King Priam

Michael Tippett - Spring 2014

First performed at the festival marking the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral in 1962, Michael Tippett’s opera is a magnificent evocation of a father’s radical choices and their consequences in time of war.

Conductor 
Michael Rosewell
Director 
James Conway
Designer 
Anna Fleischle
Lighting Designer 
Guy Hoare

“Utterly compelling” ★★★★ Guardian
“Catch it if you can” ★★★★ WhatsOnStage
“I found myself thinking about this opera for days afterwards” ★★★★ Bachtrack
“An exceptional achievement” The Stage
“An ensemble performance of rare conviction” Independent

First performed at the festival marking the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral in 1962 (following its bombing in WW2), Michael Tippett’s King Priam is a stirring account of fundamental choices and their consequences in wartime.
Tippett’s music is breathtaking, his text precise and moving: this is one of the most impressive operas of the 20th century, and ETO’s most ambitious project to date. This evocation of the last days of Troy, told from the perspective of the aging king, is a powerful meditation on fatherhood and on the futility of war. The female characters (Hecuba, Andromache and Helen) are mighty presences, double cast as goddesses, alongside the heroes Hector, Achilles and Paris. This is British opera at its most eloquent and powerful.

New production, sung in English
Touring with a live orchestra
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)

You can get closer to our new production of King Priam and learn more about twentieth century opera by joining our King Priam Production Syndicate. To find out more, please click here

Listen


Courtesy of BBC Radio 3 In Tune. All rights reserved.

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Face the choice of Paris

In King Priam (as in Greek myth), Zeus forces Paris to choose between the goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite in the ultimate beauty contest of the ancient world. His choice has consequences – but, if you were in Paris’ position, which goddess would you choose?

Further reading

Meirion Bowen was artistic and personal manager to Michael Tippett from 1978 until the composer’s death in 1998, and has written many books and articles on Tippett’s life and work. Bowen’s essay ‘King Priam: Genesis, Achievement and Interpretation’ provides an excellent introduction to the opera, and can be found on his website here.

Showing At

  1. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    13th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  2. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    15th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  3. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    18th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  4. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    22nd Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  5. Lighthouse, Poole
    15th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm
  6. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    29th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm
  7. Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
    2nd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  8. Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
    12th Apr 2014 - 7:45 pm
  9. The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
    23rd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  10. Norwich Theatre Royal
    26th Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    17th May 2014 - 7:30 pm
  12. Gala Theatre, Durham
    20th May 2014 - 7:30 pm
  13. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    27th May 2014 - 7:30 pm
  1. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London — 13th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Covent Garden, London , WC2E 9DD

  2. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London — 15th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Covent Garden, London , WC2E 9DD

  3. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London — 18th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Covent Garden, London , WC2E 9DD

  4. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London — 22nd Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Covent Garden, London , WC2E 9DD

  5. Lighthouse, Poole — 15th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Kingland Road, Poole, BH15 1UG

  6. Snape Maltings Concert Hall — 29th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP

  7. Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham — 2nd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ

  8. Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield — 12th Apr 2014 - 7:45 pm

    55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA

  9. The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury — 23rd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm

    The Friars, Canterbury, CT1 2AS

  10. Norwich Theatre Royal — 26th Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RL

  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 17th May 2014 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

  12. Gala Theatre, Durham — 20th May 2014 - 7:30 pm

    1 Millennium Place, Town Centre, Durham, DH1 1WA

  13. Cambridge Arts Theatre — 27th May 2014 - 7:30 pm

    6 St Edward's Passage, Cambridge, CB2 3PJ

Michael Rosewell

Michael Rosewell

Conductor

Michael began his career at the Vienna State Opera as a member of the music staff and assistant to Claudio Abbado. Having worked closely with many of the world’s greatest singers including Pavarotti, Domingo, Gruberova, Freni, Carreras, Alfredo Kraus, and Cappuccilli, he went on to conduct extensively throughout Germany; notably the opera houses in Kassel, Wiesbaden and the Nationaltheater, Mannheim, where he held the position of Kapellmeister. He has also conducted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, for Kent Opera, ENO, and regularly at the International Festivals in Aldeburgh, Bath, Perth, Buxton and Montepulciano.

In concert Michael has conducted amongst others, the Staatsorchester, Rheinische Philharmonie, the Nationalorchester, Mannheim, the Staatsorchester, Wiesbaden, the Pforztheimer Kammerorchester, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the RTE Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the BT Scottish Ensemble and the Aurora Orchestra. He has also worked extensively with leading period instrument ensemble ‘The London Handel Orchestra’ with which, as ‘Associate Conductor’, he introduced many rarely performed Handel operas to the London stage. He has broadcast for Radio France Musique, RTE Dublin and Süddeutsche Rundfunk. His recording of Lehar arias, with Grammy award winning tenor Alfie Boe and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera was recently re-released under the Decca record label.

Recent projects include mentoring Craig Revel Horwood through to winning the BBC Maestro at the Opera, filmed in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to conducting a Bach’s St John Passion with the RTE Symphony Orchestra, Dublin. His most recent performances with ETO included Michael Tippett’s King Priam at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; a production which won the Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’, 2014.

James Conway

James Conway

Director

General Director of ETO, James Conway has directed 24 new productions and 4 revivals for the company, including Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (to be revived in 2015), Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena and Handel’s Alcina, Ariodante, Teseo, Tolomeo, Flavio, Xerxes and Agrippina. Other notable ETO productions include Eugene Onegin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Simon Boccanegra, The Emperor of Atlantis and the world première of Alexander Goehr’s Promised End. For RCM he directed L’incoronazione di Poppea and Le nozze di Figaro, and for the Canadian Opera Company Don Giovanni. His production of The Cunning Little Vixen is in repertory at the Moravian National Theatre in Janacek’s home city of Brno. He has written original libretti for 2 operas and translations for 5 others, as well as several works of fiction; his most recent translation was last season’s Agrippina. Upcoming productions include Giulio Cesare (Lucca) and Ottone (ETO).

Anna Fleischle

Anna Fleischle

Designer

Anna trained at the Central St Martins College of Art & Design and designs for theatre, opera and dance. Opera includes: Robin Hood (Zurich Opera); Candide (Opera National de Lorraine); Zaide (Classical Opera Co). Theatre includes: Before the Party (Almeida Theatre); The Scared Flame (English Touring Theatre) Love the Sinner (National Theatre); Troilus & Cressida (Shakespeare’s Globe); Falling Up (Mimbre); Coram Boy (Bristol Old Vic); Blindsided, Rats Tales, Saturday Night & Sunday Morning (Royal Exchange). Dance includes: new tour for 2014/2015 DV8 Physical Theatre, Dir. Lloyd Newson, previously for DV8 Can We Talk About This?; Second Coming (Scottish Dance Theatre, Chor. Victor Quijada); Grope and Find It and Pull It Out (Chor. Deborah Hay).

Guy Hoare

Guy Hoare

Lighting Designer

Opera includes: The Lighthouse; Albert Herring; Gianni Schicchi; Il Tabarro; Promised End; Katya Kabanova; Don Giovanni; Eugene Onegin (ETO); Jakob Lenz (ENO); American Lulu; The Firework-Maker’s Daughter (The Opera Group).

Theatre includes: Strange Interlude (National); Roots; Serenading Louie; Be Near Me (Donmar); A Doll’s House (Young Vic); NSFW; In Basildon (Royal Court); A Delicate Balance; Waste (Almeida); Peter Pan (NTS); The Little Mermaid, Faith Healer (BOV); Rutherford & Son; Othello (Northern Broadsides).

Dance includes: The Metamorphosis (Royal Ballet); The Land of Yes, The Land of No (Sydney Dance Company); Frontline (Aterbaletto); Dream (NDCWales); Pavlova’s Dogs (Scottish Dance Theatre); Dracula (Mark Bruce Company); Mischief (Theatre Rites).

Cast

Roderick Earle

Roderick Earle

Bass-baritone

Priam

Over sixty roles with the Royal Opera including Tippett’s King Fisher The Midsummer Marriage. Roderick has sung with all the main British companies as well as in several European opera houses (including Turin, Rome, Oslo and Valencia) and further afield (New Zealand, the Far East and Israel). His roles include Count, Rigoletto, Germont, Ford, Flying Dutchman, Alberich and Scarpia. In 2010 he sang Nekrotzar Le Grand Macabre at the Adelaide Festival, a role he also sang in 2011 at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires. In 2010 he sang King Lear in ETO’s world premiere of Alexander Goehr’s Promised End.

Laure Meloy

Laure Meloy

Soprano

Hecuba

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of Queen of the Night will be sung by Ms Laure Meloy for the following performances: London (8 March), Poole (13 March), Wolverhampton (17 March), Cheltenham (4 April), Leicester (7 April), York (15 April), Crawley (5 May), Exeter (15 May), and Cambridge (30 May).

Laure Meloy recently joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and has performed at ROH, ENO, WNO and ON. Roles include Lucia, Fiordiligi, Lulu and Zerbinetta. A keen proponent of contemporary classical music, Ms Meloy has premiered many new works, and her voice was featured on the soundtrack of the BBC/Sony film Rocketmen. Recent projects include the CD Sorcery & Seduction, recitals at the Canterbury Festival and St. Pancras Church, London, and covering Miss Schlesen Satyagraha for ENO. Future engagements include covering Ariel The Tempest for the Vienna Staatsoper.

Grant Doyle

Grant Doyle

Baritone

Hector

Grant was born in Adelaide and studied at the University of Adelaide, the Royal College of Music in London and was a Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His opera credits include Ping Turandot (Royal Opera House); Don Giovanni, Forester Cunning Little Vixen (Garsington Opera); Marcello La bohème, Zurga Les pêcheurs de perles (Opera Holland Park); Robin Oakapple Ruddigore (Opera North), and Abraham in Clemency at the Edinburgh Festival/Scottish Opera.

Other appearances include Billy in Anna Nicole, Tarquinius Rape of Lucretia, Harlequin Ariadne auf Naxos and Schaunard La bohème for the Royal Opera; Figaro Barber of Seville, Paolo Simon Boccanegra and Hector King Priam (ETO); Marcello and Figaro (Longborough Festival); Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro (Garsington, State Opera of South Australia) and the role of Starbuck in the new Jake Heggie opera Moby Dick (SOSA) for which he won a Helpmann Award.

As a busy concert soloist, Grant has sung Carmina Burana with the Bach Choir at the Royal Festival Hall, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra as well as at the Royal Albert Hall. Other performances include Fauré Requiem (Hallé Orchestra, Carl Davis), Brahms’ Requiem with the Bach Choir/Philharmonia at the Westminster Cathedral, Britten’s War Requiem (Huddersfield Choral Society), Tippett’s A Child of Our Time (Crouch End Festival Chorus/Barbican), and Messiah with the Royal Choral Society at the Royal Albert Hall.

Future work includes Oreste Iphigénie en Tauride (Pinchgut), Dancaire Carmen (ROH) and Don Giovanni (SOSA).

Camilla Roberts

Camilla Roberts

Soprano

Andromache

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of First Lady will be sung by Ms Camilla Roberts for the following performances: London (7 March), Truro (10 March), Wolverhampton (17 March), Snape (27 March), Cheltenham (4 and 5 April), Leicester (7 April), York (15 April), Canterbury (22 April), Norwich (27 April), Crawley (5 May), Coventry (10 May), Exeter (14 and 15 May), Durham (19 May), and Cambridge (29, 30, 31 May).

Welsh Soprano Camilla Roberts trained at the GSMD and NOS and was a WNO Associate Artist. Significant roles include Fiordiligi Cosi fan tutte, Donna Anna Don Giovanni, Countess Le nozze di Figaro, Micaela Carmen (WNO); Tatyana Eugene Onegin (OHP); Marenka Bartered Bride and Mimi La Boheme (MWO); Foreign Princess Rusalka (ETO). Concert highlights include Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 at the Barbican Hall, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Sir Willard White and Verdi’s Requiem with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Recent and future engagements include Irene Belisario (Opera Rara); Elsa (cover) Lohenghrin (WNO); Elisabetta Maria Stuarda (WNO, ROH Muscat); Eglantine Euryanthe (Chelsea Opera Group) and a return to WNO in 2015.

Nicholas Sharratt

Nicholas Sharratt

Tenor

Paris

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of Tamino will be sung by Mr Nicholas Sharratt for the following performances: London (8 March), Poole (13 March), Wolverhampton (17 March), Cheltenham (4 April), Leicester (7 April), York (15 April), Crawley (5 May), Warwick (9 May), Exeter (15 May), Durham (19 May), and Cambridge (30 May).

Born in Nottingham, Nicholas studied Commerce at Birmingham University, and singing at the RNCM and the NOS as a Peter Moores Foundation scholar. He has been a guest artist for Glyndebourne, SO, ON, Grange Park, Garsington, Early Opera Company; and worked with Sir Mark Elder, Sir Simon Rattle, Nicholas McGegan and David Parry. In concert, he has sung Parry Jones A Serenade to Music at the BBC Proms (LSO/Sir Andrew Davis); Tirsi La Danza at Wigmore Hall (Christian Curnyn); Messiah at Cadogan Hall; Camille The Merry Widow at the RFH (Philharmonia/John Wilson). For ETO: Ernesto Don Pasquale, Flute A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Almaviva The Barber of Seville.

Niamh Kelly

Niamh Kelly

Mezzo soprano

Helen

From Moville, Co Donegal, Niamh is an hons graduate of NUI Maynooth and University of Limerick. Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland she then attended RNCM graduating with a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance with Distinction. She continues her studies with Anne Mason.

The first recipient of ETO’s Young Artist Bursary Niamh’s operatic performances include Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro, Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3rd lady, The Magic Flute, Smeton, Anna Bolena, Mrs Ott, Susannah and Olga, Eugene Onegin (all ETO), Dorabella, Cosi fan tutte (Mananan Opera Festival), Maurya, Riders to the Sea (Opera Fringe Northern Ireland); Cherubino, Le Nozze di Figaro, Mercedes, Carmen (Opera Brava); Eurynome, Penelope (Wexford Festival Opera).

Recent performances include 1st Norn and Grimgerde in concert performances of Götterdämmerung and Die Walkure with The Wagner Society and David Syrus, and Hansel in NI Opera’s production of Hansel and Gretel.

Adrian Dwyer

Adrian Dwyer

Tenor

Hermes

Adrian Dwyer studied at GSMD and the NOS. Opera includes: Andres Wozzeck, Jaquino Fidelio, Arturo Lucia di Lammermoor, Officer The Passenger (ENO); Sam Kaplan Street Scene (Toulon); Rodolfo La Bohème (Los Angeles, Cape Town Opera, Royal Albert Hall); Almaviva Il barbiere di Siviglia, Macduff Macbeth (Scottish Opera); Alfredo La traviata, Almaviva (Opera Queensland), Ismaele Nabucco (State Opera of South Australia); Janek Makropulos Case, Cherevin House of the Dead, Robert Skin Deep, Miroslav Mr Broucek (ON); Tamino Magic Flute (OTC, Grange Park); Hagenbach La Wally, Don Ottavio Don Giovanni (Holland Park); Steuermann Der Fliegende Holländer (NI Opera).

Charne Rochford

Charne Rochford

Tenor

Achilles

Charne was born in London and trained at RAM. Roles include Eisenstein (RPO), Cavaradossi (Bermuda Festival), 1st Armed Man/ 2nd Priest (Glyndebourne/ON), Rodolpho (Lyric Opera, Dublin), Bacchus (Strauss Festival, London), Il Duca di Mantua (Neumunster Abbey, Luxembourg) Previously for ETO he has sung both Luigi Il tabarro and Adorno Simon Boccanegra. Recent concert work includes Glass’ Satyagraha for the Blickfelder Festival, Switzerland and a series of Verdi’s Requiem at Victoria Hall, Geneva and at Lausanne Cathedral. He made his cinematic debut as 2nd Officer in The Magic Flute, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Future engagements Rossini Stabat Mater at Exeter Cathedral, Canio I Pagliacci for Opera de Baugé and Lyonel Martha for the Volksoper Zürich.

Piotr Lempa

Piotr Lempa

Bass

Patroclus

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of Sarastro will be sung by Mr Piotr Lempa for the following performances: Truro (10 March), Cheltenham (5 April), York (15 April), Crawley (5 May), Exeter (13 May), Perth (22 May), and Cambridge (31 May).

Mr Piotr Lempa will sing the role of Speaker on the following dates: London (7, 8 March), Poole (13 March), Wolverhampton (17 March), Snape (27 March), Cheltenham (3, 4 April), Leicester (7 April), Sheffield (11 April), Canterbury (22 April), Norwich (27 April), Coventry (9, 10 May), Exeter (14, 15 May), Durham (19 May), and Cambridge (29, 30 May).

Piotr Lempa is a native of Poland and graduate of RAM, Cardiff International Academy of Voice and the Vocal and Acting Faculty at the Music Academy in Gdansk, Poland. He made his opera debut singing Oroveso Norma for ETO. He has since appeared in productions of La bohème, Die Zauberflöte, Ariadne auf Naxos, Kátya Kabanová, Halka, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Le nozze di Figaro, Bastien und Bastienne, and Salome, in Wales, England, Germany and Poland. Future plans include Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Patroclus (King Priam) and Publius (La Clemenza di Tito). www.piotrlempa.com

Clarissa Meek

Clarissa Meek

Mezzo soprano

Nurse

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of Second Lady will be sung by Ms Clarissa Meek for the following performances: London (8 March), Poole (13 March), Cheltenham (3 April), Sheffield (11 April), Crawley (5 May), Exeter (15 May), Durham (19 May), and Cambridge (29 May).

Clarissa studied at GSMD. Opera: 2nd Lady Magic Flute; 2nd Esquire, Heavenly Voice Parsifal (ROH) Katerina Shratt Mayerling (Royal Ballet, ROH), Virtu/Pallade Coronation of Poppea (Netherlands Opera), Sorceress Dido and Aeneas, Les Noces, 2nd Maid Elektra (ON); Iolanthe (title role), Annie Fisher Friend of the People (SO); Madam Larina Onegin (Glyndeboume); Mrs Grose Turn of the Screw (Grange Park); Dog-Fox Cunning Little Vixen, Frugola Il Tabarro, Zita Gianni Schicchi, Mrs Herring Albert Herring (ETO). Concert: Les Nuits d’Ete Flanders Symphony Orchestra, touring Belgium; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony Bamberger Symphoniker under Walter Weller; Elijah RSNO. Recording: Feodor Boris Godunov Brighton Festival.

Andrew Slater

Andrew Slater

Bass

Old Man

Andrew studied at Royal Northern College of Music and St Petersburg Conservatoire. He has performed more than 75 opera roles including Lotario, Ariodate, Falstaff, Bottom, Bartolo, Blitch, Alfonso, Donald and Araspe (All ETO); Ben Selim (Royal Opera House), Nachtigal (Grange Park Opera), Golaud (Glyndebourne Touring Opera), Faninal (Scottish Opera), Basilio (Welsh National Opera), Sacristan (Opera North), Colline (English National Opera) etc.

Recordings include Nyman, Love Counts and Mozart 252 (MNR); Michael Berkeley, Jane Eyre (Chandos); Stravinsky, The Flood (Twentieth Century Classics).

Adam Tunnicliffe

Adam Tunnicliffe

Tenor

Young Guard

Canadian tenor Adam Tunnicliffe read music at Christ Church, Oxford and studied as a postgraduate at GSMD. Roles with ETO include Sandy The Lighthouse, Albert Albert Herring, Lensky Eugene Onegin, Don Basilio The Marriage of Figaro, Mr. Porcupine Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Mask The Duenna, and Captain Promised End (Alexander Goehr, world premiere). Other roles include Rinuccio Gianni Schicchi at OHP, Fracasso La Finta Semplice, Apollonia La Canterina and Sumers in L’italiana in Londra for Bampton Classical Opera.

Caryl Hughes

Caryl Hughes

Mezzo soprano

Paris as a boy

SPRING 2014 – THE MAGIC FLUTE
The role of Papagena will be sung by Ms Caryl Hughes for the following performances: London (7 March), Truro (10 March), Wolverhampton (17 March), Snape (27 March), Cheltenham (3 and 4 April), Leicester (7 April), Sheffield (11 April), York (15 April), Canterbury (22 April), Coventry (9 and 10 May), Exeter (14 and 15 May), Durham (19 May), Perth (22 May), and Cambridge (29-30 May).

Caryl was born in Wales and studied at the RAM. She was awarded the Towyn Roberts scholarship at the 2005 National Eisteddfod and won the Stuart Burrows competition in 2009. Engagements have included Cenerentola La Cenerentola (Iford Opera), Yniold Pelleas et Melisande (Independent Opera), Flora The Enchanted Pig (The Opera Group), Varvara Katya Kabanova, Cenerentola La Cenerentola (both Scottish Opera), Teti Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo and Orlovsky Die Fledermaus (WNO). She has recorded Britten’s Cabaret Songs with Malcolm Martineau. Concert highlights include a UK tour with Bryn Terfel (Raymond Gubbay).

Stuart Haycock

Stuart Haycock

Tenor

Hunter 1

Australian-born tenor Stuart Haycock studied in Sydney and RAM. Engagements include Goro Madame Butterfly (MWO/New Devon Opera), Bardolph Falstaff (MWO), Don Curzio Le nozze di Figaro (Garsington), Borsa Rigoletto and Gastone La Traviata (Iford Arts Festival), Ferrando Così fan tutte (English Chamber Opera), Parpignol La Boheme (Longborough), Mole Fantastic Mr Fox, Giovanni D’aire L’assedio di Calais, Captain Simon Boccanegra, Lucano L’incoronazione di Poppea and Demus Jason (ETO), Triquet Eugene Onegin and Beppe Pagliacci (Stanley Hall Opera), St Brioche The Merry Widow (Opera Project). He has covered roles in The Tales of Hoffmann, Wolfgang Rihm’s Jacob Lenz, Martinu’s Julietta and Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress for ENO.

Johnny Herford

Johnny Herford

Baritone

Hunter 2

Johnny Herford won the Song Prize at the 2013 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and the Jean Meikle Duo Prize at the 2013 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. Born in London, he grew up in Oxfordshire and sang as a treble in New College Choir. He studied at Cambridge University and RAM, under Mark Wildman. He is a Samling scholar and Britten-Pears Young Artist, and currently studies with Russell Smythe.
He has sung principal roles in operas by Judith Weir, Jonathan Dove, Kim Ashton and Danyal Dhondy, and in Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Kommilitonen. Other operatic performances have included The Magic Flute (Papageno), Albert Herring (Sid), and The Merry Widow (Danilo).
He is grateful to the Sickle Foundation for their generous support.

Henry Manning

Henry Manning

Baritone

Hunter 3

Henry Manning read Economic History at the University of Edinburgh, before studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and subsequently in Ghent, Belgium where he joined the Flanders Opera Studio. He is a student of Robert Dean, and recent engagements have included Guglielmo Così fan tutte, Schaunard La bohème, Traveller Curlew River, Pritschitsch in Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Noye Noyes Fludde, Morales Carmen, Florian in Princess Ida at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton, and becoming a 2013 Britten-Pears Young Artist. This is Henry’s second season with ETO having debuted with the company in Spring 2013.

A performance of ravaged majesty from Roderick Earle in the title role … Unnerving, seductive stuff, and utterly compelling.

★★★★ Guardian

The cast is terrific … For much of King Priam’s duration the stage is filled to bursting with humanity, whether named characters or the ever-present (and quite marvellous) ETO Chorus.

★★★★ WhatsOnStage

English Touring Opera has created a strong and beautiful production, which should be seen for its design and costumes alone.

★★★★ Bachtrack

Roderick Earle, as Priam, leads an ensemble performance of rare conviction, with Grant Doyle’s Hector, Nicholas Sharratt’s Paris, Charne Rochford’s Achilles, and Adrian Dwyer’s Hermes all outstanding.

Independent

Tippett’s austere, sometimes abrasive score is finely articulated under the company’s music director, Michael Rosewell. Among a uniformly strong cast there are memorable standouts – Roderick Earle’s dignified, conflicted Priam, Camilla Roberts’ impassioned Andromache, Grant Doyle’s bold Hector, Nicholas Sharratt’s wilful, uneasy Paris, Charne Rochford’s fierce Achilles. The result is an exceptional achievement, not to be missed as it tours widely this spring.

The Stage

Nor can there be any doubt as to the magnificence of the score, coloured by the terrible anxiety of war, urgent in its calls to arms, restless in its nervous lyricism.

The Telegraph

One of the best things ETO has done; the opera is revealed as a flat-out, uncompromising masterpiece…In fact the entire season was a triumph for artistic director James Conway and his team.

Humphrey Burton (Aldeburgh Gazette)

The fact that it spoke so vividly … is a measure of the work’s power, and the performers’ conviction.

Classical-music.com (BBC Music Magazine)

Impressive production of Tippett’s King Priam at the Royal Opera House last night. Excellent cast and design. Small venue added intensity.

Michael Graham (on Twitter)

ETO’s King Priam at the Royal Opera a triumph. Act III immeasurably moving. A great work.

Oliver Soden (on Twitter)

ETO’s King Priam a triumph. Reduced orchestration works extraordinarily well. Dramatic involvement beyond reproach. Gripping!

Mark Berry (on Twitter)

Congratulations to all on a very dramatic and exciting staging of King Priam.

Michael Llewellyn (on Twitter)

Showing At

  1. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    13th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  2. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    15th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  3. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    18th Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  4. Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London
    22nd Feb 2014 - 7:30 pm
  5. Lighthouse, Poole
    15th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm
  6. Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    29th Mar 2014 - 7:30 pm
  7. Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
    2nd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  8. Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
    12th Apr 2014 - 7:45 pm
  9. The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
    23rd Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  10. Norwich Theatre Royal
    26th Apr 2014 - 7:30 pm
  11. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    17th May 2014 - 7:30 pm
  12. Gala Theatre, Durham
    20th May 2014 - 7:30 pm
  13. Cambridge Arts Theatre
    27th May 2014 - 7:30 pm

King Priam – a short introduction

Most members of an audience of King Priam remember one thing above all else – Achilles’s war cry, which ends Act II. In anger and fury at his lover and fellow warrior Patroclus’s death, Achilles is given a high, barbaric, wordless cry which is taken up by all the male singers in the chorus. It is one of the most terrifying moments in all music, and just one of the reasons why this thrilling, tragic, yet somehow exhilarating opera, which contains wonderfully exciting music, which has a fierce anti-war message, and which asks important questions, demands to be seen and heard.

Tippett’s first opera, The Midsummer Marriage, was premiered in 1955 and used the composer’s own text; but it so confused everybody that when he started writing a second, he was advised to use a story that everyone already knew. He was drawn to Homer’s Iliad, and from it created King Priam, also using his own libretto, which was premiered in Coventry in 1962.

It has been described as changing the face of British opera for ever, and as one of the greatest twentieth-century operas. It certainly showed a change in Tippett’s musical style: for King Priam, the composer realised he had to find a completely different sound in order to reflect the horror of his tragic subject.

Tippett used the story of the Iliad to explore two challenging subjects. He was a fierce and life-long pacifist, and had been sent to prison during the Second World War for refusing to participate even in non-military war duties. King Priam, therefore, first shows us all the horror and squalor of wartime, but with a twist – we barely see the battlefield. Other than a few brief moments in the shortest act (Act II of three), Tippett’s version of the story shows the fallout from war on the home front, and the divisions it creates between loved ones and in families. The settings are mainly in tents when the battle has ceased, or in homes that await the return of soldiers who might never come.

Secondly, the opera portrays the complex relationship between human decision and pre-ordained fate. It asks how the world descended to such a low point, and re-structures Homer’s story around a series of decisions that appear to be the result of human choice, but which could be predestined. Notably, Tippett removes from Homer the appearance of gods and goddesses, other than Hermes, the messenger God, who helps the opera’s focus shift between Greeks and Trojans. When we do meet the three goddesses between whom Paris must pick (in the ‘Judgement of Paris’), they are sung by the three human female figures of the opera: Paris’ mother, Hecuba; his sister-in-law, Andromache; and the woman he loves, Helen.

It is Paris’s life-story that makes up the timeline of the opera. When he is born, his mother, Hecuba, has an unexplained dream. His father, King Priam, calls an Old Man to read the dream, and discovers that the baby is foretold to cause ‘his father’s death’. In turmoil, they order the baby to be killed, but a sympathetic Young Guard saves his life, giving him to a shepherd boy. (The Young Guard, Old Man, and Paris’s Nurse comment on the action throughout the opera.) Years later, Priam and his eldest son, Hector, discover Paris while out hunting; Priam chooses to bring him back to Troy. When fully grown, Paris falls in love with Helen of Sparta, who leaves her husband for Paris and for Troy; the Greeks take their horrible revenge, resulting in ten years of war, and eventually, when Troy is finally penetrated, Priam’s death, which ends the opera. In the meantime, we see only two Greeks on stage: Achilles and Patroclus. The latter is killed by Hector, causing Achilles to wreak revenge and kill Hector in turn. One of the most moving scenes in the opera – taken from the climax of the Iliad – is the ailing King Priam kissing Achilles’s hands and begging to be given the body of Hector for the formal rites of burial.

The story is of course from the Iliad, but the structure – making Priam the central focus of the action – is Tippett’s own, and he claimed not to have re-read the Iliad before embarking on the libretto. Paris’s childhood is much elaborated upon from Homer (Tippett’s source here was the Fabulae, by Hyginus). The third act, the women’s act, is also based on the plays of Euripides (Hecuba, Andromache, or the Trojan Women). Intriguingly, another of Tippett’s innovations is to make Paris and Helen lovers before Paris chooses Aphrodite out of the three goddesses.

All this required exceptional music and posed huge theatrical challenges. For the first production, Tippett, tired of standard opera productions where singers stood and declaimed, was determined that he should get a theatrical director, and so it proved. The first production was directed by Sam Wanamaker (more famous as the founder of The Globe theatre in London), and the designs were by Sean Kenny, whose sets for Lionel Bart’s Oliver! musical had impressed everybody, including Tippett.

Musically, Tippett splits up his orchestra into several sections, and splits the music into lots of different motifs, which he drops into the score side by side or on top of each other, like tiles in a mosaic. The soundworld relies heavily on percussion and brass – in the middle act, on the battlefield, we don’t hear the strings at all, just as we don’t hear women’s voices – to create a harsh and frightening world, punctuated by moments of intense beauty. Each character is often assigned a particular instrument – Hecuba is given scurrying music on the violins; Andromache a cello; Paris the oboe.

Tippett was always ahead of his critics, and the first performance of King Priam confused and startled some. But much later, one of the critics, referring to the initial dismay that had greeted this opera, wrote to its composer: ‘What chumps we were!’. King Priam stands revealed as a very powerful operatic experience indeed.

OLIVER SODEN

Your Comments

  1. The Magic Flute in Cheltenham tonight was the most amazing thing I have seen in 35 years. I used to go to Covent Garden with my Dad mostly to see Verdi but this return to opera met all my expectations even though the theatre is not an opera house. Thank you!

    Said Jane Doggett at 02:59am on 5th Apr 2014

  2. Tippet's impassioned plea for an end to conscription (well, it could have been!) provided us with the most amazing theatrical experience of our lives at the Gala theatre, Durham. Sitting practically in the orchestra pit, we got the full force of an astonishing score,astonishingly rendered, an unrelentingly woven tapestry of pain and loss. The playing made Rumsden-esque notions of shock and awe seem severely underpowered. The singing was quite literally not of this world, the set-pieces redefined Greek concepts of catharsis and we left purged of pity, but not entirely of fear. Achille's war cry, for example, had a whole audience's hair standing erect. I'm confident that Tippet would have adored this brilliantisssimo-rendering of his masterwork. Top that, Tippet! would have been a tall (even unreasonable) order! Loved every moment of this glorious and awe-inspiring mixture of Greek tragedy, music to die for (and to), and Shakespearian drama. I don't know what effect the performers would have had on the enemy, but they fair put the wind up me and me missus! There could hardly be fairer praise than that!

    Said Brian Ings at 16:42pm on 22nd May 2014

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