Under the supervision of the Christie family, the festival has been held annually since 1934, except in 1941–45 during World War II and 1993 when the theatre was being rebuilt. The renovated theatre opened in 1994. Gus Christie, son of Sir George Christie and grandson of festival founder John Christie, became festival chairman in 2000.
Since the company's inception, Glyndebourne Opera has been particularly celebrated for its productions of Mozart operas. Recordings of Glyndebourne's past historic Mozart productions have been reissued. Other notable productions included their 1980s production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, directed by Trevor Nunn, and later expanded from the Glyndebourne stage and videotaped in 1993 for television, with Nunn again directing. Mozart operas have continued to be the mainstay of its repertory, but the company has expanded its repertoire with productions of Janáček and Handel operas.
The primary resident orchestra for the Glyndebourne Festival is the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The festival's associate orchestra is the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In January 2014, Robin Ticciati became the seventh music director of the company.
David Pickard is the current general director of the festival. The festival operates without subsidy. Its first placement of advertisements was in 2003. The festival has planned to incorporate power by wind turbine, as part of its "green" initiatives.
Many Glyndebourne attendees come from London, and Glyndebourne is regarded as part of the London/English summer season. Performances start in the afternoon, enabling Londoners to leave town after lunch, and finish in time for them to catch the last train back. A long interval allows opera-goers the opportunity for picnic dinners on the extensive lawns or in one of the restaurants in the grounds. Annually in London, the company presents an opera performance at The Proms.
Glyndebourne Touring Opera/Glyndebourne On Tour
In 1968, Glyndebourne Festival Opera established a touring ensemble, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, which in its first season took opera productions to Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Oxford. In addition to bringing the work of Glyndebourne Festival Opera to audiences some distance from Glyndebourne, Glyndebourne Touring Opera offers opportunities for younger opera singers to develop their craft. In 2003, the Glyndebourne Touring Opera administrative duties were absorbed back into the main Glyndebourne Festival Opera administration, and the touring company was renamed Glyndebourne On Tour. Unlike Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne On Tour does receive some subsidy, from the Arts Council England.
The schedule involves three weeks of performances at Glyndebourne, and then one week in each of the six cities and towns that the touring company visits each year. The music directors of Glyndebourne Touring Opera and Glyndebourne on Tour are separate from the Glyndebourne Festival Opera music directors. The list of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera/Glyndebourne on Tour music directors is as follows:
Ticciati is the first former music director of Glyndebourne on Tour to be named music director of the full Glyndebourne Opera company.
Glyndebourne is constituted as a registered charity called Glyndebourne Productions Limited, which is a company limited by guarantee. It has a wholly owned subsidiary, Glyndebourne Enterprises Limited, which carries out merchandising, production hire and media development activities, and donates its profits to the charity. A related charity called the Glyndebourne Arts Trust carries out fund-raising activities. Glyndebourne Association America allows residents of the United States to make tax efficient donations to Glyndebourne.
Glyndebourne has an annual budget of a little over £20 million, as of 2010. The Festival is the only major opera season in the United Kingdom which is not state subsidised. Glyndebourne On Tour receives an annual subsidy of around £1.5 million from Arts Council England, but is budgeted to make an annual loss even after this has been credited. The shortfall is covered by an internal cross subsidy.
The Glyndebourne Label was established in 2008 to release live recordings on CD. Commercial releases have included Mozart's Idomeneo (with Luciano Pavarotti and Gundula Janowitz), Dvořák's Rusalka and Britten's Billy Budd. During the music directorship of Vladimir Jurowski, the festival began its "Glyndebourne on Screen" programme, for viewers to see performances from the festival in cinemas and live-streaming on personal computers, the latter in partnership with The Guardian newspaper.
- Rupert Christiansen (1 May 2001). "Dad assures me we're in the best condition ever". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
- McN., W. (July 1935). "The Mozart Festival at Glyndebourne". The Musical Times 76 (1109): 646. JSTOR 920186.
- Tim Ashley (13 June 2008). "Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Gencer/ Freni/ Bacquier/ Blankenburg/ RPO/ Varviso". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Tim Ashley (4 June 2002). "Katya Kabanova". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Andrew Clements (31 October 2003). "The Makropulos Case: London Philharmonic/Davis". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Martin Kettle (24 May 2009). "Giulio Cesare". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- "Robin Ticciati will be Festival Music Director from January 2014" (Press release). Glyndebourne Festival Opera. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Maeve Kennedy (1 July 2011). "Glyndebourne baton handed to Robin Ticciati". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-07-01.
- Charlotte Higgins (15 May 2003). "Inclusive engagement". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- Charlotte Higgins (30 November 2009). "How British opera reinvented itself". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Martin Kettle (20 July 2006). "Cosi fan tutte (Royal Albert Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Norwich, p. 226, lists the first four GTO music directors
- Fiachra Gibbons (26 August 2000). "New baton". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- Tim Ashley and Caroline Sullivan (17 May 2002). "A tale of two festivals". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- Kennedy, Michael, Glyndebourne: A Brief History, Oxford: Shire Publications, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7478-0821-3
- Norwich, John Julius, Fifty Years of Glyndebourne, London: Cape, 1985 ISBN 0-224-02310-1
- Media related to Glyndebourne at Wikimedia Commons
- Glyndebourne Festival Opera website
- Ham Life blog - A fan's reviews and photos
- An oral history of Glyndebourne opera - sound recordings of interviews with gardeners, musicians and staff.
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