Whilst musing the most imaginative and artistic ways to celebrate Porta Romana’s 30th Anniversary, our Chairman Andrew Hills, discovered Grange Park Opera would relocate to West Horsley Place, a sprawling 15th Century house, with an ancient walled garden, close by to our to Head Quarters in Surrey. Instantly intrigued, Andrew set up a meeting with Wasfi Kani, the formidable character responsible for the project. On site, knee deep in mud, Wasfi told us of her ambitious and elaborate plans, already underway, to build a five-storey opera house modelled on La Scala, in less than a year. The Opera House would be named the Theatre in the Woods.
Impressed, not only by the rapid rise of the structure, but also by the appealing romantic setting, we felt inspired to make our mark. We forged a partnership with Wasfi and a delightful collaborative process unfolded. Our devoted team of artists began painting no less than forty Venetian Gold Beatrice Wall Lights which now span the auditorium creating a magical warm glow.
This summer, in our 30th year, we kicked off the season, with a performance of Un Ballo in Maschera. Good luck brought blue skies and hazy sunshine which filled the historic walled gardens surrounding the theatre. On arrival our guests wandered through the enchanting orchards, far from the city they had left, to be with us. The performance was dramatic and gripping. During the interval we were spoilt with an immaculate three-course dinner, served in the grandeur of the Duchess Restaurant, before we returned to our seats to savour the second half. We could not have imagined a more idyllic 30th Birthday celebration.