Glyndebourne is an English country house in West Sussex which hosts its opera festival every summer. It has been on my social radar for such a long time. I was beyond giddy to finally nab tickets to a performance. It meant sneaking away from work early to attend – shimmying into my satin gown and jewelry in the office toilets and then slinking off to catch a midday train from Victoria Station. But the journey just added to the thrill of appearing at one of England’s most distinguished and elegant affairs.
The London artistic community was out in droves, promenading the grounds before the performance. A porter assembled our table on the lawn and we tucked into our hamper for a few glasses of fizz, then ambled coolly through the landscaped gardens.
The opera was an incredible contemporary production of Rameau’s French baroque Hippolyte et Aricie – a vividly choreographed Greek drama. The towering scale of the stage production dwarfed me in the third row – stunning and overwhelming. The music was breathtaking, the dancers mesmerizing, and the characters occasionally humorous. I watched with rapt attention every little flick of the conductor’s baton – sometimes he abandoned it altogether and just directed with his hands.
By the interlude, I was dizzy with operatic fervor… or maybe it was the champagne, or perhaps hunger. In whichever case, we retired to the lawn to dine on our Leith’s-catered picnic supper.
Heading back inside for the final acts, I couldn’t help feeling like my evening at Glynebourne went by far too quickly! Its luxurious atmosphere embodies the epitome of civilized and cultured English tradition. This goes down as one of my favorite opera moments.