I have never been wholly been convinced by Glyndebourne and not being an opera buff the less well known ones elude me. It also is rather expensively corporate on the one hand, a Glastonbury for grown ups on the other. However having moved nearby and wishing to participate in cultural life I duly mobilised National Rust ( Southern Command) as my party. The ever efficient Polly who confessed that the only time she went was with an American banker when she wore a mini dress and high heels and did not like the opera, booked us in the Middle Wallop restaurant. Last year I had a regrettable experience when I had sent my man off on some errand and was duly soaked. I also did not care for the competitiveness of the picnickers.
I chose Carmen as this is one opera that everyone knows -I was most pleasantly surprised to find that the sexiest person in Glyndebourne was none other than Carmen played by Stephanie d ‘Oustrac and by the first short interval was in love with her, as appeared to be most of the male cast One of the reasons I don’t embrace opera is that the acting, as opposed to the singing, can be wooden. This Carmen, slim, willowy, with movement as graceful as her mezzo-sopranos was powerful was a joy to behold. Much to my pleasure she gave a wholly unrestrained performance. In the early scene when customarily she throws a rose at Corporal Jose, she ran it all over his body. No wonder he took it with him to prison.
In the restaurant, Daphne ( Colthard) approved of her gazpacho with a hint of melon and pork belly, though the sauce was more rich thick gravy then subtle flavour Nancy (Bright-Thompson) said that it was a triumph of organisation that Leith the caterers could sit everyone down and serve 3 courses in a hour and half. The inimitable Daffers recounted the last time she went to Carmen at Glyndebourne with an aristocrat’s son who was was rather timid. He proposed to Daphne in the short interval. She accepted but changed her mind impressed by the free spirited Carmen who ran her suitors like some espionage controller. So in the long interval she said she had second doubts and turned him down. I would have difficulty in proposing to anyone with young Stephanie occupying my thoughts.
The audience was more old guard – housemasters at good but the best public schools, anxious wives hiding the Sainsbury champagne from the view of those with Fortnum hampers proffering Veuve Cliquot. I wore a white silk tux and Daffers looked glamourous in her Chanel chiffon blouse and sequinned slip back shoes from Ferragamo .
I have not commented on the music as I am not qualified so to do. However we all thought that it’s production was more of a musical than high opera and I see no shame in that. The cast often spoke rather than sang the words. Pavel Cernoch as Jose had a terrible French accent and really only the lovely Stephanie could sing, dance and act. I was most tempted to be a stage door Johnny and leave her my card and a bouquet of red roses.