Laika the Spacedog takes a trip to Avignon

11th November 2013

Laika the Spacedog , English Touring Opera’s multi-award-winning opera for young people, is to be performed in one of France’s most prestigious opera houses, the Opéra Grand in Avignon this December.

The performance takes place in the opera house’s main hall, the Grande Salle, on Wednesday 4 December 2013 at 8.30pm, and comes after Laika won two awards for Best Production at the Armel Opera Festival in Szeged, Hungary on Tuesday 15 October, beating productions of operas including Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra.

One of these awards, the International Jury Prize for Best Production, brought with it the further prize of a chance to perform Laika at Avignon.

The performance this December reunites the cast who performed in Szeged, including singers Nicholas Rigas and Sarah Laulan, who were competitors in their own right at the Armel Festival.

They are joined by regular ETO singers Edward Lee, Abigail Kelly and Maciek O’Shea. Edward and Abigail reprise their roles in the performances of Laika at Szeged, and Maciek takes on the role of puppeteer.

Laika the Spacedog tells the story of the Russian mongrel, discovered in Gorky Park in Moscow in 1957, who was destined to become the first animal in orbit.

The show opened in January 2013 at London’s Science Museum, before touring to schools and theatres across England alongside ETO’s full-length Spring 2013 operas, with a cast of singers drawn from the company’s main-stage shows.

The opera was awarded the PRS David Bedford Music Education Award in 2013 as an exceptional music education project.

Tickets to the performance at Avignon on Wednesday 4 December start from €5 and can be booked here (French-language website).

The performance of Laika the Spacedog at the Armel Opera Festival was streamed live on French channel ARTE – the video is still available to watch again and can be viewed here

ETO is now preparing a new opera for young audiences in spring 2014 called Borka, the Goose with No Feathers, which opens in March 2014 and includes four special performances at Kew Gardens.

The production is based on the book Borka: The Adventures Of A Goose With No Feathers by John Burningham, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

To find out how you can play a vital role in making Borka come to life, please click here

For more information on Laika the Spacedog or Borka, the Goose with No Feathers call Talia Lash at ETO on 020 7833 2555 or email her at talia.lash@englishtouringopera.org.uk.

English Touring Opera and Buxton Opera House

6th November 2013

With great regret, English Touring Opera announces that the company will not be touring to Buxton Opera House in Spring 2014.

Dates were provisionally scheduled in Buxton for Thursday 1 to Saturday 3 May, with performances of The Magic Flute, Paul Bunyan and King Priam.

Due to unforeseen and unexpected circumstances, Buxton Opera House and English Touring Opera were unable to agree a deal which guaranteed ETO a sufficient level of income to enable the visit to go ahead as originally planned.

Buxton Opera House is a much beloved venue for ETO and we will continue to discuss with the theatre how best to secure a return in future ETO seasons.

In the meantime, the nearest venue to Buxton on ETO’s Spring 2014 tour is Sheffield Theatres, which is 27 miles away. In Sheffield we will be performing The Magic Flute on Friday 11 April and King Priam on Saturday 12 April.

Laika the Spacedog wins two Best Production awards at Armel Opera Festival

16th October 2013



English Touring Opera’s opera for young people, Laika the Spacedog, has won two awards at a major international opera festival.

Laika the Spacedog was awarded the International Jury Prize for Best Production at the Armel Opera Competition, part of the Armel Opera Festival in Szeged, Hungary. The opera saw off competition from productions of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

ETO’s production, with music by Russell Hepplewhite and words and direction by Tim Yealland, also received the University of Szeged prize for Best Production at the award ceremony, which took place on Tuesday 15 October.

The opera itself was performed in Szeged, and streamed live on the TV Network ARTE, on Monday 14 October – click the picture above to watch the performance again.

Laika is both the first ever British opera and the first opera for children to win the Armel Opera Competition’s prize for Best Production. Two of the roles in the opera were performed by Nicholas Rigas and Sarah Laulan, singers competing in the festival in their own right.

The opera that tells the story of Laika, the Russian mongrel discovered in Gorky Park in Moscow in 1957, and destined to become the first animal in orbit.

The show opened with a sell-out week of performances in January 2013 at the Science Museum in London, before touring to schools and theatres across the country alongside ETO’s full-length Spring 2013 operas, with a cast of singers drawn from the company’s main-stage shows.

Laika was awarded the PRS David Bedford Music Education Award in 2013 as an exceptional music education project for primary school children and family audiences.

The Armel Opera Festival was established in 2008 in Szeged, in southern Hungary, and judges singers on their ability to excel in all aspects of opera performance, including not only singing but also stage movement and acting. The Festival therefore stages performances each year of five new productions, in cooperation with opera companies and opera houses in five different countries, before awarding prizes to the winning production and singers.

The international jury this year for the Armel Opera Competition included Raymond Duffaut, General Director of the Chorégies d’Orange; Guy Coolen, the Artistic Director of the Operadagen Rotterdam Festival; Fabrizio Melano, Stage Director of the Metropolitan Opera House; and Henry Little, the Chief Executive of Orchestras Live and Chairman of the UK’s National Opera Coordinating Committee.

Tim Yealland, ETO’s Artistic Associate for Education, said: ‘We were thrilled to be able to take Laika to the magnificent theatre in Szeged, and for the juries to suspend their disbelief to trust in the power and value of opera for children.’

Ágnes Havas, Director of the Armel Opera Festival, said: ‘Laika the Spacedog was chosen to be presented at the Festival because this kind of work that shows the children the world and genre of opera in an interactive way does not exist in Hungary. That is the reason why we wanted to present it on a large stage, to show the public what is possible with this creative and effective piece. Moreover, the important acting skills that this opera requires from the singers is perfectly in line with the Armel Festival’s philosophy.Congratulations to English Touring Opera!’

We are now working to build on this success with a new opera for young audiences in spring 2014 called Borka. To find out how you can play a vital role in making Borka come to life, please click here

Let us know what you think of the Laika recording above: tweet us at @etopera or post a comment on Facebook

Click here for more information on Laika the Spacedog.

Browse a gallery of pictures from the original show below:

Laika the Spacedog

Laika the Spacedog live broadcast from Armel Festival

11th October 2013

Laika the Spacedog live broadcast from Armel Festival


English Touring Opera’s award-winning opera Laika the Spacedog will be broadcast live from Armel Opera Festival in Szeged, Hungary on Monday 14 October at 6:10pm.

Laika the Spacedog is a new children’s opera written and directed by Tim Yealland and composed by Russell Hepplewhite for ETO’s spring 2013 tour. It tells the story of Laika, the Russian mongrel discovered in Gorky Park in Moscow in 1957, and destined to become the first animal in orbit.

After a preview for BBC Stargazing Live at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in January 2013, Laika opened with a sell-out week of performances at the Science Museum in London.

The opera was awarded the PRS David Bedford Music Education Award in 2013 as an exceptional music education project for primary school children and family audiences.

Following its successful UK tour, Laika is now landing in Hungary, where English Touring Opera will give a special performance as part of the Armel Opera Festival in Szeged on Monday 14 October.

The performance will be broadcast live at 6:10pm on the ARTE website, where it will also be available to watch until April 2014. To watch the live web broadcast, please follow this link

A public vote is also open to select the festival’s best-loved production. Please support ETO’s cast and crew by going to the ARTE website and voting for Laika the Spacedog as this year’s public favourite. CLICK HERE to vote.

Did you watch the broadcast? Let us know what you thought of Laika: tweet us at @etopera or post a comment on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EnglishTouringOpera.

ETO nominated for a 2013 UK Theatre Award

26th September 2013

ETO has been nominated for a 2013 UK Theatre Award for its ambitious and widely-acclaimed Autumn 2012 season.

The nomination is in the ‘Achievement in Opera’ category, one of 15 award categories announced this morning by the Theatrical Management Association (TMA).

ETO’s Autumn 2012 nationwide tour, produced in collaboration with Aurora Orchestra , presented three very different, highly dramatic twentieth century operas – Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, The Lighthouse by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, The Emperor of Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann – and, paired with Ullmann’s opera, a staged performance of the Bach cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden.

All three productions aimed both to delight seasoned opera-goers and to offer an exciting way into opera for those new to the art-form, through dance, drama and song.

The season has already won a Whatsonstage.com Opera award for ‘Most Outstanding Contribution to London’s Operatic Scene’, and was shortlisted for the RPS Music Award for Opera and Music Theatre.

The UK Theatre Awards are the only nationwide awards to honour creative excellence and the outstanding achievement seen on and off stage throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Awards will be presented on Sunday 20 October at a lunchtime ceremony at London’s historic Guildhall.

ETO plans pioneering research into opera cinema broadcasts

23rd August 2013


The current trend for large opera companies to broadcast their work in cinemas has changed the audience experience of opera. Now English Touring Opera is teaming up with researchers at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama for the first academic study of the phenomenon in the UK.

180 UK cinemas now regularly broadcast the Met Opera Live in HD series, with an ever-expanding list of more than 200 cinemas also broadcasting the Royal Opera House’s cinema season. The research will explore the appeal of live opera and cinema broadcasts, if the emotional experience for audiences differs, and if lessons from the success of the cinema broadcasts can be used to increase the audience for live opera.

The research is funded by Creativeworks London, which brings together creative businesses and academic institutions based in London to increase growth in the creative economy. The lead researcher is Professor John Sloboda, director of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Understanding Audiences research programme.

Research in cinemas and theatres will take place between October and December, 2013, with the findings being announced in early 2014.

The Barbican is involved as initial research partner. Cinema companies that would like to know more about their audiences for opera cinema broadcasts are invited to participate in the research. For more information on this opportunity please contact English Touring Opera on 0207 833 2555.

ETO to host three Linbury Prize finalists working on 2015 production of rare Donizetti opera

8th August 2013

The finalists for this year’s Linbury Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for Stage Design, include three graduates designing for ETO’s Spring 2015 production of Donizetti’s great rare work Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo.

Florence de Mare (RADA), Rosanna Vize (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School), and Faye Bradley (also Bristol Old Vic Theatre School) will all work on the early stages of the design for ETO’s production. One of the three will subsequently win a commission to realise their design.

ll furioso all’isola di San Domingo is recognised as one of Donizetti’s very greatest works, though it has only been performed twice in the UK, and never outside of London.

In the opera, a poor fool, with periods of great lucidity, subsists on a Caribbean island in a community of farmers and slaves. The clash of cultures, dream-like isolation, storm sequence, and unusually existential discourse make this a very special design opportunity.

Florence, Rosanne and Faye join nine other finalists of the Linbury Prize, with three designers each working with the National Theatre of Scotland, Nottingham Playhouse and Scottish Dance Theatre. One of the twelve finalists will be awarded the overall winner’s title.

The Linbury Prize for Stage Design was founded by Lady Anya Sainsbury in 1987 as a springboard for recent graduates from theatre design courses around the UK. It gives applicants an unparalleled opportunity to work with professional arts companies and to collaborate with writers, directors and technical teams at a crucial stage in their careers.

The Linbury Prize for Stage Design is sponsored by the Linbury Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. On the judging panel this year are renowned designers Es Devlin, John Macfarlane and Christopher Oram.

Tickets available for opera recital in Perth

7th May 2013

Join us for an evening of opera in support of Perth College’s Alzheimer’s Family Study at Methven Castle (pictured) near Perth on Wednesday 15 May 2013.

ETO soloists Paula Sides (Despina in our current production of Così fan tutte) and Cozmin Sime (Edward III in The Siege of Calais) will sing a selection of arias and duets from operas including The Magic Flute, La traviata, Eugene Onegin and Handel’s Agrippina.

To book your place call 01738 877275 or email: finla.chalmers@perth.uhi.ac.uk.

Evening’s programme

Der Freischütz (Weber)
Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen (Paula Sides)

I puritani (Bellini)
Ah! per sempre (Cozmin Sime)

La traviata (Verdi)
Duet (Paula Sides and Cozmin Sime)

Werther (Massenet)
Frère! Voyez! (Paula Sides)

Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Kogda bi zhizn domashnim krugom (Cozmin Sime)

Agrippina (Handel)
Bel piacere (Paula Sides)

Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
Duet for Papageno and Papagena (Paula Sides and Cozmin Sime)

Important note on Everyman Theatre Cheltenham box office temporary closure

26th April 2013


Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham is upgrading its box office system from Sunday 28 April – Wednesday 1 May: during this time ticket sales will be suspended.

The box office is scheduled to re-open at midday on Wednesday 1 May.

Customers wishing to purchase tickets for ETO’s performances of Cosi fan tutte on Tuesday 30 April and Simon Boccanegra on Wednesday 1 May may do so in person on the day of the event at the Everyman Theatre box office.

Please note that during the upgrade period sales at the box office will be cash only.

ETO shortlisted for RPS Music Award for Opera and Music Theatre

11th April 2013


ETO’s ambitious and critically-acclaimed Autumn 2012 season has been shortlisted for the prestigious RPS Music Award for Opera and Music Theatre.

The season saw ETO collaborating with Aurora Orchestra on a nationwide tour of three highly theatrical twentieth-century operas – one paired with a staging of an eighteenth-century cantata.

The tour extended the company’s mission to bring opera to all by presenting opportunities for audiences at regional theatres and opera houses to see full-scale performances of strongly diverse and unusual works.

During the season, ETO toured new productions of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, and a paired staging of Viktor Ullmann’s short opera The Emperor of Atlantis and the Bach cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden.

ETO has been nominated for RPS Music awards in the past, but this is the first time the company has been shortlisted for the Opera and Music Theatre award. It is also rare that RPS chooses to celebrate a season of work, rather than individual operas.

The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners.

The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like a Who’s Who of classical music.

This year’s RPS Music Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in 2012. The winners of all thirteen categories are revealed in May at a dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, London. The Opera and Music Theatre award is donated by the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

James Conway, ETO’s General Director, said: “I am honoured and delighted that the RPS has acknowledged our extraordinary – and risky – Autumn season of opera. Apart from scale, the three operas could hardly be more different, and we succeeded at least inasmuch as the productions reflected this.”

He added: “The most important award for this season was the warm and reassuring response of audiences all around the country. They said to us, in effect – ‘we aren’t in London, but we are relieved you take us seriously!’ ETO does take opera seriously – and the recognition of the RPS is very gratifying.”

John Harte, Chief Executive of Aurora Orchestra, said: “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of English Touring Opera’s contribution to the UK’s musical landscape. The autumn 2012 season seemed to me to epitomise the very best of what the company offers: outstanding quality; bold and innovative programming; and an ambitious commitment to the development of new audiences.”

He added: ‘In any circumstances we’d have been delighted to be part of three wonderful new productions, but ETO’s achievement in bringing these operas to such a wide and varied national audience meant that this was a particularly special project.’

ETO’s Autumn 2012 season was made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England , Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Emperor of Atlantis Production Syndicate. We are extremely grateful for their support.

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