Tributes to passionate opera house legend

4:20pm Monday 31st December 2012

By Ben James

One of the driving forces behind Glyndebourne Opera House for decades has died.

Former artistic director Peter Ebert, whose father Carl was the company’s first ever director, died on Christmas Day aged 94.

Tributes have poured in for the German-born man who directed operas for Glyndebourne in the ’50s and ’60s.

Mr Ebert was born in Frankfurt in 1918 and educated in Britain and Germany.

He went to primary school in the Black Forest before attending the Gordonstoun boarding school in Moray, Scotland.

His connections with Sussex began in 1934 when John Christie recruited his father to be the first artistic director at his Glyndebourne Opera House.

In 1954, he joined his father as a director at the company when he took charge of Busoni’s hour-long Arlecchino as part of a double-bill with Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

Notably he also directed the first Glyndebourne production to go abroad when he worked on La Cenerentola (Cinderella) for the state opera in West Berlin in 1954.

Away from the arts, his other great love was politics and he was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party in 1981.

In his later years he was also an active member of the Ringmer Liberal Democrats and a vociferous supporter of Glyndebourne’s controversial wind turbine.

Ringmer Lib Dem chair and district councillor Chris Bowers said: “Peter went canvassing with us until his late 80s, and he invariably came back saying people he’d spoken to would vote for us.

“After a while we began to wonder whether people just couldn’t resist his easy charm with his soft Germanic accent.”

He added: “He was a passionate and very friendly man who will be missed by many.”

Following his retirement he moved to Italy but returned to his Ringmer home for the last decade of his life.

In 1999, he also brought out a biography of his father which was published by the Lewes-based Book Guild. Peter had ten children from two marriages, eight of whom were with his second wife, the dancer Silvia Ashmole.

The couple lived in Great Paddock, Ringmer, until his death.


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