Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne has confirmed that it plans to go ahead with its annual festival this summer, with adaptations to accommodate whatever coronavirus restrictions are in place at the time.
Glyndebourne Festival 2021 will run from 20 May-29 August. It will comprise new productions of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová (1921), Rossini’s Il turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy, 1814) and Verdi’s Luisa Miller (1849), as well as a revival of Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Women Are Like That, 1790). Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (1865) will be presented as a semi-staged concert with a full orchestra, seated on the stage, to do justice to the opera’s epic score.
Additionally, Glyndebourne’s resident orchestras, the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, will take centre stage in a series of specially curated concerts.
Glyndebourne says that performer numbers will be carefully managed, while working practices have been adapted to ensure that performing companies will maintain physical distancing on stage, in the pit and during rehearsals. Performances will take place inside the opera house, with audience numbers initially capped at 600 – half of the theatre’s 1,200-person capacity.
Artistic Director Stephen Langridge commented: ‘We have been planning for a variety of scenarios to ensure we could adapt the festival, in any way necessary, without lowering our artistic ambition. The plan we’re announcing draws on our experience of staging socially distanced events in 2020 and gives us flexibility to accommodate any restrictions that might be in place this summer. I’m delighted to be going ahead with all three new productions, plans for which look astounding.
“After these months of enforced isolation, we are looking forward to being together again in Glyndebourne’s beautiful auditorium to share some extraordinary, inspiring evenings of live music and theatre. It promises to be a festival like no other.”
The festival will open with a new version of Janáček’s tragedy Kát’a Kabanová (20 May-19 June), a devastating portrait of passion destroyed and innocence tainted by a hypocritical society. The production is directed by Damiano Michieletto in his Glyndebourne directorial debut, while Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Rossini’s Il turco in Italia (23 May-20 June) is an elegant satire on opera itself and all its absurdities. Conducted by Giancarlo Andretta, this new production is directed by Mariame Clément.
“I am thankful that Glyndebourne has found a way to go ahead with the festival and I’m sure that feeling is shared by every artist involved,” Clément commented. “It’s been a very difficult time for our industry, trying to find ways to perform that keep everyone safe.
“Having experienced the fantastic working environment at Glyndebourne, I have every confidence that the team there will rise to this challenge and that together we can create a production that delivers the exceptional artistic standards for which the company is known.”
Mozart’s comedy about the faithlessness of women, Così fan tutte (4 July-27 August), is a revival of Nicholas Hytner’s Glyndebourne Festival 2006 production. The final full opera of the season is a new version of Verdi’s powerful tragedy Luisa Miller (1-29 August), starring Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan in the title role. Enrique Mazzola conducts a production directed by Christof Loy.
Additionally, a semi-staged concert version of Wagner’s epic love story Tristan und Isolde (13-28 August) with a full orchestra will take place. Robin Ticciati will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The concert series, curated by Robin Ticciati, takes place throughout the festival (27 May-26 August). It will see the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and London Philharmonic Orchestra explore 400 years of music from baroque to contemporary.
Sarah Hopwood, managing director of Glyndebourne, said: “We are determined to present a festival this summer in whatever form is possible. With a 50% reduction in box-office potential, it will be expensive for us, but thanks to our financial independence and the reserves we have built up, we are in a position to go ahead.”
“We consider this essential to protect the livelihoods of our staff and freelance artists we employ and to continue to engage with our audience, including members and supporters who have been so loyal and generous over the past year.
“The health and wellbeing of everyone visiting or working at Glyndebourne is our top priority and we will continue to follow the guidance of the government and Public Health England. We look forward to a summer of world-class opera.”
Così fan tutte, Mozart’s comedy of sexual mores, is one of four full operas that make up the programme of the 2021 Glyndebourne Festival this summer (Mike Hoban).