Why we became production supporters
Production supporters, Graham and Jenny Layer tell us what it was like to help bring Il turco in Italia to the stage.
Even before we met, we both became involved with Glyndebourne and were being taken by separate parties. This was a long time ago, I was a junior doctor, so it would have been late seventies – 40 odd years ago. We both independently loved it. Neither of us sing or play any musical instruments anymore but we both love the arts and opera in particular. When I was a school boy and at university I was very keen on theatre, lighting and acting – those sorts of things.
We’d donated small amounts when we bought our tickets in the past, but nothing very much. But then we were taken by some guests to a drinks reception and spoken to by Bethany in the Development team about support. It all sounded so interesting. Bethany is such a warm and approachable person and she just made us feel very much at ease with the whole process. We read about the effect Covid-19 had on the arts and we thought, yes, if we can do something to help, we will. But also, I’ve been an absolute fan of Danielle de Niese since 2005, when we sat in the front row for Giulio Cesare – so she really made it happen! But jokes aside, there’s been a great belonging feeling from the word go and being some part of the support system at Glyndebourne has been an excellent opportunity.
Danielle de Niese in Giulio Cesare, Festival 2005 | Photo: Mike Hoban
We supported Il turco in Italia. For us, Rossini has always been entertaining and exciting with colorful, crazy plots. The music is light and frothy – and some of it’s easy to remember! We particularly like Italian operas as well. We’d seen Turco over 10 years ago, which we enjoyed and remembered. The second time we came to watch Turco this year the reviews at that point said, ‘this is going to be a Glyndebourne classic’. And we think it will be, time and time again because it’s an easy opera that people can come and enjoy. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser isn’t it? Which is lovely. When you can bring new guests and everyone enjoys it, that is a great opera to us. It’s so accessible to all.
Il turco in Italia, Festival 2021 | Photo: Bill Cooper
The great thing about Glyndebourne is it’s the whole package. It’s not just going to the opera. It’s really hugely enjoyable from an entertainment point of view. So we’ve always made a particular effort to arrive very early and entertain our guests. It’s all part of it; enjoy the opera, talk about the production and look through the programme book. And then in the interval we tend to provide a gorgeous sumptuous picnic – which has become more sophisticated over the years! It’s moved to dining tables with tablecloths and flowers – rather than sitting on rugs on the lawn. When we come out at the end of the opera, terribly excited about the whole thing, we then have an hour to drive home, pick the whole opera apart and talk through our favourite moments. Glyndebourne is the whole great experience and is just really, really exciting.
Graham and Jenny Layer at Glyndebourne
We came seven times and brought many people with us. We came to Luisa Miller – at first we weren’t sure about how modern it was but it all worked out brilliantly. It was superb. We also went to Così fan tutte at the last minute with our niece who’s highly musical. She is in her mid-to-late twenties and this must have been the third time we brought her. I think she is thinking of becoming an Under 30s Member which is great.
Luisa Miller, Festival 2021 | Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
Così fan tutte, Festival 2021 | Photo: Tristram Kenton
We’ve enjoyed streaming operas from Glyndebourne and other online platforms but we’re very glad to be released from lockdown and enjoying live performances this year. Last year, we went to the first opening of Glyndebourne and went to see a Garden Concert. That was very good indeed. The outside opera, In the Market for Love was a very, very clever thing to do. I think it was just fantastic to see all those world-famous singers on the lawn, in reasonable weather with the London Philharmonic Orchestra – with the conductor in a white tie and tails. I thought it was hilarious! And it was just fantastic. That really was uplifting.
But we’ve been all right during the pandemic, because we got lots of things done and were both working as doctors. So we were kept pretty busy during the main part of the pandemic. Otherwise we’ve done well and having those moments of music at Glyndebourne was very special.
In the Market for Love, summer 2020 | Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
Yes, of course. Definitely. Being a part of it is terrific. It’s been great interacting with all the people at Glyndebourne, the staff are obviously very well versed in their jobs. You feel the opera house has a very nice countryside atmosphere with local people involved but then with this huge international reach of performers – it’s just extraordinary to be part of it.