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Glyndebourne & Garsington - L’elisir d’amore, Don Giovanni, Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Three operas at two of England’s highest quality country-house opera festivals – Glyndebourne and Garsington.

L’elisir d’amore | Donizetti at Glyndebourne. Annabel Arden dir, Nardus Williams, Liparit Avetisyan, Biagio Pizzuti, Renato Girolami.

Don Giovanni | Mozart at Glyndebourne. Mariame Clément dir, Andrey Zhilikhovsky, Venera Gimadieva, Oleksiy Palchykov, Ruzan Mantashyan, Mikhail Timoshenko, Victoria Randem, Michael Mofidian, Jerzy Butryn.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia | Rossini at Garsington. Christopher Luscombe dir, Andrew Stenson, Johannes Kammler, Katie Bray, Richard Burkhard, Callum Thorpe, Josephine Goddard.

Stays at two quiet country house hotels set in beautiful grounds.

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When landowner John Christie built a small opera house for his professional soprano wife in the rolling Sussex Downs, he unwittingly founded Country House Opera. The Glyndebourne Festival started there in 1934 with two Mozart operas, and since then its popularity has inexorably grown. Today, Glyndebourne epitomises the English summertime. 

Several other venues have followed Glyndebourne’s example and Garsington has also established a sterling reputation for the world-class standard of its opera festival. Founded in 1989 by the owner of Garsington Manor, an estate near Oxford where the Bloomsbury Group often congregated during the 1920s, the Festival moved in 2011 to a purpose-built theatre at nearby Wormsley Park, the home of Mark Getty in Buckinghamshire. Late afternoon and evening light become part of the performance at this pavilion.

We see a trio of masterpieces, beginning at Glyndebourne with perhaps the best loved of all Donizetti’s operas, L’elisir d’amore, combining comedy and romance with the sweetest of melodies, including Nemorino’s captivating aria Una furtive lagrima. Updating the action to the 1940s, Annabel Arden’s production celebrates the opera’s original joyful, colourful spirit, painting an affectionate picture of an Italy on the brink of political change. And representing quintessential Glyndebourne repertoire, there’s a brand-new production by Mariame Clément of Don Giovanni, the work with which Glyndebourne’s celebrated modern theatre opened in 1994.

The tour concludes at Garsington with Il Barbiere di Siviglia, arguably Rossini’s most famous opera. Based on Beaumarchais’s ‘prequel’ to the story set by Mozart in Le nozze di Figaro, Rossini is full of fizzing energy to match the intrigue on stage. 

Accompanied by musicologist Dr John Allison, there are daily talks on all three operas.

Day 1

Glyndebourne. The coach leaves Lewes railway station at 1.40pm for the short drive to the hotel. After a talk at the hotel leave in the afternoon for Glyndebourne. L’elisir d’amore (Donizetti): Annabel Arden (director), Ben Gernon (conductor), Nardus Williams  (Adina), Biagio Pizzuti (Belcore), Renato Girolami (Dulcamara). London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Glyndebourne Chorus. The performance begins at 4.50pm. Dinner is served during the long interval. First of two nights in Little Horsted. 

Day 2

Charleston, Glyndebourne. A morning  lecture is followed by an excursion to Charleston Farmhouse, the country residence of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, with almost every surface decorated by them. By coach to Glyndebourne in the afternoon for Don Giovanni (Mozart): Mariame Clément (director), Evan Rogister (conductor), Andrey Zhilikhovsky (Don Giovanni), Venera Gimadieva (Donna Anna), Golda Schultz (Madame Lidoine, new Prioress), Oleksiy Palchykov (Don Ottavio), Ruzan Mantashyan (Donna Elvira), Mikhail Timoshenko (Leporello), Victoria Randem (Zerlina), Michael Mofidian (Masetto), Jerzy Butryn (Il Commendatore), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Glyndebourne Chorus. The performance begins at 5.05pm. A picnic dinner is served during the long interval. 

Day 3

Little Horsted, Nr Marlow, Garsington. By coach from Little Horsted to Danesfield House, near Marlow. A lecture in the afternoon is followed by Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini): Christopher Luscombe (director), Douglas Boyd (conductor), Andrew Stenson (Count Almaviva), Johannes Kammler (Figaro), Katie Bray (Rosina), Richard Burkhard (Dr Bartolo), Callum Thorpe (Don Basilio), Josephine Goddard (Berta), The English Concert, Garsington Opera Chorus. The performance begins at 6.05pm. Dinner is served in the long interval. Overnight near Marlow. 

Day 4

Leave when you wish. Taxis to Marlow railway station are provided.

Price, per person

Two sharing: £3,100. Single occupancy: £3,340.


Three opera tickets costing c.£765; opera festival programmes; private air-conditioned coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts, all three dinners (including one picnic dinner) with wine, water and coffee; tips for restaurant staff and drivers; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.


Horsted Place, Little Horsted: a fine country house hotel in a Victorian Gothic revival mansion offering very good service. (4-star). Danesfield House Hotel, near Marlow: comfortable 4-star hotel, set within 65 acres of grounds. Single rooms are doubles for sole use throughout. 

How strenuous?

The tour would be a struggle for anyone whose walking is impaired. There is a short walk from the coach park to the opera house. Average distance by coach per day: 38 miles.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?


Group size

Between 10 and 22 participants.

Altogether a wonderful few days with a real feast of fantastic music.

Martin Randall Travel certainly hit the button as far as I'm concerned with this tour. I found it magical, phenomenal, outstanding - I've run out of superlatives!