Glyndebourne’s new version of Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896), which opened to much acclaim at Glyndebourne Festival this summer, takes to the road as part of the 2022 Glyndebourne Tour this autumn, the Sussex-based opera house has announced.
Headlining this year’s Glyndebourne Tour, the production can be seen at Glyndebourne during October, before heading to venues in Milton Keynes, Canterbury, Norwich and Liverpool during November. This striking new staging by Dutch director Floris Visser has been praised for its fresh take on an opera that is familiar to many.
Joining La bohème on the tour programme is another hit from this year’s festival: a revival of Michael Grandage’s popular 2012 staging of Mozart’s classic comedy The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro, 1786).
The two shows have been newly cast for the autumn tour. La bohème features rising star sopranos Nicaraguan-American Gabriella Reyes and Ethiopian-Italian Mariam Battistelli as Mimì and Musetta respectively. South African baritone Luthando Qave sings the role of Marcello, with British bass William Thomas, winner of the 2018 John Christie Award for outstanding young singers, as Colline.
The cast of The Marriage of Figaro includes Lancashire-born soprano Soraya Mafi as Susanna and baritone George Humphreys as the philandering Count. Joining them is British soprano Nardus Williams, who returns to Glyndebourne to play the role of the Countess following her performance as Anne Trulove in the 2021 Glyndebourne Tour production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1951).
Taking up the baton for The Marriage of Figaro is talented young conductor Stephanie Childress, currently assistant conductor of the St Louis Symphony Orchestra. Rory Macdonald conducts the tour production of La bohème, with Olivia Clarke conducting on 16 and 19 November.
Alongside these two productions is a concert performance of Mozart’s Requiem (1792), which will pair his choral masterpiece with music by his contemporary, the Caribbean-French composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Completing the line-up is glass human, a newly commissioned chamber opera on the theme of loneliness by composer Samantha Fernando and librettist Melanie Wilson.
New for the 2022 tour is a programme of community and audience engagement events which will take place alongside performances at each tour venue. Glyndebourne has been working throughout the year with its partners in each tour location to create bespoke learning and engagement projects.
These collaborations lead up to Resound, a programme of initiatives taking place in each venue alongside Glyndebourne’s mainstage tour productions to welcome audiences, create a festival atmosphere and widen access to opera. The residencies this year include Good Company, with performers from the tour orchestra and chorus taking music into care homes to play a short, accessible programme for local groups of people living with dementia and their carers.
Sing with the Glyndebourne Chorus will provide an opportunity for local schools to rehearse and perform choral excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem with Glyndebourne’s chorus, while showcasing their creative responses on the day of performance, then attend the evening show.
Pit Perfect will allow instrumentalists from Glyndebourne’s talent development initiative for emerging orchestral players to give a short concert at a local college or university, followed by a workshop for students, who will then attend the evening tour performance.
There are also new initiatives to make the performances as welcoming and inclusive as possible. There will be audio-described performances and ‘touch tours’ for those with visual impairments for The Marriage of Figaro, on-stage introductions and post-show welcomes by cast members, and short, pre-show musical performances in the foyer providing first-time attendees with a musical guide to that evening’s opera. Tour ambassadors are being recruited from within the local areas to reach out to underrepresented communities and introduce them to opera.
The tour will end with a community week of activities at Glyndebourne from 28 November to 3 December, during which local schoolchildren will have the chance to perform excerpts from the Requiem with the Glyndebourne Chorus. Keen local singers of all ages will also have the opportunity to come and sing with the chorus in Glyndebourne’s first-ever Mozart Masterclass.
Commenting on the new programme of activities, Glyndebourne’s head of tour development Chris Stones said: “This is step one in a long-term plan to build new audiences for Glyndebourne, for our transformative artform, and for the brilliant venues we tour to.
“But this is about more than audience development: we want to make a difference to people’s lives in a direct way through opera and music making. The difference we make will vary from person to person but, ultimately, we want to enrich as many people’s lives as possible through our work.”
The Glyndebourne Tour is at its Sussex-based home from 8 to 29 October, before heading to Milton Keynes Theatre (1-5 November), The Marlowe, Canterbury (8-12 November), Norwich Theatre Royal (15-19 November) and Liverpool Empire (24-26 November). Tickets are on sale now.
Floris Visser’s fresh new take on Puccini’s La bohème will headline this year’s Glyndebourne Tour (Richard Hubert Smith).