In the world of opera, Glyndebourne is unique. It is recognised globally as one of the great opera houses. Its productions travel worldwide, are performed live in other opera houses and screened in cinemas from New York to Tokyo.
Yet it remains a very English institution. The opera house stands next to the country home of John Christie, who founded it in 1934 alongside his opera singer wife, Audrey Mildmay. Now run by his grandson Gus, it is still very much a family concern.
Glyndebourne’s global reputation stems from a passion for artistic excellence. John Christie insisted on “doing not the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere” and for more than 80 years, that has remained Glyndebourne’s touchstone.
Glyndebourne’s commitment to quality has earned it a loyal following, enabling it to preserve its financial independence and to attract the world’s finest artists. Today, its Festival and Tour present about 120 performances each year, to some 150,000 people and its widely respected education programme, established in 1986, hosts over 230 community and outreach events a year.
An institution, but not a museum, Glyndebourne (and its audiences) are noted for their sense of adventure. Its programmes balance well-known repertoire with less familiar works, both old and new, including British premieres and new commissions. In addition to established opera directors, Glyndebourne invites talented theatre directors to bring their creative vision to opera, often for the first time. And it has pioneered using recordings to bring its work to a worldwide audience through broadcasts, cinema screenings, DVDs, internet streaming.
Glyndebourne has always looked to the future, developing new talent, new works and new audiences. Artists whose careers started at Glyndebourne include Kate Royal, Thomas Allen, Edward Gardner, Joan Sutherland, Janet Baker, John Tomlinson, Simon Rattle and John Pritchard.
Photo: © Leigh Simpson