Photo – Tristram Kenton
GLYNDEBOURNE TOUR 2016 – November 22-26
When the Glyndebourne Tour 2016 arrives at Norwich Theatre Royal from November 22-26 with two fantastic operas, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly, it will also be inviting theatre-goers to take glimpse Behind The Curtain to see how opera works.
And as part of that special event, the Norwich Philharmonic Choir has been invited to step onto the stage to provide choral support to the professionals.
Behind The Curtain is a completely fresh initiative from Glyndebourne for its 2016 Tour and it is aimed at those who are new to opera, or who are curious to find out more. Working with a local choir in each different local venue, it will see presenter Paul Rissmann, who has hosted Classics Unwrapped for BBC Radio Scotland, reveal the essence of opera with an enlightening behind-the-scenes exploration of what goes into putting a production on stage, and it will include an inspirational look at a fully-staged excerpt from Act II of Don Giovanni.
The Norwich Philharmonic Society, which is both an orchestra and a choir, celebrated its 175th anniversary last season. The choir in its current form has been part of the society since the 1930s and now has around 120 members led by choirmaster David Dunnett, the organist at Norwich Cathedral.
Choir members are chosen by audition and The Philharmonic Society does five concerts per season through the winter months in St Andrew’s Hall. It has just performed its annual November concert, which sees both orchestra and choir performing, and this year featured Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony. A Family Christmas Concert is also lined up for December which will see an invited children’s choir join the singers on stage, and in April 2017 the choir will travel to Koblenz in Germany to sing The Seasons by Haydn with its German partner choir.
Behind The Curtain will be the first time the choir has collaborated with a professional company such as Glyndebourne. Caroline Jarrold, who has been a choir member since 1982, said: “It’s a really exciting and interesting opportunity for us. Many choir members wanted to have the opportunity to participate. Glyndebourne asked if we could provide 24 members for the event, and we did it very democratically by picking names out of a hat.
“We will be singing on the stage in unison. We had about 50 people wanting to participate and the 24 picked, plus the four reserves, are a mix from across the choir and from all voice parts. It can be quite difficult to get enough men but we have actually got nine men singing with us.”
Two of the choir participants will be interviewed on stage by presenter Paul Rissmann during Act II of the performance to introduce the choir to the audience and then the choir will join the cast on stage to perform the finale of Don Giovanni.
Lucy Perry, Head of Education at Glyndebourne, said: “An exciting element of Behind the Curtain is that the choirs we work with may not have had any previous opera experience, for many it will be their first taste. This fulfils our ambition to create an event which opens up opera to more people. We’re fortunate to be working with established choirs who not only have high standards of singing, but also a great suitability to take part in the production.”
The Glyndebourne Tour was founded in 1968 to make the company’s work accessible to more people across the country and 2016 marks 30 years since the creation of its formal education department, which seeks to enrich the lives of as many people as possible through opera and was initially set up to complement the touring activities.
“Getting local choirs involved in Behind the Curtain unites these ambitions – it’s a wonderful way for Glyndebourne to connect with local communities in each of the places it visits on tour, and provide the opportunity for talented amateur performers to be involved in a production that seeks to open opera up to new audiences.”
Glyndebourne’s two opera presentations for its tour stopover in Norwich will be presented with stunning costumes, breath-taking music and performances from the next generation of opera stars.
Puccini’s beautiful Madama Butterfly has never been staged by Glyndebourne before and tells the heart-breaking tale of a Japanese geisha who marries and then is abandoned by an American sailor; while Mozart’s highly dramatic comedy opera Don Giovanni details the descent of a womanising killer as his infatuated conquests, vengeful victims and their outraged relatives join forces in a bid for justice against him.
All performances, including Behind The Curtain, start at 7.15pm.
Glyndebourne Tour 2016, Don Giovanni: Behind The Curtain, November 24, 7.15pm. Tickets: £7-£20.
Don Giovanni, November 22 & 25, and Madama Butterfly, November 23 & 26, 7.15pm. Tickets £8-54.
BOX OFFICE 01603 630000. Discounts for Friends, Under 18s and Groups, plus Saver Scheme available.
Pre-Performance Talks on November 22 & 23, 6.15-6.45pm – order free tickets from the Box Office when booking.
For more info or to BOOK ONLINE www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk