Unveiled in 1994, the new auditorium increased capacity by 50% to 1,200 seats and significantly improved backstage facilities. This allowed more people to enjoy world-class opera at Glyndebourne and enabled the company to stage bigger and more ambitious productions in the years that followed.
The drive to build a new opera house at Glyndebourne came from Sir George Christie, then Chairman of Glyndebourne, who raised £34m in private funding to pay for the project. The building was designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners and has won many awards for the quality of the architecture and the craftsmanship of its component parts. Despite being larger than the previous theatre, the auditorium retained a sense of intimacy, and delivered a vastly improved acoustic.
The new opera house opened on 28 May 1994 with a performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, the same opera that opened the very first Glyndebourne Festival in 1934. It was the first purpose-built opera house to be constructed in the UK since Glyndebourne founder John Christie built the original Glyndebourne theatre in the 1930s.
25 years on, Glyndebourne will soon unveil the largest building project it has undertaken since the opera house, a new state-of-the-art production hub designed by Nicholas Hare Architects. It will be home to Glyndebourne’s expert props, sets, costumes, wigs, and making departments, as well as a new rehearsal studio and music practice rooms.
The production hub opens in the run-up to Glyndebourne Festival 2019, a season that gathers together some classic operatic fairy tales. Highlights include a rare opportunity to see a fully staged production of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, a fresh and playful new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and the Festival debut of Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Massenet’s Cendrillon, directed by Fiona Shaw.
The season is completed with revivals of three popular productions from Glyndebourne’s recent history: Melly Still’s evocative production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, Robert Carsen’s irreverent take on Handel’s Rinaldo and Annabel Arden’s stylish staging of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
The Festival can once again be enjoyed on stage, on screen and online. Three of the season’s productions will be screened in cinemas UK-wide and broadcast free online in partnership with the Telegraph Media Group.
Off-stage, visitors to this year’s Glyndebourne Festival can enjoy displays of art and sculpture, including the first major works by Nicholas Hare, the architect behind the new production hub, who has become a sculptor following his recent retirement. His three large-scale works, sculpted in Cor-Ten rusted steel, will be on display in the Glyndebourne gardens throughout the summer.
In addition, an expanded gallery space within the opera house is being relaunched as Gallery ‘94. This will house an exhibition on the theme of ‘Between Worlds’, featuring work by eleven different artists that draws on the architecture and topography of Glyndebourne, to mark the 25th anniversary of the opera house.