We just got back from our first visit at Glyndebourne, an experience of utter English understatement and charm at its very best.
Glyndebourne (http://glyndebourne.com/) is an English country house, and the site of an opera house in Sussex. Since 1934 it has been the venue of the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Already getting there is an unusual experience. Glyndebourne lies a short 90 minute drive from Heathrow airport South of London in Sussex and - in the absolute country. We stayed in a beautiful B&B in the small town of Lewes. From there the car ride was no more than 15 minutes through fields and pristine English countryside. And suddenly there it is: the majestic country house of Glyndebourne.
It is quite interesting to watch the people attending this amazingly eclectic festival dressed in similarly inspired fashion. To my estimate ninety percent of men wore tux and bow tie. The ladies attire was dominated by evening gowns, often highlighted by striking individual pieces, from exotic scarves, and typical English hats to a one-of-a-kind jacket or stole. Lots of color and lots of expression!
The most stunning experience (naturally with the exception of the opera itself) was the food. Many patrons bring extravagant picnics including champagne (with bucket and stand!), lobster and even table chandeliers. All of this is set up on the beautiful lawns surrounding the estate, and makes for amazing photo opportunities, - or so one would think. But there were hardly any photos taken, no groups posing before smart phone cameras attempting awkward ‘selfies’, no disruptive calls for a smile. Besides a quick shot here or there it seemed like business as usual; it felt, as if this was, what these people do every day. How wonderful, and how wonderfully British!
Since this is not a review, here my rather compressed impressions of an unforgettable music experience: The production of Rinaldo by Handel was impeccable, imaginative, fresh, modern, quirky, and most importantly, it did not take itself too seriously. Directed with a lighthearted approach, yet with great depth and wisdom, it was an impressive feast for eyes and ears for even the most overused senses.
Go and see Glyndebourne. It is a magic place. I am sure it won’t be my last time. Now, let’s find out, what’s playing next year…