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This endearing and authoritative brief guide about a little corner of England was written by the late critic and biographer Michael Kennedy, and brought up to date, complete with colour images, by Glyndebourne’s quasi-omniscient archivist Julia Aries.

How the Christie family developed a small opera house in the South Downs into an international festival has captivated more than one punter. (Indeed, in 2015, playwright David Hare premiered a play at the Hampstead Theatre about the subject, The Moderate Soprano).

Doubtless the original cast of characters, including Christie and his wife, soprano Audrey Mildmay, director Carl Ebert, conductor Fritz Busch and festival co-founder Rudolf Bing, were more complex than any dramatist could capture. Kennedy himself, author of valuable lives of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton and John Barbirolli, likewise seems to be a critic of a stature more or less impossible to match today.

A glimpse at the multifaceted artistry of early Glyndebourne is still audible in the series of 1930s recordings of Mozart operas conducted by Busch (transferred to CD on Pristine Classical, Naxos and EMI), which in some ways remain unsurpassed.

Benjamin Ivry Read the full review on Agora Classica


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