BRITISH LIFE Festivals Traditions

The Glyndebourne Festival of Music

Glyndebourne

The Glyndebourne Festival runs from May to August every year, offering a programme of 6 operas in the grounds of a stately home in Sussex. It was started in 1934 by John Christie and his wife Audrey Mildmay in 1934, and mostly because they liked a bit of Mozart and fancied having a little festival in their “back garden” (which is something that is, frankly, easier to do if you, like them, actually live in a stately home).

 

Things to know about Glyndebourne:

It’s beautiful. It now takes place in a purpose-built auditorium, with views across the South Downs. The gardens are in full flower.  The house is lovely. People talk about “escaping into heaven”. That’s how properly lovely and beautiful it all is.

You should eat and drink. Most people take picnics and sit in the gardens, but of COURSE there is pretty food available, at a very pretty price*.   When you order your picnic, you also order your waiters to serve you so you don’t need to worry about the pesky clearing-away.  The interval is especially long, so people can eat and drink some more. And it’s more champagne and canapes, than beer cans and crisps. If you see what we mean.

You should dress up. Glyndebourne has a reputation for being a festival for the Hoorays* of England and in some sense that is true, as tickets can cost around £250 apiece.  And some people do prefer to arrive by helicopter instead of taking the free bus service from the nearest train station. But mostly it is because people do dress up (black tie and evening gowns everywhere) and so …well, yes, it can be seen as all a bit Mr Uppity*.

There’s a But. And a big BUT too. This IS one of the best artistic festivals in the world.  World class orchestras, top class singers falling over each other to perform, the very best of set design and choreography,…it’s not JUST a little picnic for the full-pocketed Yahs* of English society.  And if you don’t have £250 for a seat, you can stand for £10, which leaves some spare cash for a couple of cans of G&T from the local supermarket.*

 

Click here for more information. 

If British English is not your first language, you might find the following explanations of words used here helpful.

a pretty price – expensive
a Hoooray / Yah  – a British cultural stereotype of a rich, upper class person.  Hooray is usually associated with men as the full collocation is a “Hooray Henry” referring to the days when Henry was almost exclusively an upper class name. Yah can be male or female. The word Rah is also used in the same context.

Mr Uppity – a delightful character from Roger Hargreaves Mr Men series who is rich and rude and has no manners.  Again, it’s a social stereotype.

G&T from a can – G&T is sophisticated. G&T from a can…is not. But it’s better than a can of beer, especially at somewhere like Glyndebourne.

(C) 2017 Kayte & Nicer Kate – authors assert moral rights

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