Imogen Stubbs braves downpours and drag queens at Glyndebourne to see La Bohèmeby Imogen Stubbs / June 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Puccini’s doomed lovers
I arrived at Glyndebourne this year just as a clap of thunder shattered the darkness. Rain dropped from the sky and detonated the muddy landscape like tiny cluster bombs. From every direction desperate people were stumbling towards the tents clutching bags, bits of furniture, blankets, and clothing. They took shelter under heavy wet canvas. As they gratefully received food and drink, the sense of relief was overtaken by nervous expectation, even trepidation, as to what lay ahead.
We were all there to attend a revival of David McVicar’s 2000 production of Puccini’s opera La Bohème. The pre-show drinking and laying out of damp picnics seemed almost an extension of the Jubilee celebrations. The same defiant spirit in the face of the capricious weather—the same endearing British eccentricity. As we quaffed champagne and chattered, one elderly woman perched on a shooting stick was confessing, “Don’t get me wrong I like Puccini, but I’ll always be Mozart’s little virgin.”