Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne has announced that Sarah Hopwood will step down from her role of managing director in autumn 2022, at which time she will join the board as a trustee.
Hopwood’s career at Glyndebourne has spanned almost 25 years. In that time, she has played a major role in the company’s growth. Her focus has been on the Sussex-based opera house’s – which is a registered charity – long-term sustainability, with a particular emphasis on employees and members, fostering a culture of financial due diligence to support innovation and independence, and the environment.
Some 20 years ago, Hopwood spearheaded Glyndebourne’s initiative to invest in its intellectual property, making opera increasingly accessible to all through cinema, international broadcasts and streaming of its productions, which drove a significant increase in audience reach. She also oversaw the construction of Glyndebourne’s Production Hub, its biggest capital investment for 30 years, which has been critical to delivering its artistic excellence, as well as some bold production choices, for which Glyndebourne is internationally renowned.
“Glyndebourne has been an extraordinary professional home for me for the last 25 years, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate that my passion for opera and music has defined my career, and created one of the best jobs in the world,” Hopwood commented. “I’m exceedingly proud of what Glyndebourne has achieved. I have always seen it as my responsibility to ensure that we have the talent, the technology and the funding to deliver on our world-class artistic ambition.”
Passionate about encouraging the next generation of opera performers and audiences, Hopwood’s financial stewardship has enabled exciting initiatives such as the Glyndebourne Academy, a programme of tuition, coaching and performance for gifted young singers who have faced barriers to their development. This project, alongside regular community youth operas and dedicated Performances for Schools, help spark a lifelong interest in opera and provide an enduring legacy for Glyndebourne.
Gus Christie, Glyndebourne’s executive chairman, said: “Sarah has been an extraordinary driving force behind Glyndebourne’s success, and an incredibly highly valued business partner to me personally and professionally.
“We acknowledge and sincerely thank Sarah for her strategic leadership, unrivalled financial stewardship, wisdom and empathy. With our shared values and beliefs, and an unwavering commitment to our employees and our members, she has fearlessly navigated the challenging and uncharted waters of recent times, leaving us in a stronger, more resilient position than anyone could have ever hoped.
“I have always admired Sarah’s tenacity, knowledge and mettle, and am deeply grateful that, while she is stepping down as managing director, she has agreed to become a trustee at Glyndebourne following her retirement.”
Hopwood added: “I could not have done my job without the unwavering support and partnership of Gus, our outstanding staff team and the remarkably talented Board of Trustees. I leave Glyndebourne in very capable hands, to write the next exciting chapter, and feel very honoured to be able to continue supporting such a wonderful organisation in the future.”
Glyndebourne trustee chair, Mervyn Davies, Lord Davies of Abersoch, remarked: “Sarah is the ultimate professional, we all love working with her! We are profoundly appreciative of her leadership and the contribution she has made to the sustained success of Glyndebourne, it has been immeasurable.
“As a charity, and financially independent, Sarah has modernised and operationalised our commercial, environmental, social and governance commitments, ensuring Glyndebourne will continue to enjoy a bright and successful financial future. Her most poignant legacy has been navigating the company through the pandemic crisis, ensuring we emerged a stronger, more resilient, more empathetic and courageous organisation.
“We will miss her enormously in her role as managing director. We are, however, thrilled and delighted that post her retirement, Sarah has graciously accepted to become a non-executive director, and a trustee at Glyndebourne. We wish her every success in her next chapter, and are truly appreciative of her ambition, dedication and commitment, from which we have all so deeply benefited.”
Glyndebourne’s Artistic Director Stephen Langridge, Executive Chairman Gus Christie and Managing Director Sarah Hopwood. Hopwood has announced that she is to retire next year (James Bellorini).