News and Features

Future glory – nurturing talent at Glyndebourne

Find out how Glyndebourne Tour is helping to discover and nurture the operatic talent of tomorrow

We explore the ongoing role of the Glyndebourne Tour in nurturing artistic talent.

In the rehearsal room, soprano Vuvu Mpofu is warming up for the role of Gilda in the 2019 Glyndebourne Tour production of Rigoletto. The young South African will play the daughter of the titular hunchbacked jester in Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Verdi’s classic tragedy, directed by Christiane Lutz. This is Mpofu’s Tour debut and a major principal role for the up-and-coming singer, who appeared earlier this year in the smaller role of First Nymph in Glyndebourne Festival’s Rusalka.

Mpofu, who was recently announced as the recipient of Glyndebourne’s John Christie Award for most promising young singer, is aware of the opportunities now open to her. As she makes her final preparations before Rigoletto opens in Sussex and then tours the UK, she discusses the impact upon her career to date:

‘Growing up and studying in South Africa, I had no idea what Glyndebourne was. When I was offered the Nymph in Rusalka following an audition, my agent told me that Glyndebourne was very important and this was a big debut. The offer of Gilda in Rigoletto came a few months later. I had no expectations about what Glyndebourne might be, but when I arrived, I was blown away! It’s a privilege to make music in such a beautiful place, where such care and thought goes into every aspect of creating a memorable operatic experience. To return this autumn to play Gilda is a dream come true, especially with this being Glyndebourne’s first Rigoletto – it’s a great honour and an important moment for me at this early stage in my career.’

Mpofu is not the only promising young singer being offered a stepping-stone by the Glyndebourne Tour, nor is its talent-spotting function a new phenomenon. Glyndebourne has a rich history of discovering and developing new and emerging artists, a number of whom go on to tackle roles in the main summer Festival. The Tour celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018 and over the last half-century, has established an impressive pedigree of supporting promising artists at the beginning of their careers, with many who have made their debuts on stage during the Tour achieving international acclaim. Famous names include singers Thomas Allen, Felicity Lott, Rosalind Plowright, Gerald Finley, Emma Bell, Alfie Boe, Roberto Alagna, Kate Royal and Willard White; and conductors Robin Ticciati and Edward Gardner.

Not confined to the Tour, Glyndebourne’s work nurturing new artists includes education projects such as the Glyndebourne Youth Opera, Junior Artists (training and mentoring for ten local singers aged 14- 19), Glyndebourne Academy (a development scheme for talented artists aged 16-26 who face barriers in their careers) and its cover artist programme. Nor is it just singers who benefit from this unique training ground, but directors and musicians too. Pit Perfect, a scheme for budding orchestral players, offers postgraduate instrumentalists the opportunity of paid work in the renowned Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra.

Glyndebourne’s flagship talent-scouting vehicle is the biennial Glyndebourne Opera Cup. Designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers around the world, which returns in spring 2020. The top prize is a guaranteed role at a leading international opera house, plus £15,000. 2018’s winner, mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, will make her Metropolitan Opera debut this year and the runner up, American soprano Jacquelyn Stucker, makes her Glyndebourne debut in the Tour this autumn, playing scheming sorceress Armida in Rinaldo. Who knows what talents next spring’s Opera Cup may unearth, and go on to appear on the Glyndebourne stage in future?

Who are the names to watch in 2019? Singers making their Glyndebourne debut in the Tour this autumn include Jake Arditti (title role, Rinaldo), Nikoloz Lagvilava (title role, Rigoletto), Madeleine Shaw (Maddalena, Rigoletto), Bendetta Torre (Adina, L’elisir d’amore), Benson Wilson (Marullo, Rigoletto), Matthew Durkan (Belcore, L’elisir d’amore) and John Findon (Matteo Bosa, Rigoletto) – the latter two have previously been cover singers at Glyndebourne but take on principal roles for the first time. So watch this space for the operatic stars of the future – you saw them first here on the Glyndebourne Tour.

Help us support new talent

You can help us to invest in emerging artists and future audiences by supporting the New Generation Programme.

You can donate online below, or find out more here.

This is an excerpt from a longer article by Eleanor Crawforth published in the 2019 edition of our Tour Programme Book, available from the Box Office, Glyndebourne Shop or at

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