Welcome back to Glyndebourne!
As our stage comes to life once more, our Artistic Director Stephen Langridge welcomes you back to Glyndebourne.
By the end of the summer we managed to present a programme of open gardens, garden concerts and outdoor opera as our positive response to the restrictions of Covid-19: an attempt to find a responsible, appropriately distanced, and above all, safe way of performing to a live audience. Next, we set our sights on our autumn performances – clearly they could not go ahead as planned, but we refused to be beaten. So, it is with the greatest pleasure that we have arrived at this moment, finally together again, this time indoors, to experience high calibre music making. Not digital, not even analogue, but the real thing: live opera.
My daughter’s school netball teacher had one major piece of advice which she drummed into her pupils: adapt to changing circumstances. At Glyndebourne we’ve adopted that maxim, and good thing too, because the circumstances have changed continually. What you are seeing today is an adaptation, a rapid and joyful improvisation. No time for a design process: this time it’s a question of raiding the costume and props stores. Opera is usually glacial in development. It’s been good to discover that we can be fleet of foot occasionally!
Stephen Langridge in rehearsals for the summer production of In the Market for Love
Music and theatre function as a meeting point where together we can reflect, celebrate, grieve, question, imagine – and laugh! The roots of comic opera, opera buffa, reach back to the commedia dell’arte: the improvised Italian form which sprang up in the hurly-burly of the marketplace. Satirical, ribald and ridiculous, playing with social status and sexual desire, this approach to theatre found a natural home in opera from Pergolesi’s La serva padrona onwards. A century later and Offenbach, the master of adapting to changing circumstances, wrote countless bouffes. Farcical, cheeky and downright risqué, his energetic, supremely skilful musical and theatrical craft was so popular that it forced a threatened opera establishment finally to open their doors to the man known as the ‘Mozart of the Champs Élysées’.
It’s true that these are difficult and serious times, and you may be socially distanced from each other in the auditorium, but you can allow yourselves to enjoy what may be the only time you get so much space to yourself in this beautiful theatre, to have a good laugh and generally be as rumbustious as Offenbach’s rowdy audience back in 1858! Let’s have some operatic fun together.
Image credits: In the Market for Love autumn rehearsals, photo by James Bellorini | In the Market for Love summer rehearsals, photo by Richard Hubert Smith