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Glyndebourne. House and estate near Lewes, Sussex, in grounds of which the owner, John Christie, built opera house with (as it was thought) eccentric idea of staging ideal perfs. of opera in beautiful setting. Inspiration for enterprise was Christie's wife, the soprano Audrey Mildmay. First Glyndebourne Fest. began on 28 May 1934 with Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, followed the next evening by Così fan tutte. Fritz Busch was the cond. with Carl Ebert as producer and, later, Rudolf Bing as administrator, a team which set new standards for Brit. opera. In 1939 the th. was enlarged to seat 539 instead of 300; in 1951 there was room for 592 and by 1977 for 830. The original th. was demolished at the end of the 1992 season and a new one built, with a capacity of around 1,200. This opened on 28 May 1994, the 60th anniversary of the first Glyndebourne perf., with Le nozze di Figaro, cond. by Haitink. While mus. considerations have always been paramount, Glyndebourne has also always had a special significance because of the beauty of the gardens. The tradition of a long dinner interval, during which visitors can picnic in the grounds (marquee when wet) or dine in the restaurant, is a big social attraction, so that what began as a risky venture lasting a few days is now a fully booked-up annual season extending from late May to late August.

After the war Glyndebourne re-opened in 1946 with Britten's Rape of Lucretia. There were no perfs. in 1948 and 1949 but Glyndebourne presented operas at the Edinburgh Fest. from 1947 to 1951. On Busch's death in 1951, Vittorio Gui became chief cond. He was succeeded in 1960 by John Pritchard who first joined the mus. staff in 1947 and retired in 1977. Bernard Haitink was mus. dir. 1977–87, Andrew Davis from 1989. When Ebert retired in 1959, Gunther Rennert became chief producer. He was succeeded by John Cox 1971–83, Sir Peter Hall 1984–90, and Graham Vick from 1994. Although Glyndebourne's basic diet is the operas of Mozart, it has also staged Don Pasquale and several Rossini operas (under Gui) including successful revivals of Le Comte Ory, La Cenerentola, and L'italiana in Algeri. The f. Eng. p. of Verdi's 1865 rev. of Macbeth was at Glyndebourne 1938. A speciality has been made of Richard Strauss's operas, with Der Rosenkavalier (in a reduced orchestration exclusively made by Strauss for Glyndebourne), Ariadne auf Naxos, Capriccio, Intermezzo, Die schweigsame Frau, and Arabella. The prod. of Idomeneo restored Mozart's opera seria to general circulation. Among adventurous prods. have been Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; Busoni's Arlecchino; Gluck's Alceste and Orfeo; Einem's The Visit of the Old Lady; Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers; Donizetti's Anna Bolena; Cavalli's Ormindo and Calisto; Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria; Maw's Rising of the Moon, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Albert Herring, Death in Venice and Peter Grimes; Prokofiev's Love for 3 Oranges; Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, Jenůfa and Káťa Kabanová; Knussen's Where the Wild Things Are; Gershwin's Porgy and Bess; Osborne's Electrification of the Soviet Union; and Tippett's New Year (which was a joint commission with Houston Grand Opera and the BBC). Many of the world's great operatic artists have sung at Glyndebourne, which has a penchant for discovering a rising star some years before everyone else. Scrupulous attention is paid to sets and lighting, with the engagement of such artists as Oliver Messel, Osbert Lancaster, Erté, John Piper, John Gunter, John Bury, and David Hockney. In recent years it has become the custom to perf. one of the season's operas in a semi-staged version at the Prom. concerts in the RAH, London. Many of the Glyndebourne prods. have been filmed for TV and some are available on video. For the prods. of Le nozze di Figaro in 1989 and Così fan tutte in 1991, period instrs. of the Orch. of the Age of Enlightenment were used. In 1968 the Glyndebourne Touring Co. (GTO) was formed to make an autumn tour (usually to Oxford, Bristol, Norwich, Southampton, and Manchester) with some of the Sussex prods. sung by casts specially recruited to give opportunities to the best of young Brit. singers, but with a stiffening of est. artists. It gave its first London season at SW in 1992. Just as the RPO or LPO (since 1964) is engaged for Glyndebourne itself, the GTO has used the Northern Sinfonia, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and London Sinfonietta, but in 1989 it formed its own orch. Art. dirs. of GTO have been Myer Fredman (1968–74), Kenneth Montgomery (1975–6), Nicholas Braithwaite (1977–80), Jane Glover (1982–5), Graeme Jenkins (1986–91), and Ivor Bolton from 1992.

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Glyndebourne Estate in East Sussex, England, site of an annual opera festival. John Christie built an opera theatre here in 1931. A larger theatre opened in 1994.

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