I recently received the Glyndebourne brochure for the 2014 season - founded in 1934 Glyndebourne is 80 this coming year. It seems only the other day that it was 50........
There is much to look forward to this coming summer. Having attended performances at Glyndebourne every year since the 25th anniversary year of 1959 (my first was Le nozze di Figaro with Elisabeth Soderstrom as Susanna) - it is interesting to me to look at this 80th birthday year in the context of Glyndebourne's history and my experience of it.
Der Rosenkavalier was first seen at Glyndebourne that 25th anniversary year, opening on May 28th twenty five years to the day after the historic opening performance of Figaro in 1934. Ariadne auf Naxos was the only other Richard Strauss to be performed at Glyndebourne before then, but thereafter of course Capriccio, Schweigsame Frau, Intermezzo, and Arabella were popular additions to the repertoire. There was another production of Rosenkavalier in 1980 designed by Erté and directed by John Cox, and now in 2014 there will be the house's third - to be directed by Richard Jones.
Glyndebourne's new music director, Robin Ticciati, will conduct - a fiery baptism indeed! And as usual Glyndebourne will have some casting discoveries - maybe the most interesting and notable will be the Irish mezzo Tara Erraught as Oktavian. This is someone to watch and Oktavian should be a wonderfull role for her - not to be missed. And it will be intriguing to meet Teodora Gheorghiu, the Sophie.
The second new production of the seaon, also conducted by Ticciati, and directed by young Frederic Wake-Walker, will be the first at Glyndebourne of Mozart's youthful La finta giardiniera. During my 27 years at Glyndebourne we often flirted with it, but never took the plunge. There will be two nice sopranos in the cast, Christiane Karg (Aricie in 2013) and Joélle Harvey who has cut her teeth successfully with Glyndebourne on Tour (as well as in Tod Machover's Death and the Powers!). These are two fine young singers who should do well.
There will be a third new production (we could only afford two in the old days!) - La traviata. The interest for me will be to see Michael Fabiano as Alfredo. I have been following his progress with greatest interest since I first heard him when he was 20, nine years ago. This was twice within 12 months when I was on jury service and we gave him acknowledgement as a remarkable young talent - but too young!! With Evelyn Lear and Tom Stewart on the jury with me I deferred to their judgement - I had thought that he was the best irrespective of age. The in 2007 his moment came - winning the Met. I was on the jury then as well and he came through in a memorable year. I see that the Met documentary The Audition will be aired again this coming weekend on WNET in New York. There you can see him in action - six years ago, or you can get it through Met on Demand.
Glyndebourne's 2014 season in completed with three revivals of productions from earlier years - Graham Vick's Eugene Onegin, Jonathan Kent's Don Giovanni, and Robert Carsen's Rinaldo.
As always there are most interesting new singers. The stand-outs for me are in Don Giovanni, the two Canadians Layla Claire and Elliot Madore, the French Bass-Baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer (yes he is French!) , American baritone Brandon Cedel, and the British tenor Ben Johnson. And Serena Farnocchia and Lenka Máčiková will add further exotic interest. This should be a Don Giovanni to look out for. I wouldn't miss it for anything. In Rinaldo there is a dazzling trio of counter-tenors - Iestyn Davies, Tim Mead, and Anthony Roth Costanzo, as well as a couple of other splendid Canadians - Joshua Hopkins and Karina Gauvin.
So this is a season full of interest for the connoisseur. It is remarkable that you can see the work in these six productions of six different directors and five different conductors. So there is variety for you! I guess the new conductors to look out for may be the Columbian for Don Giovanni Andrés Orozco-Estrada (of limited opera experience so that will be interesting - that was said of Bernard Haitink when he made his Glyndebourne debut in 1972) and Israeli Omer Meir Wellber who takes on Eugene Onegin.
And of course the elder statesman is Mark Elder, a very great Verdian, who will be responsible for La traviata.
So all in all this is an exciting season. And I hope to see it all! You can too - but book as soon as general public booking opens otherwise you will be disappointed for many of these performances will sell out at once. The best option is to go on line to www.Glyndebourne.com at 12.01 am English time on Monday 10 March. So if you are in Chicago have a strong drink in your hand at 6.01 pm on Sunday 9 March for the prices are somewhat eye watering!
The early fog here in London has cleared and now we have a glorious sunny day. I will be off continuing Christmas shopping after lunch.