Glyndebourne to mark Shakespeare anniversary in 2016 and 2017

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  • Two operas based on Shakespeare plays at 2016 Glyndebourne Festival – Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Commemorations continue in 2017 with the world premiere of a new commission based on Hamlet, composed by Brett Dean, with libretto by Matthew Jocelyn
  • Glyndebourne Festival 2016 also includes a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia and revivals of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Cunning Little Vixen and Le nozze di Figaro
  • Glyndebourne will mark 30 years of its education department in 2016 beginning with a main stage youth opera in February 2016: a new commission based on the novel Nothing by Danish author Janne Teller and composed by David Bruce
  • Glyndebourne Tour 2016 presents the company’s first ever production of Madama Butterfly, directed by Annilese Miskimmon. Two full length operas will be toured along with a third live performance which will introduce new audiences to opera

In the 400th anniversary year of the death of William Shakespeare, the 2016 Glyndebourne Festival will present two operas based on his work.

Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, adapted from Much Ado About Nothing, will have its fully-staged Glyndebourne debut in a new production directed by Laurent Pelly.

Glyndebourne has previously performed the work in concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 1993 when the Festival relocated there while a new opera house was built.

Berlioz had a great passion for Shakespeare, whose plays inspired some of his greatest works including a King Lear overture, his great dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette and some smaller vocal works based on excerpts from Hamlet.

Glyndebourne Music Director Robin Ticciati, an ardent champion of Berlioz, will conduct the opera and said: “In Béatrice et Bénédict we see Berlioz responding to his great love of Shakespeare. It’s a magical piece which fizzes with texture and lightness and it will be a great pleasure to conduct the opera’s first full staging at Glyndebourne.”

French mezzo soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac will make her role debut as Béatrice opposite the US tenor Paul Appleby, a leading artist at The Metropolitan Opera, who makes his UK debut this month in the 2015 Glyndebourne Festival production of Handel’s Saul.

The second Shakespeare offering sees a return for Peter Hall’s enduringly popular 1981 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, receiving its first revival in ten years.

An impressive ensemble cast has been assembled including bass Matthew Rose as Bottom, countertenor Tim Mead as Oberon and coloratura soprano Kathleen Kim as Tytania. Kazushi Ono, last seen at Glyndebourne in the 2012 Ravel double bill, will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also provide the inspiration for a Glyndebourne Youth Opera project featuring new compositions from Glyndebourne’s Young Composer in Residence, Lewis Murphy.

David Pickard, General Director of Glyndebourne, said: “Shakespeare’s work has inspired artists of all genres and generations; opera is no exception. Given Robin Ticciati’s passion for Berlioz there seemed no better time to present a full staging of Béatrice et Bénédict. I’m also delighted that we’re offering another chance to experience a true Glyndebourne classic, Peter Hall’s timeless A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Glyndebourne’s Shakespeare commemorations continue into the 2017 Glyndebourne Festival with the world premiere of a new opera based on Hamlet. Composed by Brett Dean, one of the most celebrated international composers of his generation, it features a libretto by Canadian writer and theatre director Matthew Jocelyn.

Dean’s first, and only other opera Bliss premiered to great acclaim in Sydney in 2010 and was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival the same year.

Composer Brett Dean said: ‘‘Shakespeare’s Hamlet is obviously one of the greatest, richest, most influential texts of all time. It is a story that exists, like a delicate membrane, at the very cusp of different states, as epitomised by its most famous lines: to be or not to be. Questions of life and death, life and afterlife, action and inaction, loyalty and deceit, madness and sanity, tragedy and comedy all live side by side in precarious proximity. My hunch is that this mysterious border-town between existence and oblivion is a place where music can be found.”

Hamlet will be conducted by Vladimir Jurowski making his first return to Glyndebourne since completing his tenure as Music Director in 2013. Neil Armfield will direct the production with Allan Clayton in the title role leading a cast which also includes Barbara Hannigan, Sarah Connolly and John Tomlinson.

All of Glyndebourne’s planned Shakespeare events are part of the Shakespeare400 campaign, coordinated by King’s College London. Visit

Rest of Festival 2016

The 2016 Glyndebourne Festival opens on 21 May with the return of David McVicar’s acclaimed 2011 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a landmark in the company’s performance history that fulfilled founder John Christie’s dream to stage the opera at Glyndebourne.

Robin Ticciati will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra for his first ever Wagner opera. The distinguished Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, who began his career in the Glyndebourne Chorus, returns to the role of Hans Sachs, with American soprano Amanda Majeski as Eva. Canadian-German tenor Michael Schade makes his Glyndebourne debut as Walther von Stoltzing.

Then follows the season’s second new production, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, based on the first of Beaumarchais’ ‘Figaro Trilogy’ of plays.

Not seen at Glyndebourne since 1994, Il barbiere di Siviglia will be directed by Annabel Arden and conducted by Enrique Mazzola, reuniting the creative team behind Glyndebourne’s popular production of L’elisir d’amore, which premiered in the 2007 Glyndebourne Tour. The production stars two Glyndebourne favourites; the internationally acclaimed lyric soprano Danielle de Niese as Rosina and Italian buffo baritone Alessandro Corbelli as Dr Bartolo. The award-winning young German baritone Björn Bürger will make his Glyndebourne debut in the title role.

Beaumarchais’ second ‘Figaro Trilogy’ play also appears at the 2016 Festival with the return of Michael Grandage’s 2012 production of Le nozze di Figaro. The revival features Glyndebourne debuts by South African soprano Golda Schultz as Countess Almaviva and Italian baritone Davide Luciano as Figaro. Italian soprano Rosa Feola, who made a memorable Glyndebourne debut as Sandrina in La finta giardiniera in the 2014 Glyndebourne Tour, will play Susanna for her first Festival appearance.

The Festival 2016 line-up is completed by a revival of Melly Still’s 2012 production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. The lead female roles will be taken by Slavic singers; Russian soprano Elena Tsallagova, who sang the role of Nanetta in Falstaff for Glyndebourne in 2009 and 2013, plays Vixen Sharp Ears, and Czech soprano Alžbĕta Poláčková makes her Glyndebourne debut as the Fox. English baritone Christopher Purves will play the Forester and the Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

30 years of the Glyndebourne’s education work

In 2016 Glyndebourne will celebrate 30 years of its education programme beginning in February with the premiere of a new commission based on Nothing, the award-winning novel for young adults by Danish author Janne Teller.

Nothing will build on Glyndebourne’s pioneering work in commissioning and producing participatory opera. Since 1990 such projects have been a regular part of Glyndebourne’s outreach activity, most recently the RPS Award-winning Imago in 2013.

Co-commissioned and co-produced by Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House, Nothing reunites the team behind the Olivier Award nominated The Firework Maker’s Daughter; composer David Bruce and librettist Glyn Maxwell. It will be performed on the main stage at Glyndebourne by members of Glyndebourne Youth Opera and a small number of professional singers. Talented young instrumentalists will play alongside professional musicians from the Southbank Sinfonia in the orchestra pit.

Nothing composer, David Bruce, said: “Nothing deals with the most fundamental question of all – what is the point of existence? Just from the synopsis I knew it was fruitful operatic territory. What I particularly admire in the book is that the question of whether there is any ‘meaning’ (and if so, what it is) remains unanswered. It is in such ambiguities that music can flourish, saying so much more than words alone could ever say, and allowing thoughts, emotions and ideas to blossom in the mind of the listener.”

Glyndebourne has assembled a top flight creative team to lead the teenage participants. The production will be directed by Bijan Sheibani, who will be supported by regular collaborators including designer Giles Cadle, who won an Olivier Award for his work on the stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

Nothing will be performed on the main stage at Glyndebourne on 25, 26 and 27 February 2016.

Glyndebourne Tour 2016

The 2016 Glyndebourne Tour will present Glyndebourne’s first ever production of one of the most popular works in the operatic repertoire, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. It will be directed by Annilese Miskimmon, General Director of the Danish National Opera.

The second main stage production will be a revival of Jonathan Kent’s 2010 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In celebration of 30 years of education at Glyndebourne, the third Tour offering will be a specially tailored production offering an accessible introduction to opera through a deconstruction of Don Giovanni.

Founded in 1968, the autumn Tour is a showcase for emerging artists and allows Glyndebourne to present its work to a wider audience.

The 2016 Glyndebourne Tour will begin at Glyndebourne in October before travelling to Milton Keynes, Canterbury, Norwich, Woking and Plymouth.


Glyndebourne will continue its partnerships with the Telegraph Media Group and White Cube in 2016.

In the third year of their collaboration, Glyndebourne and the Telegraph Media Group will once again offer a series of free online streamings of Glyndebourne productions during the 2016 Festival. The partnership forms part of Glyndebourne’s efforts to make its work available to new and wider audiences, alongside its annual programme of cinema screenings, which began in 2007.

In 2014, Glyndebourne’s online streamings and cinema screenings together reached an audience of over 100,000 people, more than doubling the live audience who attend the Glyndebourne Festival in person each season. Glyndebourne cinema screenings are delivered in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment.

Following a successful first year with an exhibition of new work by Georg Baselitz, White Cube at Glyndebourne will return to the Festival in 2016. The internationally acclaimed gallery will bring another celebrated artist to present work prompted by Glyndebourne in the temporary exhibition space, designed for the Festival by the London based architectural studio Carmody Groarke.