the journey there is a magical one.

The entire cast is electric and Alywn Mellor is simply captivating as Isolde. In a wirldwind performance of near boundless energy her voice and her actions explode across the stage in a purely raw performance. Yet it is Clive Bayley who plays King Mark of Cornwall who steals the show in the second act as we watch an old man faith in humanity dissolve in the light of an adulterous bride. He commands the stage with his voice and yet is so convincingly humble and afraid that one can not help but feel near endless pity.


Now for those like myself who were virgins to the Grange Estate though the Opera is fantastic it is not the only reason to go. The intervals themselves are nearly as operatic in their grandeur and length. Dotting the gardens are lush Arabian style tents one can rent for the evening to dine, wine and relax in. The Grange is an immersive experience in the way Opera was meant to be explored, be you a veteran or a novice to the style, everyone will find something delightful and moving, sorrowful and empowering in the Grange’s production of Trisan and Isolde.


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