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A brief history of the Glyndebourne Tour

Here’s a brief history of the Tour in ten facts

1. Don Giovanni was the first-ever production to appear on Tour

Don Giovanni was the first opera to go on stage in the Tour. Other productions in the inaugural Glyndebourne Tour in 1968 included L’OrmindoL’elisir d’amore and Die Zauberflöte. They travelled to Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Oxford.

2. The Tour was launched with two key aims

In 1966 George Christie announced plans to start a touring company, and two years later Glyndebourne Touring Opera (GTO) made its inaugural tour.

The touring company had two key aims: (i) to make the work of the Glyndebourne Festival accessible to audiences throughout the country and (ii) to give performing opportunities to young, promising singers.

Glyndebourne Touring Opera 1968. Loading the lorries up at Glyndebourne. © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo: Guy Gravett

3. The Tour has launched many singers’ careers

The Tour has launched the careers of many well-known opera singers, including Gerald Finley, who first performed on the Tour in 1988, taking the role of Kuligin in Janáček’s Kat’a Kabanova.

Gerald Finley playing Hans Sachs in the 2016 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo: Tristram Kenton

4. We’ve reached over 30,000 students on Tour

Over 30,000 students have enjoyed a fully staged opera since Performances for Schools first launched in 2006.

Performance for Schools 2006 at Glyndebourne. © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo: Mike Hoban

5. The Tour has visited a total of 42 venues to date

The Tour has visited 35 venues at home and seven abroad.

Programme book cover for Glyndebourne Touring Opera’s visit to Newcastle in 1971. © Glyndebourne Archive

6. The Tour has seen 17 premieres

Glyndebourne has launched 17 new productions on the Tour, starting with Der Freischütz in 1975.

Der Freischütz 1975. James Anderson as Max and Malcolm King as Caspar. © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo: Guy Gravett

7. Robin Ticciati made his Glyndebourne debut on Tour in 2006

Robin Ticciati, Glyndebourne’s Music Director, first appeared as a conductor in the Tour in 2006 conducting Die Fledermaus.

Robin Ticciati rehearsing Die Fledermaus for Glyndebourne on Tour 2006. © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo: Mike Hoban

8. Italy is the furthest afield we’ve toured yet

The furthest the Glyndebourne Tour has travelled to is Italy in 1989.

Programme book for the 1989 Glyndebourne Touring Opera visit to Rome. © Glyndebourne Archive

9. The Tour has become a launchpad for new works

Since 1984 the Tour has acted as the perfect platform for new works, including Oliver Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1984), Nigel Osborne’s The Electrification of the Soviet Union(1987), the UK premiere of Sir Michael Tippett’s New Year (1990), the premieres of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Second Mrs Kong (1994), The Last Supper (2000), and Jonathan Dove’s opera Flight (1998).

Glyndebourne Touring Opera’s first commissioned work Higglety Pigglety Pop! Composed by Oliver Knussen, designed by Maurice Sendak. Andrew Gallacher as Pig, Hugh Hetherington as Cat, Cynthia Buchan as Jennie and Eileen Hulse as Rhoda.

​10. 2012 was the year the Tour first went to cinemas

​The Tour hit the big screen in 2012, when a cinema screening was included in the programme for the first time.

Saul, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photographer Bill Cooper.

By Charlotte Alldis

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