Of course, those sheep are a major draw, not to mention the views, the teas, the dresses, the gardens, the friendliest front of house staff anywhere, the comfy seats… oh, and the six great operas. For the first time in Glyndebourne’s history, all six will be broadcast in cinemas and online, with a combination of live and recorded live transmissions. It’s Vladimir Jurowski’s final year as Music Director, and he’s departing in style with his first fully-staged Strauss opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, which begins the season on May 18thBooking opens on Monday the 18th (at a minute past midnight online) and this year sees the Festival commit to one third of tickets at under £100, and standing at just £15 – so if you’re youthful and fit enough, you could see every production for £80, and still experience all but one of the aforementioned delights. Glyndebourne was the first opera house in the UK to screen performances in cinemas, and despite the persistence of those who still insist on calling the place “exclusive,” its productions can be experienced by anyone with access to a cinema or indeed a small screen, since each production is available free via glyndebourne.com, from June to August.
Whilst Ariadne is undoubtedly the biggest draw, Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie is not far behind: First Night is on Saturday June 29th, and the new production reunites the perfect team for this work in William Christie, Jonathan Kent and Paul Brown. Italian opera is not neglected, with a welcome revival for Richard Jones’ Falstaff (First Night May 19th) and Danielle de Niese’s Norina in Don Pasquale (July 18th) surely a major attraction.
Two other notable revivals of recent productions complete the season, both by Michael Grandage: Le nozze di Figaro returns with a new cast on June 8th, and the wonderful, ground-breaking Billy Budd is the last opera of the season, opening on August 10th. Mark Padmore makes his role début as Captain Vere, and the opera will be conducted by Andrew Davis.
Contrary to received opinion, Glyndebourne is not sold out to the corporate and/or wealthy before public booking opens, and even if you don’t manage to get what you want next week, if you join the excellent Returns Club (free) you stand a very good chance of snagging one of the sweet little side box seats which are classified as “restricted” but offer as good a view and as rounded a sound, as many higher priced seats in some other houses. The access to all the productions on screen is wonderful, but nothing beats being there in person; very few who have done so would argue with the statement that Heaven is Glyndebourne on a warm Summer’s day.