Opera + Classical Music Features

Glyndebourne: A New Opera For The Digital Age


(Photo: Dave Illman)

Anyone who has not been to Glyndebourne, perhaps put off by the ‘champagne and country gardens’ image – not to mention the cost – will soon get the chance to discover this fabulous place for far less than the usual Festival prices. On March 7th (with further performances on 8th and 9th) Orlando Gough’s Imago, described as “La bohème for the Internet age” has its world premiere, and you can get a ticket for £14 (£7 for concessions).

Commissioned by Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera, the work is directed by Susannah Waters with a libretto by Stephen Plaice and designs by the Olympic designer Es Devlin: the cast is made up of professional singers including the wonderful Jean Rigby, in collaboration with amateur soloists and a 70-strong chorus from the local community. It builds on the success of Knight Crew in 2010, and provides both seasoned opera lovers and those new to contemporary vocal works with a unique chance to be part of an innovative experience.

The opera asks the question – What if you could live a second life, look the way you want to look, and be whoever you wanted to be? It explores the blurring of the boundaries between ‘real’ life and the world of the internet, where characters and situations are created and obliterated at the click of a mouse. The title refers to a device which enables the creation of an avatar, allowing the elderly heroine to experience life anew, and unsurprisingly she falls in love with the avatar of a teenage boy.

The score takes in a range of musical styles, with an orchestra assembled under the same collaborative principle as that used with the singers – the core is made up of professionals, from the Aurora Orchestra, augmented with young instrumentalists, under the direction of Nicholas Collon.

As the composer says, “The fact that a large part of Imago takes place in a kind of ‘Second Life’ means that it looks and sounds very different from a 19th century opera.” This could be your chance to experience a work not only composed in the present day but looking to the future of human interaction and communication – there are just a few seats left for the weekend nights, with better availability on March 7th.

Tickets from the Glyndebourne Box Office on 01273 813813, or online at www.glyndebourne.com

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Glyndebourne: A New Opera For The Digital Age