Richard Croft (Tito) and Anna Stéphany (Sesto) in Glyndebourne's La clemenza di Tito
What a pleasure it always is to return to Mozart at Glyndebourne - the composer's natural home in England. And last night I saw the new La clemenza di Tito at last, an evening of almost unalloyed musical, vocal and directorial pleasure. As one critic most perceptively put it "Guth’s is the most grown-up (staging) of any opera seen in the UK this summer". He did also remark that Glyndebourne's production of Hamlet by Neil Armfield earlier in the summer also competed strongly for such an accolade. I agree. Glyndebourne has had a good year again!
For me of course the cast brought back good memories and special artists - with Richard Croft and Anna Stéphany stealing the show with unbeatable performances as Tito and Sesto. Richard is a much loved singer rich in years and experience but as fresh of voice as ever he was. He was our Ferrando in Così in the Mozart year 1991 in Toronto - just emerging at that point onto the international scene. He was memorable in Glyndebourne in Theodora in 1996, and a wonderful Idomeneo in Ravinia in 2012. How good it was to see this dear man and artist still at the very top of his game.
Anna Stéphany was originally cast to sing Annio in this production - and at a late stage took over Sesto, sweeping all before her with a performance of prodigious vocal and acting quality. This was hardly a surprise to me for Anna had been a magnificent Medée in Charpentier's opera at Chicago Opera Theater in 2011. But my goodness how she has grown during these last 6 years since she astonished us all in Chicago!
Another good thing was to see Robin Ticciati back in Glyndebourne's pit with the splendid Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in excellent form as usual. He did indeed preside over a wonderful evening of music making and music theatre.
I am off to Suffolk this afternoon and will be at a couple of Proms at the Snape Maltings this week. Another magic place.