A Seasonal message from David Pickard, General Director
2012 was a remarkable year of extraordinary British achievements and I hope that Glyndebourne, in its own way, has played its part in celebrating the richness of our culture. I like to think that our production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen would have fitted perfectly into the opening ceremony of the Olympics with its peculiarly British humour sitting alongside ravishing music by one of our country’s greatest composers.
Despite the sporting competition, our audiences have been as loyal as ever. The Festival Box Office achieved sales of 96.2% and there was an enthusiastic response to all our productions.
We certainly didn’t stint in our artistic ambition with a range of repertoire stretching from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Three new Festival productions brought the contrasting approaches of Melly Still’s visually imaginative The Cunning Little Vixen, Michael Grandage’s 60s-inspired Le nozze di Figaro and Laurent Pelly’s appropriately Gallic take on Ravel. I am pleased to say that all these new productions were filmed during the course of the summer, adding to our growing catalogue of recordings.
Our under 30’s scheme continues to expand and develop with over 2,000 subsidised seats taken up during this year’s Festival, giving young people the chance to see live opera from some of the best seats in the house. On screen, we extended our reach still further. With over 20,000 people experiencing Glyndebourne in cinemas and more than 100,000 seeing our productions on the Glyndebourne and Guardian websites, we are now reaching as many people through our digital initiatives as we are through live performances during the Festival. And next year we will present our entire Festival repertoire, in live or previously recorded performances, both in cinemas and through further streamings online in association with the Guardian.
The 2012 Tour, supported once again by the Arts Council under a new 3 year funding agreement, was one of the longest ever, with three weeks at Glyndebourne followed by 7 weeks on the road. Sadly for us, it marked the end of Jakub Hrusa’s time as Tour Music Director. He completed his term with a searingly beautiful account of Rusalka, made all the more poignant for company and audiences alike by the tragic death in a car accident of Robert Poulton, who sang the role of Gamekeeper. Jakub conducted an impromptu performance of Faure’s Requiem in Rob’s memory, and the members of the company who took part, or were in the audience, were able to pay their respects to this fine singer.
On this year’s Tour we brought some of our outstanding choristers into the spotlight with the chamber opera The Yellow Sofa, composed by our first Composer in Residence, Julian Philips. Following the central principle of our touring operation – to make our work accessible to as wide an audience as possible – we also incorporated our digital programme into the Tour for the first time, with cinema screenings of Giulio Cesare, increased the number of schools matinee performances and extended our subsidised family ticket initiative.
As we come to the end of 2012, our thoughts turn to the New Year, and in particular the four new productions we are preparing. First up will be Orlando Gough’s new community opera, Imago, which receives its world premiere in March and features over 100 amateur performers working alongside professional singers and musicians. In the summer Festival we introduce Rameau to Glyndebourne for the first time with his masterpiece Hippolyte et Aricie and say farewell to Vladimir Jurowski as Music Director with a new staging of Ariadne auf Naxos. We mark the centenary of Britten’s birth with a revival of Billy Budd in the Festival and in the autumn Tour with a new production of The Rape of Lucretia – the first at Glyndebourne since we presented the world premiere in 1946.
So there is much to look forward to in 2013, and I very much hope to see you here or at one of our touring venues. In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.