The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been catastrophic for the performing arts, with the negative effects falling disproportionately on the sector"s freelance workers.
Sarah Hopwood, Managing Director of Glyndebourne, said:
"Over the past 15 months, we have all become much more aware of the imbalance between performing arts companies and the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce.
Glyndebourne will only survive and thrive if we can call on the skills and expertise of those people and we're determined to play a part in helping to create a new, more equitable support structure for them.
"Whilst we can't change the future for freelancers on our own, we can lead the way, so I am really delighted to announce the launch of the Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund."
Details of the Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund will be developed during 2021 but the company has made a formal commitment to ring-fence funds equivalent to 10% of the value of its annual freelancer costs, to support its contracted freelancers in times of need.
Glyndebourne suffered substantial financial losses when it was forced to cancel its 2020 Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is forecast to lose millions more this summer by putting on a socially distanced season with only 50% of its usual audience permitted.
It intends to release additional tickets when the current restrictions on theatre capacity are lifted by the government.
The company survived the crisis thanks to its relatively strong financial position going into the pandemic and is now focused on ensuring it thrives long into the future through a combination of bold artistic programming and crucial investment to maintain its competitive edge.
Glyndebourne: No Ordinary Summer | Full documentary
It announced that works by six female composers, comprising two new operas and a neglected masterpiece, will be staged at Glyndebourne in 2022.
Among them is an opera by the pionering feminist composer Ethel Smyth that will open Glyndebourne Festival 2022.
The Wreckers, a powerful, cinematic psychodrama set on the Cornish coast, was the most successful of Smyth's operas in her lifetime and is an influential work that many people know by name but few have actually seen.
Glyndebourne's production is the first production by a major opera house since 1939 and the first-ever staging of the original French-language version.
Stephen Langridge, Artistic Director of Glyndebourne, said:
"Ethel Smyth was a serious and important composer, championed by the likes of Thomas Beecham and Bruno Walter.
"Our new staging of The Wreckers will, in one sense, be a world premiere, because it's the first time the opera will be performed in French, as she originally conceived it.
"There's been lots of sleuth-work involved in putting the original score and text back together again and we're delighted to be giving this neglected masterpiece its first major staging in over eighty years."
The production, directed by Melly Still and conducted by Glyndebourne's Music Director Robin Ticciati, will also break new ground in leading the charge towards making opera in a sustainable way.
All of the new productions at the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival will embrace the baseline principles set out in the Theatre Green Book initiative, led by the Theatres Trust and supported by Glyndebourne.
Stephen Langridge said:
"This show will reinvent the way we think about productions at Glyndebourne.
"For all of the new productions at next year's Festival, more materials will be recycled from our stores, with plans for the disposal or reuse of every component agreed in advance with our production teams.
"It is a major step towards making theatre in a truly sustainable, environmentally friendly way that will make a big difference as we work towards our long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral in our direct operations."
The Wreckers is one of four new productions at next year"s Glyndebourne Festival.
Also planned is a new staging of opera's greatest love story, La bohème. Dutch director Floris Visser makes his Glyndebourne directorial debut working alongside rising star conductor Jordan de Souza.
Also new will be a double bill of operas by Poulenc – La Voix Humaine and Les Mamelles de Tirésias conducted by Robin Ticciati. Following his success with a Ravel Double Bill for Glyndebourne in 2012, French director Laurent Pelly takes on two more contrasting French masterpieces. Glyndebourne favourite Stéphanie d'Oustrac takes on the role of Elle in La Voix Humaine.
The final new production in the season is Francesco Micheli"s sumptuous new staging of Handel's Alcina, which was due to premiere at the 2020 Glyndebourne Festival before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jonathan Cohen conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Completing the lineup are revivals of Mariame Clément's mischievous production of Don Pasquale conducted by Ben Glassberg and Michael Grandage's swinging sixties-inspired Le nozze di Figaro, for which conducting duties are shared between Giancarlo Andretta and Nicholas Carter.
Glyndebourne Festival 2022 runs from 21 May – 28 August 2022. Full casting to follow. CLICK HERE for more details.