Glyndebourne is one of the most quintessentially British places to visit, serving up unique productions of operas such as The Barber of Seville, Die Meistersinger, La Traviata and far too many more to list here, in its own gorgeously idiosyncratic way, frequently to a standing ovation. No summer, for me anyway, is complete without a visit, usually several.
Opera seems to be one of the last forms of entertainment that requires dressing up to the level of 99% of the men wearing dinner jackets. Yes you’ll see the odd suit and tie but you’re far more likely to see men and women wearing black tie and evening gowns picnicking among the roses, on one of the lawns, by the ha-ha or by the lake. On a sunny afternoon or evening there is nowhere better. Provided you enjoy opera.
The season is well under way and will end at the end of August. If you want to catch Cunning Little Vixen, The Marriage of Figaro, Peter Hall’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Beatrice and Benedict then hop over to http://www.glyndebourne.com/ and see what tickets are left. They always have returns as the date nears by the way so it’s worth checking regularly.
For the girls you have the choice of wearing long or short, and it may depend on how many evenings you’re going. I always prefer to wear something full length, after all there aren’t that many opportunities and who doesn’t love the chance to dress up. Personally I think wide leg trousers, or trousers to Glyndebourne unless you really have to, are an abomination.
You can dress up as much as you want although a meringue might make someone think you’re a member of the cast, depending on the opera. I’d also stay away from satin or anything that drags on the ground or a dress that’s going to crease a lot – you’re going to be sitting down quite a bit but other than that you can be as dressed up as you like.
If it’s pouring you can bag a table on one of the terraces if you get there early enough, or you can rent a table at Leith’s picnic spot. Alternatively you can order a full picnic or dine in one of the many restaurants. I always take a picnic, and as we’re usually a crowd I like to get a table on the terrace which makes life much easier. But on a fine evening you’ll find the majority picnicking in the gardens.
Yes there are other places you can see opera, and many of them are in the countryside, but Glyndebourne is the very best there is so go if you can. And please dress up.
Shoes: Particularly this year having had so much rain, if you wear stilettos or anything very high you’ll probably need a strong arm, or run the risk of sinking into the ground and quite possibly falling over backwards. And your best heels may be ruined. At least take a pair of wedges, high or low so that you can walk the grounds whatever the weather has been like. And don’t forget to walk round the lake.
Wraps and Jackets: Whatever you take make sure that if it’s chilly later on you can wrap up. I always take a cashmere cardigan and large wrap, and have been known to picnic in a sheepskin jacket. Well this is England, after all…..