Glyndebourne all began with a love story in 1934 when founder John Christie met his now wife - soprano Audrey Mildmay. Glyndebourne is committed to presenting opera of the highest quality, commissioning new work, developing new talent and reaching new audiences. Crucially, Glyndebourne has remained financially independent since 1934 and, as a registered charity, is funded by box office income, its members and supporters.
The Glyndebourne Festival presents six productions each year in a 1,200-seat opera house built in 1994. Glyndebourne on Tour, founded in 1968, takes three productions around the UK each autumn. Together, Festival and Tour present about 120 performances a year to an audience of around 150,000. Glyndebourne’s widely respected education programme, established in 1986, hosts over 230 community and outreach events a year. And Glyndebourne has pioneered using recordings to bring its work to a worldwide audience through broadcasts, cinema screenings, DVDs and internet streaming.
In the world of opera, Glyndebourne is unique. They are recognised globally as one of the great opera houses, and their productions travel worldwide, are performed live in other opera houses and screened in cinemas from New York to Tokyo.
Yet Glyndebourne remain a very English institution. The opera house stands next to John Christie’s country home. Now run by his grandson Gus, it is still very much a family concern. Its Festival audiences arrive from far and wide and an extended interval gives them time for an evening meal. Many choose to picnic in the garden. Some sprawl on rugs, others bring tables, candlesticks and ice buckets. Almost all wear evening dress.
Such eccentricities are part of Glyndebourne’s charm. But its global reputation stems from a passion for artistic excellence. Founder Christie insisted on doing “not the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere”. For over 75 years, that has remained Glyndebourne’s touchstone.