Glyndebourne will stage its first production of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust at Glyndebourne Festival 2019. The new production opens the season on 18 May 2019 and will be directed by Richard Jones.
Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati, a champion of Berlioz, will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in one of the greatest orchestral showcases in the opera repertoire.
Ticciati says: ‘As Music Director it is a huge privilege to be conducting La damnation de Faust in 2019, the centenary year of Berlioz’s death. It is a mercurial combination of Berlioz’s novel harmonies, endless melodic invention, visceral response to literature and technicolour orchestration that helped me to fall in love with his music. One excitement of my time in Glyndebourne has been slowly to introduce his operatic canon into the Festival starting with Béatrice et Bénédict in 2016. This is the first time La damnation will be staged at Glyndebourne.
‘With La damnation de Faust there are many questions: is this an opera? is this a cantata? how does the listener and interpreter approach such a colourful, inventive score where so much happens in the orchestra and the mind’s eye? Berlioz named it a dramatic legend (‘légende dramatique’) coining a phrase that had no precedent in musicological terms. This is one of the main artistic challenges to mounting such a unique score.
‘Berlioz wrote most of the libretto himself including the beautiful ‘Nature immense’, the last line of which - in some strange way - encompasses what an excitement it will be to try to tame this piece, this composer, into the walls of a theatre. ‘Of a heart too vast and a soul insatiable cries out for happiness it cannot seize.’’’
La damnation de Faust demands vast musical forces and as a result is often performed as a concert work. The last new, fully staged production in the UK took place nearly a decade ago, in 2011.
The acclaimed British tenor Allan Clayton returns to Glyndebourne in the title role, opposite French-Canadian mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne as Marguerite and British bass Christopher Purves as Méphistophélès.
The second new production of the season is Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, the first new staging of the opera at Glyndebourne in 15 years. It will be staged by director and designer duo, André Barbe and Renaud Doucet, who are known for their creativity, sense of spectacle and minutely detailed dramaturgy.
Italian conductor Antonello Manacorda conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for his first appearance at Glyndebourne since conducting Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at the 2016 Glyndebourne Festival.
Leading the cast are American tenor David Portillo as Tamino, Russian soprano Sofia Fomina as Pamina, British bass Brindley Sherratt as Sarastro, Norwegian soprano Caroline Wettergreen as Queen of the Night and German baritone Björn Bürger as Papageno.
Making its first appearance at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2019 will be Fiona Shaw’s new production of Massenet’s musical fairytale Cendrillon, which has its premiere as part of Glyndebourne Tour 2018.
Conductor John Wilson will make his Glyndebourne Festival debut conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, having previously conducted Madama Butterfly for the Glyndebourne Tour.
Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese will perform the title role with American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as Le Prince Charmant, Armenian soprano Nina Minasyan as La Fée, Polish mezzo-soprano Agnes Zwierko as Madame de la Haltière and Belgian baritone Lionel Lhote as Pandolfe.
The fairytale theme continues with a revival of Dvořák’s Rusalka, which draws on different versions of the Little Mermaid story. Glyndebourne’s popular production of the opera is directed by Melly Still and premiered at Glyndebourne Festival 2009.
Robin Ticciati will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a cast that includes British soprano Sally Matthews as Rusalka, Belarusian bass Alexander Roslavets as Vodnìk and Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon as Ježibaba.
Also making a return is Robert Carsen’s 2011 production of Handel’s Rinaldo, which reimagines the Crusader story as a St Trinian’s-style schoolroom fantasy, complete with hockey-stick battles and a flying bike. Props and costumes from the production were recently on display as part of the Opera: Passion, Power and Politics exhibition at the V&A Museum.
The young Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev will make his Glyndebourne debut conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong will perform the title role, heading a cast that includes American contralto Avery Amereau as Goffredo, Italian soprano Giulia Semenzato as Almirena, American bass-baritone Brandon Cedel as Argante and Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński as Eustazio. Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan, who gave a breakthrough performance as Violetta in La traviata in 2017, returns to Glyndebourne in the role of Armida.
The 2019 Festival season is completed with a revival of Annabel Arden’s colourful 2016 production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in his Glyndebourne debut. Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky stars as the eponymous barber alongside South African tenor Levy Sekgapane as Count Almaviva and South Korean soprano Hyesang Park as Rosina.
Other cast members include Italian bass Alessandro Corbelli as Bartolo, Polish bass Adam Palka as Basilio and Scottish soprano Janis Kelly as Berta.
In 2019 Glyndebourne will celebrate 25 years since the opening of its new 1,200 seat opera house. The auditorium, which opened in 1994, was the first purpose-built opera house to be constructed in the UK since John Christie built the original theatre at Glyndebourne, exactly 60 years earlier.
Glyndebourne Festival 2019 runs from 18 May - 25 August 2019. Further casting information will be released in August 2018.