Glyndebourne Festival 2024: Dazzling array of debuts and returns as opera venue celebrates 90th anniversary

Glyndebourne Festival 2024 celebrates 90 years of opera at the world-renowned venueGlyndebourne Festival 2024 celebrates 90 years of opera at the world-renowned venue
Glyndebourne Festival 2024 celebrates 90 years of opera at the world-renowned venue | Bill Cooper
An internationally renowned opera house which sprung up in the grounds of a country home is celebrating its 90th anniversary with an impressive line-up of big names and productions

The team at Glyndebourne are sticking firmly to their original ethos dating back to 1934: "Not just the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere." Situated on the edge of the South Downs National Park in East Sussex, is recognised internationally as one of the world’s best opera houses. It has attracted top singers and opera fans from across the globe since it was founded by John Christie and his opera singer wife, Audrey Mildmay.

Glyndebourne’s annual summer festival runs for 15 weeks from May to August presenting more than 70 world-class opera performances in the 1,250-seat opera house. It also produces family open days, art and archive exhibitions, member events, and an autumn season of opera and concerts that puts rising stars centre stage. It prides itself on taking opera to a wider audience including younger generations and schools.

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This year's festival promises to be bigger and better than ever. Stephen Langridge, artistic director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘Since 1934, Glyndebourne has built its success on a commitment to the highest artistic standards. By offering long and detailed rehearsal periods our artists can undertake highly focused ensemble work to create truly exceptional opera. Our unique working environment is a huge draw and, coupled with our keen eye for talent, has seen Glyndebourne play a key role in launching the careers of leading artists including Janet Baker, Thomas Allen, Felicity Lott, Jakub Hrůša, Edward Gardner, Robin Ticciati, Gerald Finley and Allan Clayton. Ninety years on, we continue to be guided by the same principles, as can be seen in our plans for next summer’s anniversary season.

The 2024 Glyndebourne Festival will open with a deeply human new production of Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Diane Paulus, a giant of American theatre, making her Glyndebourne directorial debut. Featuring choreography by Jasmin Vardimon, the opera will have 21 performances taking place across the summer.

The initial performance run will be conducted by Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati with German conductor Anja Bihlmaier taking over in August, making her Glyndebourne debut. Casting for the first performance run sees mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb in the role of Carmen and tenor Dmytro Popov as Don José. In August, those roles will be performed by Aigul Akhmetshina and Evan LeRoy Johnson.

The second new production of the season will be Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow, a work that has never been fully staged at Glyndebourne before. Presented in a new English-language version by Stephen Plaice and Marcia Bellamy, it will be directed by the award-winning comedy director Cal McCrystal and conducted by John Wilson. Among the cast is Danielle de Niese as Hanna Glawari, Germán Olvera as Count Danilo, Thomas Allen as Baron Mirko Zeta and Soraya Mafi as Valencienne.

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The 2024 season also features revivals of three popular Glyndebourne productions, including David McVicar’s groundbreaking staging of Handel’s most popular opera, Giulio Cesare. Returning to the Festival is Barbe & Doucet’s playful reimagining of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

Completing the Festival lineup is a revival of Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s 2003 production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. In its first full theatrical staging at Glyndebourne since 2009, the opera will be conducted by Robin Ticciati and features some of the world’s leading Wagnerian singers, including tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä in the title roles and bass baritone Shenyang as Kurwenal.

Away from the stage, visitors to the festival can enjoy an exhibition of new work by leading British artist Conrad Shawcross RA. The works will be on view across Glyndebourne's gardens and gallery spaces, featuring large-scale sculptures in a never before seen field array, small-scale sculptures and drawings that explore the connections between materiality, maths and music. Glyndebourne Festival 2024 runs from May 16 to August 25.

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