‘Not the best we can do, but the best that can be done anywhere’ John Christie (Glyndebourne’s Founder)
Opera… The word possesses as much drama and theatre as the art form it represents. It has all the winking, skirt throwing appeal of Carmen and all of the tragic downtrodden bohemianism of La Bohème. It is the ridiculousness of Titania falling for Bottom and it is the murderous gaze of the Queen of the Night. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Cunning Little Vixen, Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni …. all these and more will be played out upon the hallowed floorboards of Glyndebourne Opera House this year. Lovers will meet, kingdoms will fall and murderous plots will be hatched. All the drama and magic of life will come together in arguably the ultimate art form. So dust off your picnic hamper and lash out on taffeta, 2016 is the year of the opera and Ad Astra Lifestyle Magazine is here to tell you that there really is only one place to see and be seen…
Glyndebourne Opera House, a place so legendary that the theatre of partaking as an audience member almost tops the theatre that greets one from the stage. There is a ritual to Glyndebourne Opera House that is little short of spell binding. Picnicking in the idyllic South Downs gardens has become a quintessential English tradition, and a trip there simply isn’t complete without a hamper of goodies and a bottle of Armand de Brignac to get you in the mood. There are few sights in rural England better for people watching than stretching out on the Glyndebourne lawns and watching other ball gowned black tied visitors doing likewise. The drama of the evening begins here, watching life’s rich tapestry unfold to a music score of Sussex sheep and a back drop of rolling hills.
As the writer and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli observes ‘There is going to the opera but that’s quite different to coming to Glyndebourne’ and with the line-up available this year he is not far wrong! Among the hotly anticipated line up is ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ by Leos Janacek, staring Slavic singers Elena Tsallagova (the Russian jaw dropper who sang the role of Nannetta in Falstaff for Glyndebourne in 2009 and 2013, and plays Vixen Sharp Ears) and Czech soprano Alžbĕta Poláčková (who is playing the role of Fox and will make her Glyndebourne debut in this role). The set and costumes are breathtaking, described as bristling with ‘folkloric charm’. A visually exciting new dramatization for old opera hands and new comers alike.
If you’re looking for a performance that has it all then look no further than Glyndebourne’s Don Giovanni. Based on Byron’s infamous Don Juan it tells the tale of a 14th century womanizer during a single day in which his sexual conquests are foiled, murder is committed and death is stared in the face. Despite being a comedy it begins with cold blooded murder and ends with the protagonist’s consignment to hell –perhaps suggesting that it is the most ‘opera-ey’ opera on offer this year! With music by Mozart this opera dazzles with Don Giovanni’s sparkling Champagne aria and the seductive duet ‘ Là ci darem la mano’.
Opera is an art form like no other. Under the single heading all other art forms are encapsulated. There are musicians, singers, artists, writers… all working to one common end –to create a visually stunning performance that will speak for its duration and remain in the audience’s heart forever. Glyndebourne Opera House is the venue to eclipse all others, in the same way the stage plays out so many stories and emotions so too do the grounds and traditions of this eponymous centre of art. If you see an opera this year see it at Glyndebourne. You will not be disappointed and the experience will happily haunt you forever.