The opening of this year’s Glyndebourne Festival has been delayed until 14 July, the Sussex-based opera house has announced. It was previously scheduled to start on 21 May, but all performances prior to the new date have been cancelled as a result of Covid-19.

In a statement, Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s executive chairman, said: “Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of our company members and our audiences. We have taken the difficult decision to delay the start of the Glyndebourne Festival until Tuesday 14 July 2020.”

Anyone who has booked tickets for one of the cancelled performances will be offered a full refund. However, in line with other venues and events, Glyndebourne relies on the income generated by the festival, and Christie added that they are “offering ticket holders the opportunity to donate the value of their tickets, in full or in part, to help support Glyndebourne, the artists and seasonal staff”.

A new programme will be announced shortly. It will include a new version of Poulenc’s extraordinary 20th-century tragedy Dialogues des Carmélites (1957).

Poulenc’s devastatingly powerful work explores martyrdom. At the height of the French Revolution, Blanche de la Force turns her back on the world, searching for peace and purpose in a convent. But life as a Carmelite has its own horrors. Faced with an agonising choice, Blanche must let go of her fears and finally find the courage to live – or die.

Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Dialogues des Carmélites is directed by Barrie Kosky, returning to the opera house’s stage for the first time since his 2015 production of Handel’s Saul (1739). Robin Ticciati, Glyndebourne’s music director, conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The cast is led by Australian soprano Danielle de Niese, making her role debut as the opera’s heroine Blanche de la Force. It also includes South African soprano Golda Schultz, German mezzo-soprano Doris Soffel and Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.

Next, Annabel Arden revives her 2009 production of Donizetti’s comedy L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love, 1832), conducted by Enrique Mazzola. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she only has eyes for Belcore. When a travelling doctor arrives in town, Nemorino pins all his hopes on a magical love potion. Two young casts take turns to sing the opera.

Another new production is Handel’s magical fable of the sorceress Alcina. Francesco Micheli directs Glyndebourne’s first-ever staging of Alcina (1728), conducted by Gianluca Capuano.

A revival of a 2015 festival production, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio, Mozart, 1782) tells the story of Konstanze and her maid Blonde. Abducted by pirates, the two women have been sold into a harem. David McVicar directs award-winning American soprano Lisette Oropesa as Konstanze and conductor Nicolas Carter.

Fidelio (1805), Beethoven’s only opera, is a powerful manifesto for liberty and justice. This new production by Frederic Wake-Walker has been specially commissioned in the composer’s 250th anniversary year. The falsely imprisoned Florestan faces a slow and inevitable death; his wife Leonore devises a daring plan to save him. Glyndebourne’s music director Robin Ticciati conducts Emma Bell as Leonore and David Butt Philip as Florestan.

The final production in the programme is a revival of an opera not seen at Glyndebourne for a decade. Designed by British artist David Hockney, John Cox’s version of The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky, 1947) charts one man’s journey from pleasure to ruin as Tom Rakewell abandons country life and his sweetheart Anne for the temptations of the city in the company of the mysterious Nick Shadow.

For further updates visit the festival website.



Soprano Danielle de Niese sings the role of Blanche de la Force in Donizetti’s Dialogues des Carmélites (Shadric Toop).