Leslie Scott: Glyndebourne Member and Jenga creator
We chat to Leslie Scott, the inventor of the popular game Jenga, about her love of Glyndebourne and the beautiful Jenga box she has designed for our shop.
She tells us about her passion for opera, and how she has created an exclusive new Glyndebourne Opera Box Jenga Set, containing a beautifully illustrated box and the classic game.
As a child growing up in Africa, anything and everything I knew about opera had been gleaned from reading The Adventures of Tintin. Any Tintin fan will know the wonderful character Castafiore, the Milanese Nightingale – well, the shuddering response to her singing from Tintin and Captain Haddock (and Snowy too) pretty much sums up how I assumed opera would affect me.
More accustomed to the natural drama and thrilling sounds of the African bush, I was wholly unprepared to even like, let alone adore the magic and the beauty and the theatre and the music of opera.
The first opera I ever saw was Madama Butterfly, performed by the English National Opera in 1984. I was hooked from then on, travelling down to London whenever I could, and otherwise turning up to every production of every touring opera performed in Oxford. It was here I ‘discovered’ Glyndebourne (Così fan tutte, I think).
I mentioned my new passion to my godfather, and revealed how I longed to see an opera performed at Glyndebourne itself. Wizard that he was, he ordered me out of my jeans and into a gown before whisking me off down to Sussex to wine, dine al fresco, and watch an opera.
In truth, I don’t recall which opera I saw that day but I’m going to claim it was La Cenerentola as I was as enchanted by my first Glyndebourne experience as the fairy-tale Cinderella at her first ball. I became an instant devotee, joined the waiting list for membership, made my way down to Sussex several times each season thereafter, and was thrilled to become a fully-fledged Glyndebourne Member circa 1995.
My rebirth as an opera fan coincided with another seismic change in my life. In 1982, against all advice, I left a steady job (with Intel) and started my own company, Leslie Scott Associates (later Oxford Games Ltd) specifically to self-publish a game I had devised. That game was Jenga, the first and still the best known of the many games I’ve designed since.
Though not obvious to anyone else, for me there is a link between Glyndebourne and Jenga that stretches back almost four decades . I have been a professional game designer for almost forty years, and an amateur opera enthusiast and Glyndebourne addict for almost as long.
These twin lasting passions of mine are made manifest here in this limited edition ‘Glyndebourne Opera Box’, which I designed to accommodate a set of Jenga (now produced by Hasbro) exclusively to support the work of this unique and very precious institution.
The Glyndebourne Opera Box is limited to an edition of 250, and each box is signed and numbered by Leslie. Every purchase of this unique box and Jenga set will support the work of Glyndebourne.