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Commentary

06 Feb 2019

Glyndebourne celebrates 25 years of its award-winning opera house in 2019

Unveiled in 1994, the new auditorium increased capacity by 50% to 1,200 seats and significantly improved backstage facilities. This allowed more people to enjoy world-class opera at Glyndebourne and enabled the company to stage bigger and more ambitious productions in the years that followed.

The drive to build a new opera house at Glyndebourne came from Sir George Christie, then Chairman of Glyndebourne, who raised £34m in private funding to pay for the project. The building was designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners and has won many awards for the quality of the architecture and the craftsmanship of its component parts. Despite being larger than the previous theatre, the auditorium retained a sense of intimacy, and delivered a vastly improved acoustic.

The new opera house opened on 28 May 1994 with a performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, the same opera that opened the very first Glyndebourne Festival in 1934. It was the first purpose-built opera house to be constructed in the UK since Glyndebourne founder John Christie built the original Glyndebourne theatre in the 1930s.

25 years on, Glyndebourne will soon unveil the largest building project it has undertaken since the opera house, a new state-of-the-art production hub designed by Nicholas Hare Architects. It will be home to Glyndebourne’s expert props, sets, costumes, wigs, and making departments, as well as a new rehearsal studio and music practice rooms.

The production hub opens in the run-up to Glyndebourne Festival 2019, a season that gathers together some classic operatic fairy tales. Highlights include a rare opportunity to see a fully staged production of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, a fresh and playful new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and the Festival debut of Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, directed by Fiona Shaw.

The season is completed with revivals of three popular productions from Glyndebourne’s recent history: Melly Still’s evocative production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, Robert Carsen’s irreverent take on Handel’sRinaldo and Annabel Arden’s stylish staging of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

The Festival can once again be enjoyed on stage, on screen and online. Three of the season’s productions will be screened in cinemas UK-wide and broadcast free online in partnership with the Telegraph Media Group.

Off-stage, visitors to this year’s Glyndebourne Festival can enjoy displays of art and sculpture, including the first major works by Nicholas Hare, the architect behind the new production hub, who has become a sculptor following his recent retirement. His three large-scale works, sculpted in Cor-Ten rusted steel, will be on display in the Glyndebourne gardens throughout the summer.

In addition, an expanded gallery space within the opera house is being relaunched as Gallery ‘94. This will house an exhibition on the theme of ‘Between Worlds’, featuring work by eleven different artists that draws on the architecture and topography of Glyndebourne, to mark the 25th anniversary of the opera house.

Public booking for Glyndebourne Festival 2019 opens online on Sunday 3 March. For more information visit glyndebourne.com.

Glyndebourne Festival 2019 runs from 18 May - 25 August 2019

New productions

Hector Berlioz: La damnation de Faust

13 performances between 18 May - 10 July 2019 Glyndebourne’s debut production of La damnation de Faust is a rare opportunity to see this extraordinary work fully staged - the perfect way to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. Directed by Richard Jones, the cast is led by top British tenor Allan Clayton, making a role debut as Faust, alongside Christopher Purves as his nemesis, Méphistophélès. Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati, a passionate champion of Berlioz, conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jules Massenet Cendrillon

14 performances between 8 June - 2 August 2019

One of the greatest operatic fairy tales, Massenet’s Cendrillon makes its Festival debut in Fiona Shaw’s thoughtful contemporary updating. John Wilson will make his first appearance at the Glyndebourne Festival conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a cast led by Glyndebourne favourites Danielle de Niese as Cendrillon and Kate Lindsey as Prince Charming.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte

15 performances between 18 July - 24 August 2019

Mozart’s most magical comedy returns to Glyndebourne for the first time in over a decade in a new production by the renowned directing / design duo Barbe & Doucet that promises to take a fresh and playful look at the opera’s troublesome gender politics. Leading British bass Brindley Sherratt stars as Sarastro alongside exciting young singers including Caroline Wettergreen, Sofia Fomina and Björn Bürger. Antonello Manacorda conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Revivals

Gioachino Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia

15 performances between 19 May - 14 July 2019

Opera’s greatest comedy returns to the Glyndebourne Festival in Annabel Arden’s stylish, surreal production, first staged in 2016. Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Antonín Dvořák Rusalka

12 performances between 29 June - 21 August 2019

A heartbreaking fairy tale of love and loss comes vividly to life in Melly Still’s evocative production. Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with soprano Sally Matthews as the nymph who loses all for love. Canadian mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon is the witch Ježibaba who takes it from her.

George Frideric Handel Rinaldo 8 performances between 8 - 25 August 2019

Robert Carsen’s witty and irreverent production of Handel’s Rinaldo returns to Glyndebourne with an all-new cast. American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong takes the title role with fast-rising young countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński as Eustazio and Italian soprano Giulia Semenzato as Almirena. Baroque specialist Maxim Emelyanychev conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

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