Rhinegold Photo credit: James Bellorini

William McVicker

Glyndebourne’s former general director quashes rumours

9:19, 16th January 2018

When Glyndebourne announced last month that Sebastian Schwarz had handed in his resignation after only 19 months as the festival’s general director, the rumour mill went into overdrive.  Was there a major bust up with the Christie Family who own and run Glyndebourne? Were his creative wings clipped by Glyndebourne’s powerful corporate constituents?

Schwarz sets the record straight: ‘Some people said at the time that it was because I didn’t want to be involved in the fundraising that necessarily has to go on at Glyndebourne; that I didn’t want to schmooze. That’s simply not true.’ (Several of his colleagues I’ve spoken to firmly back him up on this.) ‘No, I enjoyed it, and met hundreds of fascinating people at dinners and afternoon teas. Just because they had money, it didn’t make them dull or uninteresting, and I applaud their support of the arts – especially coming from an Austro-German context where we all rely way too much on state subsidies. I do believe the state should support culture, but I wish there were more people in Germany and Austria who realised how intensely gratifying it is to be involved in helping the arts in this way – or who feel, If I want something beautiful, then I have to play a role in making it happen.’

Schwarz has planned the festivals and tours for Glyndebourne through to 2021. Can he lift the curtain just a little on what’s in store? He thinks for a moment. ‘Oh well, I don’t suppose they’ll beat me up about it now,’ he says.

Look out for the full interview with Sebastian Schwarz and the launch of the Glyndebourne Cup, a major new international singing competition, in the February 2018 issue of Opera Now.

Classical Music magazine’s Competition Focus, guest edited by Paul Lewis, artistic director of the Leeds International Piano Competition, will be available on 1 February in print and as a digital edition.

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