9 June 2015

Carmen at Glyndebourne (2015)


My second visit to Glyndebourne in 2015 was a rather obvious visit to see Carmen. There had been much interest in this from the people that we take with us and I took the arbitrary decision to let the people who had not been to Glyndebourne before come to Carmen with us.

As first-timers they were not sure how much they wanted to pay and had no idea on where to sit so they had to get some advice and guidance on this. Initially this did not work well and Glyndebourne were not able to offer us the tickets we wanted, a combination of our place in the ballot and the popularity of the opera were to blame. After some discussion with guests and box office we ended up with two pairs of tickets with each pair having different priced seats. This is what we settled for: Red Upper Circle B46/47 £150/£60 and C47/48 £150/£60.

The £90 difference between adjacent seats was due to restricted views but the interference was minimal, as you can see from the photo that I took from my seat, and that made seats B47 and C28 excellent value. I might try and get them again!

There is a semblance of a routine, if not a ritual, about going to Glyndebourne and that includes divvying up the catering duties for the four food courses (cakes, starter, main, cheeses). Our guests suggested making a flan from their home-grown asparagus and it was easy to say yes to that.

On the day the weather was fine and that meant we could do the usual walk around the grounds (once we had consumed some tea and cake, of course) but it was not quite warm enough to entice us towards the Pimms tent. The gardens at Glyndebourne are always enjoyable to walk around and they are even better when you show them to somebody for the first time. The lake with the diving sculpture is still the highlight with the border by the house a close second.

The two hours or so before the opera always goes faster than I think it should and it was soon time to go in for the performance.

I have seen Carmen quite a few times, in various disguises, despite it being far from my favourite opera. The plot is reasonable but with the couple exceptions that you can immediately think of I find the songs lacking. They are generally quite pretty but none of them grab me.

Glyndebourne compensated for the slight deficit in music by constructing impressive sets and putting lots of busy people in them, including what looked like a whole class of children who were obviously very pleased to be there. The singing was excellent, as always.

The production lifted my spirits and despite the almost relentless gloom of the story (the end is clearly prophesied early on) it proved to be the ideal opera to take first-timers to and not a bad one for regulars either.

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