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What to expect this autumn

Coming to one of our autumn performances? Read our step-by-step guide to the experience and find out what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.

Donna Marsh, Director of Customer Experience, talks us step-by-step through the experience for audiences at Glyndebourne this autumn – from arriving on site, to leaving the auditorium.

There have been times in the last few months when our strapline ‘No Ordinary Opera’ has felt a little prophetic. We’ve taken our first foray into fully staged opera in the gardens and are now about to welcome audiences to socially distanced indoor performances. A year ago, these were situations I’d never considered. Now, it seems second nature to challenge every process we’ve relied on in the past.

Processes will be different this autumn but our starting point, every time we think about our audience, is to ensure that each visit still feels like a Glyndebourne experience. Quality is essential, making ‘world-class’ a description of more than what’s on stage. Providing a warm welcome is a given, whether someone’s been a Member for years or is arriving for their first time. We never take for granted the privilege of being a place people come to make memories with family and friends, a break from the day-to-day. Our passion to get things right is one thing unaffected by COVID-19.

Safety, of course, is now at the forefront of our minds too, and our response to this global pandemic is to design an experience that protects us all. Like live performance, there’ll be tweaks every night – things we didn’t expect or new learnings we act on immediately – so please bear with us if you find small changes when you get here. And please do share your feedback, so we can continue to improve.

Arrival

What time you arrive depends on what you’ve chosen to do before the performance. We hope that most people will extend their visit by selecting a pre-performance dining option: afternoon tea in Mildmay tearooms; a three-course meal in Middle & Over Wallop restaurant, or the opportunity to bring your own refreshments by booking a space in one of our marquees. If you’ve booked any of these experiences, you can arrive from two and half hours before the performance starts. There’s space for all 350 ticket holders.

Alternatively, if you haven’t booked a dining option, we’ll ask you to arrive no earlier than 20 minutes before curtain-up.

Current restrictions mean we’re unable to offer our usual audience coach service from Lewes station. Unfortunately there’s no alternative at the moment, so all audience members will be arriving by car. When you enter the main audience car park you’ll be asked by one of our Front of House team to show your ticket, or provide your name and order number, ideally on your phone or another mobile device. All staff members will be wearing face coverings and will not handle your personal belongings, so please show your tickets clearly through your open window.

Throughout your visit the Front of House team will be available to assist you, as always. Please look for the black ‘Glyndebourne’ facemasks or name badges.

Once you’ve parked, for those dining with us or using the marquee facilities, you’ll be directed to the relevant location, outside of which we’ll take your temperature. We’re using technology that’s been recommended by Public Health England – a simple hand-held device that we’ll point towards your forehead, without touching the skin, to gain an instant reading. It takes less than a minute and means you can continue your visit with confidence. However, in the event of a high temperature reading 38C or above, you will be asked to remain outside for 10 minutes and then be screened again. If your temperature remains high you will be asked to leave the site immediately and call 111 for further NHS advice.

A plea from all at Glyndebourne: if you or anyone in your household has had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days, however fleeting, please stay at home for everyone’s safety. We will of course refund your tickets.

Once you’ve entered your dining location, you’ll be shown to your allocated table. This will be your personal base, distanced from others, until it’s time to enter the auditorium. There’ll be easy access to loos or time to browse the shop (with distancing in place, of course, and payment by card only) but we’ll ask you to return to your table about 20 minutes before the performance starts. This includes those bringing their own refreshments – we’re asking you not to picnic outdoors, to help us manage the movement of visitors around the site.

If you’re arriving for the performance only, we’ll ask you to follow a one-way system that will lead you towards the auditorium via a temperature check.

Note that the Long Bar won’t be open this autumn as we are trying to eliminate the places where people can congregate en masse. Following PHE guidelines we are unable to offer a cloakroom service, so please don’t bring too much with you. If you’re using the marquee, you’re welcome to leave items at your table until after the performance.

Around the site there’ll be plenty of touch-free hand sanitiser stations.

Entering the auditorium

20 minutes before the performance we’ll start to manage your entry into the auditorium, one location at a time, a bit like boarding an aeroplane. All seating is arranged in either household pairs or single seats, with at least two seats empty either side (as well as the row in front and behind – if you haven’t yet booked, you can select your own seats during the booking process so can see how the auditorium has been distanced). We aren’t removing the intervening seats but they’ll be clearly blocked from use.

Masks must be worn at all times in our indoor spaces, including the auditorium, unless you’re eating. Please bring your own masks with you to the performance. You can also buy them from the Glyndebourne Shop, beautifully made in silk.

Once you’ve taken your seat in the auditorium, we ask you to remain in it until the end of the performance. To minimise risk, there aren’t any intervals this autumn; every performance is under 90 minutes. A programme and cast list for the event will be available on our website – a download link for the programme will be sent in your pre-performance email.

After the performance

At the end of the evening we’ll direct you to leave the auditorium one row at a time, to avoid congestion at the doors. Usually we’d love you to linger but not this season; please make your way as directly as possible to your car, being mindful of others en route. The bar will be closed.

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