New productions in spring 2008

2nd March 2008

English Touring Opera to stage three new productions in spring 2008

For the first time, English Touring Opera presents three new, fully staged opera productions that will tour in repertoire for the entire season: Mozart and Donizetti classics, and the UK professional touring premiere of 20th century American opera Susannah by Carlisle Floyd.

ETO’s General Director James Conway said today: “After an autumn tour of Handel and Haydn delicacies, it is something of an adventure to put on such a red-blooded trio of operas.

“Don Giovanni is an opera that needs no introduction. Jonathan Munby’s production promises to register all the light and shade of that tremendous account of the famous libertine’s last 24 hours on earth, set in the courtyards and alleys of Seville. Anna Bolena, Donizetti’s first great triumph at La Scala, is a big, beautiful bel canto beast, imaginatively treating the last days of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn (the mother of Elizabeth I). This production builds on the success of ETO’s 2005 production of Mary, Queen of Scots, also designed by Soutra Gilmour and nominated for a South Bank award in 2005.

“Our production of the American classic Susannah marks its professional touring debut in the UK, over 50 years since its premiere, and after enormous success across America and Europe. A forceful drama that will appeal to all theatre goers, Susannah has a score that is a lyrical whirlwind, with terrific moral power. Eagerly awaited by opera buffs, it will also be an ideal first-time experience of opera.”

DONIZETTI’S ‘ANNA BOLENA

The remarkable life of Anne Boleyn is capturing the public’s imagination at the moment; both in the current television series The Tudors and the forthcoming film The Other Boleyn Girl (starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, due for release in March 2008). Anna Bolena remains one of the most moving and powerful artistic representations of the ill-fated queen, with beautiful arias, powerful orchestration, and rousing choruses.

At the heart of Anna Bolena is the cruelty of the Tudor King Henry VIII. Having set on the throne his great love Anne Boleyn, he now desires her lady in waiting Jane Seymour. As her thousand days as queen draw to a close, Anne is still fighting – until she meets again the man she loved before Henry.

Following the success of its South Bank award nominated production of Donizetti’s Mary, Queen of Scots in 2005, English Touring Opera presents a new production of the composer’s first triumph. Anna Bolena will feature a full orchestra and period costumes, and will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Julie Unwin (ETO’s acclaimed Tosca) and emerging star Julia Riley portray the friends and rivals Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, with Brazilian tenor Luciano Botelho as Anne’s lover Percy, and Riccardo Simonetti as the fatal King in this production by ETO General Director James Conway, conducted by Michael Lloyd.

MOZART’S ‘DON GIOVANNI

Mozart’s Don Giovanni is one of the darkest comedies ever written, tracking the last days of the legendary Don Juan. It remains Mozart’s most accomplished character study: at its dramatic centre is a man both charming and impious, exuberant and unkind. From the first, fatal notes of the overture to the shocking final scene, Don Giovanni remains an audience favourite.

Director Jonathan Munby is one of the most exciting young directors working in theatre in the UK. He makes his operatic debut with ETO’s new production, having just directed the critically acclaimed Nakamitsu for the Gate Theatre, Henry V for the Manchester Royal Exchange and A Number (Sheffield Crucible Studio and the Minerva Studio, Chichester) with Timothy and Samuel West. He also directed part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Canterbury Tales (West End, Stratford and Washington).

Roland Wood (ETO’s Eugene Onegin) and Jonathan Gunthorpe play the rake and his long suffering servant, leading a cast of distinguished soloists including Julia Sporsen (winner of Opera Rara 2007 Bel Canto Prize). ETO Associate Conductor Michael Rosewell conducts the ETO Orchestra and Chorus. Sung in English.

CARLISLE FLOYD’S ‘SUSANNAH

UK professional touring premiere

Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah is one of the most haunting operas ever written in English. Set in Appalachia, this is a contemporary retelling of the biblical tale of Susanna and the Elders, with a libretto that remains socially relevant today.

With soaring arias, heart-wrenching lullabies, and traditional hymns, Susannah is the story of a high spirited young girl who dreams of leaving her Tennessee valley home to experience the world beyond the mountains. These innocent dreams are shattered by the arrival of a newcomer as she is falsely accused of immorality, and the resulting events change life for everyone in the valley.

Susannah enjoys a place amongst the finest works of 20th century American lyric theatre second only to Porgy and Bess in popularity. Susannah will feature Donna Bateman (who played another Susanna for ETO in The Marriage of Figaro, 2004) in the title role and Andrew Slater in the role of the evangelist Olin Blitch. It is conducted by Alex Ingrams

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