Summers in England promise country-house operas. Glyndebourne opera house in Sussex was first built in 1934 and is still the grandest. Garsington emerged in 1989 in Oxfordshire but took on new life in Buckinghamshire in 2011 and Grange Park in Wiltshire joined the group in 1998. Generous and wealthy patrons, black ties and long dresses and champagne hampers on the lawns all feature – so long as the sun shines. Opera has always been at the elite end of the cultural spectrum. Its complex meld of music and theatre has always been expensive to produce. The forebears of today’s summer productions in England were the Court Theatres of 18th century Europe and among the most exquisite was at Drottningholm (literally, “Queen’s island”) in Sweden. It is the only truly authentic and fully functioning one still around.
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