First ever Glyndebourne


First ever Glyndebourne

Lewes, Sussex The 26th of May 1934 AD

Glyndebourne Festival is a very British occasion, a blend of art, eccentricity and style: picnic meals in the grounds of the great house; evening dress; the great, the good and the aficionados from the capital travelling to the performances by train. It is part of that vague grouping of events ‘the season’ that includes Ascot , Wimbledon , and Henley .
The story of the festival is a rather romantic one: John Christie was a music-loving bachelor of 48 when he met and fell for a soprano employed to sing at a largely amateur production at his house near Lewes . Audrey Mildmay, born at Herstmonceux but brought up in Canada, soon became his wife, and on their honeymoon in June 1931 they made plans for the future festival.
What had been the organ room at Glyndebourne was transformed into a 300-seater opera house complete with full-sized orchestra pit; three refugees from Nazi Germany formed the professional management of the festival: Fritz Busch as musical director and conductor; Carl Ebert as director; and Rudolf Bing as general manager. On May 26 1934 the first production was given: Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, with Audrey Christie as Susanna – having passed the audition Busch demanded.

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