Glyndebourne opera disrupted as Just Stop Oil blast air horns during Poulenc performance

16 June 2023, 12:04 | Updated: 16 June 2023, 12:39

The Poulenc Double Bill At Glyndebourne Opera House
The Poulenc Double Bill At Glyndebourne Opera House. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A Poulenc opera was targeted by Just Stop Oil protestors, who set off air horns and confetti bombs during a performance at Glyndebourne festival.

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Three Just Stop Oil protesters interrupted an opera last night at the famed Glyndebourne festival in East Sussex.

They were removed from the audience after blasting air horns and setting off confetti bombs during a performance of Poulenc’s 1950s opera Dialogues des Carmélites.

Realising what was happening, the performers ran off stage. A video posted to Twitter (watch below) shows the audience boo, shout and slow clap, as the protestors were escorted out by security.

A Glyndebourne spokesperson said the interruption, which took place at 5.31pm on 15 June, was reported to the police, but no arrests were made.

After a 21-minute delay, during which time regular updates were given to the audience, the opera restarted.

Read more: Extinction Rebellion activists halt Verdi Requiem at Concertgebouw

In a statement, Glyndebourne said: “We are very sorry to everyone whose visit to Glyndebourne was affected by the protest action today.

“Our highest priority was the safety and security of everyone on site and we would like to thank our staff and performers, whose calm and professional response kept everyone safe and disruption to a minimum.

“At approximately 5.31pm, today’s performance of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites was disrupted by three protestors who let off a confetti bomb, blew an air horn and started shouting. The stage was immediately cleared and within less than a minute ushers had peacefully escorted the protesters from the theatre.

“The audience remained inside the theatre and were provided with regular updates and, following a 21-minute delay, the opera restarted at approximately 5.52pm.

“We have formally reported the incident to the police but the police were not on site and no arrests were made.”

Author and classical music critic Jessica Duchen, who was in attendance, wrote on Twitter: “Oil protestors escorted out of the front row of Glyndebourne just now, having disrupted Carmelites, made a heap of noise and alienated a heap of people from their cause both front and back of house. How to win friends and influence people – not.

“They had a blowy horn, a placard and an exploding glitter thing, and it could probably have been a lot worse, but our conductor is in shock as they were directly behind him. (Those seats would have cost them a pretty penny…).”

Many have since taken to Twitter to highlight Glyndebourne’s existing green policies, including how five years ago it became the first UK arts organisation to generate its own power, through its on-site wind turbine.

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, opera critic for the Telegraph, added: “This is a really serious, really important opera and Glyndebourne has its own wind turbine – it is addressing all these issues.

“We have a great tradition of peaceful protest in this country. But to interrupt an opera in this way, just seems totally negative.”

On Twitter, Just Stop Oil hinted that protestors disrupted this particular opera because several of its characters are “condemned to death. Sound familiar?”

They added: “We are running out of time. Take action with Just Stop Oil.”