One of Britain's leading opera companies has been told it must bring down the curtain on performances at its Oxfordshire home after 21 eventful years.

The Garsington Opera is now looking for a new venue for the 2011 season after the Ingrams family decided to end the festival's use of Garsington Manor.

The opera, which enjoys attendances of up to 500 people at each performance, has had a chequered history at the listed Jacobean manor house.

Neighbours won £1,000 compensation for noise disturbance caused by the outdoor opera festival in 1996. The opera's founder Leonard Ingrams, who died in July 2005, had the decision overturned on an appeal.

But the opera was again the focus of controversy in 2001, when neighbours tried to use the Human Rights Act to block it, saying it prevented them from the right to the "peaceful enjoyment of their possessions".

Organisers said the festival would continue at the site for three years, but if a suitable new home cannot be found in Oxfordshire it could be forced to move out of the county.

Clare Adams, a member of the opera's senior management team, said: "It's early days, so nowhere has been set for a future home yet.

"We're really keen to stay in the local vicinity, because we have established links with schools here and a lot of our audience comes from Oxford.

"But if we can't find anywhere suitable in Oxford, we might have to relocate."

"There had been problems with neighbours in the past.

"But we worked terribly hard to overcome those problems, and the opera spent lots of money putting up sound mufflers to minimise noise and any nuisance to neighbours.

"We had found harmony with our neighbours in recent years and I like to think they'll miss us and come to our new home where ever that may be.

"It was the most wonderful location for an opera and we will have been incredibly lucky to have had 21 years there.

"The venue will be sorely missed."

This year the festival has performances of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress as well as an exclusive first performance in Britain of Vivaldi's 300-year-old opera L'incoronazione di Dario.