This year Glyndebourne is celebrating 25 years since the opening of its state-of-the-art auditorium.
In the 1980s it was becoming increasingly clear that the original opera house, built in the 1930s, was struggling to meet public demand for a limited number of tickets. It was also getting harder to accommodate modern productions that were getting more technically demanding.
The idea of building a completely new, larger, opera house was first announced in 1987 by Sir George Christie, the then chairman of Glyndebourne. He raised £34m in private funding to pay for the project.
Unveiled in 1994, the new auditorium increased capacity by 50% to 1,200 seats and significantly improved backstage facilities. This allowed more people to enjoy opera at Glyndebourne and enabled the company to stage bigger and more ambitious productions.
The opera house opened on 28 May 1994 with a performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, 1784), the same opera that opened the very first Glyndebourne Festival in 1934. It was the first purpose-built opera house to be constructed in the UK since Glyndebourne founder John Christie built the original Glyndebourne theatre in the 1930s.
Now 25 years on, Glyndebourne has unveiled the largest building project it has undertaken since the opera house: a new state-of-the-art production hub designed by Nicholas Hare Architects. It will be home to Glyndebourne’s expert props, sets, costumes, wigs and making departments, as well as a new rehearsal studio and music practice rooms.
In addition, an expanded gallery space within the opera house has been relaunched as Gallery ‘94. This will house an exhibition on the theme of ‘Between Worlds’, featuring work by 11 artists that draws on the architecture and topography of Glyndebourne, to mark the 25th anniversary of the auditorium.
Glyndebourne’s state-of-the-art auditorium opened in 1994 (Sam Stephenson).