Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni

22 May – 15 July 2011
Glyndebourne Festival 2011

4 stars Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Express

"Under Robin Ticciati, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment re-establishes Glyndebourne as the place to hear Mozart." Financial Times

"Lucas Meachem captures the manic obsession of Giovanni’s ruthless search for sexual thrills..." - Guardian

"Albina Shagimuratova sings the bereaved Donna Anna with a pure-toned expressiveness that Toby Spence’s Don Ottavio matches gracefully and Miah Persson’s incarnation of the emotionally-deranged Donna Elvira is subtly characterised and exquisitely sung. This vengeful trio sing together majestically." Independent

"Great cast, great music, great production."Daily Express

"Lucas Meachem’s Giovanni is both dangerous and alluring, with daredevil charm matched by vocal noblesse." - Financial Times

About the opera

Compulsive philandering is one thing, but brutal rape and murder are quite another. As an unrepentant Don Juan continues to elude his earthly pursuers, other-worldly powers are forced to intervene, leading to a fire-and-brimstone climax that ranks among Mozart's most earth-shattering achievements.

Set at a time of seismic social and cultural change - in a Fellini-esque vision of post-war life - Jonathan Kent's urgently propulsive production offers a 'white-knuckle rollercoaster ride' through the events of the Don's last day as they unfold in and around Paul Brown's magical 'box of tricks' set.

Robin Ticciati, former Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour and now Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returns to conduct the period instruments of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

American baritone Lucas Meachem makes his Festival debut in the charismatic title role, with Russian coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova also making her Festival debut as the avenging Donna Anna.  Miah Persson and Matthew Rose return as Giovanni's cast-off lover Elvira and his much abused servant Leporello, while Don Ottavio, Anna's protector, is sung by British tenor Toby Spence.

A revival of the 2010 Festival production.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

This revival is generously supported by:
John and Louise Dear
The late Elaine C Denby
An anonymous supporter
And a generous donation from Glyndebourne Association America Inc.

Listen to the Don Giovanni podcast:

Setting: A city in Spain

Act I

Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, paces up and down outside Donna Anna’s house while his masked master is inside, attempting to rape her. She fights him off and the two enter, Anna retiring inside after her cries for help have brought her father, the Commendatore, to her aid. He challenges Giovanni to a duel in which he is killed. Giovanni and Leporello make off.

Anna returns with her betrothed, Don Ottavio, and faints on seeing her father’s body. Reviving but still in shock, she makes Ottavio join her in an oath of vengeance against the unknown perpetrator. 

In a street the following morning, Giovanni and Leporello are arguing about the nobleman’s lifestyle when the former scents a woman, who turns out to be Donna Elvira, come from Burgos to seek Giovanni, who promised her marriage. Giovanni slopes off, leaving Leporello to show Elvira his notorious catalogue of the seducer’s conquests; she, too, vows revenge.

Near Giovanni’s house, peasants are celebrating the imminent wedding of Masetto and Zerlina. Giovanni turns up with Leporello and decides to seduce Zerlina; Masetto (unwillingly) and the others are sent off to admire his palace. Left alone with Zerlina, Giovanni offers to marry her himself. As soon as she agrees, Elvira shows up, warns Zerlina about Giovanni, and leads her away.

Giovanni’s friends Anna and Ottavio now arrive, asking for his support in their revenge upon the unknown assailant. As he is agreeing, Elvira returns, throwing everything into confusion with her accusations; Giovanni tries to pass her off as a mad woman, but her bearing convinces them otherwise. Eventually she leaves and Giovanni follows her. Anna realizes that Giovanni is the villain they seek. She renews her vow of vengeance and Ottavio affirms his unquestioning loyalty to her.

Returning to the scene, Leporello warns Giovanni that Elvira has been making further trouble at his house. Giovanni is more concerned about organizing a party, at which he hopes to add ten more conquests to his list.

Inside Giovanni’s home, Zerlina defuses Masetto’s anger; he then hides as Giovanni is heard offstage. Giovanni, launching his party, renews his seduction of Zerlina until foiled by Masetto’s sudden reappearance. 

Ottavio, Anna and Elvira, all masked, are invited in. With the party now in full swing, Leporello waltzes off with Masetto while Giovanni leads Zerlina into a private room. Her screams for assistance alert everyone to an assault. Giovanni attempts to blame Leporello, but no one is fooled. As the maskers reveal their identities and threaten him with punishment, Giovanni defies them and escapes.

Dinner interval of approximately 85 minutes

Act II

Back in the street later that evening, Giovanni and Leporello’s relationship reaches breaking-point until Giovanni hands him more money. Giovanni now proposes to seduce Elvira’s maid while dressed as Leporello. When Elvira herself appears at her window, it is Giovanni’s voice she hears pleading for forgiveness, but Leporello’s disguised form she sees. She goes off with him, leaving the real Giovanni to serenade her maid.

Masetto and his cronies arrive in search of Giovanni, finding, as they believe, Leporello instead. Giovanni sends the others off on a wild goose chase and beats the defenceless Masetto before disappearing. Arriving in search of Masetto, Zerlina tenderly binds his wounds. 

Leporello, meanwhile, is attempting to escape from Elvira in the darkness. The arrival of Ottavio, Anna, Zerlina and Masetto prevents him, and only the removal of his disguise saves him from their anger; Zerlina, even so, takes the opportunity to punish him. Elvira contemplates the follies into which her love has led her, while recognizing that she cannot give it up.

That night, in a graveyard, Giovanni and Leporello catch up on each other’s latest doings, including the former’s attempted seduction of the latter’s girlfriend. As Giovanni laughs at the joke, the voice of the Commendatore’s statue is heard warning him of speedy retribution. Giovanni forces Leporello to invite the statue to dinner; the statue agrees.

In Anna’s house, Ottavio renews his offer of marriage; still grieving, she defers their discussion.

At Giovanni’s house, the master and servant are being musically entertained at supper. Suddenly Elvira enters, with one final plea for Giovanni to reform. She is rebuffed, but her scream on leaving announces another visitor. The statue has come for dinner. As Leporello hides, the statue invites Giovanni to dine with him in return. He agrees. As he grasps the statue’s hand, he feels a deadly chill, but refuses to repent. Amid fire and earthquake he is swallowed up by the ground.

The other characters rush in to learn of his fate and moralize on the reward for his wickedness.

Words: George Hall

 

Don Giovanni versions

There are two versions of Don Giovanni, the first for the premiere in Prague in October 1787 and the second for Vienna in May 1788, which Glyndebourne is performing. To accommodate a different cast for the Vienna performances, Mozart composed some new recitatives and arias and cut some of the original material, especially in Act II, where the changes also brought some alteration to the plot before the reappearance of Don Giovanni in the Graveyard Scene.

In Act I, the only change is the addition of Don Ottavio’s aria ‘Dalla sua pace’. This was a substitute for his original Act II aria ‘Il mio tesoro’, which was cut in Vienna.

Within the changed plot sequence and recitative for Act II in Vienna, Mozart added the ‘Shaving Duet’ ‘Per queste tue manine’ for Zerlina and Leporello and the aria ‘Mi tradì’ for Donna Elvira. He also made a brief cut in the final scene.

Creative team

Conductor Robin Ticciati
Director Jonathan Kent
Revival director Lloyd Wood
Designer Paul Brown
Lighting designer Mark Henderson
Movement director Denni Sayers
Fight director Alison de Burgh

Cast

Il Commendatore In-Sung Sim
Donna Anna Albina Shagimuratova
Don Ottavio Toby Spence
Don Giovanni Lucas Meachem
Leporello Matthew Rose
Donna Elvira Miah Persson
Zerlina Marita Solberg
Masetto David Soar

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Audio files: 
2011 Festival production
Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni. Photo: Robbie Jack
The cast. Photo: Robbie Jack
Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni and Marita Solberg as Zerlina. Photo: Robbie Jack
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack
The cast. Photo: Robbie Jack
David Soar as Masetto and Marita Solberg as Zerlina. Photo: Robbie Jack
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack
Matthew Rose as Leporello and Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack

Comments

i thought the production had been tightened up since I saw previously.

It was good then but has now become very good indeed.

I liked the table and wondered if it was all trick by the Don who was going to come back as in the Max Frisch play - was this a conscious reference or merely accidental.

This was our first but, based on the outstanding performance we saw on 12 July,we hope not our last visit to Glydebourne! The set, orchestra and cast, particularly Leporello, all combined to make it a marvellous evening for us.

We also enjoyed an excellent meal in the Mildmay restaurant during the long interval.

Wonderful music, singing and ambience. The setting was very 'grey' and the slanted table did not work for me; therefore despite the superb music and orchestra this production was not amongst my favourite of the operas I have seen at Glyndebourne. The meal was superb.

Coming from the Continent, a second pilgrimage led us to Glyndbourne where we were more than happy being able to attend a Don Giovanni performance of the highest stage - and the interruption with the obligate picnic just rendered the evening perfect.

I hope this stage director will be invited to work in Zurich, too, one day!

It was quite simply one of the best we have ever seen: by no means our first visit to Glyndebourne, but definitely the most thrilling. The singing, the acting, the design and conception -all were absolutely first class. A night made in heaven, even though it was pouring outside....

Went as a guest at the beginning of the season enjoyed it so much had to see it again and took my son who had never been to Glynebourne he was so pleased to seen such a fantastic performance the only bit that we found a bit dissapointing was the Commendatore who we felt wasn't as impressive as he should have been everyone else was fabulous

To be in the company of people for whom Glyndebourne is a novelty reminds one how wonderful the place really is, even on a day when the weather began to turn... Matthew Rose's Leporello was outstanding (what riches lie ahead!), and Miah Persson's Elvira a sympathetic and convincing portrayal of emotional confusion. I liked the chameleon like set, reflecting Giovanni's character, ultimately bleak, colourless, skewed and decayed. Poor Toby Spence, though, (and us) denied his Act 2 aria.....textural purity wins over musical glory, it seems.

Jonathan Kent's Don Giovanni produced an evening when the magic of Glyndebourne was in full force. World class.

My second visit to Glyndebourne.My husbands first.A special way to celebrate our Golden Wedding.We thoroughly enjoyed the production and our picnic undercover during the Long Interval.
The only disappointment was the Champagne Tea in the Middle & Over Tearooms before the production. In comparison to the wonderful buffet tea last year it was very mundane, particularly in the selection of cakes. I would have preferred an increase in price, if that was necessary, to mantain the high standard of the previous year.

Three of us came to see Don G. and thoroughly enjoyed it. The singing and acting was superb and the sets were miraculous.

This was wonderful and we all enjoyed our time at Glyndebourne although the rain came in later in the day.
The singing particularly of Albina Shagimuratova was inspiring and the scenic design I loved, though the second act was a little complicated!

A memorable performance, one of our most enjoyable Glyndebourne experiences.

What a wonderful day and not even the rain could dampen our spirits. We had our picnic under cover which was not the same as in the grounds but we still managed to stroll around the grounds, glass of bubbly in hand and observe all the elegance and beauty of both the gardens and the people. We had standing tickets which were absolutely fabulous, we saw and heard everything beautifully and I would definitely go for that again. The "bumrests" meant we could rest up against them and were very comfortable indeed. A true summer memory was made and the opera itself well, just magical!!!! The set was ingenious and the performances utter perfection but still seemed to effortless. I feel very privileged to have been there.

It was our first visit to Glyndebourne and we felt privileged to be there. An excellent production with fine voices singing one of our favourite operas. the set was stunning.
Very pleased with our meal, good food and attentive service.
thank you

This was the best Don Giovanni I have seen, out of seven productions going back to 1972. The casting was perfect, especially Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. The sets were also impressive and created wonderful spaces for the singers. Criticisms?... Well, possibly Donna Anna could have been given more flattering clothes to match her beautiful voice (though I did like the Fellini-esque red dress in the masked scene). And perhaps it was a bit distracting for Leporello to have hammed it up so much in the trio at the beginning of Act 2 : this was after all one of the most beautiful pieces Mozart ever wrote. But all in all I can only say thank you to all concerned for a wonderful evening.

From Glyndebourne
The ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into force in England on 1 July 2007. The law applies to theatres as well – with a notable exception, actors and singers in England are exempt from the ban during performance if and when smoking is integral to the plot. Don Giovanni is set in the 1950s and director, Jonathan Kent, felt that smoking was essential to the period of the production and to the characters.

We've been fortunate to have been to Glyndebourne a few times in the past but this Don Giovanni performance really enthralled. I would, and have, recommend it to anyone. Loved the set, adored Leporello but how on earth did you get away with smoking real cigarettes on the stage these days ;-)

I thought this was a very good production but my concentration on the music was disturbed by two things; the set which while obviously very expensive was quite distracting; the most distracting was the talking from the box behind us and the one next to that.
The singing and the excellent orchestra were first rate and did not deserve any competion from the audience. I would say simpler sets and pay the singers more.

I have nothing but praise for the understudy who stepped into the indisposed Lucas Meachem's shoes at the last minute - Bravo! Updating the period works in this production (the 'Dolce Vita' sharp suits & co-respondent shoes were perfect). What about a Vespa on stage next time? Maybe too noisy, but it doesn't have to rev-up. This Don might be more Don Corleone than Giovanni, but this only lends support to his ability to get his way. Like some others I'm not convinced by the Zombie-flick element; an 'Uomo di sasso' is just that & would explain the cold & terrifying grip the Don feels when shaking its hand. This production was, thankfully, nothing like the atrocity of about ten years ago - the only time I've ever heard a Glyndebourne audience boo - though it would be hard to match that of the late 80's in the old theatre, with real bats flying out above the heads of the audience during the graveyard scene. A truly magical moment,which made my first ever Glyndebourne visit quite unforgettable.

This was our first visit to Glyndebourne and it certainly will not be our last! Everything about the experience was wonderful. We enjoyed a lovely champagne tea prior to the performance which was the start of a very special evening. The singers, staging and orchestra were first class and we are still reeling from the experience. We will be back hopefully next year. I would like to congratulate all the cast on their wonderful performances which made this an evening to be remembered all our lives.

Possibly the best singing we've heard at Glyndebourne. I could have listened to the entire performance with my eyes closed. Not to be missed. Although we live locally, we thought it was refreshingly civilised of the organisers to delay the start to allow those travelling from London to arrive. Watching the bolt lightening light up the sky while waiting simply added to the atmosphere!

Thoroughly enjoyable evening. I agree with some of the earlier comments about production details, but for me the singing was well nigh perfect. Special mention must surely go to Miah Persson - Donnas Elvira. And full marks to the people wjo had the common sense to hold up the start to accomodate those delayed on the worst train travel night for years !! -

It was a magical evening - my first visit to Glyndebourne. Loved the gardens loved the performance - loved it all!! Will definately visit again soon!

I found the entire experience so enjoyable: the friendliness of staff, the food, the performance and the actors - absolutely superb in every way.

I'd never see Don Giovanni in such a setting before I visited Glyndebourne and the performance was great,

My wife and I took two German friends - both Opera Buffs - to Don Giovanni on Tuesday 28 June. Despite the appalling weather, they were entranced by the "Glyndebourne Experience"; and also impressed with the production, singers and orchestra. Their only regret is that they were told there will not be a DVD available for this 2011 performance. I do realise that there is a DVD from last year, which I also saw. But this year there are many improvements, particularly from the revival director, but also several members of the new cast. I would willingly buy a couple more DVDs, were they available.

Thoroughly enjoyed the performance, and thought the sets were superb. Felt that we were let down at the end of the second act, the ending of the first act was so fantastic that the second was an anti climax. We'd expected at least a thunderbolt!

The lighting was perfect - very atmospheric - and the voices were superb. The ending might have been more dramatic - it was rather eclipsed by the ending of the first half which was a real coup de theatre, especially on a stormy, thundery evening. My first time at Glyndebourne - I had a wonderful evening.

Great singing (of course) but the stage set was more Harry Lime than Seville Orange and, whereas it's normally a statue that speaks, this time it's a three-day-dead cadaver hidden under the dinner table: just a little too clever for its own good. A strangely amoral denouement to the morality tale (provoking the question whether Mozart himself was being as ironic and detached as his latter-day interpreters).

Certainly on this evening as pretty near perfect as opera can get.

So sorry not to have heard the real cast. Although the understudy did well he was not on the same level as the other singers and was blown out of the water by Matthew Rose's incredibly well sung and acted Leporello. All the other singers were great, but Rose was outstanding. Hope to have him back soon. Have enjoyed his varied and various roles at Glyndebourne over the years.

We loved Don Giovanni, it was racy, dynamic and very together. Matthew Rose and Albina Shagimuratova are superb young singers, we are priviledged to hear them in this best of houses! My children (young adults really) enjoyed it very much on another night, a great tribute - it is not easy to appeal to our over-stimulated jeunesse!

Glorious singing and playing . Not so sure about the staging-but Giovanni is a notorious beast to stage . The first half set was better then the 2nd I thought , in fact rather ingenious, but the fashion now seems to be for a gravity-defying ending which may be a metaphor for Giovanni's inverted morality but is otherwise non-plussing

we loved this production - the set was brilliant and all the voices quite exquisite especially Leporello. I just thought the ending was supposed to take the Don to hell amid earthquake and fire, and expected something slightly more dramatic along those lines. However, given that sometimes Glyndebourne's theatricals can distract one from the music, this time the setting was perfect and the feat of engineering quite admirable.

An excellent production. Thoroughly enjoyed it. One criticism; the set, though ingenious, could not be seen in full for those in the front few rows of the stalls. This was particularly irritating in the last Act. But still a wonderful evening.

A treat both visually and audibly. Don Giovanni's long-suffering (but easily bribable) sidekick Leporello (Mathew Rose) frequently upstaged the Don himself. Highlights for me included him 'shimmying' around Masetto to prevent him approaching Zerlina as the Don tried to seduce her, and trying, awkwardly, to adopt a singer's pose as he 'serenaded' Elvira. Another great production in a glorious setting. Bravo indeed.

I have always found Don Giovanni a "difficult" opera - with unbelieveable characters behaving in unbelieveable ways - and this production did not help. Would the Don really be wandering the streets at 2 a.m. in pursuit of a lady's maid just after his house has been torched? And why include the dramatically and musically weak Leporello / Zerlina duet?

That said the music was wonderful - with a fine cast of well matched singers - amongst whom Albina Shagimuratova stood out; as did Ticcati and the Orchestra. And Glyndebourne as a whole functions so perfectly that one feels that it could set up a side-line in management consultancy.

Our first visit to the "new" theatre - and what a part it played in this superb production: we heard every word and every note, a tribute to the accoustics, the cast, the orchestra, and particularly to the outstanding conducting of Robin Ticciati.

Sheer delight - we won't leave it so long before the next visit.

We experienced a magnificent performance on June 8. We reveled in the sumptuous singing and the intensity of the acting. The musicianship of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was captivating. The Don's canzonetta, "Deh vieni alla finestra", haunts me. This was an experience to treasure.

We came to the performance on 11th June, and although we did not enjoy every moment (the second act duet with zerlina and leporello defies understanding) we were blown away by the commitment and high quality of all the singers concerned. Some of the things asked of them were just incredible, we have never seen such a rake as the one in the dinner scene. And as always the whole experience at glyndebourne was just marvellous. It is wonderful to see main person and Matthew Rose back after their wonderful performances last year and we hope to hear them here again in the very near future. Thank you to all concerned

Although a regular visitor to Royal Opera House I made my first visit to Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni. Well the performance almost defied desciption. The singers were just fantastic, the musical direction and orchestration just brilliant and the stage settings innovative providing a superb backdrop to the performance. In short the whole production was a masterpiece which I am still enjoying enormously as a memory. Just to add to the day I must thank your brilliant staff in the tea room and restaurant for the level of service given especially from the youngsters.

We enjoyed the evening, as usual, but agreed with the Times critic that it was a very dark production, in more ways than one. The singing was superb, but we didn't think the characterization was developed enough. For myself, it was a "young" production, with a young vigorous conductor who persuaded the orchestra to play with an equally impassioned response. There were many highlights, notably the aria accompanied by only a mandolin (? we thought).

Probably the most cruel and vicious production of Don Giovanni I have seen and it worked superbly. An excellent cast, but the star of the evening in my opinion was Robin Ticciati, the conductor. This amazingly gifted young conductor is destined for greatness. It was an unforgettable performance.

Quite excellent performance. Have seem Don Giovanni many times before but not the Vienna version before. Cast superb and was totally absorbed by the music that the end came too soon. We agree about the slanted table not working and it was a shame that the coffin appeared from below. The rest of the set amazing. Costumes extremely appropriate and a good period to set the opera in.

A magical evening. The best production I have seen, the cast worked really well together although all incredibly talented. Wonderful orchestra. Front of house charming and informed.

Superb,and much better than last year's performance, which disappointed me compared with the marvellous production, years ago, with Thomas Allen and Richard Van Allen.
Am I right in thinking that there are more staging changes in the first act? I found the rotating box rather tedious last year. A bit disappointed with Donna Anna and Ottavio, but otherwise first class performances all round and definitely produced the 'tingle factor!' I disagree with Jonathan Hoffman, lots of music that I sing to myself, but to be fair I did that anyway before this performance!"
Much looking forward to Rinaldo.
John Vinnicombe
P.S. It is high time you gave us Figaro again

Superb,and much better than last year's performance, which disappointed me compared with the marvellous production, years ago, with Thomas Allen and Richard Van Allen.
Am I right in thinking that there are more staging changes in the first act? I found the rotating box rather tedious last year. A bit disappointed with Donna Anna and Ottavio, but otherwise first class performances all round and definitely produced the 'tingle factor!' I disagree with Jonathan Hoffman, lots of music that I sing to myself, but to be fair I did that anyway before this performance!"
Much looking forward to Rinaldo.
John Vinnicombe
P.S. It is high time you gave us Figaro again

Ticciato was exceptionally fine; and generally all the principal singers had good voices and sang very well. The Don lacked the swagger which the part really needs but the Leporello was more convincing. The set in the first half works well enough but in the second half the machinery and the crawling in, out and on top of it by some characters gets in the way, and the slope in the dinner scene makes a situation, which already stretches one's immagination as far as is acceptable in terms of opera, to an extent that disturbs Mozart's genius

With the compliments of my children, as a thank-you gift, my husband and I were in stalls seats for the 11 June performance. I thought I knew 'Don Giovanni', but on this occasion, sitting where we were in this unrivalled opera house, you could hear and savour and linger over every note and chord and word and sound, and you're overwhelmed by the sheer theatricality of it all. You end up thinking that Mozart is the greatest after all, and that 'Don Giovanni' is his greatest score, even though you know deep down in your heart that you have other favourites and other greatests! But for us, at Glyndebourne that magical night, Mozart and Giovanni were the greatest, and our favourites. Unforgettable!

Great first act, not so great second act as regards the set design and direction. However the musical content was superlative with wonderful singing and brilliant direction from the orchestra pit. Why were there no flames though, when Mozart is surrounding our anti-hero with the fires of hell itself? Rather disappointing after the exciting finale to the first act! And the building site and the decaying corpse/ghoul didn't really do it for me, never mind the bleeding heart, more reminiscent of Madama Butterfly than the Don. I can't wait for the director/designer team who might be brave enough to leave a smoking heap of ash on the stage,(after a fiery descent) leaving the remaining cast to puzzle over reported events, shrug their shoulders, then say well, that's what happens to people who are "sempre mal, sempre mal"..... I love the way Mozart makes his moralizing so brief. Brilliant!!

It was my first visit to Glyndebourne - on 3rd of June - my favourite opera and I must say "THE PERFECT OPERA" is Don Giovanni. I have seen it in Salzburg and Zurich and have many versions of on DVD or CD - but this interpretation was outstanding and so exciting that I went to the shop in the break and immediately bought this version as well. Now at home - I still break out in tears about the beauty. The cast on DVD is absolutely fantastic. Together with the picnic in the sun and the beautiful scenery around it, the field of daisies - the experience was unforgettable. And this will be only my first visit there. I also will recommend to everyone interested in music. Thanks a lot!!!

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