News and Features

Meet our Backstage Tour guides

Join one of our knowledgeable guides on a 90-minute walking tour as you explore Glyndebourne.

Our popular BackStage Tours return in November and December 2019 and continue in January and February 2020.

Join one of our knowledgable guides on a 90-minute walking tour as you explore Glyndebourne and discover more about the fascinating history behind this world-class opera house.

Our backstage tour guides come from a variety of roles across Glyndebourne from House Management to Stage Door. We caught up with some of them to find out more about what you might discover during your visit on a backstage tour.

Jules Crocker

What is your role and how long have you worked at Glyndebourne?

I started at Glyndebourne as an Assistant Stage Manager in 1978 and the first opera I worked on was a new production of Die Zauberflöte directed by John Cox, designed by David Hockney and conducted by Bernard Haitink. I also worked on the wonderful Rake’s Progress that season, which will be back on our stage for Festival 2020.

By the time the old theatre was demolished I was Senior Stage Manager for the Festival and Company Stage Manager for the tour. I moved the other side of the curtain to become Front of House Manager for the new theatre in 1994. So that’s over 40 years!

What is your favourite backstage story to tell?

A few years ago there was a camel in the field over the road (nothing to do with Glyndebourne). A lady asked me whether the camel performed in many of our productions! We’ve had horses, dogs, canaries, doves and a hawk but no camels yet.

What is your favourite part of the tour?

I have always felt very at home on the stage and I love explaining a day in the life of Glyndebourne when I’m standing backstage. It takes incredible teamwork and planning to move all the scenery, lights, furniture and props at the end of a full dress rehearsal on stage in the morning. The rehearsal finishes at 1.30 and about three hours later an entirely different set is on the stage, ready for us to open the auditorium doors to let the audience in for the performance.

Alice Bridges

What is your role and how long have you worked at Glyndebourne?

I am Customer Service Supervisor and occasional Duty Manager. I have been at Glyndebourne for about eight years. I’ve done all sorts, worked in the Marketing department, Stage Door and of course Backstage Tours.

Can you share a backstage secret?

I can’t possibly share anything really juicy… you’ll have to come on a tour to find out!

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked on a tour?

Lots of people fondly remember the old opera house and ask about the bats that lived in the auditorium. I’m pleased to say they’re still very much here and make an appearance every so often – I’m convinced they have favourite operas, one seemed to particularly enjoy La traviata last season!

What can people expect to see and learn on a Backstage Tour?

Our wonderful props, wigs and costume departments lend us some amazing bits to display and talk about. It’s great being able to get up close to an item and show the painstaking attention to detail and just how much hard work goes into everything we produce.

Belinda Sharp

What is your role and how long have you worked at Glyndebourne?

I’m a Customer Service Coordinator and I also cover House Manager duties during the Festival season. I joined Glyndebourne in 2004 and worked in the Information Office and in the shop. Since then I’ve been known to help out with ushering, first aid and even helping out in the car park.

Can you share a backstage secret?

There is no star system at Glyndebourne – it matters not whether you are the star singer or a one-liner – the dressing room is still the same size!

What can people expect to see and learn on a Backstage Tour?

Finding out what goes into creating the opera that they see on stage – from the unseen hard work of the stage crew to the detail on the costumes.

What is your favourite backstage story to tell?

The story of the leading lady leaping through the scenery and dislocating her knee and singing the rest of the opera from a chair. Her fellow singers worked around her, as indeed did the scenery which had to collapse at the end of the opera – fortunately missing her in her chair!

Lucy Napper

What is your role and how long have you worked at Glyndebourne?

I have been at Glyndebourne since 2010 and worked in various roles. Rather unusually, my first role was as a volunteer gardener! That was a wonderful introduction to Glyndebourne and I loved the days spent working outside, getting to know the different areas of the garden, and the break times in the potting shed. The garden still remains at the heart of Glyndebourne for me. Since then I have had various roles, my main one being a Stage Door receptionist. It is endlessly interesting as the Stage Door is the hub of the backstage life of the theatre. I am now really pleased to be sharing the enthusiasm I have for Glyndebourne, by welcoming people here as a backstage tour guide.

Can you share a backstage secret?

The ‘visitors’ who cause the greatest excitement at the Stage Door are a family of peacocks! The birds live in the grounds and sometimes wander indoors and settle down in the reception area.

What can people expect to see and learn on a backstage tour?

On stage, you will be able to stand where the singers stand and see the auditorium, and the orchestra pit, from their perspective. You will be amazed by the size of the stage and the vast area behind and above it.

What things should people look out for this year?

Visitors will see a display of fantastic costumes and wigs from two of our most recent operas – Die Zauberflöte and Cendrillon (Cinderella’s ball gown and the Fairy Godmother’s costume are particularly beautiful).

Seeing the costumes at such close quarters allows an appreciation of the beautiful fabrics used and the attention to detail involved in their making. Wig making is a traditional craft requiring great patience – the wig makers work with human hair, threading and knotting, one hair at a time. The wigs and costumes are theatrical creations in their own right!

Luke Webster

What is your role and how long have you worked at Glyndebourne?

I’m a Customer Service Coordinator, working in the Box Office and Stage Door. I have worked at Glyndebourne for about 5 years, and during my time I’ve worked as an Usher, helped out in the Membership department, and I’ve even been fortunate enough to have performed as an extra on stage.

What is your favourite part of the tour?

My favourite part of the tour is visiting the Prompt Corner. It’s basically the command centre for every performance. I’ve witnessed so much nervous excitement there before a show!

What should people look out for in 2020?

If you’ve not been to the Glyndebourne Festival before, then I absolutely recommend coming to see Mozarts Die Entführung aus dem Serail, it’s a fantastic production packed full of drama and comedy, the latter particularly appeals to me! It’s to this date my absolute favourite production and I can’t wait to see it again. I’m also really looking forward to the Glyndebourne Opera Cup which returns in March.

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