Title graphic: Encyclopedia Entries
Opera and Opera Companies: 3

Outside London, John Christie (1882-1962) established an opera house at Glyndebourne, near Lewes, Sussex, in 1934, with the intention of mounting operas by both Mozart and Wagner, although under the guidance of his wife, he adopted the more realistic plan of concentrating on the former. With Fritz Busch as Musical Director and Carl Ebert as producer, new standards of performance and production of Mozart's operas were established and have been pursued ever since. To mark the reopening of Glyndebourne following the Second World War, the English Opera Group gave the first performances of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (1946) and Albert Herring (1947); the repertoire was further expanded to include Rossini under the musical directorship of Vittorio Gui (1951-64). By the mid-1950s a policy of including a new work each year was implemented - the first French opera to be performed was Debussy's Pélleas et Mélisande in 1962 - and subsequently Strauss' operas became a speciality, particularly those on a smaller scale. Among first performances of British operas, Glyndebourne has staged Nicholas Maw's The Rising of the Moon (1970), Nigel Osborne's The Electrification of the Soviet Union (1988), and Tippett's New Year (1990).

The demand for opera in the regions led to the formation of two national companies, Welsh National Opera (WNO) at Cardiff in 1946 and Scottish National Opera (SNO) at Glasgow, formed by Sir Alexander Gibson in 1962. The reputation of the former was originally built on its fine chorus and Verdi productions, although more recently such successes as the first British performance of Berg's Lulu (1971) and a new production of Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage have broadened its repertoire considerably. Both companies have been keen to commission operas by native composers - the WNO, Alun Hoddinott's The Beach of Falesá (1974); and the SNO, Thea Musgrave's Mary, Queen of Scots (1977), for instance.