The best open-air operas and what to wear to them

The best open-air operas and what to wear to them

The outdoor opera season is in full swing, with some of the world's greatest singers and performers making their way to world-class UK stages. We've highlighted four of our favourite operatic festivals over the summer and outline what to wear at them. Don't forget a warm wrap and perhaps even a waterproof, too!

Glyndebourne

The true home of outdoor opera in the UK, Glyndebourne's reputation as one of the best global destinations for opera is unparalleled. Nestled in the rolling hills of the East Sussex Downs and only an hour away from London, Glyndebourne's summer programme is world class, as are the grounds! Operas by Handel, Mozart, Puccini and Donizetti lead an embarrassment of cultural riches this season, which is all the more reason to dress in your refined eveningwear. Founder John Christie encouraged the wearing of formal dress to show respect to the singers and musicians and although the fashions and attitudes may have changed since 1934, "the opportunity to look gorgeous never goes out of style." 

Westminster Coat Plum Fiddlehead Crease Resist Linen

Westminster Coat Plum
Fiddlehead Crease Resist Linen

Westminster Coat Yellow Vincenzo Jacquard Silk Organza

Westminster Coat Yellow
Vincenzo Jacquard Silk Organza

Westminster Coat Khaki Cow Parsley Crease Resist Linen

Westminster Coat Khaki Cow
Parsley Crease Resist Linen

The Grange

The Grange, one of the most celebrated neoclassical mansions in Britain, is located in Hampshire, seven miles from Winchester, and owned by the family of John Baring, Lord Ashburton. English Heritage has a guardianship deed on the Grade I-listed building, after it fell into disrepair in the early 70s. Today, it's one of the most stunning opera venues in the country, and attracts some of the greatest voices on the world's opera circuit. 

Carnaby Coat Rainbow Ivory Mikado Linen

Carnaby Coat Rainbow
Ivory Mikado Linen

Tailored Jumpsuit Emerald Saona Crepe Satin

Tailored Jumpsuit Emerald
Saona Crepe Satin

Westminster Coat Mint Jekyll Crease Resist Linen

Westminster Coat Mint
Jekyll Crease Resist Linen

Throughout July, the Grange is hosting a number of different operatic performances, including Macbeth, Tamerlano, and The Yeoman of the Guard. But beyond the joys of a warbling tenor, one's evening at the Grange boasts a number of other highlights. Gates open two hours before the performance starts, encouraging attendees to explore the stunning grounds or visit the Portico Bar for some delightful English sparkling wine. The main interval is 100 minutes long, leaving ample time for dinner either in the house or in the park in the form of a well-considered picnic hamper. 

As ever, attendees are encouraged to dress for the occasion (and the elements) so you might consider a velvet coat as a warm outer layer over a more summer-ready dress.

Garsington

Garsington Opera, held annually at Wormsley in the Chiltern Hills, is a theatrical highlight of the summer social calendar. It was founded in 1989 by the late Leonard Ingrams and his wife Rosalind at Garsington Manor, near Oxford. Following Leonard’s untimely death, Garsington Opera moved to the Wormsley Estate, home of the Getty family, in 2011. It has always played second fiddle to the prestigious and globally renowned season at Glyndebourne on the South Downs but in recent years the exceptional performances at Garsington have made it at least as good as it's more well-known rival. Set in stunning grounds, the opera pavillion is a marvel of architecture and engineering, and so the entire occasion demands that you dress up! Evening dress is suggested to add to the atmosphere, which can include black tie for gentlemen, and long or short dresses or a suitable alternative (jump suits for example) for ladies. The only exception in the dress code for this season involves the Orfeo performances, when the audience is invited to wear white or cream to reflect the production design. Favourbrook's Spring/Summer 22 collection is perfect for Garsington, blending classical, timeless silhouettes with embroidered floral motifs, reflective of the Garsington environment. Summer coats truly come into their own at outdoor operatic events, which is why we think our Westminster coats are a very sophisticated option and perfect for day-to-night. 

Eton Coat Lilac Rossetti Crease Resist Linen

Eton Coat Lilac Rossetti
Crease Resist Linen

Eton Coat Cerulean Blue Aldeburgh Crease Resist Linen

Eton Coat Cerulean Blue
Aldeburgh Crease Resist Linen

Eton Coat Pale Blue Tildesley Crease Resist Linen

Eton Coat Pale Blue
Tildesley Crease Resist Linen

An alternative to the Westminster coat, the Eton coat features a re-worked bodice, tailored pockets, and back button detailing. With working pockets and full internal lining, it also features French border embroidery with a scalloped edge hem, and we think it perfectly complements the scene at Garsington, being chic, sophisticated and playful all at once. 

While our silk coats provide a comforting outer layer, we would recommend that you bring some warm layers for when the sun goes down at Garsington. As spirited as opera is, even a warm baritone will not protect you from the Chiltern chills so pack a cardigan or wrap for the evening performances. It's also advisable to bring some comfortable flat-soled shoes because many a stiletto and kitten heel has literally fallen foul of the soft ground!

Opera Holland Park

Outdoor opera is not all stately homes in the shires! Londoners of course have the Royal Opera House on their collective doorstep but if they want to enjoy some of the best productions in the open air, they need only head over to west London and the Opera Holland Park, which boasts a world class season that runs right the way through to 13th August. With a host of events to look forward to, including ballet and talks, one the operatic highlights is a thrilling double bill of Delius and Puccini, which "contrasts two surprise reunions between old flames. One leads to a crime of passion, the other to supernatural revenge. Delius explores a seedy corner of Paris and verismo extremes in Margot la Rouge, while the Gothic romance of Le Villi is given soaring expression by Puccini. There's also Mark Adamo's hugely popular operatic retelling of Little Women which should not be missed!

 

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