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Country-house opera wonders where it will get its next million

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SOCCER-WORLD/

There’s more to the English summer social calendar than sport – but it is in danger of being drowned out by the cries of disappointed football fans and sapped by lack of cash.

During the June and July evenings when much of Britain grinds to a halt to watch World Cup matches on giant screens in pubs and smaller screens at home, a different style of audience escapes to the countryside, wearing evening dress and carrying picnic hampers, for the 2010 season of country-house operas.

While the most famous are at Glyndebourne, a younger rival Grange Park Opera in Hampshire has also earned critical acclaim.

It is undeniably elite, but that does not mean it does not have money issues.

Whereas football is guaranteed enormous audiences and sponsorship deals, often in defiance of the quality of play, Grange Park ticket sales fell last year against the backdrop of global recession and funding cuts to the arts.

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