Monday, 15 August 2022


WE denizens of South Oxfordshire are indeed blessed with Garsington and its stunning pop-up pavilion in the grounds of the

WE denizens of South Oxfordshire are indeed blessed with Garsington and its stunning pop-up pavilion in the grounds of the Wormsley estate. It is our local Glyndebourne, our neighbourhood Aldeburgh, our very own rural Covent Garden. And this open-air operation malarkey is one we are already well-practised at, marshalling as we do our friends and plastic picnicware for the royal regatta and the Henley Festival.

Mozart was young, exuberant and keen to impress when he took Bretzner’s libretto and shaped it into a musical comedy, and this contemporary re-working — with staging by Daniel Slater — is imaginative, funky and gutsy. Belmonte (Norman Reinhardt) and his cockney geezer mate Pedrillo (Mark Wilde) break into the gated mansion of a Russian billionaire football club owner, Selim, to rescue their girlfriends who have been abducted. Pedrillo encourages Belmonte to blag his way in posing as a potential José Mourinho for Selim’s ailing football team. Once the boys reassure themselves that their chattels have not been tampered with, they plot their midnight escape.

Soprano Rebecca Nelsen as Konstanze was enchanting. Sparklingly clear and bright, she impressed with a light and faultless performance of these technically challenging arias. Held hostage in St John’s Wood, incarcerated in a gin palace home straight out of an Elle decoration feature, she oozed ennui. Her purple velour sweatsuit, Bond Street shopping bags, manicure, pedicure, massage and kickboxing sequence was funny and aerobic. Susanna Andersson teased and toyed as the cake-baking honest tart to Mark Wilde’s Del Boy, and bass Matthew Rose impressed everyone with his low D. The audience was game for a laugh, and laugh we did. Anyone who lives in a household spiked with testosterone — even in the qualifying rounds for the Champions’ League — will have laughed even louder.

As we left this fairytale garden on the candlelit pathway, we looked back at the sparkling jewel of the pavilion and smiled at our good fortune. If you have never been I beg you to get organised, get booked at Jamie’s Fabulous Feasts for the 85-minute interval or start planning your picnic. I’ve already ordered the 2014 brochure.

Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail by Mozart

Sunday, June 9

Belinda Hough Robbins

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