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Compilation: Glyndebourne Gala Evening
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

‘Voi che sapete’: Le nozze di Figaro
with Frederica von Stade
‘Là ci darem la mano’: Don Giovanni
Ruggero Raimondi and Cynthia Haymon
‘Nettuno s’onori’: Idomeneo
The Glyndebourne Chorus
Overture: Le nozze di Figaro
The London Philharmonic Orchestra
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

‘Patria oppressa’ and ‘Ah, la paterna mano’: Macbeth
Kim Begley and the Glyndebourne Chorus
‘Salce, salce and Ave Maria’: Otello
Montserrat Caballé
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

‘Una voce poco fà’: Il barbiere di Siviglia
Frederica von Stade
‘La calunnia’: Il barbiere di Siviglia
Ruggero Raimondi
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

‘Ruin, disaster, shame’: The Rake’s Progress
The Glyndebourne Chorus and Felicity Lott
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)

‘Illustratevi, o cieli’ Il ritorno d’Ulissi in patria
Frederica von Stade and Benjamin Luxon
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

‘Summertime’: Porgy and Bess
Cynthia Haymon
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)

‘Storm Interlude’: Peter Grimes
The London Philharmonic
With the participation of: Dame Janet Baker; Sir Geraint Evans and Elizabeth Söderström
The Glyndebourne Chorus
The London Philharmonic
Conducted by: Andrew Davis and Bernard Haitink
recorded at Glyndebourne in 1992 in the presence of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
ARTHAUS DVD Video 100 432 [112 mins]


This gala, staged on July 24th 1992 celebrated (or mourned?) the passing of the old Glyndebourne theatre, nestling in the Sussex Downlands, near Lewes. Small and intimate, it had seen so many wonderful operatic productions since 1934. Afterwards the doors would close to allow the developers to create, over the next two years, a new and larger theatre.

Staged before HRH The Prince of Wales, this was a glittering occasion, the programme comprising popular excerpts from so many earlier Glyndebourne successes. Of course, practical issues determined that this had to be opera in concert, with the LPO and the Glyndebourne chorus shoe-horned into the little stage. Sir George Christie, in suitable nostalgic mood, was Master of Ceremonies and he was assisted in reminiscing by Elisabeth Söderström, Janet Baker and Sir Geraint Evans each of whom contributed stories of their own earlier Glyndebourne experiences (alas they are not heard singing).

The list that comprises the header of this review shows the rich diversity of the gala programme. The highlights for me were: Montserrat Caballé’s beautifully controlled and expressive rendition of the ‘Willow Song’ from Otello – surely one of Verdi’s most beautiful arias; Felicity Lott in that lovely, yet demanding showpiece for soprano voice, the extended closing aria from Capriccio in which the Countess tries to choose between her two suitors representing words and music. Frederica Von Stade also shone in her three arias: the ever-popular ‘Voi che sapete’ from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; and in recreating her acclaimed performance in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (with a stout-voiced Benjamin Luxon); and, as Rosina, determined to win the affections of Lindoro in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. I must also mention Ruggero Raimondi’s wonderfully animated ‘La calunnia’, from the same opera, in which, as Don Basilio, he plans to slander Almaviva. Oaken-voiced Kim Begley as Macduff impressed strongly in his darkly dramatic aria mourning the death of his children from Verdi’s Macbeth. Cynthia Haymon also brought back fond memories of her success as Bess singing ‘Summertime’ from George Gershwin’s opera.

Sir George rightly paid tribute to the excellence of The Glyndebourne Chorus demonstrating their prowess in ‘Ruin, disaster, shame’ from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and in Mozart’s ‘Nettuno s’onori’ from Idomeneo. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink and Andrew Davis played the evocative Storm Interlude from Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes and Mozart’s Overture The Marriage of Figaro.

A fine souvenir of a glittering gala celebrating, with popular operatic excerpts, the first triumphant sixty years or so of Glyndebourne.

Ian Lace

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