Longhope Opera in Newton Valance near Selborne, welcomed a group of school children and MP Damian Hinds to watch a final dress rehearsal of Donizetti’s opera, L’elisir d’amore, this evening (Friday) – ahead of two public performances this weekend.

The visit of children from the Hurst School in Tadley was organised, free-of-charge, in partnership with Hampshire Music Service.

It came before performances by the London-based Scherzo Ensemble, a collective of 60 young performers at the dawn of their careers, this Saturday and Sunday evening. Tickets are still available.

Scherzo Ensemble artistic director Matthew O’Keefe said: “Our vision is to make new, exciting productions that are accessible to all, and our children’s performances have become a highlight of our time at Longhope.

“A lot of the children have never seen an opera before and it is such a pleasure to see their faces light up when they realise how entertaining and funny it can be.

“L’elisir d’amore is a very funny opera with exciting and beautiful music. It’s all set in a small town square and follows a simple love story which is made much more interesting when cheap wine is mistaken for a powerful love potion.”

MP Damian Hinds congratulated Longhope Opera for offering such an “enriching experience” for young children who may not have had the opportunity to watch “a level of art and expression way beyond anything else”.

He added “what’s so special about this performance is the fact all the performers are under the age of 30”, and expressed his hope that “more children will be able to enjoy a performance next year”.

It is the third summer that Hamish and Lindy Janson have hosted public performances by the London-based Scherzo Ensemble, a registered charity, in the gardens of their Longhope Estate since 2019.

Longhope Opera is now the centrepiece of Scherzo’s annual programme for emerging artists, bringing young performers and creatives from all over Europe together in Newton Valence village to create fresh, inspiring productions.

Tickets (from £85 each) and luxury picnic hampers (£45) are available to book online at https://www.longhopesummeropera.com