Fantasia Para un Gentilhombre Joaquin Rodrigo
Sunshine, picnics, and an afternoon of opera - a day out at Glyndebourne is the highlight of the summer festival season for many music-lovers. But why do people love it so much? Allow us to guide you through a day at the festival as it celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2014, from what to wear, to what to pack in your picnic basket.
Not only will arriving early ensure you make the most of the English countryside at the height of summer, but it'll allow you plenty of time to pick a picnic spot in the private gardens. There are a few secluded benches dotted around the lake, and there's plenty of space to lay out picnic blankets or, if you're feeling particularly lavish, portable garden furniture.
If you're a fan of high shoes, this one's for you. While wellies might not be entirely appropriate, it's a wise idea to wear sensible flat shoes unless you're an expert at walking in heels on uneven grass. Don't say we didn't warn you...
While we're on the subject of outfits, it's traditional to wear evening dress during the Glyndebourne Festival thanks to founder John Christie, who felt it was one of the ways the audience could show its respect for the performers. You'll certainly turn a few heads if you're travelling on public transport.
Coming by car is the easiest way to transport you and your picnic to the venue, especially if you're bringing outdoor garden furniture (it's surprisingly common to bring a table and some collapsible chairs!) or a large picnic basket. That said, a large number of opera-goers travelling from London take the train from Victoria. Not only is it the most glamorous train journey you'll ever take, with a hefty percentage of passengers dolled up in black tie outfits, but you can also book a free bus to take you from Lewes station to the grounds.
It's not just the grounds that are deserving of a look; Glyndebourne plays host to a selection of artwork and archive exhibitions, telling the story of some of the Festival's best-known operas. The Festival programme is a work of art in its own right, featuring specially commissioned cover artwork - if you're feeling plush you can even buy the original painting.
Let's put it this way: now isn't the time for some lukewarm sandwiches and packet of crisps. Festival-goers are known for their lavish picnics, complete with multiple courses and champagne.
Don't eat it all at once! The picnic experience is part of the overall day out, and there's plenty of time to dine alfresco in the beautiful surroundings before the opera starts. But there's also a Dinner Interval between the acts, which lasts around 90 minutes, so you can enjoy another course during the performance.
Make sure you take a walk around the lake during the interval, taking a look at the stunning natural beauty of the grounds, as well as the sculptures stationed around its banks.
The best seats in the house are undoubtedly pricey - the most expensive tickets will set you back £235 - but there's plenty of bargains to be had if you know where to look. Standing tickets cost as little as £15, and if you're aged between 16-29, you can join the Glyndebourne<30 scheme to be eligible for priority booking and £30 tickets.
While the best seats in the house are likely to sell pretty quickly, there are usually tickets available for performances throughout the Glyndebourne Festival. And make sure you phone the box office to check on returns - it's not unusual to pick up a last-minute ticket.
Can't make the journey? Don't worry: you can still enjoy a Glyndebourne performance in the comfort of your local cinema! And if that's not good enough, why not watch a live performance from one of Glyndebourne's online live streams? If you're looking for an excuse to picnic in your pyjamas, this might be it…
If you're looking to learn a little more about the music, reviewers, university lecturers, and esteemed opera experts take to the stage for pre-performance talks on Sunday afternoons to explain a little more about the opera that follows in the evening.
The Glyndebourne shop is a great place to buy CDs and DVDs of some of legendary performances, as well as the odd piece of brilliantly quirky music memorabilia (and if you haven't already got a pair of 'Too Hot To Handel' oven mitts, you're missing out). They even sell bow-ties, in case you're feeling underdressed.
Obviously, you'll be arriving early to bag a great picnic spot, but there's all the more reason to turn up with time to spare if it's raining: you'll be one of the lucky picnickers who can shelter on one of the tables inside. It's a good idea to bring a brolly as well as some warm coats - it is summer in the UK, after all.
The sun's going down, the picnic's over, and the curtain's rising. Sit back and enjoy the highlight of the afternoon: a good few hours of world-class music, from some of the most talented opera performers on the planet. Whether you're an opera buff or a first-timer, there's always a variety of different works from a huge range of composers to suit every taste.
There's no reason for Glyndebourne opera to stop as soon as summer's over. As soon as autumn comes, Glyndebourne goes on tour, taking their performances to a variety of venues around the country. Ticket prices range from around £6-£75, depending on which theatre you choose and which seats you sit in.