Film director welcomes Iford Arts to his Bradford on Avon gardens

FILM director Paul Weiland has stepped in to offer a temporary new home to the 2019 Iford Arts Festival in Bradford on Avon.

He has offered the festival the use of his historic 15th century house and garden at Belcombe Court, on the road towards Avoncliff, from August 30-September 7.

Mr Weiland’s big screen film work includes Mr Bean, Blackadder, City Slickers 11, Made of Honor, Sixty Six and over 1,500 TV commercials.

He said: “We are honoured to host Iford Arts at Belcombe, as it has been a long-time ambition of ours to have an opera in the garden.”

Belcombe Court is a Grade 1 listed house, and Mr Weiland, one of Britain’s leading creatives, lives there with his wife Caroline.

Iford Arts is a small, charitable festival, with an international reputation, renowned for its stylish, new opera productions staged in the round, picnic proms and its work with emerging artists. It began in the equally historic gardens at Iford Manor, but last year was asked to move because the owners want to focus on improvements to the gardens.

Trevor Osborne, chairman of the Trevor Osborne Property Group, who leads a working group which wants to find a new permanent home for the festival, said: “A 30-year Arts Trust is far too valuable not to be relocated.”

Judy Eglington, creative director of Iford Arts, said: “We are delighted that we will be continuing to create new, inimitable, stylish and acclaimed opera productions in 2019 in two beautiful and alluring venues.”

Iford Arts will open its 2019 season in the banqueting room of Bath’s Guildhall on May 18 with a gala night performance of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, starring comic baritone Simon Butteriss, before setting up home in the grounds of Belcombe Court for opera, picnic proms and concerts.

The festival will install a specially-commissioned geodesic dome, seating up to 240, in the four acres of Belcombe’s stunning 18th century gardens, which are rarely open to the public, to stage Donizetti’s comic masterpiece L’Elisir D’Amore.

It will be directed by James Hurley, who has worked at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Salzburg Festival, Royal Danish Opera, the National Theatre, the Barbican, Edinburgh International Festival, English National Opera, Glyndebourne and Opera North.

The production will be conducted by Oliver Gooch with the CHROMA Chamber Ensemble.

Award-winning jazz singer and BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal and her Trio have been confirmed to headline the Iford Arts Prom at Belcombe Court on August 30.

Iford Arts have also pledged to support the next generation of operagoers with an under-18s go free scheme. Booking opened on Wednesday, February 20 on 01225 463362/www.ifordarts.org.uk

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