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Glyndebourne, an opera festival like no other

July 30, 2011 | 11:31 am

Glyndebourne Glyndebourne Festival Opera picnic

If you've ever watched a Jane Austen adaptation, you know there is something magical about the English countryside. Places are beautiful in the sunshine yet can transform gray drizzle into something romantic and brooding.

The sheep, rolling green hills and country lanes are beguiling enough --add first-class opera and a leisurely dinner picnic to the mix and resistance is futile.

Although there are several places to hear opera at English country estates, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, located just outside the village of Lewes in the south of England is by far the most popular. The Christie family has been offering professional opera productions in an opera house built in their kitchen garden since 1934. Each year from May to August, people come to take in the opera, stroll through the gardens and eat al fresco, dressed in black tie.

One could be forgiven for assuming that, given the rural setting, Glyndebourne is more of a summer fancy than a serious producer of opera. 

You don't have to dig very deeply before discovering that underneath the Jeeves-and-Wooster idyll is a lean, forward-thinking opera company, which has found that ever-elusive balance between pleasing its more tradition-loving donors and making sure the art form doesn't become a museum piece.

Read the story of Glyndebourne.

-- Marcia Adair

Photo: Glyndebourne picnickers on the lawn before the show. Credit: Marcia Adair