Garsington Manor has never been in the spotlight as a jewel in the countryside kind of tourist attraction, open to the public. Yet this Tudor manor house, with its beautiful Italian-style gardens, has twice become famous beyond the borders of Oxfordshire.

The first time was when it was the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell and her husband Philip. After the First World War, the Morrells provided sanctuary to members of the Bloomsbury Group, some of whom were conscientious objectors. The Morrells’ many other cultural and literary visitors included D H Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, T S Eliot, and the philosopher Bertrand Russell, who became Lady Ottoline’s lover.

Then, in 1982, Garsington Manor was bought by Leonard Ingrams and his wife, Rosalind. Ingrams, who died in 2005, was an opera addict, and it wasn’t long before he looked at the paved area and stone gazebo alongside his new home, and thought it might make an ideal setting for his very own opera festival.

Garsington Opera was duly born, modeled on Glyndebourne, and complete with Glyndebourne’s very English phenomenon of superior picnics on the lawn whatever the weather, consumed by opera lovers wearing formal evening dress.

For the first few years, productions were mostly imported, beginning with Opera 80’s The Marriage of Figaro in 1989. As Rosalind Ingrams put it recently: “Garsington Opera became an all-absorbing passion for my husband”.

But would Garsington Opera survive Leonard Ingrams’s sudden death?

The question was quickly answered: it would.

A new general director was appointed, Anthony Whitworth-Jones, who had previously held the same position at Glyndebourne itself.

However, just over two years ago, the Ingrams family decided that the 2010 opera season would be the last at Garsington.

Again, a decision was quickly taken: Garsington Opera would live on, but in a new location.

“It actually gave us three seasons more, but we immediately started looking for our next home,” Anthony Whitworth-Jones told me. “The search itself has taken no less than two years.”

If buying a house is reckoned to be one of the most stressful activities imaginable, I suggested, surely finding a new home for an opera company must equal that same stress, but multiplied by a hundred?

“In one sense it is, although, of course, it’s nobody’s home. We saw getting on for 50 properties: we actually nearly made it to two or three other locations, but in each case negotiations fell through for one reason or another — that is just like buying a house!”

The search ended with the decision to move Garsington Opera to the Wormsley Estate, which straddles the Oxfordshire-Buckinghamshire border near Stokenchurch.

“The properties that we pursued before Wormsley were in no case absolutely ideal,” Anthony Whitworth-Jones revealed. “Of course, nothing can be because one has this mythical ideal in one’s head. You can’t really articulate it, but you are always looking for something that’s impossible to find, and we discovered that.

“There were lots of people who thought the idea of having us was charming and romantic — and would benefit them financially, of course, because we pay rent. But they didn’t begin to realise the extent of the intrusion that our operation would involve — about 12,000 people would be coming on to their property each season for instance.

“We did visit Wormsley a year ago, and, because of our mythical ideal, we thought it was wonderful, but not quite right. Then, with the experience of going to lots of other properties, we realised we didn’t really know what the mythical ideal was, because it clearly wasn’t out there.

“So we went back to Wormsley, and realised what an absolutely wonderful place it was — completely different to Garsington, and with huge possibilities.”

Wormsley was acquired by the American-born multi-millionaire philanthropist Sir Paul Getty II in 1986. Over the following years, Getty invested huge sums in restoring the estate to its former glory — and making additions.

A new library houses one of the finest collections in the country, but Sir Paul’s pride and joy was a replica of The Oval cricket ground.

Introduced to the game by his London neighbour Mick Jagger, Getty became a cricket fanatic. According to his obituary in the Daily Telegraph, he offered to buy a radio station so that Test Match Special could be continued when the BBC put it under threat, and “gave £2m for the New Mound Stand at Lord’s (where he was occasionally to be seen in his box, after the lunchtime edition of Neighbours)”.

The Wormsley cricket ground comes complete with a mock-Tudor, half-timbered pavilion, and matching thatched scoreboard.

Outside, slightly incongruously, stands a vintage red telephone box — it’s tempting to imagine that, in pre-mobile phone days, the former Test players and celebrities who made up Getty’s XI might have used the phone box to tell absent admirers about their prowess at the wicket or in the field.

When the ground was inaugurated in 1992, both the Queen Mother and then Prime Minister John Major joined Getty for tea in the pavilion, and he was heard to remark that the game had given him “the happiest summer since my boyhood”.

What Sir Paul would have made of the arrival of Garsington Opera, we will never know. But the Getty family still lives at Wormsley, and son Mark — who has built his own fortune by creating Getty Images, owner of the rights to the largest collection of photographic images in the world — said: “We are delighted to welcome Garsington Opera for a summer season each year.

“I see the Opera forming a central part of a vibrant cultural future for Wormsley Estate. It is also important to us that Garsington Opera will bring its terrific outreach activities to benefit schools and others in the local area with an interest in the performing arts.”

The opera company has signed a rental agreement with the Wormsley Estate, and will remain an entirely separate operation.

Each summer a Japanese-style, temporary pavilion will be erected to house audience, stage and orchestra. The site consists of a large area of grassland on two levels, split by a long brick and flint wall.

In the distance, wild deer graze, sharing the space with hares, rabbits, badgers, and at least one wallaby. The estate was a reintroduction site for red kites, and there are now more than 180 breeding pairs in the area.

There is a two-acre walled garden, dating from the 18th century and designed by Richard Wood, which opera goers will be able to visit.

The overall feeling is of space and peace — the M40 is completely inaudible, although it’s only a short distance away.

Responsible for the design of the removable opera house is Robin Snell, who has highly relevant experience as project architect on the new Glyndebourne opera house, opened in 1994.

“I think the inspiration at Wormsley was more about the landscape, and approach to a building in that landscape,” he told me. “The pavilion will be elevated above the ground, giving the appearance of ‘floating’ above the landscape, and will feature covered verandas and terraces, with places to linger and enjoy the views.

“It actually has its origins in English architecture — the great estates were famous for their pavilions. But it’s also borrowing things from Japanese architecture, and Japanese theatre.

“One of the great successes of Garsington is that it feels intimate: we’ve been very careful to make sure that the width and depth are comparable to the Garsington auditorium. It seems to me so very important that one isn’t throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Garsington has extraordinarily good acoustics for what is basically an outdoor, temporarily-covered, performing space, with the sound being enhanced by the stone walls of the adjoining manor house. But there is none of that at Wormsley, where the house is well away from the opera site.

How, I asked Robin, is he going to ensure a good sound for opera goers?

“We’re working very closely with an acoustician, Bob Essert, who has extraordinary experience in this field. Our brief to him is to make an auditorium in which the walls and the ceiling, and every other surface add to the experience. So we’re designing the space to enhance the acoustics.”

All of which will no doubt cost money. So will ticket prices (at present £85 to £155, including a suggested but non-obligatory donation of £60) have to go up?

“We’re not going to increase our ticket prices,” replied Anthony Whitworth-Jones emphatically. “We will launch a capital campaign to raise the £3m involved. It’s not a ridiculous amount of money because building a temporary structure is very different to building a permanent opera house. There will be no offices or workshops for scenery building.

“So it’s quite simple in a way. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it should be achievable.”

Meanwhile, as planning permission is being sought at Wormsley, the last season at Garsington began at the weekend, and runs until July 3.

What will Anthony Whitworth-Jones’s feelings be when the final notes of opera ring out there, 21 years after that first performance of The Marriage of Figaro?

“My own feelings are probably not going to be as strong as many, simply because I have only been there since Leonard Ingrams died. But I think the emotion displayed will be absolutely enormous. It’s bound to be.

“But audience members we’ve spoken to so far are extremely excited about the move, and the prospect of a better theatre in a beautiful place.”