After the bad news of the cancellation of Glyndebourne’s 2020 Autumn Tour due to the ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19 comes more encouraging news that Glyndebourne will welcome back audiences for our first ever full summer season of open-air concerts and operas during July and August. Glyndebourne Festival 2020 was forced to close following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we are delighted to announce that our beautiful gardens will once again be open for live musical performance.
Inspired by our audiences, who have been petitioning us to find a safe way to put on live music this summer, and driven to use our 85 years of experience to find a creative, innovative path through the current crisis, Glyndebourne will open from 1 July 2020. Tickets to gain timed access to the gardens will go on sale to the public on Friday 26 June at just £10 per person (availaable by clicking here). Visitors will be invited to bring or to buy a picnic to enjoy at their leisure in a glorious, spacious setting. All events adhere to the latest guidance from Public Health England.
From mid-July, we will be adding outdoor concerts performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with socially-distanced seating as well as the opportunity to picnic. During August, concerts will be performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
As the season progresses, Glyndebourne will stage an opera in the open air for the first time. (Jacques Offenbach’s Mesdames de la Halle (1858), a one-act opera about vegetable sellers in Paris that will be staged with 12 singers but no chorus.) Our dress code is, as always, discretionary, but the many social media images of people wearing black tie for our virtual festival, Glyndebourne Open House, suggests that the desire to dress up has not gone away during lockdown.
Glyndebourne Open House (see below) has been a huge success: in its first four weeks, over 100,000 people have enjoyed a Glyndebourne opera online – and we look forward to welcoming many more before the end of August.
Our auditorium remains closed, and we join our colleagues across the arts and entertainment industry in working to find a long-term solution to reopening fully.
In order to ensure the safety and comfort of all, we will at first be making just 200 tickets available every day and designated seating areas will be prepared for every household. Audiences will be fully seated in household groups for concerts and opera performances with social distancing measures carefully observed at all times. In the event of bad weather, performances will be cancelled and tickets refunded.
Stephen Langridge, artistic director said ‘We are in our 85th year and, so this is not the first crisis we have faced. Things are not good for the theatre and classical music at the moment, and we have been working closely with our peers, and trying to support the artists, orchestras and freelance staff who rely on us for their living – enormously helped by the generosity of our members. Experiencing live music and theatre, together, in an inspiring environment is what Glyndebourne is all about. We are fortunate in having plenty of outside space available to us, and with a little imagination, we can see exciting musical and theatrical opportunities for performance in the gardens. This mini-festival will be intimate, unusual and unforgettable. Some cause for celebration in these tough times.’
Sarah Hopwood, managing director, said ‘It is a huge shock and disappointment to have had to cancel the Festival. However, we were not completely unprepared. Thanks to prudent financial management and to the extraordinary generosity of our members, donors, staff and the general public, we are now able to shift our focus from mourning the closure of the Festival to opening a newly imagined summer Season.’
Glyndebourne is a relatively small charity but with big ambitions, driven by the belief that opera can transform lives. The 2020 Glyndebourne Festival was originally cancelled in April due to Covid-19. Glyndebourne receives no public subsidy and our financial independence means that we are reliant on ticket sales to be able to operate. With this source of income now gone, it’s not just our future that’s at risk – the immediate livelihood of over 400 seasonal staff and artists has vanished. We have started a COVID-19 Emergency Appeal to help us to help them, and to secure Glyndebourne’s long-term future for all. We need you to help us. Please consider making a donation. The fund will be used to mitigate against the losses incurred by artists and seasonal staff, and help to secure Glyndebourne’s long-term future.
To help keep the spirit of Glyndebourne alive during the closure, every Sunday from 24 May Glyndebourne Open House brings world-class opera to you at home. Please tune in on YouTube every week for free access to classic Glyndebourne productions and, together, let’s create a taste of the Festival experience. We can’t conjure the smell of roses or the feel of the lawn but we can still share our passion for opera with friends and family – and nurture new audience members for the future. Click here to find out more.