Season preview for Culture Whisper: Glyndebourne 2016

Melly Still’s magical production of Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen (revival, 2012) is back, the only opera I know to have been born from a comic strip. Still’s vision balances a fine naturalistic sense with elements of Eastern European folktale and cartoon to deliver a world of animals bursting with colour, while humans exist in monochrome frustration, in a story as fierce and unsentimental as nature itself. Another treat is Michael Grandage’s 20th century take on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (revival, 2012): the lingering innocence of the 1970s feels unexpectedly apt for this opera, which becomes the ultimate, champagne-tinted fin-de-siècle house party in Grandage’s hands. With wonderful period costumes and extraordinary sets, watch out for the fishpond finale.

There’s a chance to learn Figaro’s back story, and see Glyndebourne’s modern-day chatelaine sing on her own stage, when internationally acclaimed soprano Danielle de Niese takes on the principal role of young beauty Rosina in a new production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, directed by Annabel Arden: expect riotous comedy (some of it involving a ladder) and stratospheric singing. For all Wagner fans, David McVicar’s acclaimed 2011 production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, starring Gerald Finley as Hans Sachs, will be unmissable.

To celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, Glyndebourne offers a new production of Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, based on Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Laurent Pelly, and also revives Peter Hall’s 1981 production of Britten’s elegant, mysterious A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Tim Mead as Oberon and Kate Royal as Helena: that’s the one David Bowie would choose.

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