Your Memories

Audience in the 1930s. Photo: Mr Breckenridge

 What are your favourite memories of Glyndebourne?

We would like to hear your stories about Glyndebourne through the years.

  • When did you first attend Glyndebourne - what did you see?
  • Do you remember the old opera house?
  • What is your all time favourite production at Glyndebourne - what made it special for you?

Whether you are a long-standing Glyndebourne opera lover or have only recently found us, we would like to hear from you. By sharing your memories you will be making a direct contribution to this unique resource. 

Contributing is very easy, just send your story direct to: 

Digital Media Office,
Glyndebourne Productions Ltd,
Glyndebourne, Ringmer, 
East Sussex, BN8 5UU
nina.cornwall@glyndebourne.com

 

Glyndebourne is in our genes! We first attended in 1982, coming from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Magical! best describes our first summer evening at Glyndebourne. We fell in love with the Sussex country setting, formal attire, and picnics on the lawn. The exquisite operas, singing, music, and sets continue to round out the entire dream adventure.

We have come many thrilling summers since our first visit. However, a very special evening we splendidly recall was in 2004. The opera being performed was Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini. Prior to the performance, as we gathered under the terrace roofs due to a sudden summer rain down pour, we were excited to be informed that Puccini's granddaughter was in attendance that evening. To our utter delight, she was standing nearby, and we had the pleasure of conversing in English and in Italian with her. That night's Gianni Schicchi was the best performance ever! We left the auditorium glowing with enthusiasm for opera at Glyndebourne.

Patricia and Phillip Jelley, on 25 February 2008

I have been sorting through opera programmes and my first Glyndebourne is dated July 27th 1946 The Rape of Lucretia with Nancy Evans; still a vivid memory of a beautiful and moving work in the days when Britten was a thrilling newcomer to opera.

All my memories of Glyndebourne are of glorious summer evenings and of one in pouring rain and we picnicked in the car. Another very memorable night was Macbeth with Dorothy Dow when we staggered out in the interval in what would these days be called a state of trauma!

I will never forget the radiance of Kathleen Ferrier in Orfeo and on a lighter note the sight of people in evening dress queueing up to buy tickets at Victoria, we even wore tails in those days!

Mr Norman Entract from Haslemere, Surrey, on 31 March 2008

Our first visit was in 1964 as guests of a client to hear a young (and then unknown) tenor in his one and only season at Sussex in the role of Idamante – Luciano Pavarotti!

For a few years after that we visited only occasionally as tickets – if you weren’t “in the know” - were like gold dust. Ten years later we started our own company and two years after that in 1976, when we made our first modest profit, Newlands Knight & Round Ltd spent virtually all of that profit on becoming corporate members.

Those were the Peter Hall glory days and we introduced many of our advertising clients to the joys of Glyndebourne. We also persuade a number of them of the benefit of advertising in the Programme Book – so much so that in Glyndebourne’s Golden Jubilee year (which coincided with our own tenth anniversary) we took nine consecutively linked pages, a feat that has not been matched since.

One of many instances of Glyndebourne’s typical kindness comes to mind in the year 1978. My youngest son, then aged eleven, was keen to see his first opera. He was a small boy – even for his age – and the average adult sitting in front of him would have completely obstructed his view. Glyndebourne arranged that we should have seats right in the middle of the front row of the balcony in the old theatre. His view of Hockney’s Magic Flute was perfect. He became a Glyndebourne enthusiast from that day onwards and after many years on the list is now a member in his own right.

Throughout the 70s never a year passed without one or more of our clients’ advertisements appearing in the Programme book – and many more of them appeared in the opera house itself as guests of directors of my company.

In 1989 for health reason I had to retire and the company was sold. Sadly, the new owners declined to continue the corporate membership. Following our long association, Glyndebourne exhibited their customary kindness once again and made me a private member – which I am pleased to maintain to the present day.

We have seen opera in many of the world’s houses and they mostly all have something special to offer their patrons. However, I think none has the friendliness and warmth that emanated from (I nearly said stones) bricks of Glyndebourne. I missed the 1934 foundation year (most of us did) I enjoyed the 1984 half-century celebrations. I look forward to the three-quarter century celebrations next year.

Colin Newlands, on 31 March 2008

We have been coming to Glyndebourne for the past 50 years, first due to serendipity then as guests of a great friend and then after a few years on the waiting list as members.

We came to live in Ditchling in the mid fifties and had heard of Glyndebourne but that was all. Neither my wife or myself are particularly musical in the classical genre but I was asked to visit a charming old lady called Mrs Messel whose son Oliver was very much involved with Glyndebourne at the time. As I was leaving she asked me if it would be alright for her to go to the opera the next day. I thought that it would not be wise and advised her not to do so. She then very kindly offered me two tickets for Idomeneo at Glyndebourne.

From that moment we were enchanted with the music and lovely grounds and have I think only once missed attending each year and that due to age! I am grateful for the pleasure we have had from all the opera's though my favourite is perhaps The Magic Flute.

Dr Euan Keat, on 14 April 2008

As a simple schoolboy offered a treat for my eighteenth birthday, for some reason I asked to go to Glyndebourne on June 28th. 1960 - a day before my birthday and with only Gilbert and Sullivan in the Winchester Guidhall as operatic experience - and we took four tickets to Der Rosenkavalier, in the Ebert / Messel production, with the usual strong Glyndebourne cast then or later to achieve great fame.

It was in the second act, with rising excitement and enthusiasm, that we and the audience rose to applaud (contrary to normal practice, which only applauded at the end of an act) the great quintet and I felt like cheering for ever until I was carried out: "to cease upon the midnight with no pain" as Keats put it. Of course we sat down and enjoyed the third Inn scene, set as a room within the set despite the narrowness of the Glyndebourne stage; an entirely memorable performance and my first Grand Opera. The second was Rigoletto and the third Parsifal at the ROH; an interesting mix.

The first production seen of any opera tends to be the touchstone against which subsequent productions are measured; Glyndebourne has helped in so many cases, but I always like to remind those involved that 50% of the audience has not seen the opera before, so Carmens in LA used car lots do not convey the excitement of smuggling over the Sierra Nevada.

Since then as a member we come three or four times a year, and recall other great successes such as Hockney's The Magic Flute, the Eugene Onegin with the country dance round a central flat (which compared interestingly with another superb production at the Garden the same year with the Act 3 dance processing down and back round central pillars, the Falstaff where Nanetta (Elizabeth Gale) and Fenton are silhouetted on a sheet, and the great Tristans of recent times.

We have always picnicked, and used to plunge into undergrowth between first and second pond for exclusivity - maybe the midges were not so bad then. Our two sons (aged 31 and 26) are now members, having been entered as applicants at ages 7 and 2; and we go to about 40 operas a year in most country house locations, the major houses and elsewhere.

Thank you Glyndebourne, for many happy evenings. We look forward to another successful season this year.

Adam and Carola Lee, on 15 April 2008

My fiance's cousin, Joyce Boosey, invited me to my first Glyndbourne in the summer of 1953. I was thrilled and a little awed, which is my lame excuse for my disgraceful behaviour. I lost my self control when the heroine atop her tower dropped her massive locks of hair onto the floor of the stage. My giggles shood the entire row of attached seats. I still glow hot at the recollection but have not missed a season since. My enthusiasm for the new building with its individual seating is unique, and it was a bonus to find the familiar oak pannelling rendering cosy the dining in the barns at Garsington.

On a more decorous occasion I found myself a guest in John Christie's box. The pair of pugs, part of his indispensibe presence, did not join us in this exclusive haven which was, to my surprise, at the back of the auditorium. I still wonder why he did not treat himself and his friends to a better view. Perhaps it was in keeping with his modest character. I always felt he carried an aura of loneliness: Audrey Mildmay whose inspiration had given us this magical rus in urbis should have been at his side. The traditional performances of The Marriage of Figaro have ever been a bittersweet tribute to her.

Joan Wheeler-Bennett, on 16 April 2008

I have many treasured memories starting in June 1953 when I saw Ariadne auf Naxos as a bachelor sitting alone enjoying his last night in England before setting out early the next morning to start a career in Central Africa. It was magnificent. Four years later I married and, on our first visit to England I simply had to bring my newly wedded wife to Glyndebourne hoping that she would love opera as much as I did. We got tickets in 1960 for I Puritani with Joan Sutherland in the leading role. My wife was as enthralled as I was and we have both loved opera together ever since. In 1963 I acquired membership of the Glyndebourne Festival Society so that we have almost always got just the tickets we wanted and never cease to enjoy the beautiful rustic surroundings and, almost always, a superb performance.

You ask which was my all time favourite performance? I find that very difficult to answer but, in recent years, the most enjoyable have been Janacek's Jenufa - the only time I heard the Glyndebourne audience stamp their feet in appreciation - and the double bill of Gianni Schichi and The Miserly Knight. I really do hope that Glyndebourne will repeat that one soon.

Adrian Forrest, Bedfordshire, 17 April 2008

As a musically active student at secondary school, I was fortunate to attend a Glyndebourne dress rehearsal for 2 consecutive years in the late 1950s.

As I remember, the operas were Idomeneo and Un Ballo in Maschera. I also saw the 1960s film about the opera lovers in evening dress on the Glyndebourne train from London.

Some years later, in about 1976, I was about to emigrate to Australia with my young family, and saw an advertisement in a newspaper which offered a chance to get on the Waiting list (now the Associates list) for 50 pounds.

50 pounds was a lot of money in those days, (about 2-3 weeks salary) but I calculated that in my retirement, on my trips back to the UK, I would want to be able to attend the opera at Glyndebourne. And indeed, both as an Associate, and now as a member, I have been lucky enough to do just that - and have been able to obtain the tickets I wanted since the opening of the new opera house in the 1990s.

I would hope that such opportunities as those I had will continue to be available to those who would appreciate the marvellous experience that a trip to the opera at Glyndebourne offers

Anonymous Contributor, 18 April 2008

SUMMER 1958: I was a young fellow working in London, and I had two tickets in the Gods, bought months in advance, for My Fair Lady. My flat-mate at the time was seriously courting a young woman whose father owned several thousand acres of East Anglia, and who was desperate to see My Fair Lady.

‘All right,’ I said finally, ‘you can have my tickets, but in return I want two tickets for Glyndebourne.’ 

‘Done,’ he said.

Working in Baker Street at the time, I flogged along at lunch time to Ibbs and Tillet, who ran Glyndebourne’s London box office. They offered me two stall tickets for Le Comte Ory which set me back six pounds the pair (twice the price of my Drury Lane tickets).

In those days, when one only had two weeks holiday a year, the next problem was to find someone with whom I could escape from London for a few hours on a midweek afternoon. I remembered Jenny.

Jenny was a model with gorgeous red hair, and, yes, she would love to come. She had heard of Glyndebourne, which was rather unusual in those days amongst the girls I usually went out with, but, like me had never been there. I told her we would take a picnic – I would bring champagne and she volunteered to bring the food.

I managed to borrow my mother’s car and eventually having driven several times round Cadogan Square looking for her address, eventually found it round the corner of a neighbouring street. 
Jenny had a shopping bag which contained not only our picnic, but also a parcel she had promised to drop off at some friends on the way. By the time we found the friend’s address, we were already running late. We parked in the Car Park and made our way to our seats with moments to spare.

It was magic. Vittorio Gui was in the pit. Rossini’s music bubbled and fizzed away – the only Rossini I knew in those days was The Barber – while all the young men dressed as nuns tried to seduce the Crusaders’ wives and got drunk in Oliver Messel’s wobbly hand-painted scenery.
Came the interval and we returned to the car park to collect our picnic. On the way back I saw Jenny looking at some of the picnic rugs on which smoked salmon and asparagus were appearing.

‘I’m afraid,’ she said apologetically as she produced a brown paper bag from her shopping basket.
‘Looks lovely,’ I said, wondering what it contained. ‘Let’s find somewhere to sit.”
I think we ended up by the lake, though, after fifty years, it’s hard to be sure. I dug out the champagne, popped the cork and filled our glasses. Meanwhile Jenny busied herself with her brown bag, which contained a packet neatly wrapped in grease proof paper.
‘I’m sorry,’ she began again. ‘I had no idea it was like this – ’
‘Please,’ I reassured her. I raised my glass to her.
Slowly she unwrapped the grease proof paper and exposed four tomato sandwiches. How we laughed. Champagne and tomato sandwiches! 

I have dined out many times at Glydebourne on my story of Jenny and her tomato sandwiches. I also listen occasionally to the old Gui recording of Le Comte Ory and think of that marvellous evening, and Jenny and her sandwiches. I have since spent many, many evenings at Glyndebourne, but somehow that very first evening fifty years ago remains stuck in my memory as clearly as any.

Anthony de Groot, on 21 April 2008

Our first memory of Glyndebourne goes back to 1960. We were graduate students getting our Ph.D.s in biological chemistry at the University of Michigan. We were then going for postdoctoral training at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy and our plan was to buy a car in England and then drive to Rome. A few months before leaving we heard on the radio about Glyndebourne and thought that it would be very special to attend an opera at a manor house in England. We wrote and were able to get tickets for a performance of La Cenerentola. We even remember that we stayed at a pub called the Chalk Pit. I believe it still exists. We picnicked on the lawn and Glyndebourne lived up to our expectations. It was a wonderful experience, but not the only memorable one.

In 1982 we heard Janet Baker’s last performance in Orfeo ed Euridice – that was extraordinary. Both Glyndebourne and I were 50 in 1984 and we celebrated with Glynebourne by attending two operas – Arabella and Cosi Fan Tutti. After being on the waiting list for many years, we finally became members in 1998 and have been able to attend performances more frequently since then. We did want to mention one other very special memory and that was in 2005 when Colin Graham joined us at Glyndebourne. Colin Graham had directed the Rising of the Moon at Glyndebourne in 1970 and 1971, but may be best known in Britain for his producing of many of the Benjamin Britten operas. For many years he had been the artistic director of the St. Louis Opera Theatre. We had lived in St. Louis and had very much enjoyed the performances of the St. Louis Opera especially the Britten operas that Colin directed. When Colin had mentioned that he had not been to Glyndebourne for many years we invited him to join us there for the wonderful performance of Giulio Cesare.

I do look forward to celebrating Glyndebourne’s and my 75th years together.

Sondra and Milton Schlesinger, Berkeley Ca. on 23 April 2008

I first heard Glyndebourne Opera at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival. The performances were exceptional. We had Geraint Evans and Sesto Bruscantini in Falstaff, Denise Duval peerless as the Woman in La Voix Humaine (part of a triple bill) and Joan Sutherland in I Puritani. After this I was determined to get to Sussex and see Glyndebourne on its home ground, so I joined the Mailing List.

In 1962 I was delighted to obtain two tickets for Pelléas and Mélisande. It received excellent reviews and I listened spellbound to a broadcast while following the score. Imagine my shock on arriving at Glyndebourne to find that Pelléas and Mélisande had been cancelled. Instead of hearing Denise Duval as Mélisande we were to have Le Nozze di Figaro, not the same thing at all. A gentleman at the door told us how lucky we were to be hearing Figaro. I hope he meant that Figaro was much preferable to no performance at all, not that we would prefer it to Pelléas.

In the next two years I heard Richard Lewis in fine performances, as Florestan in Fidelio and as Idomeneo. In 1970 I saw Zauberflöte, and Calisto with Janet Baker, I loved the little bear. 
I sent in my booking form virtually every year but I had to wait until 1975 for my next visit. I was only prepared to pay for the cheaper seats and I lived too far away to try for returned tickets at the last minute, but I had a stroke of luck in May 1975. On my way to Glyndebourne I discovered from a newspaper that there were half price tickets available in the stalls for The Cunning Little Vixen. It seems amazing that in 1975 Janáček was so little known. It was a lovely performance. The Yevgeny Onyegin that I also saw on that visit was good too.

In the 1970s I saw a number of performances by Glyndebourne Touring Opera. They were also very worth crossing the Pennines for.
In 1977 I was lucky enough to see three performances in Sussex. I was not impressed by Die Schweigsame Frau but found Falstaff and the The Rake’s Progress were much better. The 1980s were better still. I came to eight operas in six years. Among the very best were A Midsummer Night’s Dream and L’amour des Trois Oranges but I must not forget Albert Herring in 1986 and Jenůfa in 1989.

I had been on the waiting list for membership of the Festival Society for some time and my chance came in 1994 with the opening of the new theatre. I retired in that year and two days later I was at a performance of Don Giovanni, a rather odd production but a marvellous experience all the same. Apart from a production of Cosi where the most prominent feature of the set was an old fashioned radiator I can’t think of a performance that I have not enjoyed and at last in June 1999 I saw Pelléas et Mélisande at Glyndebourne.

I find it very difficult to pick out my favourite memories. I love the acoustics of the new house. In Tristan und Isolde Nina Stemme’s singing of the Liebestod was magical. It was great to hear Wagner sung and played with such clarity and meaning. Granted that Peter Sellar’s production was unusual, the fine Glyndebourne Chorus came into its own in Theodora. It was very moving. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream marvellous orchestral playing summoned up the magical world. These are my three favourites.

Margaret Hardcastle, Huddersfield, on 25 April 2008

It was the late spring of 1973 and my Mother and I wanted a relaxing but interesting holiday. She agreed to make all the arrangements and so early in June that year we arrived in Prague. We joined a pleasant group including a couple who had spent their honeymoon in the city in 1934. It transpired that they were opera fans and tickets were soon booked for six of us to attend a performance the following evening. With us to see Libuše by Smetana was a young man from Glasgow, on his own, who was evidently an opera “addict”. At the end of the holiday the group dispersed.

One morning a couple of weeks later the phone rang and, to my astonishment, a Glasgow voice asked me if I would like to go to Glyndebourne. Naturally I accepted and so soon after we came on a beautiful summer day to see Capriccio with Elisabeth Soderstrom and Kerstin Meyer. A breathtaking experience, the music, the company, the picnic with friends, the gardens and the entire Glyndebourne experience. 

Within a year we were married and living in London and come to Glyndebourne whenever possible, this year on four occasions including Love and other Demons which will be add to my husband’s more than 600 different operas! We always take care to see the stone seat where we ate the first picnic. Prima le parole – dopo la musica! Prima la musica – dopo le parole!

Anne Klar, London, on 28 April 2008

Remembering Glyndebourne in the 50’s: My father was called Jon Christie. He was an academic and, at the time that he and his namesake me, the head of Oxford College. On one occasion their identical names led to an embarrassing muddle, when both of them, instead of just one as had been intended, were asked to speak at the same event in the United States. Their hosts feared that they would be indignant at such apparent discourtesy but the two John Christies thought it a great joke, and made friends forthwith. I was still at school then but, already an opera fan, I had even spent a school prize book-token on Ernest Newman’s “Opera Nights”, so I was thrilled to hear that the great Founder of Glyndebourne and Audrey Mildmay were staying with my parents in Oxford. My mother was suffering from lumbago, and John startled a rather staid dinner party on dons by telling her the best cure for her was to kneel down “as if she were saying her prayers”, which he demonstrated, and then to “wiggle her bottom” – further demonstration. After this auspicious beginning to their friendship, my parents were regularly invited to the Box, and I remember how sad they were when Audrey died. My father showed me the touching letter which John wrote to him in reply to his letter of condolence, and I learnt what a remarkable person she was. Later I was given the set of LPs of the Don Giovanni in which she sang Zerlina; some of these records are almost worn out.

When I was eighteen John discovered that I was more or less the same age as Rosamund, his daughter. To my astonished delight and excitement, I was included in an invitation to go with my parents to Glyndebourne for the week-end. John was a wonderful host, and led me up to the door of the Glyndebourne Box, where the guest list read:
“Mr John Christie 

Miss Christie 
Mr. and Mrs. John Christie 

Miss Christie”

No doubt there were others as well, but this was glory enough and I longed to steal the notice. The first opera I saw at Glyndebourne was Cosi with Serena Jurinac as Fiordiligi. I was dreadfully embarrassed because I referred to Despina as Zerlina and John teased me: “Yes and the Don was in good form tonight wasn’t he?”. Blushing, I corrected myself, “I meant, I meant Despina”. He put me at ease with a compliment: “It’s nice to find someone of your age who knows Mozart’s operas that well”. Dinner was not alarming as I had feared, because I was sitting next to Harry Blech who was extremely jolly and made me laugh; just as well because my other neighbour was very intimidating and clearly put out to have been seated next to someone so unimportant. I was pleased later on to hear John say that he found him rather pompous for someone so young. It seems extraordinary to be able to recall it in such detail, but it was one of the great moments of my life at that time.

That night I had a charming little bedroom high up in the house, with a glorious Glyndebourne view, but I had no idea where my parents’ room was, and I had no watch. This was a problem the next day, when I realised that I had absolutely no means of discovering what the time was, nor when and where breakfast would be. It was a beautiful summer morning, so, carrying my shoes in my hands, (they had been cleaned and left outside my door which deeply impressed me) I crept downstairs and found my way to a door which I could open – it was the days before I had heard of the hazards of burglar alarms in other people’s houses – and went into the garden. No one was about, and as far as I was concerned, it could have been any time between 6.30 and 8.30 a.m. so I wandered round the lake until, walking back through the garden, I saw someone coming towards me. It was John (needless to say in those more formal days I never dreamed of calling him John – to me he was always “Mr. Christie”) and he waved and called out “Do you like raspberries for breakfast?” I must have been starving by this time, and was happy to go down to the raspberry canes and pick two bowls full to carry back to one of the Wallops, where my parents, who had been looking form me, were surprised to find me breakfasting tête à tête with our host. Later that morning he took us back-stage and proudly showed us the motley collection of looking-glasses he had picked up for the dressing-rooms at local auctions to show the architects how to economise on their plans.

Until I married a few years later, these wonderful invitations were repeated – though one year my younger sister went instead of me. John even suggested that I should spend a season acting as a runner and general helper around the opera house. I longed to be allowed to accept such a splendid offer, especially as I liked Rosamund (pidge) very much, though she did seem very grown up compared to me. But my parents had made other plans (is it not now extraordinary to think how, in those days, teenagers were expected to fall in with whatever was proposed for them?) and I was made to turn it down. What a wimp I must have been! After that first visit it is harder to work out what happened when. I remember a star-studded performance of Figaro with Jurinac, Bruscantini and Gabriella Sciutti, and a moving Fidelio - was it the first time it was performed at Glyndebourne ? – when the prisoners were dressed identifiably as gentry, aristocrats, priests and lawyers, and the singer playing Don Pizarro told us that the temperature on stage was 102 degrees on the stage. A few weeks after I was married kind friends took us to Don Giovanni, my husband’s first experience of Glyndebourne and a perfect evening until I discovered that one of my earrings – a wedding present worn for the first time and given to me, as it happened, by the uncle of Brian Dickie – was missing. I was in tears on the way back in the train, but as I undressed, it fell out of my bra. My husband sent me off to have my ears pierced the next day.

In spite of small children and shortages of cash, we usually managed one opera a year after that, thanks to generous parents and friends. And now that we are members ourselves, we try to take the young and relatively impoverished as our guests in gratitude for all the pleasure we had at Glyndebourne in our youth.

Catherine Porteous, London, on 28 April 2008

I vividly recall my first encounter with Glyndebourne when as a tender seventeen year old I was taken to Don Giovanni in 1967.

My host and dear mentor was the best friends of my parents (who themselves had exposure to opera) Dr. E.L. Moore himself, a festival Society Member, if not from the start, certainly since the early 50’s. he was responsible for kindling in me an interest that was to develop into a lifelong passion for opera.

It was he who spotted in me – a pianist of very modest talent – an interest in voice. I grew up in my early teens with a keen interest in West End musicals. My eyes were really opened by an Austrian mezzo-soprano, Constance Shacklock, who temporarily lightened her repertoire to appear on the West End stage to sing the part of the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, and who reduced a fifteen year old boy to tears with the sheer magnificence of an operatic voice.

My next memory – my first trip “on my own” with the son of the aforementioned Dr Moore – the world premiere of Nicholas Maw’s Rising of the Moon in 1970.

I joined the Festival Society waiting list soon after, and was lucky to be admitted after only 3 or 4 years wait!

Favourites are difficult as over time one’s own musical taste changes apart from anything else.

  • One of my undoubted highlights over 30+ years was the 1975 Eugene Onegin. For sheer spectacle and grandeur of production – unforgettable and no subsequent production has touched it.
  • 1986 Porgy and Bess - with Simon Rattle – the only time I recall the whole auditorium on its feet for a standing ovation – so different, so vibrant, so eye-opening. Sheer Exhilaration.
  • 1994 Figaro - In the new house (One of 5 Figaros): my first reaction to the theatre – its stunning simplicity and style.
  • 1998 Capriccio - for Dame Felicity – full stop.
  • 2001 Otello - because I’m a huge Verdi fun, I wish you did more.
  • Rolando Villazón - La Bohème a revelation
  • I much preferred the 1972 Macbeth to 2007 …
  • Rosenkavalier, Cosi - I could go on …
  • 50+ performances over 41 years.
  • Memories of picnics in the car park in the old days (sandwiches in the car in the rain once!)
  • The best memory of all – has to be Capriccio

Dr J A Turtle, Kent, on 28 April 2008

My first visit to Glyndebourne was in 1959, when a friend and I saw the Silver Jubilee production of Der Rosenkavalier. For two ardent Straussians this was a perfect introduction, although our visit caused some trepidation beforehand. We worked in London and tried to see every production at Covent Garden and at Sadler’s Wells (now ENO)

I discovered that tickets might be available at Ibbs & Tillett in Wigmore Street, and used a morning of holiday to queue. We got ourselves suitably ready, and took a lawn-type picnic, but as we approached Ringmer we both became more apprehensive – was it for us? but even as we turned into the drive we knew that it was, and the magic started.

There have been too many memorable performances for me to list here – the first one, of course; the wonderful dark Don Giovanni; the Rachmaninov/Puccini double bill; Tristan - and so many others.

The magic had never faded, and I treasure my Membership, achieved in 1967.

Frances Cousins, Surrey, on 28 April 2008

I first heard Glyndebourne Opera at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival. The performances were exceptional. We had Geraint Evans and Sesto Bruscantini in Falstaff, Denise Duval peerless as the Woman in La Voix Humaine (part of a triple bill) and Joan Sutherland in I Puritani. After this I was determined to get to Sussex and see Glyndebourne on its home ground, so I joined the Mailing List.

In 1962 I was delighted to obtain two tickets for Pelléas and Mélisande. It received excellent reviews and I listened spellbound to a broadcast while following the score. Imagine my shock on arriving at Glyndebourne to find that Pelléas and Mélisande had been cancelled. Instead of hearing Denise Duval as Mélisande we were to have Le Nozze di Figaro, not the same thing at all. A gentleman at the door told us how lucky we were to be hearing Figaro. I hope he meant that Figaro was much preferable to no performance at all, not that we would prefer it to Pelléas.

In the next two years I heard Richard Lewis in fine performances, as Florestan in Fidelio and as Idomeneo. In 1970 I saw Zauberflöte, and Calisto with Janet Baker, I loved the little bear.

I sent in my booking form virtually every year but I had to wait until 1975 for my next visit. I was only prepared to pay for the cheaper seats and I lived too far away to try for returned tickets at the last minute, but I had a stroke of luck in May 1975. On my way to Glyndebourne I discovered from a newspaper that there were half price tickets available in the stalls for The Cunning Little Vixen. It seems amazing that in 1975 Janáček was so little known. It was a lovely performance. The Yevgeny Onyegin that I also saw on that visit was good too.

In the 1970s I saw a number of performances by Glyndebourne Touring Opera. They were also very worth crossing the Pennines for.

In 1977 I was lucky enough to see three performances in Sussex. I was not impressed by Die Schweigsame Frau but found Falstaff and the The Rake’s Progress were much better. The 1980s were better still. I came to eight operas in six years. Among the very best were A Midsummer Night’s Dream and L’amour des Trois Oranges but I must not forget Albert Herring in 1986 and Jenůfa in 1989.

I had been on the waiting list for membership of the Festival Society for some time and my chance came in 1994 with the opening of the new theatre. I retired in that year and two days later I was at a performance of Don Giovanni, a rather odd production but a marvellous experience all the same. Apart from a production of Cosi where the most prominent feature of the set was an old fashioned radiator I can’t think of a performance that I have not enjoyed and at last in June 1999 I saw Pelléas et Mélisande at Glyndebourne.

I find it very difficult to pick out my favourite memories. I love the acoustics of the new house. In Tristan und Isolde Nina Stemme’s singing of the Liebestod was magical. It was great to hear Wagner sung and played with such clarity and meaning. Granted that Peter Sellar’s production was unusual, the fine Glyndebourne Chorus came into its own in Theodora. It was very moving. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream marvellous orchestral playing summoned up the magical world. These are my three favourites.

Margaret Hardcastle, on 28 April 2008

SUMMER 1957: My first visit to Glyndebourne was in June 1957 when I was taken by my future husband (though we were not engaged then) to see a double bill - Der Schauspieldirektor (Mozart) followed by Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss).

I was spellbound by the whole occasion – the atmosphere, the setting and of course the performance. I recall having a picnic in the back of the car as it was raining and no marquee was provided in those days.

We married the following year and were able to go for one more season before our first child was born. We had to forgo our visits for a few years but as soon as our family were old enough to leave, we resumed our annual outings and have been every year since.

I always look forward with great anticipation to each season. Sadly my husband is no longer with us but my elder son and friends accompany me. There is a very special atmosphere at Glyndebourne – always very civilised and I love “people-watching” – the fashions fascinate me!

One of my all time favourite performances at Glyndebourne and one that sticks out in my memory is the final performance of Porgy and Bess with a standing ovation after the final curtain. Eugene Onegin is another of my lasting memories – I think I have seen two different productions and am eagerly anticipating this year’s performance.

Mrs Jean Elmslie, Surrey, on 28 April 2008

My memory albeit unconventional was back in the 80's when Idomeneo was playing. Before I became a member my godfather Shulman Livesey used to take us every year.

I was escorting my mother in the interval around the lily pond and at the end of the saunter we noticed a blackbird hanging upside down from a branch by a fishing wire! My mum was mortified and could not go back to the opera unless somebody did something to rescue the bird 15 feet up a tree over the pond! The caretaker was elderly and unable to climb a tree and gave me a ladder. I had to remove my jacket and trousers to climb the tree and save the bird.

Eventually I reached the top and bit the wire to save the bird. It was cathartic when the bird was set free and I was so happy. However I had to slide down the tree and grazed my legs and hands. On landing a crowd had formed and a beautiful dressed lady patted me on the back and stated 'that is the best thing I ever saw at Glyndebourne'

I was very touched and was compensated by using the players showers and on such a hot day it was welcoming from my ordeal. I returned to Idomeneo smiling and I like to feel responsible for saving the blackbird's life so his offspring will sings for generations in the breaks at the festival.

Mike Keet, on 30 April 2008

SUMMER 2006: Two extraordinary things touching on champagne happened within 10 minutes or so on a glorious sunny day at Glyndebourne. As I opened our bottle I commented to my friend 'there is no ceiling for the cork to hit so where will the cork go?" As I looked skywards something hit my forefinger - the cork had gone straight up and down in spite of it being a windy day.

A short while later a loud cracking sound was heard. The table of our neighbours was collapsing and the four picnickers were sprawling across the grass. As two of us ran over to help their champagne was spurting sky-high out of the bottle like a fountain! If our picnicking neighbours read this we hope they did not suffer too much injury!

James G Ruddock-Broyd, on 02 May 2008

I recall my late wife the pianist Nina Milkina telling me that as a child, before the last war, I believe it was 1938, she remembered playing hide and seek in the bushes at Glyndebourne prior to the opera with Lady Swaythling and Sir John Simon.

I remember a later occasion at Glyndebourne when Nina was soloist with Harry Blech and the London Mozart Players in a Mozart Concerto in the old theatre. I was seated next to Sir John Christie, who, when Nina came on to play turned to me and asked who is that young girl, I replied it is my wife and she's not so young.

On another occasiton Nina and I were attending the opera with Sir George Barnes and his wife (he was then Head of Television) and we shared a picnic supper during which I managed to loose my car ignition key. I had promised to take Sir George and Lady Barnes to catch the train to London after the performance. So after a frantic search in the long grass for my key I approached a group of chauffeurs with a suitable tip and a request to break into my car and wire up the ignition so the car could start. Needless to say I was in no condition to register any of the last act of the opera, but on returning to my car was overwhelmed with joy to discover a note on the windscreen saying 'to start car connect the two bare wires together'. Thereafter I returned to earth.

Alastair Sedgwick, London, on 07 May 2008

My first visit to Glyndebourne was in 1962 [to hear, Pelléas et Mélisande - I have to say not my favourite opera!]. This started my "love affair" with Glyndebourne and I have been every year since, even after moving to Australia 24 years ago where I now live. I was lucky to run into Joyce Akins [an old friend of my parents] on one of my early visits. Joyce was associated with Glyndebourne for many years in various roles. To start with she helped me secure tickets and then assisted with my joining the Festival Society. There have been many memorable evenings over the past 46 years but a few stand out. The first was the 50th Birthday performance of Le Nozze di Figaro on 28 May 1984 with Bernard Haitink conducting -the performance was followed by fireworks and a champagne reception - a truly unforgettable evening. Two other operas also stand out in my memory - The Queen of Spades in 1992 with Yuri Marusin singing the lead [what a voice!] and Tristan und Isolde in 2003 [the fist Wagner opera at Glyndebourne, I think] with the magnificent singing of Nina Stemme as Isolde. I'm sure there will be many more performances to remember in the coming years and I am looking forward with anticipation to my two visits to Glyndebourne in 2008.

Michael Weekes, on 09 May 2008

I first visited Glyndebourne on Sunday, 29th June 1952. I was aged nearly 20, and I went, by myself, on the train from Victoria. It was the eighteenth opera performance I had been to. The opera was Idomeneo, conducted by John Pritchard (Fritz Busch having died since the 1951 season). There were two unusual things about that year. First, to attend a Sunday performance one had to join a putative 'Sunday Club' (no fee) to get round some law about theatre on the Sabbath; this law must have been rescinded quite soon afterwards, I think. Second, there were on sale both a programme for that specific performance and also the first 'Glyndebourne Programme Book', which we have had annually up to the present - an initiative of Moran Caplat, I believe. You will perhaps recall that the early Programme Books gave the nationality of each soloist in the cast, which looks slightly quaint today! Also quaint was seeing John Christie wandering about in tennis shoes (with his dinner suit).

Since 1952 I have naturally returned to Glyndebourne many times. Other memories? - well, of course, hundreds! In 1960 my fiancee took a job as programme seller at Glyndebourne, and thanks to the Chief Usher's regime being laxer that it no doubt is today, I was able to be a 'guest' usher myself for a few performances - usually in the Green Balcony. It was the only season when I was able to see several of the operas more than once.

It must have been in the Mozart year 1956 that we attended a sort of pre-season course in the Glyndebourne organ room at Easter. I remember Peter Gellhorn going through Die Zauberflöte and singing bits of all the parts from Sarastro to the Queen of Night! 
My favourite production? It has to be Peter Hall's Albert Herring which we are much looking forward to again this year.
We went to the last performance in the Old House (The Queen of Spades) and the place was awash with emotion! That year (1992) the theatre seemed to be in the middle of a building site (it was!). 
I could go on, but maybe better not!

Brian Godfrey, on 09 May 2008

I was first taken to Glyndebourne by my parents on 30th June 1954. I remember the date as it was their wedding anniversary and also a partial eclipse of the sun, for which I still have a negative. I was 2 weeks short of my 18th birthday, and I was allowed a day off school as I had finished all my A Levels. It was Ariadne and I had not a clue what it was about, no surtitles of course and I had only ever seen Aida and The barber of Seville before. But I have never forgotten that first enchantment of the place. I have been every year ever since.

My father never believed in taking the car out into the country just for one reason, so for the first few years of my visits we always had to fit in some other place to visit. This entailed having to find a suitable hedge, not too far from the opera house behind which we could all change, my mother and I muttering dark thoughts whilst doing so. He hated getting into a DJ but would always do so, without a murmur, for Glyndebourne, but his tie never went on until the last minute, and then my mother bought him a most elegant silver grey silk jacket which he wore always afterwards. He also never believed in getting there too soon, but we only ever missed the deadline once when he had to watch in the Organ room, we just managed to get in.

It was well before the days of the marquees and we have eaten many a dinner, usually having bought strawberries and cream in Haywards Heath on the way, squashed in the old A30 and looking at the pouring rain.

I can also remember my parents saying that, once when they came down by train, they were completely soaked. They happened to meet John Christie on their way in and he marched them off to the kitchens and told them to collect their dry coats after the performance. We often saw him around and we were lucky enough to be there the last time he appeared on the stage at the end of the performance shortly before he died – once seen, never forgotten.

Once I was married and my husband did the driving then that was the end of changing behind the hedge. However, my husband got to know the lady who used to run the café in the ‘old’ Mildmay room and, if the weather was bad she would always put our picnic basket on one of the tables. One year we were a bit late and the only place she could put it was on the timpani drums that were kept in the corner by the old cloakrooms – we did cover them with our table cloth! My mother also asked one of the administration staff if she could pass on her membership to her son-in-law, but was told very politely that was not possible. Luckily, his name came up on the waiting list before she passed away.

In 2004, ten of us came to celebrate my fiftieth year coming to the Opera House, they couldn’t be consecutive because of the closure for the rebuilding, and we managed to set up our table on a most beautiful evening in our favourite place at the head of the lake.

If you were to ask me of one (two) memories to keep for ever it would be sweet peas in enormous vases in the organ room and, of course, the bat.

Frances Presley, on 09 May 2008

I was first taken to Glyndebourne by my parents. In winter my father always seemed to get tickets very easily, perhaps because he was Moran Caplan’s dentist (as well as Spike Hughes). My first opera was I think 1964 Nozze. The best is difficult to pick from such a galaxy but the Hockney’s Flute stands out. Other memories: the hip hop Cosi. Took my son who is a scratcher in a hip hop band. He told me he'd like to see a 'real' opera, and with some trepidation we went to 2007 Macbeth, a dark opera. I was delighted with the humour, it showed my son that one can laugh in the opera. Next we will all go on to Eugene Onegin and perhaps we have another convert to opera.

David Rosenberg, 09 May 2008

I first came to Glyndebourne on July 8th 1952...and heard La Centerentola. Since then, I have been coming regularly more and more. It is addictive.

When we first were married, in 1955, we could only afford to come every other year, and later twice a year and occasionally as this year, three times…

In the very early days of my visits, on one occasion, my father had a lipstick marked napkin in the Mildway restaurant and I think, bad crab.

Since then, we always picnic, and have a record of NEVER being rained off, all right, a couple of times we may have preferred to watch the folks go by from behind a bush! But no serious rain.

I always LOVE coming, though not all the productions are to my taste, but the singing is always superb and the atmosphere wonderful. Fashions have changed since I first came, when I wore full evening dress and sixteen button gloves and a fan! However, no progress without change.

Over the years we have brought all four of our children and some children in-laws. We always buy four tickets for each performancento which we are coming so that we can add to the enjoyment, with friends, some of whom have not been before and some are old habituees. 

A great thrill for me was getting to know Duncan Robertson, who performed for some years at Glydnebourne, before I knew him. He used to help me with my chorus pieces, but has sadly moved to Sussex now with his wife, but they always come and stay for the concert at Malborough College. I found that I had actually heard him before I knew him and his wife. We brought them when we came for a backstage tour and his stories amused and interested everyone. He had not been backstage since the new house had been built and was full of stories of past singers and events. 

Membership was by joining the Sunday Club in 1964 (I still have my card) and tickets were sold in Baker Street; this was so long ago that I never had to join a waiting list or pay a fee to become a Member. We were sad at some of the changes, but nothing stays the same except the superb quality one is still offered on the stage.

Long may Glyndebourne flourish and provide enchantment for so many people. So...on and up.

Mrs Barbara Clauson, on 03 June 2008

I am a relatively recent visitor to Glyndebourne but my memories go back to my schooldays in the 1950s. I vividly recall announcing to my friends one Sunday afternoon (either 1954 or 55) that I had to break off whatever game we were playing to rush home to tune into the Third Programme for a transmission from Glyndebourne of Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

I can even recall some of the cast - Juan Oncina, Sesto Bruscantini and Graziella Scuitti with Vittorio Gui conducting. I'm sure you can imagine the reaction to my announcement - we were all around fourteen at the time.

David Ward, on 23 June 2008

My wife and I have a very special memory of Glyndebourne. We were invited by some dear friends Peter and Jill Basing. The year was something like 1992 it was before the alterations and we went to see Death in Venice. It was a steaming hot day and we were picnicking in the gardens. Arriving spot on 3pm we managed to secure a fantastic place to set up on the terrace above the lake. After some nibbles and 2 bottles of champagne we went into the first part of the Opera, which I must say we all struggled to stay awake! The break came and our picnic was in full flow. Noticing that it looked like it could rain we grabbed 2 golf umbrellas just in case.

As we dished out the trifle in proper china bowls the rain started and did it rain! Within only a couple of minutes the golf umbrellas were of no use and our bowls of trifle were full with rainwater. By now many other diners were making for cover and we chose to do likewise. We bundled our meal up into some carrier bags and as the Ladies headed to the opera house I helped Peter take the picnic utensils to the car. The rain was so hard the carrier bags were overflowing with water and our shoes were submerged under river of water as we made our way up the slope of the car park.

Back in the opera house the scene resembled a mass Turkish steam bath and once everyone made it back into the hall we could not see the stage due to the steam rising off of all the unfortunate garden diners. Peter's suit had shrunk and the whole audience apart from being very wet were still in good spirits.

Ever since that day Glyndebourne held a special memory for all of us and that day has been the source of much laughter ever time we have attended since.

Glyndebourne has always been a special event for us and we love coming every year. It is with great sadness that our dear friend Peter Basing who at the time worked for Lansing Bagnell (a main sponsor I think) passed away late last year. Peter and Glyndebourne were a special combination.

Cliff Hoare, 26 June 2008

I am a Glyndebourne baby! My father Ian Marshall worked at Glyndebourne in 1951/2 as Assistant Treasurer. (His father was Howard Marshall, the BBC cricket commentator). My mother was with the Ballet Rambert, Valerie Liddell, and danced the interludes to Figaro and Don Giovanni for two seasons, also touring to the Edinburgh Festival. They met racing down hill on bicycles just outside Glyndebourne and the rest is history!

My earliest recollection of Glyndebourne is being taken to The Marriage of Figaro in 1973 to the famous te Kanawa/von Stade production, and I have been spellbound ever since.

Nick Carpenter (clarinet) and Helen McCarthy (Development Manager) are cousins of my husband's family so it is lovely to keep this thread going through my life!

Long live Glyndebourne.

Mandy Peat, on 16 July 2008

I was a Brownie with the the Firle pack and was chosen to help make a presentation to Audrey Mildmay. I had to wait in the organ room and a rather large cushion was snatched from one of the sofas and the quite small presentation case was placed on the cushion, which I had to carry onto the stage. She must have had quite a job not to laugh at this skinny child, huge cushion and little box slowly advancing towards her. I think there is a photograph somewhere.

Later, around 1951 or 1952 I had advanced to the Firle Guides, and we had been invited to be on duty in the Glyndebourne gardens, which had been opened to the public one day. My friend and I were on guard, in our Girl Guide uniforms, in front of the greenhouses to prevent people from going in, when an old gentleman in plimsolls and an open-necked shirt shuffled up to us and asked if we'd like to see an opera. I had enough wit to realise it was John Christie, so I said, 'Yes, please.' He told us the opera was in rehearsal and it was called 'Cosi Fan Tutte'. Did we know it? We said we didn't, so he then told us the story, acting out, but not singing all the characters, to our great amusement. We abandoned the greenhouses as he took us into the opera house and sat us down at the rehearsal. The production must have been in its quite early stages, and what Fritz Busch and Carl Ebert thought of the audience of two I've no idea, but we were entranced and played 'operas' for the rest of the summer.

Christine Mason, on 05 January 2009

In 1951 John Christie came to Lewes County Grammar School for Boys, of which he was a Governor, and asked the Headmaster for four young men to act as footmen in act 3 of Le nozze di Figaro. Fortunately mine was one of the four hands that shot up in the full assembly hall. My only previous experience of opera had been Die Fledermaus at Sadlers Wells but I did have a 78 rpm record of the Figaro overture. We had three dress rehearsals and I think it was five performances and were PAID £3.00 per rehearsal and £5.00 per performance - this was riches in abundance then. But that was nothing compared to standing with the beautiful Lisa della Casa, hearing the consumate artistry of Alfred Poell, Alois Pernerstorfer and the others, and seeing Jani Strasser mouthing the opera all the time. It was such an infectious show that we could not help but join in the chorus. Carl and Peter Ebert were very good to us as well. It was good weather that Summer and the odd glass of cider in the green room went down very well. I still had my homework to do though.

It was a marvellous introduction to the stage and it is a story that has been told many times. Fortunately the Decca recording of the opera in 1959 includes della Casa, Poell and Murray Dickie and transports me back. I have a lot of nostalgia for the old house and can picture even now red squirrels on the lawns at the entrance.

Military service took me away after that although one or two of my companions became ushers. I did see quite a few shows in succeeding years as the village nurse was often given dress rehearsal tickets which she let us have when she could not use them. Two of the later shows stick in the memory, the first being Higglety Pigglety Pop! with Bamber Gascoigne narrating. This was a surprise as it was not until we got to the theatre that we knew Knussen had not been able to complete act 2. The second was Janet Baker's farewell as Orfeo. The very last show was specially commissioned by Southern TV before an invited audience and being her last it had an added poignancy. My daughter came home one day from her work in the Bournemouth International Centre and said 'Dad I've got you some tickets for Glyndebourne'. Well of course we came over for that and then watched it on TV. The final shot of the broadcast was of the audience applauding and there we were right in the middle.

Peter Hubbard, on 05 January 2009

Memories of Glyndebourne

  • getting soaked to the skin (with many others) walking from the car park to the theatre to see Othello
  • people watching from the first floor balcony after the first act of the Marriage of Figaro and seeing passers-by stroke the metal sculpture in the shape of a stone (by the way what happened to that sculpture - the horses head in its place does not hit the spot)
  • forgetting the picnic table and chairs and 'camping out' on a picnic rug on the balcony
  • 2008 idyllic visit - superb rendition of Carmen, great weather, picnic for 8 in the grounds - everything Glyndebourne is and should be.

Josephine Crabb, on 05 January 2009

I chuckled when I read the lovely item about the hedgehog squatting on the cake during a Glyndebourne picnic. It brought back memories of a similar occasion in 2003 when I and three friends returned to pack up our picnic and one of us (beautifully dressed in a long Sikh tunic and draped trousers) reached down to pick up what he thought was a bottle in the grass, only to squeal when his fingers plunged into a hedgehog’s spiny back!

They must look forward to the picnic season as well!

Angela Hoy, 05 January 2009

Our introduction to Glyndebourne was on what used to be called "Whitsun" weekend. It was either the Sunday or Monday in 1950 in our pre-courting days; it could even have been the first time that we went out together, The event was not opera but a concert, and we were dazzled by Sena Jurinac, in a white dress with a dark red rose that matched her lipstick, treating us to a thrilling performance of Les Illuminations. Our second visit was for a Figaro on our 5th wedding anniversary in June 1956 when we were lucky to get returns that morning.

Since then we have enjoyed countless evenings at Glyndebourne, especially since our membership eventually came through in 1994, and we are particularly gratified that you have enabled us to introduce some of our friends successfully to the operas of Britten and Janacek whose work would not normally have drawn them into an opera house.

If I must single out the most memorable event I suppose it is Anja Silya's Makropoulos. One recurrent delight was the cruise liner Cosi; we never understood why not everyone enjoyed as much as we did. Sadly we now find the journey too arduous and we have decided to declare and let someone else have a turn. It was good while it lasted and we are for ever grateful.

Michael and Vivienne Goldblatt, on 05 January 2009

Ola from Spain !
L'Incoronazione di Poppea / Leppard (24 May 1964)

We were clearing up our picnic that evening when one of the party remarked, "Hurry up, we need to read what happens in Act III".

Another interjected, "Well, don't worry, Poppea lives!"

To which a third added, "I know that, she appeared in Quo Vadis".

In those days the Peterborough column was still a major feature of the Daily Telegraph and I submitted this exchange to them.

It was published almost immediately, as the last item as was customary then, and I received a cheque for £5. I could look it up but this was almost certainly greater than the price of my ticket !! Alas the Peterborough column and such Telegraph generosity are no more.

John G. Deacon, on 05 January 2009

My parents had been friends of Fritz & Grete Busch in Stuttgart where Fritz Busch had been the resident opera conductor in the 1920s and my Father had been his pupil in music studies. When Glyndebourne opened in 1934, my parents were regular visitors until war broke out. In 1950, when Glyndebourne re-opened, the friendship with the Busch family was resumed. My parents could not afford, or were not prepared, to buy a ticket for me but Fritz Busch told then to bring me along anyway. In the old house, the conductor entered the orchestra pit through a tiny door right of stage. Busch took me by the arm and led me into the pit where he pointed to a chair next to the trombones and said (in German) “You sit there!” and then proceeded to the podium to conduct a superb performance of Cosi. Not many will have had that privilege or experience which I was allowed to repeat in 1951 for Figaro and Idomeneo. Sadly, Fritz Busch died suddenly that year at 61.

Those were golden years in post war Glyndebourne with singers like Sena Jurinac, her then husband Sesto Bruscantini, Graziella Sciutti, Richard Lewis, Geraint Evans, Birgit Nilsson and many more. Through my parents and Fritz Busch, we became friends of many of these singers and enjoyed their company in Glyndebourne, at my parents’ home and when they sang at other opera festivals we visited. I can remember one evening in particular when we were invited by Sena and Sesto to their Ringmer home after a performance and where Sesto demonstrated his skills at cooking pasta for us all!

My wife & I have remained regular Glyndebourne visitors ever since the fifties and I cannot help having nostalgic and sentimental memories every time we go.

Ronald Jeffries, on 30 April 2009

My first visit was in 1973 with my family to Marriage of Figaro, with Kiri te Kanawa as the Countess. In 2007 I brought my Mother to La Cenerentola, sadly her last visit to Glyndebourne, age 97. My first Date with my (now) husband was 1988 to see WNO - La Traviata in Bristol. In Summer 1989, to impress, I took him to Glyndebourne - Midsummers Nights Dream in the old house. Such magic - even real bats flying around the auditorium - how did they do it =??? Like others - we found the stone seat at the far end of the lake a very romantic spot - Michael was so overwhelmed with the beautiful evening of opera + venue that he proposed ! We have been together every year since, and try to spend at least some time sat on that seat, thinking about our first wonderful evening together at Glyndebourne. Other most memorable performances for me are - 1995 Yuri Marusin in Queen of Spades, Anja Silja in Mackropulus Case; and in 1996 Lorraine Hunt in Theodora - for me this Peter Sellars production made Handel come alive, something never matched before or since. Glyndebourne 1996 was THE year for us, I finally said 'yes', and we were married in Lewes Registry Office (Glyndebourne was not then registered for weddings - though if it had been, we probably couldn't have afforded it) and we had our 'reception' as opera + champagne + picnics in the gardens with friends and family over three wonderful evenings 15-19 July. Not surprisingly I cant remember much about the performances (Lulu, Onegin and Arabella). Those were the days, and not so long ago, when with only a 'Waiting List' membership (and how long did we have to wait !) you could make up a party. You could get 2 or 4 'cheap' seats for all 6 performances, then go down in April for a jolly outing, queue all day at the box office with your sandwiches, as we did - and get more seats or standing places. Finally (after 20 years) I am a real 'Friend'. Its now more expensive, but its not so much fun ! Congratulations on 75th - we will be there to celebrate, and hopefully be visiting for many more years to come. Good opera is necessarily driven by financial support - but please , in considering your pricing/booking each year remember that there are many dedicated Glyndebourne opera supporters, who appreciate reasonable opportunity to access to those 'cheaper' seats.

Lorna McRobie, on 11 June 2009

Just bought two tickets for my parents to visit Glyndebourne to see Cosi fan Tutti when I saw the archive. Thought I would drop you a line about my first memories. I was in the choir at my school when we had an audition for Glyndebourne to sing in the opera 'The Queen of Spades'. We won the audition and I was lucky enough to sing in that opera, this was 1971, and I was 11. I have wonderful memories of the singing lessons and rehearsals, of the dress fittings for my costume, which was a beautiful pale blue silk taffeta dress, for a very well to do child of the era. I remember having to learn to play the 'diablo' and standing at the front of the stage as the curtain opened at the first scene ( of a park), we sang a nursery rhyme in Russian. I also remember running out onto a stone patio at the back of the stage during the interval while the guests were having dinner on the lawns, and enjoying the interest we received from them. We were allowed to see a full dress rehearsal sitting in the auditorium, I remember the scenery was designed in black and silver and the costumes were very brightly coloured, the 'ball scene' was stunning.

It was a wonderful experience, many hours were spent at Glyndebourne running in the gardens to let off steam after rehearsals, and the exhilaration of being on stage in that beautiful dress with my friends and the 'grown ups'… I will never forget.

Susanna Pendlebury, on 10 May 2010

My happy memories of Glyndebourne started in 1954. Iwas living in Pevensey and knew very little about opera. Luckily, in those days the W.E.A. organised pre-season weekends at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. People such as Douglas Craig and Carl Ebert came and talked to us about forthcoming productions, also singers came to illustrate the talks. This meant going to an opera with a full knowledge of the music and the plots. It certainly inspired me to want to go.

In those days I would go, with other opera lovers, to a musical shop in Lewes where we queued for tickets. We were all very ordinary people in those days, not the V.I.P,s who I believe make up a large number of the audience now. The first opera I saw was "Le Comte Ory" in 1954 and what fun that was! I saw so many operas over the years and I cannot think of one which I did not enjoy but special favourites were 1956 "Don Giovanni", "Pellias et Melisande" in 1962. The "Eugene Onegin" of 1968, "The Magic Flute", not sure which year but Benjamin Luxon and Felicity Lott were in it. I especially loved "Midsummers Night Dream" in 1981 with again Felicity Lott James Bowman and the suberb Bottom of Curt Appelgren. Also the sets were magical in this production.

I remember, on one occasion when I went on the off chance having no ticket. I waited for hours at the box office hoping for a return but as the time of the performance got nearer and I was giving up hope Mr John Christie,realising my plight, came and asked me if I would like to sit and hear the opera in the Organ Room. That in itself was a wonderful experience, relaxing in a very comfortable chair in such a glorious room to hear the opera was another experience I shall never forget.

On one other occasion I wanted to introduce my school-boy son to opera at it's very best. We duly arrived and were having tea in the restaurant before hand when he announced in a loud voice, "Mum, I am missing "Pick of the Pops". It was like a Bateman cartoon, and I realised when I saw the twinkle in my son's eye that it was his idea of a joke, much to the embarrassment of Mother!

I left Sussex in 1985 and being now, myself 86 years old am not likely to visit Glyndebourne again, so I shall never see the new opera house. However, I shall always cherish the many many happy memories I have of those past years at the old opera house and the many operas I was introduced to by the wonderful Glyndebourne performances.

Bunty Leatherdale, on 21 June 2010

I first attended Glyndebourne in 1972 – to see Verdi’s Macbeth. I was 13 yrs old and a pupil at Chailey Heritage Craft School in North Chailey. The school would get tickets for dress rehearsals each year courtesy of the then and legendary House Manager, Geoffrey Gilbertson. The tickets would normally be snaffled by the staff but that year my form teacher, John Harker told me I was going. I was an unwilling conscript. I shouldn’t have been. Just imagine, a disabled kid who had lived in the relative isolation of the special education system being taken to such an event and place. It changed me forever. I sat there transfixed by the movement, noise and drama. All this lifted me into another place where imagination could run riot – liberated from the restrictions of my physical self and circumstances. And it still does to this day – 38 years on. I attend more opera performances than is wise. My bank manager frequently complains and I always blame Glyndebourne.

John Knight, on 14 July 2010

Comments

I came to Glyndebourne in the mid sixties to work backstage on the invite of Brian Dickie. Bert Pullen was then Chief Technician. Compaired to the old Theatre Royal in Wexford, Glyndebournes old Opera House looked huge. Geoffrey Gilbertson waa Stage manager. I found him to be a kind and caring person who always asked how I was progressing. I was on the very first Touring Opera crew and really enjoyed our visits to the many varied theatres around north England. My time at Glyndrbourne was a Highlight in my life (now 75yrs) and I look back on many happy memories of it.

I was brought up in South Africa, and while there were opportunities to hear good music, opera did not feature. One day at school we were shown the 1955 film "On such a night" in which a young American boards a train at Victoria and finds himself swept up in the Glyndebourne experience. Well, it was a revelation; the music, the setting, the romance. There and then I decided that I had to visit Glyndebourne. It was several years before I went to live in London, but I then immediately set about obtaining information about it. After a hot lengthy drive from London through the High Streets of several Sussex towns on a summer Saturday, my visit to Zauberflote in 1964 proved to be everything I had dreamed of.
Since then I have visited Glyndebourne whenever possible. I am now in the happy situation of living in Sussex, and going to Glyndebourne is a regular and very important part of my life.
I had often spoken to friends of my introduction to the opera and Glyndebourne through "On such a night", and was thrilled when a friend gave me a copy of Glyndebourne's re-release on DVD.

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