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Commentary

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Glyndebourne’s first production of Dialogues des Carmélites to open Glyndebourne Festival 2020

Glyndebourne’s first production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites will open Glyndebourne Festival 2020, it was announced today. The opera house unveiled its 2020 plans at an event in its recently built Production Hub, hosted by Glyndebourne’s new senior leadership team, Artistic Director Stephen Langridge and Managing Director Sarah Hopwood, who jointly replace the former position of General Director.

Sarah Hopwood, who joined Glyndebourne as Finance Director in 1997 and subsequently became Chief Operating Officer, spoke about the unique business model that allowed Glyndebourne to fund the Production Hub: ‘It is well known that we receive no Government funding for our annual summer Festival, and it is through the financial success of that event that we are able to support our annual tour, year-round education activity (both also supported by Arts Council England) and the filming of full-length productions. We have just completed a £6.5m investment in this amazing Production Hub - creating a state-of-the-art facility to bring together our expert making teams, so that we maintain our competitive edge in creating world-class opera.’

Stephen Langridge, most recently Artistic Director at Gothenburg Opera, spoke about his long history with Glyndebourne; he took his first steps on the lawn when his father, Philip Langridge, performed on-stage and early in his career directed two youth operas at Glyndebourne, Misper (1997) and Zoë (2000). Introducing the 2020 season, he said:

‘I am thrilled to be announcing this exciting season, a classic Glyndebourne Festival smörgåsbord offering comic, tragic, and magical opera from three centuries - but with a steely through-line of amazing women, powerful in politics, strong in their relationships, and brave in their faith.’

Glyndebourne Festival 2020

Dialogues des Carmélites is one of the most devastatingly powerful works in the repertoire. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, it is based on a true story of religious martyrdom and follows the struggles of a young woman faced with a harrowing decision, made all the more moving by a breathtaking score.

Glyndebourne’s new production will be directed by Australian director Barrie Kosky, returning to the company for the first time since his triumphant production of Handel’s Saul in 2015. Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra and an exciting ensemble cast led by Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese, making a role debut as the opera’s heroine Blanche de la Force.

Also making its first appearance at Glyndebourne next summer is Handel’s Alcina, in a new production overseen by two Italian artists, director Francesco Micheli and conductor Gianluca Capuano.

Over the past two decades, Glyndebourne has consistently surprised and delighted audiences with its fresh take on works by Handel, including acclaimed productions of Theodora, Rodelinda, Giulio Cesare, Rinaldo and Saul. The company is building on that record with the first major new UK production of Alcina for over 20 years. Set in a world of enchantment and magic, the opera calls for lavish stage effects, promising a visual spectacle for Glyndebourne audiences next summer.

Taking the title role is Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan, with Armenian soprano Nina Minasyan as Morgana, Anglo-French mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany as Ruggiero and American contralto Avery Amereau as Bradamante.

The third new production of the 2020 season is Beethoven’s emotionally-charged opera Fidelio, directed by the up-and-coming young British director Frederic Wake-Walker and conducted by Robin Ticciati. It will be the first new production of the opera at Glyndebourne in nearly twenty years and marks the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Fidelio is Beethoven’s only opera, giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear the composer’s work in the opera house, and features music as powerful and beautiful as any that he wrote for the symphony hall. An impressive cast includes British soprano Emma Bell as Leonore and British tenor David Butt Philip as Florestan.

The 2020 Festival sees the return of one of Glyndebourne’s greatest ever productions - John Cox’s definitive 1975 staging of Stravinsky’s sophisticated comedy The Rake’s Progress, designed by David Hockney. It will be the first chance to see the production at Glyndebourne in over a decade, with Czech composer Jakub Hrůša at the helm of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a cast that includes American tenor Ben Bliss as Tom Rakewell, British bass Matthew Rose as Nick Shadow and British soprano Louise Alder as Anne Trulove.

Completing the season are revivals of David McVicar’s insightful production of Mozart’s landmark work Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Annabel Arden’s colourful production of Donizetti’s romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore.

Gus Christie said: ‘I’m delighted to be announcing Glyndebourne’s 2020 season today alongside our new leadership team. We have a really exciting line-up featuring two works that have never been staged here before - Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites and Handel’s Alcina. I’m also delighted that we’re presenting a new production of Beethoven’s Fidelio nearly twenty years on from the last. It’s always a treat to hear that great composer in the opera house.’

Following a successful launch in 2018, the Glyndebourne Opera Cup returns in 2020. The final will take place at Glyndebourne on 7 March 2020 and will once again be broadcast live by Sky Arts. Applications for the Glyndebourne Opera Cup open on 1 September 2019. Full details will be announced later this year.

The Glyndebourne Tour returns next autumn offering audiences across England a chance to enjoy world class opera on their doorstep. It features productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and the return of the Behind The Curtain series with The Magic Flute: Behind the Curtain, taking audiences under the hood of Mozart’s final operatic masterpiece.

Glyndebourne Tour 2020 runs from 9 October - 5 December 2020. Following three weeks of performances at Glyndebourne, the Tour will visit Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Woking, Norwich and Liverpool. Further information and casting to follow.

Chair of Trustees of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd to Step Down

John Botts will step down as Chair of Trustees of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd at the end of this year’s Festival, but will remain on the Board. John will be succeeded as Chair by Hamish Forsyth, a Trustee since March 2013 and Chair of the Audit, Finance and Compliance Committee. Hamish, President of Capital Group Europe and Asia, brings a wealth of business, charity and opera experience. He is a Fellow of the Governing Body of Eton College, and a former Trustee of both the Royal Opera House and Grange Park Opera.

Gus Christie said: “My father asked John to join the Board in 1985 when he was working at Citibank and he has been a lynchpin for Glyndebourne ever since. He was instrumental in encouraging my father’s vision of rebuilding the new theatre and driving the fundraising strategy and membership structures which have kept us afloat throughout. He oversaw the transition from my father to me, and has constantly challenged and prodded us when we needed it, at the same time providing constant support and guidance. We are all hugely indebted to John for the leadership he has provided in keeping us financially independent, at the same time as maintaining our extremely high artistic and musical standards. I am delighted he is remaining on the Board and warmly welcome Hamish as his successor.”

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