Posted by: glyndebourneblog | May 19, 2010

Mozart, Morals and All-male Opera

There’s a bit of a Mozartian feel about the place today – this evening sees the final dress rehearsal of Così fan tutte whilst metres away the operatic juggernaut that is Don Giovanni begins rehearsals.

Opening in six weeks time is a new production of Don Giovanni. Described as the blackest of black comedies with morals at its very centre (The concluding chorus deliver the line “Such is the end of the evildoer: the death of a sinner always reflects his life”), the libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte tells the tale of the damned eponymous Don, a serial womaniser who meets his deserved end. It’s intense stuff and sure to be captivating in the extreme when it opens on 4 July.

With the design by Paul Brown, visually the new production is supremely arresting, bringing a fresh and new take to one of the most famous repetoire staples.

Così fan tutte on the other hand is a far lighter affair. Again with a libretto by Da Ponte, the opera tells the story of two officers convinced that their respective fiancees will be eternally faithful. Laying a wager, Don Alfonso claims that he can prove that the two women like all others are fickle. Questionable gender politics aside, Così fan tutte showcases some of the most beautiful music on offer.

Over the years Glyndebourne has enjoyed a long and distinguished association with the work of Mozart. For the first few years after its founding in 1934, the Festival performed solely his work and even today, Mozart’s operas are ever present in the repetoire, continuing to delight audiences.

However, It’s not just Mozart that Glyndebourne has enjoyed a long association with as the work of Benjamin Britten has a close relationship with the opera house. Tomorrow sees the opening of this year’s Festival with the all-male allegory Billy Budd which deals with the nature of good and evil as seen through the story of the title character aboard an 18th century warship. Based upon the novel of the same name by Herman Melville, it’s an intense, weighty and emotional work. More can be read about Britten’s association with Glyndebourne in this article in The Independent

With such work on offer it’s no wonder that this week is an extremely exciting time to be about the place. Now, where’s that picnic hamper?!

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | May 17, 2010

Setting sail for the Festival …

Britten, Forster and friends discuss the first production of Billy Budd (1949). Photograph: Kurt Hutton/Getty Images

Phew, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Rehearsals are now underway for Macbeth and Cosi fan tutte and Billy Budd are at the final stages before curtain goes up on the Festival this Thursday.

We had a bit of a clamber around on it during the annual stage blessing service last week and without giving too much away, it looks fantastic – the set really gives a sense of the claustrophobia visually that’s evident in the music. There are still a limited number of tickets as well if you fancy a trip down to Glyndebourne over the next month or so. Tickets can be snapped up here

Fear not, if you’re without a ticket you can still get involved in all the excitement of the new production:-

Slaving over a hot editing suite, the Digital Media department have been hammering away and have created the first of this season’s Podcasts. Featuring James Whitbourn interviewing director Michael Grandage and conductor Sir Mark Elder, the Podcast can be found here . The podcasts are available to listen to online as well as subscribe to and offer a fascinating insight into the new production.

This weekend saw the final rehearsal of Britten’s opera as well as a Study Day, videos of which will be available on YouTube and Vimeo.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Jacques Imbrailo and John Mark Ainsley are speaking to Sean Rafferty for BBC R3’s In Tune today (Monday 17th). Listen live or stream for a week afterwards via iPlayer.

Right, we’re off to sing some sea shanties, all this listening to Billy Budd has put us in a rather nautical mood…

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | April 23, 2010

Less than a month to go …

With under a month now until the opening of the Champagne-fuelled 2010 Glyndebourne Festival things are definitely hotting up around Glyndebourne. It’s been all hands on deck (sorry, couldn’t resist) for the Billy Budd and Cosi casts as they flex their operatic muscles over in the rehearsal space of the Jerwood Studio. Often those with the deepest of voices can be heard rumbling the floor of the Media Office as they warm up!

A further exciting development of late is that on stage at this very minute being fitted and tested is part of the stunning Paul Brown designed set of Don Giovanni – a new production of which opens on Sunday 4 July. It’s looking fantastic and we’re sure it’ll delight and enthral audiences in equal measure at all of the sold out performances.

It’s not just the Festival that’s been pre-occupying those at Glyndebourne of late as last Sunday, a host of musical talent including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Glyndebourne Chorus and various soloists performed in a charity concert of Mozart’s Requiem in aid of two local charities.

Ros Keeley of Glyndebourne’s Membership and Development department filled us in:

“Sunday 18th April’s sublime performance of Mozart’s Requiem was in aid of two local charities that have strong links with the community; Leo House at home, which supports local youngsters and their families and the Railway Land Wildlife Trust which looks after the Railway Land nature reserve in Lewes.

When we arrived the grounds were full of people picnicking and making the most of the spring sunshine. It was great to see Glyndebourne coming to life before the start of the festival.

I hadn’t heard the whole Requiem before so was surprised by the variety in pace and tone of the different sections. It’s a really powerful choral piece, definitely one you can lose yourself in. The soloists Sally Matthews, Barbara Senator, John Mark Ainsley and Matthew Rose, along with the Glyndebourne Chorus and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment were on good form. The sign of a good concert is that it is over too quickly! A delightful and relaxing way to spend an afternoon whilst contributing to two worthwhile charities.”

An excerpt of the work performed from YouTube:

Until next time…

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | March 26, 2010

Behind the Scenes of Hansel und Gretel

There aren’t many chances for the public to see behind the scenes at a working opera house. It’s a shame because there’s always a huge buzz about the place with constant frenzied activity to ensure that when the curtain goes up, everything goes (more or less) as planned.

Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel was one of the highlights of the 2008 Festival and the modern design of the production gave an interesting slant on a classic opera. With the production released on DVD through Glyndebourne’s Shop, included as one of the extras was a Behind the Scenes documentary. It offers a fantastic and hugely entertaining insight into what putting on a production involves.

Here’s a clip to give you an idea …

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | March 8, 2010

Gazing back on Knight Crew through a Caffeine-induced haze…

Phew! So, the hard work of the last months and years comes to an end, Knight Crew is over. The exhausting process, which began in 2006 when commissioning briefs went out, went through meticulous planning, fundraising, scheduling, casting, recruitment, making and rehearsing before (finally) culminating in four amazing performances at Glyndebourne.

Since June I have been focusing primarily on the Knight Crew choruses, along with Gareth Malone and Karen Gillingham, going into schools and youth centres across Brighton and East Sussex to find young people to take part. We saw over 400 young people at this stage and invited over 150 to the next ‘skills workshop’ stage. From this we, along with John Fulljames (Director), Nicholas Collon (Conductor) and Katie Tearle (Head of Education), auditioned over 100 and found our chorus of 52 Knight Crew, 13 Dannys and 18 Mothers.

When rehearsals began in January there was a lot to do. Working closely with Libby Hill (Company Manager) on scheduling, communication and transport we supported the chorusas they gradually got more and more excited. This excitement was a joy to behold when we first took them onto the set, then the stage, then costume, dressing rooms and finally to the performances themselves. I have never exclaimed ‘Shh!’ so many times in my life!

The music is still going round in my head whilst reading the lovely reviews and feedback. It has been an amazing experience for me and all involved and I count myself hugely lucky to have been one of them.

-Education Projects Co-ordinator

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | February 22, 2010

Darwin and Opera? Whatever next, Dawkins and Ballet!?

Whilst trawling YouTube over the weekend we came across this. It’s a new ‘electro-opera’ by Swedish dance-pop duo The Knife which apparently showcases the world as seen through the eyes of Charles Darwin. Entitled Tomorrow, in a Year and inspired by his seminal work The Origin of Species, it’s being funded in part by the Danish Arts Council and from this clip seems extremely interesting indeed.

The three performers apparently come from a trio of differing musical backgrounds, namely electronic pop, opera and the performing arts and according to the predictably gushing prose on the official website;

“…display three ways of experiencing the world. They are the spokesman, the organiser, and the one who acts. They are structure, sensation, form, time and thought.”

…That’ll be their marketing department going into overdrive then, eh? In any case, it looks intriguing to say the least and well worth a few minutes having a peek.

Posted by: glyndebourneblog | February 15, 2010

Into the Blog ether we go …

Welcome to a new blog from Glyndebourne Opera House.

Hopefully this should be the place to find a little more out about what goes on both operatic and behind the scenes. While you’re at it, have a peek at our other social networking sites –

Self-promotion out the way, we’re currently heavily into rehearsals for our new youth opera – Knight Crew which opens at Glyndebourne on March 3. It’s being filmed for a BBC2 documentary featuring he of The Choir fame, Gareth Malone. You can find more information should you have the inclination here.

This week is half term for schools around these parts and so we’ve got rehearsals jammed in every available timeslot going. Hectic but it’ll be worth it when it opens in a little over two weeks time. We can hear the drills whirring from the media office as they put the set together right now in fact.

To make this a little more entertaining than your average ‘Hello World’ Blog, here are a couple of photos to keep you entertained until our next post…