David Pickard's Verdi memories

To celebrate Verdi’s 200th anniversary our General Director, David Pickard has picked a selection of his favourite Verdi tracks and shared some of his favourite Verdi memories.

My first day at Glyndebourne in 2001 happened to coincide with the opening night of a new production of my favourite Verdi opera – ‘Otello’. It was a memorable evening in so many ways, but what I recall most vividly was the exquisite singing of Susan Chilcott. She was absolutely in her prime but, tragically, died only x years later before the full promise of her career could be fulfilled.

Since then, there have been two further new productions of Verdi, both based on Shakespeare and both directed by Richard Jones, but presented in very different ways. From the 2007 production of ‘Macbeth’ I will never forget the astonishing realization of Verdi’s ballet music (often omitted) which was used as a backdrop to Macbeth’s nightmare – complete with exploding ovens and werewolves. Thank goodness my dreams aren’t as scary as that. In the gentler world of ‘Falstaff’, I always remember the ever present cats – thought by some members of the audience to be operated by highly sophisticated animatronics, but in fact worked by the supple hands of our stage management team who were crammed into uncomfortably tight spaces, invisible to the audience.