Monday, 20 October 2014

Glyndebourne @ The Marlowe

Do you fantasise about opera?  Do you have visions of stately evenings in sweeping taffeta ball gowns, midnight satin gloves caressing your arms to your elbows and gleaming jewels the value of a king’s ransom clasped about your throat as you sip vintage 1928 Krug from antique crystal glasses as the sun sets over the Seine?
Don Pasquale, Festival 2013, Photo: Clive Barda
Or are you like me, and you dream of opera that is fresh and exciting, accessible and vibrant but does not compromise on quality, performed by one of the greatest opera houses in the world? Opera that leaves you giddy for more, that trail blazes for a theatre genre that has a reputation for being elitist and stuffy?
Hippolyte et Aricie, Festival 2013.  Photo: Bill Cooper.
Sounds much more fun my way doesn’t it?  If you agree, then I have something that you may be interested in….
Glyndebourne, founded in the 1930’s by John and Audrey Christie, has just started its Autumn Tour and is coming to the Marlowe Theatre from the 4th-8th November with three different productions.  The Turn of the Screw is based on the Henry James novel, and the other two are hot off the press from the Glyndebourne Summer Festival; La traviata (the Fallen Woman) and the lesser known La finta giardiniera, an opera buffa by Mozart that was first produced two weeks before his 19th birthday.  
La traviata, Tour 2014
You just know that Mozart was the kind of kid that made everyone else feel bad about their life accomplishments when in conversation with him.  Can you imagine?  You: “What did you do this weekend? I didn’t die from cholera and drank a lot of gin.  Mozart: “Well done, that’s really impressive!  Me?  Oh I just composed an entire opera”.  Makes you go a little green around the gills, doesn’t it.
Glyndebourne’s name is synonymous with British opera.  Based in Sussex, Glyndebourne perform to 150,000 people every year over the course of about 120 performances.  Glyndebourne’s motto for 80 years (happy 80th by the way!) has been ‘not the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere’ and this vision can be seen and felt throughout every element of their work.  I bet you didn’t know, for example, that Glyndebourne founded The Edinburgh Festival in 1947 with productions of Un ballo in maschere and Ariadne auf Naxos.
The Glyndebourne Summer Festival allows people the opportunity to fall in love with opera under the stars, picnicking in evening dress.  Their tours take them all over the world, performing live in opera houses and having their productions screened in cinemas from Tokyo to New York.  Their education programme makes opera relevant to everyday life, with their work with schools, young composers, youth opera and supporting individuals with dementia and their carers. 
They are also environmentally conscious, even having their very own wind turbine!
In layman’s terms; it’s the kind of organisation that gives you the warming feel good squishy’s inside.
Glyndebourne are proud of what they have achieved, but they are also savvy enough not to rest on their laurels, no matter how impressive those laurels are.  In their words, they are an institution, not a museum and they are propelled by their sense of adventure.  They take risks, they tackle materials in new ways, they take operas that are lesser known and underperformed (like La finta giardiniera) and newly commissioned and debuts them like young socialites at the Crillon Ball in front of expectant audiences.  It can also act as a launching pad for the careers of young directors and actors, operatic and theatrical alike, allowing them the chance to let their creativity explode onto the Glyndebourne stage.
Hänsel und Gretel Tour 2013.  Photo: Robbie Jack
Something that is really important to Glyndebourne (and quite rare in the arts world today) is their financial independence.  They are a registered charity and, whilst receiving some support (which they are grateful for) from the Arts Council for the Tour and their educational work, they are basically financially self-sufficient, funded through box office sales and members and supporters.  This is what allows Glyndebourne to be creative and original – they are free to be themselves and also have the luxury of extensive preparation and rehearsal periods, all of which translates to excellence in performance.
L'enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012.  Photo: Simon Annand
Glyndebourne is also trying to dispel the myth that opera is too expensive for people on average salaries.  Of course, you can still fork out nearly £200 for a really superb seat and experience, but you can also pay £10 for standing room or £30 if you are under 30 on one of their under-30’s nights (there were a lot of 30’s in that sentence).  Tour tickets obviously vary from theatre to theatre but can start from as little as £15.  If you are still not convinced, you can always pop to the cinema and watch one of their live screenings for the price of a regular cinema ticket. 
Opera is no longer exclusive and elitist.  It is for everyone, and everyone should experience opera live at least once in their lives.

Tickets are currently on sale for the three highly acclaimed productions at the Marlowe Theatre, ticket prices vary from £29-£60pp (concessions available, booking fee applies)

In addition you can catch a screening of The Cunning Little Vixen at The Gulbenkian Theatre on the 2nd November.
The Cunning Little Vixen Festival 2012. Photo: Bill Cooper
I'll be going to see La finta giardiniera, so keep your eyes peeled for the post in the near future!

If you like (or hate!) what you have read, please do let me know in the comments below or slap me with a cheeky follow, or say Hi to me on my Facebook group or Twitter or Instagram!

*This is a sponsored post, and I want to thank Glyndebourne for their support of Miscriant and being such a joy to work with!*

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