Final leaves are falling on the festival front

Final leaves are falling on the festival front


norman lebrecht

August 28, 2019

Glyndebourne has just closes after a fairly tough season of scant media attention and some box-office anxiety.

It has announced a new Fidelio and Alcina for next summer.

Bayreuth is about to end, and on a high note.

Despite high-profile Russian absenteeism – Netrebko cancelling her debut and Gergiev facing fierce criticism for inadequate rehearsal (he won’t be back, either) – the new Tobias Kratzer Tannhäuser has proved a hit and the Katharina Wagner-Christian Thielemann regime appears to have stabilised.

A star was born in the Norwegian Lise Davidsen, 32 years old and a superb Elisabeth.

There will be a new Ring cycle next summer.



  • Gustavo says:

    Salzburg also closes coming weekend.

    There are still a few tickets for Bernard Haitink with VPO!

    The chances of seeing him live are dwindling…

  • Nik says:

    I didn’t make it to Glyndebourne this year but judging from the reviews, there was nothing particularly worth spending half a month’s wages on apart from perhaps Rusalka. Would be interested to hear any differing views from people who were there.

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      You didn’t miss anything, in fact the falling off evident over the last few years continues. The Berlioz was dire, as was the Zauberflöte, and the whole enterprise for me feels now very jaded, with evidence of corner cutting in the catering which is not the whole reason for attending but forms part of the enjoyment but now cannot be relied on as it once was. At a time when there are increasingly more options available they need to try a touch harder. But the subscribers and the ‘family’ probably are perfectly happy, it’s only those of us who spend half a month’s wages and more that need to maybe take our discrimination elsewhere.

    • 32VA says:

      What media attention were Glyndebourne expecting? Staid repertoire standards, and a Rinaldo that was utter pants.

  • bluepumpkin says:

    Well, I loved the Glyndebourne Rinaldo, one of the best things I’ve seen musically and dramaturgically.Thought about it for days afterwards. Brilliant day out! I don’t see Glyndebourne in trouble, certainly not to judge by all the comments on Twitter

  • Karl says:

    And the fall subscription seasons don’t start until late September – BSO opener is September 19th. It’s a tough time if you love concerts. I always get post summer depression from concert deprivation.

  • Jack says:

    Does anyone have thoughts on whether Glyndebourne or Opera Holland Park is a better summer opera festival? I don’t live in the UK, but I may wish to attend one or the other in the future.

    Based on what I’ve read, it seems to me that Opera Holland Park has the more adventurous programming.

    • Nik says:

      They are very different experiences.
      Holland Park is a casual, good-value night out in town. Its programming displays a penchant for somewhat obscure Italian Verismo with sometimes excellent results. Its stage productions tend to be more on the traditional side. It makes a particular effort to attract a younger audience and opera novices.
      Glyndebourne is a very, very expensive day out in the country that combines a performance with a picnic on the lawn or a meal in one of the on-site restaurants, to be taken during an extended intermission. The audience wears formal evening dress. The programming tends towards widely-performed, well-known works but tries to be more innovative with stagings, with mixed results. The audience is a mixture of wealthy opera enthusiasts and corporate entertainment parties.
      Another difference to mention is that in Holland Park the performances take place outdoors and are subject to the elements. Glyndebourne has an enclosed theatre.

      • Jack says:

        Thanks Nik.

        I’m a Verdian and one thing I’ve noticed perusing the Glyndebourne online archive is that they don’t do much Verdi besides Macbeth and Falstaff.

        Glyndebourne seems to enjoy doing the same Mozart operas over and over again, as well as The Rake’s Progress.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Glyndebourne traditionally specialized in Mozart (and Strauss). Opera Holland has made a point of playing some fairly unknown pieces that rarely get played.

          The standard of the singers and orchestra will be much higher at Glyndebourne than at Opera Holland. The later tries to cater for people who don’t know whether they like opera, but would like to try it without spending too much on a ticket.

          • Michael Volpe says:

            I think reading a few reviews of OHP, especially this season’s Iolanta, might give you a slightly different impression. I would never traduce our colleagues at Glyndebourne of course (!) but I think you may be doing us at OHP a slight disservice with your descriptions.