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Last week we made our annual appearance at the BBC Proms, as part of the Glyndebourne Prom, a semi-staged performance of Handel’s Rinaldo. Here’s what the reviewers and bloggers made of it:

Guardian

Music OMH

Classical Source

The Times (subscribers only)

Gramophone

Seen and Heard

There are some pictures from the Prom on the Proms Facebook Page here.

Our run of Rinaldo at Glyndebourne is now drawing to a close, with just three performances left (tonight, Saturday 20th and Monday 22nd). If you’re lucky though you might just get a return, or be able to get a seat for the semi-staged performance of it at the BBC proms at the Royal Albert Hall next Thursday. Glyndebourne have a put together a series of podcasts for their operas this summer, and you can listen to them, including one on Rinaldo here.

The production has split opinion, to say the least… If you’ve seen it you can add your pennies-worth over on the Glyndebourne website here.

landslide

The cause of our all our transport problems...

On Monday, players and management got caught up in the chaos of the landslide at East Croydon station. Here’s how we got (most of!) them to the performance on time, with a few stand-ins in unusual places…

[Curtain up was supposed to be at 5.15…]

How Megan (Projects Manager, standing in for Philippa, the Orchestra Manager) got to Glyndebourne:

Departure: 11.55 from Vauxhall (She was hoping to have a swim before the show!|)

Train Vauxhall – Clapham Junction

Train Clapham Junction – East Croydon

Oh dear, about 1000 people waiting for rail replacement bus services to Gatwick Airport outside the station and no taxis to be found…

Walk to West Croydon

Train West Croydon – Sutton

Train Sutton – Dorking (made the train by about 1 minute)

[Briefly met her Mum to pick up some bits for tour the following day!]

Train Dorking Deepdene – Redhill

Train Redhill – Gatwick Airport

It’s now about 3.30…

Train Gatwick Airport – Brighton (Stopping at EVERY station en route)

Train Brighton – Lewes

Taxi to Glyndebourne

Arrival: 4.45 Read the rest of this entry »

We’re currently mid-way through the run of Rinaldo at Glyndebourne, and in this video OAE players talk about the Orchestra, their instruments and the opera – plus there’s special footage of rehearsals and the production.


Creating Rinaldo: The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Glyndebourne
from Glyndebourne on Vimeo.

Free your playing posterA couple of fairly random things sent in by our Projects Manager Megan Russell. First up, a poster advertising a session called ‘free your playing’ which OAE Horn player Martin Lawrence has been running at Glyndebourne – probably best described as sort-of Yoga, the class aims to improve players physical well-being, posture etc.

Enjoying tea from Fine Bone China

Helen Kruger with cellist Sebastian Comberti

Second up is some fine china – of course! It was bought by violinist Helen Kruger at the market in Kings Lynn when we did our family concert at the Corn Exchange there a few weeks back. It was a Tuesday, and in fact the address of the Corn Exchange is actually ‘Tuesday Market Place’! Helen didn’t want to take them home on the train so instead gave them to a colleague who was driving – Helen and tea set were reunited down in Glyndebourne and it made for an especially posh cup of tea in the players ‘Courtyard Cafe’!

A first post from our new back-row blogger – slightly delayed because of the amount of stuff we’ve been putting up here – apologies!

BLOG FROM THE BACK ROW

 ‘It’s my birthday…..there’s a party….everyone is invited……Lucas Meachem’. I study the invitation pinned to the OAE notice board at Glyndebourne. ‘Who’s Lucas Meachem?’ I ask my colleague. She stares in disbelief. ‘Lucas Meachem? Don Giovanni?’ in a tone which also says ‘Hello, where have you been for the last three weeks?’ Well, I’ve been in my usual place on the back row in the pit and, unlike my violinist colleague, unable to see anything on stage. (Our view consists of the back of the flutes’ and oboes’ heads, the backs of the ‘cellos who are on a slightly raised platform, the conductor, more or less, very occasionally if we’re lucky the leader, and the front row of the audience, some of whom will be snoozing after the interval.) We can hear that there are people walking above our heads, and from far away comes the sound of singing, but I admit that our perspective on proceedings is limited. To enhance my experience I’ve watched the DVD of the production, filmed last year. It’s a revelation. That alarming thumping directly overhead in act 2 for example turns out to be Leporello hopping across the stage with his legs tied together. No need to worry. But the cast is different from this year’s and so for me, Gerald Finley is  Don Giovanni – hence my puzzlement over the invitation. During the interval a cake is brought into the artists’ cafe and we all sing ‘Happy Birthday’. That must be the new     Giovanni blowing out the candles. So, Lucas Meachem, now I know you (sort of) but you don’t know me, and I can hear you (sort of) though I don’t suppose you can hear me at all. But when you’re back on stage remember, as you get dragged down into hell – that faint bellowing from far below is The Back Row, blowing our brains out in a vain attempt to drown your screams.

Back row blogger, 18/06/2011

Here are some pictures of the brand new production of Handel’s Rinaldo at Glyndebourne which we’re appearing in. Director Robert Carson has gone for quite a radical take on the opera, imagining it as a schoolboy’s day-dream. Find out what the critics made of it in our reviews roundup below. Rinaldo plays at Glyndebourne until 22 August. All pictures are © Bill Cooper

Kings Lynn family concert

Kings Lynn family concert

One of the things I most love about playing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is the variety- the spice of a freelance musician’s life.

I’m currently halfway between Kings Lynn and Glyndebourne (somewhere in Essex): halfway between schools and family concerts of Don Giovanni and the second night of Rinaldo: halfway between an audience of hundreds who had never been in the same room as an opera singer before, and an audience famously passionate about opera.

Just to put your minds at rest, I’m not actually driving as I type.

Forget the vuvuzelas – for me there’s nothing like the sound of 300 children buzzing with anticipation and excitement before the start of a schools’ concert. The children in Kings Lynn were there as composers, performers, and audience. You ain’t heard nothing till you hear the Corn Exchange full of children singing Fin ch’han dal vino. They loved it so much they just couldn’t stand still as they sang it.

They were guided through the concert by the fantastic James Redwood and OAE Education Director Cherry Forbes as they heard about the dastardly Don Giovanni, listened to the OAE play Mozart, performed their new songs and of course heard Real Live Opera Singers from Glyndebourne…the ones that don’t need microphones! Read the rest of this entry »

Rinaldo. Photo by Bill Cooper

The second opera which we’re performing in at Glyndebourne this year, Rinaldo, opened on Saturday and the reviews are now in. Here’s what the critics had to say:

Telegraph

Independent

Financial Times

Guardian

The Arts Desk

Daily Express

Evening Standard

Music OMH

The Stage

Observer

Violinist Susie Carpenter-Jacobs sent us this blog from mid-way through our tour with Sir Simon Rattle the other week:

There’s been hectic activity in the orchestra this week: Haydn and Mozart have been jostling for supremacy in the hands of Sir Simon Rattle and the Labèque sisters, from Luxembourg, to Paris, Dublin and the Royal Festival Hall; rehearsals for Handel’s Rinaldo have started in London, and Don Giovanni continues to seduce the ladies at Glyndebourne.

As a Don Giovanni stage-band participant for the first time this year, it has been instructive to discover that, while lust, death and deception is pouring forth from stage and pit (and that’s before curtain up), stage-band life itself involves skulking around the murky underworld of props cupboards and scenery stores down in the depths of the opera house, whilst keeping an eye on the clock and an ear to the back stage relay system. For, every musician’s nightmare is to become aware that the cue to your vital musical moment has arrived whilst you are situated several staircases and corridors away from imminent action.

Last Sunday the classiest musical event at Glyndebourne took place during the first act of Don Giovanni, well away from the drama unfolding on the stage: a landmark, debut performance of “Knickerbocker Glory” given to a small, select audience by the youngest soloist to have played at the opera house this year – six year old Nona – daughter of Jo (violin) and Martin Lawrence (horn); delivered with style, panache and aplomb, in time honoured fashion in the OAE.

So brilliant was Nona’s playing that this correspondent was granted permission to join her for a triumphant encore – before the former collapsed in a heap, and the latter sprinted niftily down the aforementioned staircases and corridors to join stage band colleagues gathering in a storage cupboard.

For, over the Tannoy, Zerlina had launched into “Batti batti” and the cue for our brief appearance was approaching…

Susie Carpenter-Jacobs, violin

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