Glyndebourne’s brand new production of Puccini’s La bohème, which opened to critical acclaim at Glyndebourne Festival this summer, takes to the road this autumn as part of the Glyndebourne Tour, with performances at Glyndebourne during October and then at venues in Milton Keynes, Canterbury, Norwich and Liverpool during November. The striking new staging by Dutch director Floris Visser was widely praised for its fresh take on an opera that is familiar to many.

Also touring is another five-star production from Glyndebourne – Michael Grandage’s popular 2012 staging of Mozart’s classic comedy The Marriage of Figaro, which opens at Glyndebourne on 8 October. For those who didn’t manage to catch the two productions during their Festival run, the Tour offers the ideal opportunity to experience world-class Glyndebourne opera close to home and at a lower price (Tour tickets start from just £10). 

Continuing the Tour’s longstanding commitment to supporting new artistic talent, the two shows have exciting new casts for this autumn. La bohème features rising star sopranos Nicaraguan-American Gabriella Reyes and Ethiopian-Italian Mariam Battistelli as Mimì and Musetta respectively and South African baritone Luthando Qave as Marcello, with British bass William Thomas, recipient of the 2018 John Christie Award for outstanding young singers, as Colline. 

The cast of The Marriage of Figaro includes Lancashire-born soprano Soraya Mafi (universally praised for her scene-stealing performance as Morgana in this summer’s Glyndebourne Festival production of Alcina) as Susanna and baritone George Humphreys as the roguish Count. Joining them is British soprano Nardus Williams, who returns to Glyndebourne to play the role of the Countess following her performance as Anne Trulove in the 2021 Glyndebourne Tour production of The Rake’s Progress

Taking up the baton for The Marriage of Figaro is talented young conductor Stephanie Childress, currently assistant conductor of the St Louis Symphony Orchestra and still only in her early twenties. Rory Macdonald conducts the Tour production of La bohème, with Olivia Clarke conducting on 16 and 19 November. 

Alongside the two opera productions is a concert performance of Mozart’s Requiem, pairing his choral masterpiece with music by his contemporary, Caribbean-French composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

Completing the Tour line up is glass human, a newly commissioned chamber opera on the theme of loneliness by composer Samantha Fernando and librettist Melanie Wilson, with performances at Glyndebourne and then in each of the Tour locations. 

New for the Tour in 2022 is an exciting programme of community and audience engagement activity to accompany performances at each Tour venue. Glyndebourne is developing residencies in each Tour location throughout the year, creating bespoke learning and engagement projects in collaboration with its partners in the regions. These collaborations lead up to Resound, a programme of initiatives taking place in each venue alongside Glyndebourne’s mainstage Tour productions to welcome audiences, create a festival atmosphere and widen access to opera. This year these include:

  • Good Company: music in care homes, in which performers from the Tour Orchestra and Chorus play a short, accessible programme for local groups of people living with dementia and their carers;
  • Sing with the Glyndebourne Chorus (Mozart’s Requiem): an opportunity for local schools to rehearse and perform choral excerpts with Glyndebourne’s world-renowned Chorus alongside their creative responses on the day of performance, then attend the evening show; 
  • Pit Perfect: instrumentalists from Glyndebourne’s talent development initiative for emerging orchestral players give a short concert at a local college or university, followed by a workshop for students, who then attend the evening Tour performance.

As well as Glyndebourne’s new Resound programme, there are also new initiatives to make Tour performances as welcoming and inclusive to the broadest audience possible. There will be audio-described performances and ‘touch tours’ for those with visual impairments (for The Marriage of Figaro), on-stage introductions and post-show welcomes by cast members, and short, pre-show musical performances in the foyer providing first-time attendees (as well as aficionados) with a musical guide to that evening’s opera. In addition, Tour Ambassadors are being recruited from within the local area to help reach out to underrepresented communities and introduce them to opera. 

At the end of the Tour, a Community Week of activities will take place at Glyndebourne from 28 November – 3 December, during which local schoolchildren will have the chance to perform excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem with the Chorus on the world-famous Glyndebourne stage. Keen local singers of all ages will also have the opportunity to come and sing with the Chorus in Glyndebourne’s first-ever Mozart Masterclass. 

Glyndebourne’s Head of Tour Development Chris Stones said of the new programme of activities: 

‘This is step one in a long-term plan to build new audiences for Glyndebourne, for our transformative art form, and for the brilliant venues we tour to. But this is about more than audience development: we want to make a difference to people’s lives in a direct way through opera and music-making. The difference we make will vary from person to person but, ultimately, we want to enrich as many people’s lives as possible through our work.’

The Glyndebourne Tour takes place at Glyndebourne from 8 – 29 October and then at Milton Keynes Theatre (1 – 5 November), The Marlowe, Canterbury (8 – 12 November), Norwich Theatre Royal (15 – 19 November) and Liverpool Empire (24 – 26 November). 

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