A natural home for Mozart
‘Many of us – artists and audiences – have reason to be grateful that in Glyndebourne England has found a place for Mozart.’ Sir Peter Hall, 1984
Ever since Le nozze di Figaro opened the first Glyndebourne Festival in 1934, Mozart’s operas have been the cornerstone of Glyndebourne’s repertoire. Le nozze di Figaro then became the first opera performed in the new theatre when it opened 60 years later in 1994.
Back in 1957 John Christie was asked during the course of an interview, ‘Why Mozart?’ His reply was typically lengthy, but also indicative of how important Mozart was to him and to Glyndebourne:
‘Well, Mozart is the great hero of music who was born 200 years ago last year, who wrote a great deal of music and was then thrown into a pauper’s grave unrecognised, when he was 35 or 36, I always forget which. His music is a matter of detail. It’s not a question of size and space, it’s a question of beauty, the most lovely melody, the most perfect musical construction and inevitably a sense of endearment which Mozart must still spread to any of those who know anything about the marvels of his life and the appalling way in which he was treated, I’m afraid not only by the church but by the aristocracy and in general at his time – 200 years ago. Now, we must try to rectify his position and feel that we are consciously in touch with Mozart when we are doing our best to show his work and to listen to it.’
It is therefore fitting that in Glyndebourne’s 80th-anniversary year Festival 2014 will feature two Mozart operas: Jonathan Kent’s hugely popular Don Giovanni and a new production of La finta giardiniera directed by Frederic Wake-Walker in his Glyndebourne Festival debut.
Glyndebourne’s first production of the little-known La finta giardiniera adds to our Mozart tradition by becoming the earliest of his operas to be performed here. It was the musical prodigal’s first mature opera, composed when he was just 18, and in its lightly comedic plot, exploring class divisions and hidden identities, are many of the musical styles and plot devices which Mozart would later deploy to full effect in Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. Juxtaposed with this is the revival of Don Giovanni, in which we witness Mozart at the height of his musical and dramatic powers, delivering Don Juan his comeuppance in a fire-and-brimstone climax that ranks among the composer’s most earth-shattering achievements.
Don Giovanni will run from 7 June to1 August and La finta giardiniera from 28 June to 21 August.
The dates below illustrate how often Mozart’s repertoire has been featured at Glyndebourne and on Tour.
Così fan tutte: Festival 32 times, in 7 new productions. On Tour 11 times.
Le nozze di Figaro: Festival 30 times, in 9 new productions. On Tour 11 times.
Don Giovanni: Festival 24 times, in 8 new productions. On Tour 9 times.
Die Zauberflöte: Festival 17 times, in 6 new productions. On Tour 6 times.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Festival 13 times, in 6 new productions. On Tour 5 times
Idomeneo: Festival 11 times, in 4 new productions. On Tour twice.
La clemenza di Tito: Festival 3 times, in 1 new production. On Tour twice.
Der Schauspieldirektor: Once in the Festival in 1957.
La finta giardiniera: For the first time in Festival 2014.
Previous performers of Mozart at Glyndebourne.
Die Zauberflöte 1973; Papageno
Le nozze di Figaro 1974; Figaro
Così fan tutte 1975; Guglielmo
Don Giovanni 1977, 82; Don Giovanni
Die Zauberflöte 2004/2005; Pamina/1st Lady
Le nozze di Figaro 2005; Countess Almaviva
Don Giovanni 2010; Donna Elvira
Die Zauberflöte 1990; Papageno
Così fan tutte 1992; Guglielmo
Le nozze di Figaro 1994; Figaro
Don Giovanni 2010; Don Giovanni
Idomeneo 1964; Idamante
Le nozze di Figaro 1956; Countess Almaviva
Die Zauberflöte 1956; 1st Lady
Don Giovanni 1960; Donna Anna
Le nozze di Figaro 1965; Countess Almaviva
Così fan tutte 1992; Fiordiligi
Le nozze di Figaro 1994; Countess Almaviva
Don Giovanni 1977/1978; Don Ottavio
To find out more about the cast and creative team that appeared and produced each production visit our archive database.
Photo: Bill Cooper (Don Giovanni 2010)