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Nights at the Opera

Glyndebourne 1965

Paul Gilbert

The Captain of the Guard A Pleasant diversion for 6th formers at LCGS over the years was to volunteer as ‘extras’ for the opera at Glyndebourne. It was world-class opera on our doorstep, and we paid only with our time. For us, dramatic opera didn’t get much better than tragedy based on the exploits of Henry VIII – ‘Anna Bolena’ by Donizetti. I believe the production, by some incongruous circumstance, must have been sponsored by the Wrigley Chewing Gum Inc. (or whatever company made the gum), because unlimited amounts of the stuff were on hand, for those that wanted it.

Paul Gilbert as
The Captain of the Guard in
Donizetti's 'Anna Bolena'


The memories remain clear to this day, none more so than the occasion of the 4th evening performance. As guards, we were required to remain as motionless as possible for considerable amounts of time; by the 4th night, after the preparation of innumerable rehearsals, I seemed to have it nailed. Of course, disaster often strikes when least expected, and toward the end of one of these statuesque episodes, with no warning at all, I passed out cold and collapsed in a heap. In fact, this event had significant potential to heighten the overall drama of the production, since I was on the brink of a long flight of concrete steps that led off the back of the stage. I would very likely have peeled over this threshold, had it not been for several people close enough to avert an accident; fortunately I was unscathed, and thus continued to participate in the remaining 10 performances!


The Guard in
Donizetti's 'Anna Bolena'
L to R: Massey, Jarvis, Hay, Gilbert, Miles, Young, ?.

The Guard