Hall forms backdrop for open-air opera festival

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WINSLOW’S landmark building Winslow Hall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, forms the backdrop for an exciting open-air opera venture this month.

After standing empty for four years, the Grade I-listed building is now once again a family home, and the new owners are opening up their garden for six performances of Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro by the Stowe Opera Company, from July 21 to 29.

After two years spent renovating the hall, with a team of builders working six days a week, Christopher and Mardi Gilmour finally moved in at Christmas, with their three daughters, Leonora, aged 19, Gabriella, 17, and Christabel, 12.

Mr Gilmour, who used to run the smart Christopher’s restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, told the Advertiser: “I’ve always adored opera. I was brought up loving opera.”

The idea for the open-air show was born more than two years ago, when Mr Gilmour received a phone call from Shipton resident Tom Cross Brown.

“He said: ‘I’ve always thought Winslow Hall would make a fabulous setting for a country opera festival,’ said Mr Gilmour.”

“So the seed was sown. And that was before I even bought the house.”

The director of Stowe Opera, Robert Secret, has auditioned and recruited the professional cast and orchestra, while Mr Gilmour himself has undertaken all the logistics of putting on the event.

The stage and the raked seating for the audience will fully covered and the hall’s beautiful garden will be available for picnics. The town’s bars and restaurants are a short walk away. Parking will be available on the field opposite the hall, on Sheep Street.

And Mr Gilmour reassured local residents the performances will not be amplified.

The six performances of Mozart’s Marriage Of Figaro are on Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 21, Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 and 26, and Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29.

Tickets cost £60. To book, visit www.stoweopera.com or call 01280 848275.