Glyndebourne has announced plans to reopen for a series of open-air operas and concerts this summer, allowing audiences to return with social distancing measures in place.
The Sussex opera house was forced to cancel its 2020 festival due to the pandemic, but has now revealed plans to stage an opera outside for the first time, alongside an open-air concert programme, as a “creative, innovative path” through the crisis.
Audiences will be encouraged to bring picnics and dress in black tie for the concerts, though the dress code will be discretionary.
They will be seated in household groups for the performances, which will take place in July and August, and concerts will be cancelled in the event of bad weather.
From mid-July, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform the outdoor concerts, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra taking over in August. As the season progresses, it is also hoped that an opera will be staged outdoors, but details have yet to be announced.
Glyndebourne’s gardens will also be open for visitors from July 1, with ticket holders given timed entry to the grounds.
Artistic director Stephen Langridge said: “We are fortunate in having plenty of outside space available to us, and with a little imagination, we can see exciting musical and theatrical opportunities for performance in the gardens. This mini festival will be intimate, unusual and unforgettable – some cause for celebration in these tough times.”
The 2020 festival was cancelled in May, prompting the launch of an emergency fundraising appeal to help counter the “devastating” loss of income and impact on the livelihoods of its 400 seasonal staff and artists.
Glyndebourne’s auditorium will remain closed, and the organisation said it had joined colleagues across the sector in working to find a long-term solution to allow for reopening.
Managing director Sarah Hopwood said the cancellation of its entire 2020 season of work had been “a huge shock and disappointment”.
“However, we were not completely unprepared. Thanks to prudent financial management and to the extraordinary generosity of our members, donors, staff and the general public, we are now able to shift our focus from mourning the closure of the festival to opening a newly imagined summer season,” she added.