Glyndebourne reopens – with garden festival

The Glyndebourne opera festival is to open on July 1 – as an open air event of £10 tickets in a “newly imagined” summer season.

The opera house at the Sussex venue remains closed and its scheduled summer programme has had to be abandoned, but the extensive grounds are to be opened for concerts and operas for July and August, with timed tickets on sale for £10 fro access to the gardens from June 26 at www.glyndebourne.com. From mid-July concert performances will be given by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and in August by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The single opera of the season, Madame Les Halles by Offenbach, opens on August 12 and tickets are £150. Tickets for concerts are £50.

“We are in our 85th year so this is not the first crisis we have faced” said artistic director Stephen Langridge. “Things are not good for the theatre and classical music at the moment, and we have been working closely with our peers, trying to support the artists, orchestras and freelance staff who rely on us for their living - enormously helped by the generosity of our members. Experiencing live music and theatre, together, in an inspiring environment is what Glyndebourne is all about.

“We are fortunate in having plenty of outside space available to us, and with a little imagination, we can see exciting musical and theatrical opportunities for performance in the gardens. This mini-festival will be intimate, unusual and unforgettable. Some cause for celebration in these tough times.”

Visitors will be able to bring picnics, or buy them there, and although dress is “optional” many are expected to  wear the traditional evening dress – many of the 100,000 who logged on for Glyndebourne’s virtual opera festival following lockdown insisted on dressing up for them spaced – and they will be expected to observe social distancing  rules, with seating for concerts suitably spaced.  

From mid-July concert performances will be given by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and in August by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

To ensure the safety and comfort 200 tickets will be available every day, and designated seating areas will be prepared for each household. Audiences will be fully seated in household groups for concerts and opera performances. In bad weather, performances will be cancelled and tickets refunded.

Sarah Hopwood, Glyndebourne’s managing director, said it had been a shock and a disappointment to have had to abandon the 2020 festival. “However, we were not completely unprepared” she said. “Thanks to prudent financial management and to the extraordinary generosity of our members, donors, staff and the general public, we are now able to shift our focus from mourning the closure of the festival to opening a newly imagined summer season.”

The Glyndebourne Festival was cancelled in April due to COVID-19. Glyndebourne, a charity, receives no public subsidy and relies on  ticket sales to be able to operate, she said, and with this source of income now gone not just our future is at risk – the immediate livelihood of over 400 seasonal staff and artists has vanished. The charity has therefore started a COVID-19 Emergency Appeal to help them and to secure Glyndebourne’s long-term future.

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