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Hampshire Life editor Elizabeth Barnett shares her night at the Opera in Alresford

PUBLISHED: 14:41 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:43 25 March 2015

Grange Park © Robert Workman

Grange Park © Robert Workman

© Robert Workman

For the last countless number of years I have been saying that I must go to Grange Park Opera; and at last I have finally managed it! I had such an amazing time that I had to share my experience with you.

The Woolpack Inn © Jake EasthamThe Woolpack Inn © Jake Eastham

Being complete novices, we chose to see Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten– an English tragedy set by the coast. “If nothing else, at least we would understand the words”, we thought.

Grange Park is the perfect setting. As we enjoyed a glass of fizz amongst the impressive grounds of the semi-ruined mansion, dressed in our finery, it was difficult not to imagine yourself there when the house was in its hay day. The place has a real buzz about it. The architecture is nothing short of stunning, increasing the anticipation for what you’re about to see inside.

Glass panels in the floor frame findings from the neo-classical mansion’s slow restoration. While a fun train set circles its way across the floorboards, shielded from crossing feet by a thick glass tile. Studio E Architects have won numerous awards for the theatre design, which is housed in the old orangery.

For our first opera I think we were rather spoilt. The set design was magnificent and the cast were sensational; not at all what I had expected it to be. A lengthy interval gave us enough time to enjoy a gourmet picnic, from Mange2, and the rest of our fizz before preparing ourselves for what was to come in Act 2. I am in no way an expert and so will leave the review to the critics, but I can say that for two first-timers, we left with a new found adoration for the craft.

We ended the evening with a cocktail and a nosey around the main house, parts of which have been roughly restored, while the familiar sounds of Dusty Springfield (tribute act) filled the rooms.

We stayed close-by in the fantastic Woolpack Inn, a lovely country pub around 15 minutes away in Totford near Northington. Our room was beautifully presented with characterful oak beams and bare red-brick walls; and the bar was the perfect place for a night cap, with its large, leather wing backed chairs and cosy vibe. After our very cultural evening and an excellent night’s sleep we woke up to one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had in Hampshire. Fresh juices and pastries were followed by a full English and fresh eggs. The menu was bursting with local produce and was exactly what we needed before heading back home.

If you’re looking to entertain friends from out of the county or are just looking for a bit of a treat for two – then I can highly recommend this wonderful experience.

Extras

Rooms at The Woolpack Inn start from £95 including breakfast. Visit www.woolpackinn.co.uk for more information.

For more information on performance at Grange Park Opera visit www.grangeparkopera.co.uk.

Be warned, a taxi will cost you around £20 each way from The Woolpack Inn to Grange Park.

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