2022 Season Reviews
"Sometimes everything comes right in the theatre. You know it when it happens, and Garsington Opera's Orfeo is such a moment … Caird’s beautifully deft production, with designs by Robert Jones and lighting by Paul Pyant, creates a pastoral Arcadian vision before tragedy strikes"
Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 2 June
"Lyon’s epic central performance culminates in a white-hot account of the virtuosic Possente spirto, with echoing instrumentalists joining him on the stage. There’s much excellent singing all round, however, particularly from Claire Lees, setting the scene as La Musica, Frazer Scott as a gravelly Charon, and Lauren Joyanne Morris as a darkly glinting Persephone … Cummings opts for a beguilingly lush wash of continuo from five different musicians"
Richard Morrison, The Times, 2 June
"Zoe Drummond brings a gently glinting soprano as Euridice, and there are strong contributions from Anna Cavaliero (Nymph), Laura Fleur (La Speranza), Lauren Joyanne Morris (burnished of tone as Prosperina) and Ossian Huskinson (a sepulchral bass-baritone as Pluto) … This is an evening of true ensemble work"
John Allison, Daily Telegraph, 2 June
"Garsington’s Orfeo, which has the expert English Concert as its instrumental ensemble, is up there with the best."
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 6 June
"The music was played superbly, with unerring feel for the balance between instruments, the shifting of pace and the need to make space for the singers … If Robert Jones’ sets and Paul Pyant’s lighting did an exceptional job of getting us into the right frame of mind for Orfeo’s journey from lovesickness to the sweetness of requited love to the despair of loss, John Caird’s direction and Arielle Smith’s choreography were more remarkable still"
David Karlin, Bachtrack, 2 June
"Garsington Opera’s Orfeo is a breathtaking triumph"
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 2 June
"Robert Jones’ vivid setting of the Arcadian first part, the stage filled with all the varied greens of early May, surmounted by the round O of eternity or heaven, later to be the portal to the underworld, is immediately gripping. The concept of Charon’s boat is a real coup de théȃtre at once sinister and engaging, with Paul Pyant’s wonderfully atmospheric lighting providing the crepuscular gloom of Hades as convincingly as the warm sun of the fields"
Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 2 June
"Laurence Cummings and his English Concert provide an authentic background to some fine singing by a strong, almost entirely British cast, led by Ed Lyon’s tirelessly athletic Orfeo"
David Mellor, Daily Mail, 11 June
"In the title role Ed Lyon dominates not only the score but all the tensions, passions and tragedy that drive Orfeo’s story. His voice can switch from lyrical to sturdy in a heartbeat, and he negotiated Monteverdi’s elaborate notation with expressive ease ... A transcendent experience"
Mark Valencia, Musical America, 10 June
'John Caird's masterly new staging for Garsington Opera ... At the centre of it all was Ed Lyon's Orfeo - lived, moved and sung with absolute conviction ... magnificently paced, daringly pared back'
Alexandra Coghlan, Opera Magazine, July 2022
Così fan tutte
"Singing Fiordiligi with infinite grace, the soprano Camilla Harris becomes the beating heart of this sparkling production, but the whole cast is superb"
Michael Church, iNews, 9 June
"Polly Leech is a marvellous, warmly voiced and empathetic Dorabella, and spars affectionately with Camilla Harris’s commandingly sung Fiordiligi — remarkably, her stage debut with a major company"
Neil Fisher, The Times, 13 June
"Tynan has not only the most tremendous voice, but also a conspicuous talent as a comic actress"
Simon Heffer, The Telegraph, 25 June
"All four lovers give youthful and impetuous but fully rounded accounts of their roles ... Those of us already inclined to think of Così fan tutte as something like the perfect opera will find every confirmation here"
Peter Quantrill, The Arts Desk, 3 June
"The evolution of the staging is a fascinating one, obviously deeply thought through and sharpened with the understated elegance and emotional edge which defines the work of both the original director and his associate"
Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 2 June
"With their usual adeptness, the Garsington team has cast Così with young singers who begin the evening with frivolous, light-hearted performances and move into the darker realms of jealousy and betrayal. Their acting is impeccable ... In the pit, a superb period-instrument orchestra the English Concert, conducted by Tobias Ringborg, matched the light, fleet-footed coloratura of the young singers, with the woodwind in particular taking the tricky corners with style."
Amanda Holloway, The Stage, 7 June
"Ailish Tynan as the opportunistic servant Despina is superbly conceived and captivates with a strongly defined performance rooted in a flair for comic timing"
David Truslove, Opera Today, 8 June
"A great hit, intelligent, well thought out down to the last detail, and lively"
Charles E Ritterband, Klassik Begeistert, 14 June
"Gavan Ring’s Un’aura amorosa was convincingly heartfelt while Boylan’s Donne Mie was agile and crisply delivered"
Maureen Idowu, Henley Standard, 20 June
'This Così fan tutte brimmed with tension and wry humour ... Polly Leech has blossomed into an artist of magnetic poise and the kind of vocal splendour that emerges only rarely among British mezzo-sopranos'
Mark Valencia, Opera Magazine, July 2022
"Romaniw unleashes an overwhelming torrent of sound and emotion in a spectacular production that imbues Dvořák’s fairytale with sinister magic"
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 19 June
"Gerard Schneider is impressive in the challenging role of the Prince, singing with clean-toned, ringing heft"
John Allison, Daily Telegraph, 19 June
"Dvořák’s heady score pulsated here with bewitching colours under conductor Douglas Boyd"
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 19 June
"The dynamic conductor Douglas Boyd and the excellent Philharmonia Orchestra ... Dvorak composed nothing more harmonically rich, or more daring in instrumental textures, than this score"
Richard Morrison, The Times, 20 June
"Garsington's ambitious new production ... is at once natural and industrial, spectral and spectacular.
In Natalya Romaniw, Garsington has an ideal performer. Romaniw negotiates the mighty vocal line with ease, scaling the full and expressive forces of the orchestra and never sounding strained"
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 25 June
'It looks breathtaking ... and the musical and dramatic performances find a complexity, a depth and a red-blooded emotional truth that I hadn’t thought possible in this lovely but sometimes chilly fairy-tale opera ... This is as good as opera gets, on a par with anything you’d experience in a major international house'
Richard Bratby, The Spectator, 2 July
"The quality of the musicianship (from the Philharmonia, conducted immaculately by Douglas Boyd) would force any sceptic to recognise that, in Rusalka, Dvořák equals his contemporary Tchaikovsky and his successor Richard Strauss, and is worthy to be mentioned with Wagner"
Simon Heffer, The Telegraph, 25 June
"A genuinely magical opening to a piece that begins by a lake in a forest glade – visualised to powerful effect in Piper’s immense, adaptable set, whose possibilities are seized upon by Furness"
"Boyd’s interpretation works on every level – in terms of overall structure as well as moment-by-moment detail. Rising to these standards for the second time this season – and in repertoire 300 years apart – Garsington is on a roll. Friendly rivals Glyndebourne will be looking to their laurels"
George Hall, The Stage, 20 June
"Romaniw, tireless throughout the evening, produced wave after wave of golden singing and received a huge ovation from the audience'"
Seamus Rea, Culture Whisper, 24 July
"Garsington’s Rusalka is the pinnacle of what opera can and should be"
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack, 20 June
"John Findon ... covered himself in glory; this is a truly heroic tenor voice, capable of rising to the rafters yet finely cultivated in the softer passages, and he executed to perfection the concept of the prince as every bit as much of a lost soul as Rusalka"
Melanie Eskenazi, OMH, 24 June
"Jack Furness and designer Tom Piper came up with a concept which brilliantly evoked the Romantic poeticism whilst enabling the cast to explore the dark undercurrents of the story ...
Furness brilliantly solved many of the work’s problems ... Not only did Furness and Piper create a real sense of the divide between the two worlds and the way the characters were embedded in the one or the other, but such challenges as the Act Two scenes at the Prince’s court were finely expressive and rather gripping in a way I have not always encountered. And the ending was profoundly moving, and remarkably uplifting; Romaniw’s farewell to her dead Prince brought a lump to the throat then she, Furness and Piper found the perfect images for the end"
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 25 June
"An evocative staging that’s big on spectacle and emotion ... The music supplies real enchantment"
Alexandra Coghlan, iNews, 24 June
"At the opening performance on June 18, Boyd himself conducted a work he clearly adores, with the Philharmonia Orchestra in resplendent response. Together, their lush, idiomatic account of Dvořák’s sumptuous score was the featherbed for some ravishing singing from a cast that could scarcely be bettered.
Natalya Romaniw, only in her mid-30s but already something of a British national treasure, unleashed astonishing power and beauty in the title role"
Mark Valencia, Musical America, 24 June
"An air of magical irreality pervaded the staging as dancers clambered on gantries and sat suspended on and between ropes hanging from above. The world of nature does not quite obey the rational rules we humans live by, a fact fully realised in this excellent production"
Mark Ronan, The Article, 7 July
"This is a stupendous realisation of Dvorak's tricky 1901 fairtale opera ... Furness allows Dvorak's score to cast its own wondrous spell, while securing highly convincing characterizations from a cast without a weak link"
Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine, July 2022
The Turn of the Screw
"Mark Wigglesworth ... leads the 13 players of the Philharmonia Orchestra in a triumphant performance, marking his Garsington debut. Through his passion and mastery of the score, he places it at the very core of the opera, promoting both soloistic freedom and a collective ratcheting-up of tension"
Edward Bhesania, The Stage, 5 July
"Garsington's partnership with the Philharmonia never ceases to impress ... Wigglesworth is another master-conductor to add to the company's growing roster"
"Verity Wingate is vocally the most powerful Britten Governess I've heard"
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 11 July
"Christopher Oram’s gorgeous set ... If the space is impressive in its own right, what fills it is no less so as every part of the evening works together to create a compelling experience"
Sam Smith, MusichOMH, 5 July
"A welcome revival ... Peter Quint’s first melismatic call to Miles is a seductive summons in Murray’s mellifluous tenor"
Roy Westbrook, Bachtrack, 4 July
"An outstanding role debut from Verity Wingate as The Governess"
David Mellor, Mail on Sunday, 10 July
"Muller's production is in a league of its own"
Peter Reed, Opera Magazine, September
"Garsington Opera's excellent season-closer features a richly textured score and life-changing debuts"
John Allison, The Telegraph, 29 July