Its May and the great British season has begun. May June and we all pray for good weather and sunshine as we have to plan picnics in Black Tie sitting outside in beautiful gardens or near a race track! The first of these outings is Glyndebourne. Founded in 1934 by John Christie who was married to the opera singer Audrey Mildmay. They met at the family home Glyndebourne when he was pretty much a confirmed bachelor at the age of 48. She was already a member of the Carla Rosa Company and had been employed to assist with one of John’s amateur opera productions which were held in the organ room at Glyndebourne. This had been built to provide his friend Dr Lloyd who was also the organist at Eton an instrument to play when he was in Sussex. John felt that opera was almost non existent in England and that it needed to be brought here. This organ room was the musical focus at Glyndebourne at the time. After their honeymoon the Christie’s returned and with Audrey’s encouragement they planned a full extension of the organ room to enable better performances. They built a small theatre to accommodate 300 with an orchestra pit, stage and the most modern technical and lighting equipment.
Amidst this wonderful rambling house and beautiful gardens which each year seem to flourish and bloom with even more glory everyone gathers to picnic. The lawns are scattered with sheep and the Christie family continue to support the arts with sculptures woven into the landscape. The great English tradition is that you picnic on these lawns during the extended interval. I do not really enjoy this outside dining unless I have a proper chair, table and china. Absolutely no plastic and I am a stickler for a well laid table. Hence this becomes a ritual each year to produce a beautiful table setting and a fantastic supper so that this chilly picnic dining experience is the greatest pleasure and not a camping experience. The British weather is always a challenge but in true tradition we all soldier on no matter what.The new theatre which was built in 1994 seats 1,200 but still retains a cosy feel. I remember when we used to first visit we entered the theatre through the great organ room into a tiny 300 seated room how things have changed!
This week we enjoyed an evening at Glyndebourne and the production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia was outstanding and I cannot recommend it enough. The entire cast were spectacular. Danielle de Niese, Taylor Stanton and Bjorn Burger to name a few and conducted by Enrique Mazzola. Throughout the performance there is cheeky interaction with the conductor and the audience. It is humorous lively and entertaining and highest calibre of opera. We usually picnic at Glyndebourne but this year decided to try dining in one of the restaurants. Nether Wallop was the dining room of choice and never again !!! The food was delicious and could not be faulted but the dining experience very unpleasant. The tables are so crammed together my chair was so crammed into the table I had to be careful not to get food on my dress !!! The table setting was so tightly laid you had to manoeuvre your wine glasses out of position to take a sip. I can only presume they wanted to squeeze in as many covers as possible so tables were small and really crammed in. The dining part of the evening was definitely not a highlight.