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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Glorious Glyndebourne
Excerpts from Glyndebourne productions of operas by Mozart, Janáček, Puccini, Britten, Verdi, Bizet, Handel, Wagner, Stravinsky and Rossini
Interval feature: See Opera Differently [6:00]
See full listings at end of review
rec. Glyndebourne Opera House from 2002-2012
Picture format: 1080 60i Full HD/Colour/16:9
Sound formats: LPCM 24-bit stereo / dts HD Master Audio 5.1
Booklet notes with synopses of the various operas in English, French and German
Sung in Italian, Czech, English, French and German with English, French and German subtitles
OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7138 [152.00]

Glyndebourne Festival Opera will be eighty years old on 28 May 2014. As a celebration of this impressive anniversary, they decided to release on DVD and Blu-Ray a compilation of excerpts from some of the most significant Glyndebourne opera productions, nearly spanning the thirteen excellent years of Vladimir Jurowski’s tenure as Music Director, with scenes from works that he conducted himself and others led by such conductors as Iván Fischer, Mark Elder, Philippe Jordan, William Christie, Jírí Bèlohlávek and Robin Ticciati – Jurowski’s successor.
 
The disc is structured as if it was a film of a real performance at Glyndebourne, meaning that we have Act I with excerpts of six operas; then the so-called Dinner Interval, followed by Act II with excerpts from another six operas. Naturally, the dinner interval is not really about dining or watching the public have their picnics on Glyndebourne’s beautiful grounds. It is actually a brief, mildly interesting documentary about the opera house and what makes it special, entitled “See Opera Differently”, with contributions from some of the people who work there, as for example: Lucy Harris from the wardrobe department; Robin Ticciati, the current music director and David Pickard, general director of Glyndebourne opera, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in March of last year. Additionally, the interval also includes contributions from musicians who have performed at Glyndebourne, namely director Michael Grandage; conductors James Gaffigan and Sir Andrew Davis. Where was Vladimir Jurowski? It seems odd that he did not offer a comment. We also hear from baritone Gerald Finley, as well as some of the Jerwood Young Artists. A small number of audience members also participate, mostly young ones to highlight the “Under-Thirties” initiative where on a particular night a large number of tickets cost only £30 and are aimed at young people who are less than thirty years old.
 
The recording suitably opens with the beginning of Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro”. Suitably because this was the first opera produced for the first festival in 1934 and it was also the work chosen to open the new opera house in 1994. The excerpt in this blu-ray is from the 2012 production directed by Michael Grandage and revived during the 2013 Festival. It is an unusual, imaginative and pleasing production, as you can see from my review of last year’s revival. The action is transported to the 1960s, which works well as a comedy, though the political ideas embedded in the piece are lost and naturally, the “droit de seigneur” does not make any sense in the 20th Century. It is also the famous production where the count and countess arrive in a real Austin Healey, immediately setting the scene for the years of the “flower power”. Yes, you do get to see the car on this excerpt.
 
The remaining five operas that complete Act I are all celebrated, critically acclaimed Glyndebourne productions: Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen”; Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi; Mozart’s “Così fan tutte”; Britten’s “Billy Budd” and Verdi’s “Falstaff”. Some of these I have watched live or on television and in October/November 2010, I reviewed the DVD of this “Falstaff” production for MusicWeb International.
 
Act II is formed of scenes from Bizet’s “Carmen”; Handel’s “Giulio Cesare”; Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”; Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress” and Rossini’s “La Cenerentola”. As with films of the full productions, so some excerpts work better on film than others. For example: Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” works very well and gives the viewer a great taster of what the full opera might be. On the other hand, the beautiful set designs by Tom Pye for “The Cunning Little Vixen” or the exquisite designs by David Hockney for “The Rake’s Progress” fade, becoming slightly blurred on a long shot and losing their impact on a close-up. The treat however, in all excerpts without exception, is the outstanding performances of singers and orchestras and we, the viewers, get a glimpse of some of them: Memorably Miah Persson, Tobi Lehtipuu and Luca Pisaroni respectively as Fiordiligi, Ferrando and Guglielmo in Mozart’s “Così fan tutte”; Jacques Imbrailo as Billy Budd; Christopher Purves as Falstaff or Sarah Connolly as Giulio Cesare to name just a few.
 
Sadly, there is very little of the famous Glyndebourne grounds. We do not see the lake, the garden or the sculptures. We glimpse a few indistinct outdoor scenes with some people walking around but no view of the picnics or the glamour that usually accompanies the event that is the Festival. We see the auditorium with the audience but already in the dark and so, if one has never been to Glyndebourne, one will not be able to admire its modern, simple but effective, attractive structure made of light coloured wood contrasting with some darker colours on the cover of the seats for example.
 
In all, “Glorious Glyndebourne” was made with a well-defined objective in mind: To promote the opera house and its wonderful productions. It does give you a taste of what the Festival is and what this “countryside” opera house can do. What it can do is create excellent productions every single year with magnificent young and relatively unknown artists, quality orchestras and fascinating, insightful conductors.
 
I have been to Glyndebourne many times either privately or for reviewing and so, I did not find this blu-ray particularly interesting though, as is usually the case with blu-ray discs, the sound and picture are of outstanding quality. On the other hand, the disc succeeds in its main aim, which is to attract audiences to opera in general and to Glyndebourne in particular. The excerpts are well chosen; the operas very different, giving one a colourful palette of music, singing and modern or traditional productions; therefore, presenting Glyndebourne in a positive, exciting light and, no doubt, succeeding in getting some people to find out more or to visit a performance live.
 
Margarida Mota-Bull
(Margarida writes more than just reviews, check it online at Flowing Prose)

Previous review: John Quinn
 
Full listings of the opera excerpts:
 
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le nozze di Figaro , K492
Overture
Act 1
Cinque…dieci..venti
Se a caso madama
Se vuol ballare
Figaro - Vito Priante
Susanna - Lydia Teuscher
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Robin Ticciati 
Director: Michael Grandage
rec. live, Glyndebourne Opera House, August 2012 

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) The Cunning Little Vixen
Act 2
The Vixen and the Fox declare their love and disappear to consummate their union
The pair decide to get married and the forest creatures celebrate their wedding
Vixen Sharp Ears - Lucy Crowe
Fox - Emma Bell
Owl - Jean Rigby
Jay - Eimear Collins
Woodpecker - Mae Heydorn
Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
Director: Melly Still
rec. live, Glyndebourne Opera House, June 2012
 
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Gianni Schicchi - Opera in one act (1917/18)
Frenze é come un albero florito
O mio babbino caro
Rinuccio, Zita’s nephew - Massimo Giordano
Lauretta, Schicchi’s daughter - Sally Matthews
Gianni Schicchi - Alessandro Corbelli
Zita, Buosco’s cousin - Felicity Palmer
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
rec. live, Glyndebourne Opera House, 11 July 2004
Director: Annabel Arden

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Cosi fan Tutte - Dramma giocosa in two acts, libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (1789)
Act 1
Bella vita militar!
Di scrivermi ogni giorno
Soave sia il vento
Fiordiligi - Miah Persson
Dorabella - Anke Vondung
Ferrando - Topi Lehtipuu
Guglielmo - Luca Pisaron
Don Alfonso - Nicolas Riveno
Glyndebourne Chorus
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Ivan Fischer
Director: Nicholas Hytner

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Billy Budd , Op. 50
Act 2
Claggart, John Claggart, beware!
Master-at-Arms and foretopman, I speak to you both
The mists have cleared
Captain Vere - John Mark Ainsley
Billy Budd - Jacques Imbrailo
Claggart - Phillip Ens
Mr Flint - Matthew Rose
Mr Redburn - Iain Paterson
Lieutenant Ratcliffe - Darren Jeffrey
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder
Director: Michael Grandage
rec. live, Glyndebourne, June 2010

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff - a lyric comedy in three acts (1893)
Libretto by Arrigo Boito, after The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 by William Shakespeare
Act 2
Alfin t’ho colto
Egli scavalca
C’e…Se t’agguanto!
Sir John Falstaff - Christopher Purves
Bardolph - Alasdair Elliott
Mrs Page (Meg) - Jennifer Holloway
Mrs Ford (Alice) - Dina Kuznetsova
Mistress Quickly - Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Nannetta - Adriana Kucerová
Fenton - Bülent Bezdüz
Ford - Tassis Christoyannis
The Glyndebourne Chorus/Richard Jones
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
rec. live, Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, East Sussex, June 2009.
Producer: Richard Jones

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen, Opera in Four Acts (1873-75)
Libretto by Meilhac and Halévy, after Mérimée
Act 2
Entr’acte
Les tringles des sistres tintaient
Vivat, vivat le Toréro!
Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre
Carmen - Anne Sofie von Otter
Escamillo- Laurent Naouri
Zuniga - Jonathan Best
Mercédès - Christine Rice
Frasquita - Mary Hegarty
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Philippe Jordan
Director: David McVicar
rec. live, Glyndebourne Opera House, Sussex, England, 17 August 2002

Georg Friedrich HANDEL (1685-1759) Giulio Cesare (1724)
Act 2
Sinfonia
Bellissima Cleopatra!
Caro! - Bella!
Goda pur orl’Egitto
Ritorni omai nel nostro core …. Un bel content il sen giá se prepara
Cesare - Sarah Connolly
Cleopatra - Danielle de Niese
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/William Christie
Director: David McVicar
rec. August, 2005, Glyndebourne Opera House

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde (1865)
Act 2
Doch unsre Liebe, heißt sdie nicht Tristan und Isolde?
So starben wir, um ungetrennt
Robert Gambill - Tristan
Nina Stemme - Isolde
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jiří Bĕlohlávek;
Director: Nikolaus Lehnhoff 
 
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rake’s Progress (1951)
Act 2
How strange! Although the heart for love dares everything
Anne! Here!
Could it then have been known
I have not run away, dear heart
Anne Trulove - Miah Persson)
Tom Rakewell - Topi Lehtipuu
Baba the Turk - Elena Manistina
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
rec. live 18-19 December 2010, Glyndebourne Opera House 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La Cenerentola (1816-1817)
Act 1
Signor, una parola
Angelina (Cenerentola) - Ruxandra Donose
Don Magnifico - Luciano di Pasquale
Alidoro - Nathan Berg
Don Ramiro - Maxim Mironov
Dandini - Simone Alberghini
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
Stage Director: Sir Peter Hall

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Act 3
Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen Schein
Verachtet ’mir die Meister nicht
Hans Sachs - Gerald Finley
Walther - Marco Jentzsch
Eva - Anna Gabler
Pogner - Alastair Miles
The Glyndebourne Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski
Director: David McVicar
rec. live, Glyndebourne, June 2011 
 


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