Outstanding opera enjoyment with picnic in English countryside
London Victoria Station: Between the usual commuters, mingle from May
until the end of August in the early afternoon men in tuxedo or uniform
and ladies in evening gowns.
In discreet England
None of the other passengers would look up from their reading or smartphone for even a second to linger with a glance at the elegant train passenger.
Most fellow passengers know that the destination of the festively dressed train passengers is the opera festival in Glyndebourne.
In the rolling hills of Essex lies the aristocratic country estate of Glyndebourne. The sky is wide, you can literally taste the salt of the sea already in the air. Sheep graze leisurely and the English countryside shines in all shades of green.
The tranquility and beauty of the landscape has a calming and inspiring effect at the same time. The destination of train passengers who like to uncork or mix champagne or gin & tonic on the train is an opera house in the middle of the countryside that attracts high-ranking artists and opera lovers alike.
The best that opera has to offer was the goal of the founders
In 1934 the first opera performance took place in the then still small opera house. John Christie had inherited the country estate in 1920 and decided with his wife Audrey Mildmay, a professional opera singer, to establish an opera house here.
On their honeymoon, the couple had visited Bayreuth and Salzburg, and were inspired to give Glyndebourne an additional home for the best in opera to be experienced around the world.
With Fritz Busch and Carl Ebert, who had fled from Dresden and Berlin before the Nazi regime, they were able to win a conductor and artistic director for the house who shared their high quality standards.
To this day, outstanding conductors stand at the podium and many young singers launch a worldwide career with their performances on the stage there. Numerous international directors use the opportunity for innovative productions. Everyone enjoys the relaxed rehearsal atmosphere and the family spirit of the house.
Top-class opera productions and picnic on the lawn
Today Glyndebourne is equipped with a larger performance space and excellent acoustics, also a great commercial success. There are now a number of opera festivals in the countryside. The special charm of Glyndebourne and its commercial success make it possible to finance top-class productions.
Then as now, the traditional picnic on the lawn is part of the opera experience. Warm blankets, fine candelabras, champagne, red wine, fruit, salmon, cheese and fresh bread are carried onto the lawn from the trunks of Glyndebourne enthusiasts, some of whom arrive in vintage cars.
Those arriving by train from London can have a perfect picnic organized on the spot and just have to choose the place in the gardens or in front of the house where they want to place the table, chairs, dishes and delicacies from the kitchen and wine cellar.
There are also restaurants on the grounds of the country estate – but much more original and stylish is the picnic in a tuxedo and evening dress on the lawn overlooking the country house, the perfect gardens and the gentle English countryside.
A last bastion of the festive dress code
While most metropolitan opera houses have adopted everyday and casual dress, the vast majority of visitors to Glyndebourne adhere to the festive dress code.
Relax before and after the performance, stroll along the lake, admire the horses in the adjacent pasture or the blooming sophistication of English garden culture. Completely relaxed and cultured, as is probably only possible on the island. A gem for every opera lover.
Organizing a visit to Glyndebourne is easy in the Internet age: tickets, picnic or restaurant visit can be booked via the homepage. Since the performances start already in the afternoon, you can easily travel from London by train or car and return the same evening.
The train departure will be announced in the bar
The loudspeaker in the bar, where artists and spectators mingle for a last drink after the performance, informs about the departure of the free bus transfer from the festival parking lot to the stylish provincial train station.
If you want to visit several performances in a row, the homepage offers information about accommodation near the country estate. There are many opera houses in the world – Glyndebourne with its unique atmosphere exists only once.
This year, the Glyndebourne Festival is scheduled from May 20, 2021 to August 29, 2021. After endless hours in Pandemic times in front of the screen with Opera Online, the fresh air around Glyndebourne is especially good.