FOR most of us, a night at the opera sums up images of rich audience members paying for expensive seats in the West End, fancy European cities or palatial manor houses.

But admirers of beautiful singing and music can enjoy high quality opera close to home and in much humbler surroundings – in the west Oxfordshire town of Bampton.

It may not be Covent Garden, La Scala or the Bolshoi, but Bampton Classical Opera has a proud reputation. And next weekend it treats fans to a performance of an 18th century treasure – Salieri’s The School of Jealousy set in The Deanery Garden.

The production sees Bampton Classical Opera once championing the work of Mozart’s great rival after staging his earlier work Trofonio's Cave two year's ago.

The School of Jealousy – which premiered in Venice in 1778 – is a comedy of marital jealousy, infidelity and deception, and is believed to have inspired Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte.

Director Jeremy Gray, who founded Bampton Opera with wife Gilly French in 1993, said: “People loved Trofonio so much we really wanted to do another Salieri, and this seemed the obvious one."

Music director Anthony Kraus said: “It’s got some good ensembles. There’s good music for all the characters, not just the four principals, so everyone gets a good bite of the cherry.”

As with previous Bampton productions, this will be the modern day UK premiere – but not, it turns out, the only production happening this year.

Mr Gray explains: “The funny thing about this is that once we had decided to do it, we discovered everyone else was doing it!”

“It was recorded in Germany and the CD came out last year. There was a production in Florence earlier this year, which Gilly and I went to see, there’s one in Vienna at the moment and there’s one in Uruguay, of all places.”

One reason for this sudden surge of interest is that 2017 marks the bicentenary of the death of soprano Nancy Storace, who starred in its 1783 revival in Vienna. It is also a fun piece with a glorious score and, say the cast, a real team effort.

Matthew Sprange, who is making his Bampton debut in the role of Blasio, says: “I love it. Everybody chips in and says 'what about this, what about that', and Jeremy chucks away the rubbish and keeps the good stuff. It does feel really collaborative.”

He adds: “I’m playing the stupid grumpy one, so I’m typecast!

"It’s a good role, with a couple of really nice arias, so a lot of fun.”

* Bampton Classical Opera: The School of Jealousy takes place in The Deanery Garden, Bampton, on Friday and Saturday. Tickets from 01993 851142 or