Glyndebourne at 75
This week Music Matters celebrates Glyndebourne’s 75th birthday, as Tom Service travels to the South Downs countryside to explore the role of this unique private opera house in the 21st century.
Since the very first summer festival in 1934, Glyndebourne has been at the forefront of the international opera scene. 60 years later, a new house was built by founder John Christie’s son, George – and it is his son, Gus, who is now in charge of the estate and is also Executive Chairman of the opera company.
A History of Artistic Excellence
Dame Janet Baker, who began a long association with the opera house in the 1960s, talks about Glyndebourne’s pursuit of excellence, and in the house’s organ room Tom talks to Gus Christie about the company’s history and his vision for making it a symbol of operatic possibility in the 21st century. Outside on the lawns General Director David Pickard reflects on the Glyndebourne paradox: its relaxed pastoral setting amongst the local sheep existing side by side with an enviable intensity and seriousness about the operatic art-form.
Vladimir Jurowski, Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic – the summer festival’s resident orchestra – is the obvious choice to be Glyndebourne’s Music Director, but he reveals to Tom the shock of being appointed to the post back in 2001.
Festival Productions and Glyndebourne on Tour
Dropping in on rehearsals for this year’s revival of David McVicar’s award-winning production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Tom talks to McVicar about Glyndebourne’s special artistic environment and what it’s like staying in the Glyndebourne house, and also to the show’s stars Sarah Connolly and Danielle de Niese about the production and the Glyndebourne experience for singers today.
The main summer festival is augmented by a touring programme which takes the company’s productions to theatres around the UK. Tom finds out how Glyndebourne on Tour is central to the company’s aims with its Music Director Robin Ticciati, and Dame Felicity Lott shares her experiences as a young singer on the tour.
Education and the Environment
Tom finds out about Glyndebourne’s marketing strategy, and the effects of the current financial climate, with Head of Communications Gillian Brierley, and hears how the company is working with local schools and communities from Head of Education Katie Tearle and Glyndebourne’s first ever Composer-in-Residence Julian Philips.
And finally Tom looks into Glyndebourne’s environmental policy, highlighted a couple of years ago by the controversial proposal to build a wind turbine on the site. With the project having now been given the green light for a trial, local resident Tony Parker tells of his concerns over the impact on the local area, and Gus Christie explains how it is central to the company’s vision for the future.
Photos courtesy of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd.
Picnickers on the main lawn © Mike Hoban, Danielle de Niese as Cleopatra, GFO 2005 © Mike Hoban, 75 th anniversary logo, The Auditorium © Mike Hoban.
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