Observer picture archive: Glyndebourne, 9 August 1957

Jane Bown attended the opera festival in Sussex and came back with this wistful page one picture

This is an edited extract from An Interlude at Glyndebourne by Haro Hodson, published in the Observer on 11 August 1957

This was the first time I had been to Mr Christie’s house. In my imagination I had peopled it with blank-faced advertisement figures, suavely drinking alternate sips of Mozart and Krug, or solemn herds of music lovers in beards and bridge coatees, clutching the score.

The 800 in the audience which streamed out across the lawns encircling the house did not look like that. They looked, in so far as English people can, positively happy. They looked more like relations or friends. One of them was, and asked, ‘Are you lunching here?’ The mistake was understandable for the atmosphere was that of a house-party where one day blends imperceptibly into another.

People in evening clothes were picnicking under the trees and by the river. I walked past herbaceous borders filled with phlox. Pigeons crooned in the farther woods, and from behind a high, clipped yew hedge, a game of croquet echoed and re-echoed.

Most of the people with picnics were young. In the restaurant it was different. Here, with the exception of a table of girls from a finishing school, sat the old. During the interval 400 people are dined and wined, with no semblance of hurry.

Going out into the gardens again I met the owner of the house. Mr Christie is an affable septuagenarian who looks like a country squire. His black bow tie was of watered silk, his bearing forthright.

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