“Queen Elizabeth walked across this floor”. There was no way I could help myself. I looked down. Wasfi Kani, the founder, CEO, doyenne and life force of Grange Park Opera, had come across to say “hello” at the interval dinner. I had booked dinner late and my daughter and I had been obligingly located at a small table in a corner of the West Horsley Place entrance hall.

Kani was hosting a large table, next to ours. Before pudding, she worked the entrance hall, the sitting room, and the dining room. She was tireless. If Uncle Tom Cobley had been forking down the dressed crab in a quiet corner, she would have worked him and all.

I stupidly volunteered that I had been to Nevill Holt two weeks before. “Yes,” she purred with a hint of malice, “They never acknowledge my role in getting that off the ground.” Didn’t know that. A Grange Park offshoot morphed into Nevill Holt in 2012.

It has been a tough year for Kani. Over a few winter weeks, she lost three friends, integral to Grange Park Opera’s success. Financier David Leathers, economist Michael Fontes and polymath and original University Challenge host, Bamber Gascoigne. Gascoigne was the generous owner of West Horsley Place, Grange Park Opera’s home after it was displaced from its original location, The Grange, Northington, in 2014.

In the programme, Kani — obviously moved by this triple tsunami of loss — offers the happy thought that all three are at a cocktail party in the sky, sipping Negroni Sbagliati. She recounts a revealing story.

Fontes taught Rishi Sunak economics at Winchester College. One day he dropped this into the conversation and decided to invite Sunak and his wife to the opera. Sunak replied, promptly and courteously, addressing his former teacher as “Mr Fontes”.

Fontes: “I’m delighted you can both come. You’ve got to bite the bullet and call me Michael now, otherwise, I’ll have to call you Mr Sunak, and that wouldn’t come easily to me.”

I think that short, unprompted, exchange of common courtesies reveals more about Sunak than any slick campaign launch video or hustings speech ever will. Got my email confirming my ballot in the leadership election this morning. Today is my birthday. Stars are aligning. I’m reading the rules. I’m “Ready for Rishi.”

Anyway, Liz Truss is a Barbie-Thatcher Mini-Me who reads, head down, from notes. No contest. Not even as impressive as that nice fantasist, Mr Brouček, who, I’m reliably informed, has, at last, resigned as Leader of the Conservative party.

This train of thought is about as surreal as the opera my daughter Jane and I were at West Horsley Place to see.

Leoś Janáček’s purpose in writing Excursions was concise. “We must each fight our inner Brouček”. Brouček is a middle-class, smug, boorish rentier — “I own a three-story house, don’t you know. No mortgage” — always on the lam, fond of sausages and large, comforting Czech women.

He is a character from two novellas of Svatopluk Čech (1846-1908) The True Excursion of Mr Brouček to the Moon and The Epoch-making Excursion of Mr Brouček, this time to the Fifteenth Century. Mr Brouček got about a bit, for all his bourgeois conformity.

The opera delivers both Čech stories in two Acts. Director, Sir David Pountney, has a deep relationship with Janáček through his many productions with Welsh National Opera. At Grange Park, he delivers a satirical tour de force.

He is fascinated by the composer as a dramatic innovator. Fast moving surrealistic scenes, delivering “non-linear drama …. and utilising to brilliant effect all the different media available to an opera composer — dialogue, song, choral dialogue, choral song, wordless singing, orchestral interlude, off stage singing and above all, dance and mime.”

Phew! How on earth do you combine all these apparently conflicting elements without the souffle collapsing hopelessly? Pountney’s secret ingredient is a lightness of touch and comedic focus that makes it rise triumphantly. The opera is cinematic. The score invites cutting rapidly from one character to the next. As Pountney says, “Quite difficult to do on stage.”

To the plot. In a nutshell, the crazed dreams of Mr Brouček are experienced in a drunken stupor. He is transported to the Moon where he is faced with a life where nourishment is sniffed from flowers, language is incomprehensible, and women are made of passionate gossamer — and everyone looks passably similar to the people he has left behind. He longs to return to familiar Prague, his sausages, and the more substantial delights of Czech women folk.

The target of the original satire was a group of pretentious Prague artists. The self-preening intellectual Moonbeings are comic enough, but Janáček goes to war with Brouček, too, for his philistinism. The snag is, the Moonbeings are so absurd and illiberal in their enlightenment, that the audience is driven to sympathise with Brouček, as sausages more frequently elude his grasp.

A wonderful edifice is unrobed. An enormous, glittering, chrome-bright metal sausage speared by an eight-foot fork. Much of the action revolves around or on the sausage. Someone asked me, “How did you know you were on the moon?” Well, the guy wearing an LED illuminated space helmet with the slowed down walk was a bit of a pointer.

Pountney made full use of a modern costume with which Janáček would also have been familiar, but as a Jules Verne sort of diver’s helmet, rather than a NASA work suit.

Act II focuses on the attitude of contemporary Czechs to their country. The drunken sleep takes our anti-hero, for whom the audience is now feeling rather sorry, to Prague in 1420, in the era of the Hussite rebellion against the Holy Roman Empire. Jan Hus, champion of what were to become fundamental Protestant principles, was offered a safe passage to the Council of Constance in 1415 by King Sigismund of Hungary, but was imprisoned, tried and burned at the stake instead.

During the Hussite rebellion that followed, Mr Brouček finds himself mistaken for a German spy. Maybe the trilby hat and sausage fixation caused concerns. He talks his way into the house of the Sacristan, Domšík, and becomes embroiled with the daughter Kunka and their friends. The price of this hospitality is to get kitted out in a medieval dress and be expected to join in the defence of Prague.

He runs away at the first opportunity but is spotted, accused of treachery and sentenced to death — appropriately, to be drowned in a beer barrel.

Scene 5 returns to the present day where the landlord of Brouček’s favourite inn hears a strange groaning from the cellar and finds him cooped up in a barrel. Mr Brouček, clearly relieved to rediscover himself in familiar surroundings, confides to the landlord that, “He has liberated Prague single-handed.” The landlord’s shrug says it all, as the opera ends.

A full synopsis, to fully appreciate all the comedic twists and turns can be found here. This opera is funny and should be played for laughs. British tenor, Peter Hoare, who sang the title role, has made a name for himself performing 20th-century opera. I saw him in Janáček’s The House of the Dead at New York’s Met.

He was hilarious, in a Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses way. He really convinced himself he had liberated Prague. Didn’t convince us, though. Or, anyone else. Every passing sausage lusted after. Each comely wench unsubtly propositioned. Ultimate self-delusion complete.

A clever joke has been slipped into the casting. Three of the bureaucratically inclined characters are named Spotcek, Raincek and Postdatedcek, all Brouček tormentors. Würfl, the bartender is accompanied by the pretentious Arty and Farty — and there is a very “gets on your tits” child prodigy.

Yet, this was far from pantomime. It is opera on a serious debunking mission. I think Janáček would have approved of Pountney’s bells and whistles.

At 4 pm on a sunny afternoon, Grange Park regulars seeped from the car park and, like an unstoppable tide, invaded the gardens, seeking out prime shaded spots.

The rounded opera house in the woods, with its red warm brick lattice finish, accommodates a horseshoe five-tiered auditorium, based on La Scala Milan. They say the reverberation time is 1.4 seconds. A perfect acoustic. Seven hundred and fifty seats. Intimate.

2022 is the Bamber Season, in memory of the generous personality who unexpectedly inherited the estate, and was determined to restore it and put it to useful work. The house is pure Jane Austen. When is Mr Darcy going to pop his head around the corner, pectorals shining fresh from the garden lake?

The property is in good repair, but not overdone. Artwork is a higgledy-piggledy personal choice, some gems sparkling amongst the mundane. The gardens are beautiful and access to all parts is encouraged.

Before the overture, Kani appeared on stage, with the lightest of touches stiffing the audience for more financial support. She is an impresario on a mission.

Her demesne in the Surrey countryside is the ideal location for taking on challenging works. If you plan on journeying to the moon anytime soon, forget Cape Canaveral. Start from West Horsley Place.