For forty years Guy Gravett was the appointed Photographer to The Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He shot his first Opera, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, in 1951 and was offered an official post with the company in 1955. He stayed with Glyndebourne untill his death in 1996, having covered every production over those four decades. Gravett built his own incomparable archive of Glyndebourniana. His camera was at work both on and off stage, capturing singers and administrators alike within the theatre and the gardens. Among his best images is one of Italina conductor Vittorio Gui, head of music at Glyndebourne during the 1950's, suddenly suprised wearing two pairs of glasses. Another is a noble portrait of John Christie, the founder of Glyndebourne, taken a few months before his passing.
Guy Gravett was a meticulous worker in the theatre. He tracked each production as it took shape during rehearsals, marking down in a nnotebook the scenes likely to provide the best images. When a press photocall came, Gravett never jostled for position with the rest of the pack: by then he knew just what he wanted and which angle to use. He earned a privileged place through his total devotion to the company and his rapport with singers.
Gravetts first contact with Glyndebourne was when he was invited by John Christie to take a formal portrait of his son, George, aged 13. Gravett was at the time working as a general Photographer in Lewes, he was also a regular at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, so it was natural that he would turn his attention to Glyndebourne's Operas and the Christie family. The invitation to put the relationship on a more solid footing came from Moran Caplat, Glyndebourne's general manager and an old sailing chum. Most of the photocalls in the post war era were formal affairs with the leading performers carefully posed in costume on stage. Angus McBean grandee among theatre photographers was usually in attendance and so, too, later was a young Tony Armstrong-Jones.Caplat was happy to keep the staus quo, but wanted to open up the mould a little and perhaps save some money in the process, so he turned to Gravett. Over the years the two men devised a new and less conventional way of working.
Gravett was a keen and accomplished painter, and on demobilisation tried to return to being an artist, but instead turned to photography. Entirely self taught, he operated from a small studio in Lewes, his reputation grew and major commissions came frm Picture Post and the Sunday Times, covering the Cyprus troubles, other commisons included extensive work in Alaska for BP during early oil exploration. He worked regularly for Peter Dominic, and provided many illustrations for early editions of Hugh Johnston's World Atlas of Wine.
Extracted from Guy Gravetts obituary in The Times, Saturday April 27 1996.