Under the supervision of the Christie family, the festival has been held annually since 1934, except in 1941–45 during World War II and 1993 when the theatre was being rebuilt, for a 1994 reopening. Gus Christie, son of Sir George Christie and grandson of festival founder John Christie, became festival chairman in 2000.
Since the company's inception, Glyndebourne has been particularly celebrated for its productions of Mozart operas. Recordings of Glyndebourne's past historic Mozart productions have been reissued. Other notable productions included their 1980s production of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, directed by Trevor Nunn, and later expanded from the Glyndebourne stage and videotaped in 1993 for television, with Nunn again directing. While Mozart operas have continued to be the mainstay of its repertory, the company has expanded it with productions of Janáček and Handel operas.
The primary resident orchestra for the Glyndebourne Festival is the London Philharmonic Orchestra (since 1964). The festival's associate orchestra is the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In January 2014, Robin Ticciati became the seventh music director of the company.
Past general directors of the festival have included David Pickard. In November 2015, the festival announced the appointment of Sebastian F. Schwarz as its general director, effective in May 2016. In March 2018 Schwarz stepped down as general director. In August 2018, the festival announced the appointment of Stephen Langridge as its next artistic director, effective in the spring of 2019.
Many Glyndebourne attendees come from London, and the event is regarded as part of the English summer season. Performances start in the afternoon, enabling Londoners to leave town after lunch, and finish in time for them to catch the last train back. A long interval allows opera-goers the opportunity for picnic dinners on the extensive lawns or in one of the restaurants in the grounds. Annually in London, the company presents an opera performance at The Proms.
- Fritz Busch (1934–1951)
- Vittorio Gui (1952–1963)
- John Pritchard (1964–1977)
- Bernard Haitink (1978–1988)
- Andrew Davis (1989–2000)
- Vladimir Jurowski (2001–2013)
- Robin Ticciati (2014–present)
Glyndebourne on Tour
In 1968, Glyndebourne Festival Opera established a touring ensemble, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, which in its first season took opera productions to Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Oxford. In addition to bringing the work of Glyndebourne Festival Opera to audiences some distance from Glyndebourne, Glyndebourne Touring Opera offers opportunities for younger opera singers to develop their craft. In 2003, the Glyndebourne Touring Opera administrative duties were absorbed back into the main Glyndebourne Festival Opera administration, and the touring company was renamed Glyndebourne on Tour. The touring company now has the name of Glyndebourne Tour. Unlike Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne Tour does receive some subsidy, from the Arts Council England.
The tour takes place in autumn following the festival season, and typically includes three weeks of performances at Glyndebourne, followed by one week in each of the other locations. The touring ensemble has separate music directors is as follows:
- Myer Fredman (1968–1974)
- Kenneth Montgomery (1975–1976)
- Nicholas Braithwaite (1977–1980)
- Jane Glover (1982–1985)
- Graeme Jenkins (1986–1991)
- Ivor Bolton (1992–1997)
- Louis Langrée (1998–2003)
- Edward Gardner (2004–2007)
- Robin Ticciati (2007–2009)
- Jakub Hrůša (2010–2012)
Ticciati is the first former music director of Glyndebourne on Tour to be named music director of the full Glyndebourne Opera company. In November 2018, the company announced the appointment of Ben Glassberg as the new principal conductor of the Glyndebourne Tour, with a set contract of 3 years.
Glyndebourne is constituted as a registered charity called Glyndebourne Productions Limited, which is a company limited by guarantee. It has a wholly owned subsidiary, Glyndebourne Enterprises Limited, which carries out merchandising, production hire and media development activities, and donates its profits to the charity. A related charity called the Glyndebourne Arts Trust carries out fund-raising activities. Glyndebourne Association America allows residents of the United States to make tax efficient donations to Glyndebourne.
Glyndebourne has an annual budget of a little over £20 million, as of 2010. The Festival is the only major opera season in the United Kingdom which is not state subsidised. Glyndebourne on Tour receives an annual subsidy of around £1.5 million from Arts Council England, but is budgeted to make an annual loss even after this has been credited. The shortfall is covered by an internal cross subsidy.
The Glyndebourne Label was established in 2008 to release live recordings on CD. Commercial releases have included Mozart's Idomeneo (with Luciano Pavarotti and Gundula Janowitz), Dvořák's Rusalka and Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. During the music directorship of Vladimir Jurowski, the festival began its "Glyndebourne on Screen" programme, for viewers to see performances from the festival in cinemas and live-streaming on personal computers, the latter in partnership with The Guardian newspaper.
- Country house opera
- Glyndebourne Festival Opera: history and repertoire, 1934–1951
- Glyndebourne Festival Opera: history and repertoire 1952-1963
- List of music festivals in the United Kingdom
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- McN., W. (July 1935). "The Mozart Festival at Glyndebourne". The Musical Times. 76 (1109): 646. JSTOR 920186.
- Tim Ashley (13 June 2008). "Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro, Gencer/ Freni/ Bacquier/ Blankenburg/ RPO/ Varviso". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
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- Maeve Kennedy (1 July 2011). "Glyndebourne baton handed to Robin Ticciati". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- "David Pickard appointed Director, BBC Proms" (Press release). Glyndebourne Festival Opera. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "Glyndebourne Appoints New General Director" (Press release). Glyndebourne Festival Opera. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "Sebastian F. Schwarz steps down as General Director of Glyndebourne" (Press release). Glyndebourne Opera. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
- "Stephen Langridge appointed Artistic Director of Glyndebourne" (Press release). Glyndebourne Opera. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
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- Charlotte Higgins (30 November 2009). "How British opera reinvented itself". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- Martin Kettle (20 July 2006). "Cosi fan tutte (Royal Albert Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- Norwich, p. 226, lists the first four GTO music directors
- "Ben Glassberg appointed Principal Conductor of the Glyndebourne Tour" (Press release). Glyndebourne Opera. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
- "Glyndebourne: a brief history". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
- Fiachra Gibbons (26 August 2000). "New baton". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- Tim Ashley and Caroline Sullivan (17 May 2002). "A tale of two festivals". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- Kennedy, Michael, Glyndebourne: A Brief History, Oxford: Shire Publications, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7478-0821-3
- Norwich, John Julius, Fifty Years of Glyndebourne, London: Cape, 1985 ISBN 0-224-02310-1