Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Glyndebourne new season 2013

Glyndebourne is in many ways the model of what an modern opera house should be, in that in financial terms its main season is completely sponsored and there is no public money involved (they receive support from the public purse for their Education and touring activities). But there are affordable tickets available, a third of all 2013 tickets will be under £100). And the 2012 festival achieved box sales of 96.2% They also do productions interesting enough to tempt even the most jaded of opera queens. Next year's festival is a case in point with Ariadne auf Naxos slated for a new production, and appearances from Sarah Connolly, Mark Padmore, Soile Isokoski and a host of others


The headline new production must be Ariadne auf Naxos, that delightful problem child which always allows directors be free with the fantasy. It will be directed by the Swedish director Katharina Thoma making what looks like her UK debut. Thoma worked with Richard Jones, Christoph Loy and Keith Warner when she was at Frankfurt. Her cast will include Soile Isokoski as Ariadne, which is great news for those who worry about the standard of singing in the great Strauss roles. Zerbinetta will be Teodora Gheorghiu (no relation) and the opera will be conducted by Vladimir Jurowski in his final year as Musical Director at Glyndebourne.

The other new production is Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie with Ed Lyon (Hippolyte), Christiane Karg (Aricie), Sarah Connolly (Phedre) and Stephane Degout (Thesee). It has already got your mouth watering hasn't it. Now, if I say that the production will be conducted by William Christie? What about, directed by Jonathan Kent, he of the Purcell Fairy Queen. I have to confess that I start to have doubts; Kent's Fairy Queen did not raise in me the undiluted joy that it did in most other people. And I worry that keeping the audience entertained in a long Rameau opera will somehow end up throwing the essential beauty of the works out. Hope they prove me wrong, but its here that I start to have nagging doubts about the Glyndebourne model. In the area of my greatest interest, Handel, I have too often found the productions seem rather keen to keep everyone entertained at the expense of depth and character. (And yes, I am thinking, amongst other things, of dancing sopranos). So we'll see. But Sarah Connolly as Phedre would be a big draw whatever else was happening on stage.

The revivals also throw up some interesting bits and pieces. Billy Budd will be coming back with Mark Padmore as Vere (very tempting), and Jacques Imbrailo in the title role, plus Brindley Sherratt as Claggart. Starting to sound interesting. Then Sir Mark Elder will be conducting Verdi's Falstaff with Laurent Naouri in the title role. Danielle de Niese will be appearing as Norina in Don Pasquale, a production originally made, to mixed reviews, for touring in 2011 by Mariame Clement. Also coming back will be this year's new production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

The 2013 tour will include Fiona Shaw making her Glyndebourne debut with The Rape of Lucretia, the first Glyndebourne production of the work since its premiere there in 1946. So not a lot of pressure there then! The tour also features Donizetti's L'elisir and Laurent Pelly's Hansel und Gretel.

Glyndebourne has already invested heavily in digital access to its productions. The 2012 tour is featuring cinema performances of the video of Giulio Cesare alongside the live productions. For 2013, all six Glyndebourne productions will be broadcast into cinemas and on-line with a combination of live and recorded-live transmissions. And the entire Glyndebourne label CD collection will be available for digital download.

2013 will feature the premiere of Orlando Gough's Imago the latest in Glyndebourne's education projects, performances will involve 100 performers both professional and amateur. And in December 2012, three new operas commissioned in response to the environment will be performed on the main stage by Glyndebourne Youth Groups.

All in all a fascinating and exciting season. More details from the Glyndebourne website.

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