Ah, Glyndebourne…The very mention of the name makes opera-lovers go all misty eyed, but for the uninitiated, what exactly is it?
Well, Glyndebourne itself is a country house in Sussex. Its involvement with opera began in 1934 when the house’s then owner, John Christie, and his opera singer wife Audrey Mildmay decided to hold an opera festival in their own home. Since then, the Festival has developed hugely – not least with the opening of a new purpose built opera house seating 1200, which opened in 1994.
However, the Festival still retains many of its traditions, with many audience members choosing to dress up and have picnics in the grounds as part of their visit. The Festival – which runs from May to August every year – also still remains very much a family affair. Its current Executive Chairman is John Christie’s grandson Gus. And of course, Glyndebourne retains its reputation for producing world-class opera productions.
But what on earth, you may well be asking at this point, does this have to do with The Marlowe and Canterbury? The other half of Glyndebourne is the Glyndebourne tour, which takes productions direct from the famous festival and tours them around the country every autumn. We at The Marlowe are very proud to be a regular venue for the Glyndebourne tour ever since the opening of our new building in 2011.
Our relationship with Glyndebourne actually dates back to the days when our current theatre was still a twinkle in Theatre Director Mark Everett’s eye.
“We had been using Glyndebourne as an example of the scale and quality of the productions the new theatre could stage while we were still open in the old building,” Mark recalls. Two senior members of the Glyndebourne team even visited the site of the new theatre during construction, and pronounced that it would be possible to bring their productions to Canterbury.
“I knew it would be – and is – an immensely happy relationship. Glyndebourne love coming to The Marlowe and we love having them. Many of the artistes have said it is their favourite auditorium to perform in, because of its superb acoustics and sightlines,” says Mark.
The Glyndebourne Tour 2015 comes to The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, from Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 November, with productions of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Handel’s Saul.