21, 24, 26 August, Organ Room
A new opera in three parts by Julian Philips with libretto by Simon Christmas, directed by Frederic Wake-Walker. Julian Philips, Glyndebourne's first Composer in Residence (2006-9), builds on his previous successes of The Yellow Sofa (2009) and Knight Crew (2010) with Followers, a new site-specific promenade opera based on the Orpheus myth.
The opera followers three characters, Eurydice, Orpheus and Hades through three musical periods and three spaces at Glyndebourne as the piece explores how one moves on without looking back in life, in love or in opera.
Followers will be performed in the Organ Room, the Old Green Room and the Ebert Room, with the audience following the performers and musicians. It will be performed by singers from the Glyndebourne Chorus; Andrew Dickinson as Orpheus, Gabriela Iştoc as Eurydice and Alexander Hargreaves as Hades.
The players join us from the London Philharmonic Orchestra where they are part of the Foyle Future First programme; Lucy Downer (Clarinet), Johanna Renaud (Cello) and Fred Beer (Percussion).
On harpsichord, piano and keyboard is the music director of this project Geoffrey Paterson.
Followers starts at 3pm on 21 & 24 August and at 4pm on 26 August.
Running time: approximately one hour.
Supported by the Alan and Karen Grieve Charitable Trust.
It all started five years ago, eating mulberries on the lawn. Julian and I had already decided we wanted to write an ‘opera in residence’ to mark his appointment as Glyndebourne’s first composer in residence, and our first step had been to explore the places where such a piece might be performed. We’d discussed options for using the Organ Room balcony, imagined
singers criss-crossing through an audience in the Old Green Room, wondered how best to get from there to the Ebert Room. But what was the opera going to be about? History and tradition are almost tangible at Glyndebourne. For a composer-librettist partnership, it’s an enormous privilege to be working in the presence of such august shades. But history also sets traps for a creative team: on the one hand, ossified homage to what’s
past; on the other, mindless novelty for its own sake. Orpheus’ challenge is to hold on to what he values most from his past, but without once looking back. One of the reasons why the myth is so potent, so poignant, is that each of us faces the same challenge in our own relationships with those we love. For opera-lovers, of course, that includes our relationship with opera.
~ Simon Christmas, Writer
All opera could be said to relate to the Orpheus myth. In the early stages of my residency at Glyndebourne (2006-9), Monteverdi’s Orfeo was a kicking off point, particularly for its more intimate, chamber scale, and the immediacy of its drama. Followers works as an analogous chamber opera, for the ‘chambers’ and spaces of Glyndebourne – environments in which to develop an immediate operatic theatricality away from the proscenium arch theatre. From the myth come three characters: a composer, a singer, and a powerful if shadowy figure behind the scenes; and from operatic history three periods: the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, and the present-day. Inevitably perhaps, the piece engages in a dialogue with operatic styles from these periods, but it is the narrative and development of the opera’s triangle of characters that matters most, nudging audience members to reflect on how the experience of opera can carry over into the experience of life.
~ Julian Philips, Composer
Conductor Geoffrey Paterson
Director Frederic Wake-Walker
Costume Designer Kitty Callister
Coach Susanna Stranders
Stage Manager Stephen Cowin
Deputy Stage Manager Claire Burslem
Assistant Stage Manager Jill Russell
Lighting Jeremy Turnbull
Hades Alexander Hargreaves
Orpheus Andrew Dickinson
Eurydice Gabriela Istoc
The Foyle Future First Ensemble
Harpsichord/Piano/Keyboard Geoffrey Paterson