English Touring Opera - Upcoming events http://englishtouringopera.org.uk/productions/rss/ Upcoming events at Warwick Arts Centre en-gb <![CDATA[Waxwings]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Red Gates School, Croydon A new opera for young people with learning needs in Spring 2015.

Credit: Amy Romer

Waxwings is the latest in ETO’s acclaimed series of operas for young people with special needs. The opera is highly interactive, with lots of multi-sensory elements, and is designed to stimulate and engage with young people with many different and complex needs.

A huge thank you to ETO – the opera was brilliant! Once again our pupils loved it, and your performers obligingly played an encore as one of our pupils wanted the ‘bus stop’ song again! (And they welcomed several of our pupils into the bus queue!). As with ‘Spin’, there was lots of interaction with the pupils, which was great.

Teacher, Strathmore School

The opera features beautiful new music created by Clive and Mark Ives, of the celebrated ensemble Woo Music, with live singing and playing, and lots of interactive design by Ruth Paton. Words and direction are by Tim Yealland. The cast includes singers Guy Elliott, Katie Grosset and Emily Blanch, and cellist Jonathan Kitchen. Babis Alexiadis has created a new animated film for the climax of the show, featuring dancer Ricardo Campos.

The story is about a boy called Olly and his sister Cilla. Olly is autistic and is obsessed with birds. They find a waxwing on their way to their new school and take it with them. Olly’s new teacher immediately takes against him, and the boy struggles with the simplest questions. The teacher hears the little bird in Olly’s pocket and calls for the Headteacher, who turns out to be part human, part Minotaur, with an appetite for small birds. They run with the waxwing to the top of the building to escape, and make wings for Olly made of wax and feathers.

The opera lasts 50 minutes.

For more information or to book a performance for your school, please contact talia.lash@englishtouringopera.org.uk or call 020 7833 2555.

ETO’s production of Waxwings has been made possible thanks to the generous support of:
Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund
The Wolfson Foundation
The Equitable Charitable Trust
The Sackler Trust
Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust

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<![CDATA[Shackleton's Cat]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Spa A new opera in Spring 2015 for primary schools and families, based on the famous story of Antarctic survival a century ago.

Photography: Robert Workman

Shackleton’s Cat is the latest in ETO’s award-winning strand of operas for young people. The new opera features nine performers, including singers and players, and tells the story of the voyage and destruction of the Endurance 100 years ago, and the subsequent tale of survival against all odds. The opera features an ingenious set, with maps and images from the expedition, interactive songs, a puppet cat, and comprehensive resources for teachers, compiled in partnership with the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. Curriculum topics include music, drama, geography, science, literacy and maths.

Excellent! You had our students hooked from the beginning. I have never heard them applaud so long and so loudly as they did at the end of your performance! [You provided] A very good pack that is suitable for all levels of achievement and gives excellent ideas for follow-up work. My students are now embarking on Shackleton’s voyage with him and writing diaries on the way. They can now use the ideas from the opera, along with drama in class, photographs and props to make this work more meaningful. Indeed the students themselves are excited about the work too! Thank you for such an outstanding performance.

Maryon Shaddock, teacher, Woodside School, Belvedere, Kent

The story itself begins in 2015, when scientists measuring the alarming changes in the levels of the polar sea-ice make an astonishing discovery: the bones of a cat. They belong to Mrs Chippy, the carpenter’s cat on the Endurance, and best friend to the young Welsh stowaway Perce Blackborow. At the heart of the opera is Shackleton himself, perhaps the greatest expedition leader of all time. The opera follows the crew as they set sail from Buenos Aires to the incredible rescue after months of hardship.

The opera lasts just over an hour and is created for children aged 7-11 and their families. Two months ahead of ETO’s visit schools are sent a CD and sheet music of three songs the children join in with, as well as a comprehensive teacher’s pack, which includes information about the piece and the story, and its curriculum links. The pack contains activities for classes.

Shackleton’s Cat is created by composer Russell Hepplewhite and director Tim Yealland and is designed by Jude Munden – the team behind ETO’s recent children’s operas Laika the Spacedog and Borka.

We visit schools, libraries and small theatre venues, so if you’d like to book a performance, please contact talia.lash@englishtouringopera.org.uk or call 020 7833 2555.

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<![CDATA[The Wild Man of the West Indies]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Warwick Arts Centre After his wife Eleonora is unfaithful, Cardenio flees for an island in the West Indies, where he loses his senses and his mind. ETO's new production is the first to tour on this scale anywhere in the world and the first staging in Britain in modern times.

© Richard Hubert Smith

Exquisite and highly recommended.

4 STARS Guardian

Donizetti fans will be grateful to have seen and heard it so competently and honourably performed. Hats off to English Touring Opera.

Daily Telegraph

A pleasure to hear.


Donizetti’s The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo) was premiered in Rome in 1833 and became hugely successful before vanishing from the repertoire until the late 20th century. Based on an episode in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, it is a love story of Shakespearean depth set on a Caribbean island. A rare feast for both bel canto and theatre lovers, ETO’s new production is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this opera performed live on stage at a theatre near you.

New production, sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: 13+

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating opera whilst supporting ETO’s new production, you might be interested in joining our San Domingo Syndicate

Find out more

From Enrico di Borgogna to The Siege of Calais: read an introduction to the life and works of Gaetano Donizetti.

Click here to read the opera’s synopsis.

Listen to Iqbal Khan (Director, The Wild Man of the West Indies) and Aidan McQuade (Director, Anti-Slavery International) discuss slavery in The Wild Man.

Music playlist

2015-03-12T19:30:00 2015-05-27T19:30:00
<![CDATA[La boheme]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Warwick Arts Centre Eighteen groups of children from around the country are joining ETO's professional production of one of the greatest operas of all time.

In Spring 2015 ETO is touring a new production of Puccini’s La bohème. We have recruited groups of 12 young singers to play the children’s chorus in the first half of the opera in each venue we are visiting.

I used to think opera was only for posh people but now I realise it’s not.

Safa, 9

All children’s groups have been sent a pack with their song on CD and sheet music, background information about the show and a comprehensive summary of their role in our production. They will rehearse with us on the day of their performance and stay and watch the rest of the show afterwards.

Thank you to all the groups for their dedication, and don’t miss your local group’s performance!

St Mary’s & St John’s CE Primary School, London NW4
Bosvigo School, Truro
Baden-Powell and St Peter’s Church of England Junior School, Poole
Arden Grove Infant & Nursery School, Norwich
Fusion Youth Theatre, Sheffield
Members of the Beauregard Youth Choir, Cheltenham
East Park Primary School, Wolverhampton
Southwold Primary School, Suffolk
St Peter’s Church of England (Aided) Primary School, Leicester
Hearsall Primary School, Coventry
Ladysmith Junior School, Exeter
‘Sway Perform’ at the Hawth Theatre
St Peters Methodist Primary School, Canterbury
St Nicholas’ Church of England Primary School, Blackpool
Buxton Opera House Young Company
Harton Primary School , South Shields
Oakbank Primary Choir, Perth
Theatretrain Cambridge North

For more information please contact talia.lash@englishtouringopera.org.uk or call
020 7833 2555.

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<![CDATA[La boheme]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Warwick Arts Centre A group of struggling artists discover love and loss in this evening of heart-rending emotions, laughter and tears set in 19th century Paris.

© Richard Hubert Smith

Beautifully sung… English Touring Opera’s new take on Puccini’s classic features starkly atmospheric sets and terrific singing.

4 STARS, Guardian

A dream Bohème… If you live too far from a city to profit from the major producing houses, be assured: this touring version is as good as it gets. It’s off the scale of good.

4 STARS, WhatsOnStage

Enough to make you shed a tear

4 STARS, The Times

Worth catching for the wonderful singing and conducting alone.

Sunday Times

The two leads are excellent: David Butt Philip imbues his bashful Rodolfo with clarion tone and a generous warmth of phrase, while Ilona Domnich is an absolutely enchanting Mimi.

Daily Telegraph

Paris, 1840. On a snowy Christmas Eve, a starry-eyed poet meets a poor dress-maker over candlelight, and instantly falls in love. At first the good times roll. But will their happiness last, or does the bohemian lifestyle come at a price?

ETO’s new period production draws inspiration from 19th century Paris and features some of the most exciting lyric singers in Britain today, including Ilona Domnich as Mimì and David Butt Philip as Rodolfo – a role he sang for ENO to wide acclaim.

With some of the most memorable music in opera, a night at La bohème will lift every spirit and break every heart.

New production, sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: Suitable for all ages

Find out more

Who were the real bohemians? Read the stories behind some of the characters in Puccini’s La bohème.

Click here to read the opera’s synopsis.

Music playlist

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<![CDATA[The Siege of Calais (L'assedio di Calais)]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Exeter Northcott Theatre A vocally brilliant, stirring and patriotic telling of the story of the burghers of Calais by ‘bel canto’ composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Photography: Bill Knight

Robust, virile and emotionally charged … English Touring Opera’s performance is enthralling.

4 STARS, Telegraph

A bleakly magnificent parable of patriotism

4 STARS, Independent

Donizetti’s music always has a relentless jolliness about it… brings to mind some of the most stirring parts of Les Miserables.

4 STARS, Daily Express

ETO has done The Siege of Calais proud.

4 STARS, Sunday Telegraph

Fast, fluid and surprisingly moving… ETO’s production packs an emotional punch.

4 STARS, Whatsonstage

The invaders are at the gates and their king is demanding six victims in exchange for sparing the city from destruction. But will the people of Calais agree to the sacrifice?
With echoes of Les Misérables, The Siege of Calais is a stirring tale of heroism in the face of defeat, and one of ETO’s most widely-acclaimed productions. Proud, fierce, exhilarating – this is history on stage, in thrilling music.

Revival, sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: 2 hours (incl. one 20 minute interval)
Age guidance: Suitable for all ages. Of a serious nature, but no adult content.

The story

Read the synopsis here.

Music playlist

ETO’s performers sing “O sacra polve, o suol natio” from the end of Act II of The Siege of Calais (recorded at Snape Maltings Concert Hall).

2015-03-07T19:30:00 2015-05-26T19:30:00
<![CDATA[National Portrait Gallery]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - National Portrait Gallery English Touring Opera and National Portrait Gallery collaborate once more to inspire brand new musical theatre composition with primary schools.

Using the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, and working in collaboration with professional musicians from English Touring Opera, primary school children aged 7-11 are introduced to a portrait, and encouraged to create words and music to perform their own piece to the public in front of the chosen portrait.

Primary teachers can now explore the skills used in this project in their own teaching by attending our CPD day on 25 June 2015. More information here.

Recent feedback

“I didn’t know paintings could be so interesting!”
“I want to play piano as good as Pete when I grow up.”
“I’m going to ask my mum if we can come back to the gallery in the holidays so I can show her the painting and sing her the song.”

It was fun thinking of ideas, working in a team and looking at the portraits. The best part was making up the story. I loved the song!

Guadalupe, 10

Amazing, it was fun learning and making the song about T.S. Eliot. The best part was working and brainstorming the song. Never close down the gallery!

Niamh, 10

The workshop on Thursday was excellent – thoroughly enjoyed by children and staff. Pete pitched the work at the perfect level for our Y3-5 mixed group (I know it’s not always easy with a mixed group). The children were buzzing all the way home. We also had some parents who came to watch the performance and were really impressed too.

Teacher, Chase Bridge School

We had a fabulous time. What a really great project with terrific end results, the kids were all so thrilled with their song. Pete was inspirational. Do book us in again next year.

Teacher, St Paul’s CE Primary School

Seven years of collaboration!

2014 marks the seventh year of this remarkable collaboration between English Touring Opera and the National Portrait Gallery. Combining the visual arts, with history, literacy, and music this series of inspiring and creative workshops provides an opportunity for teachers of Key Stage 2 to deepen their pupils’ appreciation and understanding in these curriculum areas.

How does the day work?

Pictures in the collection serve as a jumping off point for new composition. The children are taken to one of the Gallery spaces, where they are introduced to a historical or contemporary portrait. Using their newfound knowledge of the portrayed character, the pupils then begin instant music-theatre composition, working with professional musicians in the workshop space to create their own original lyrics and music. The workshop lasts a full day and concludes with the children returning to the portrait in the main Gallery to perform their composition in public.

These workshops are run biannually at the National Portrait Gallery and are led by leading musicians and animateurs Paul Griffiths and Pete Letanka assisted by a range of other professional musicians.

Contact and booking details

The workshop is suitable for all Key Stage 2 classes and lasts a full day.

For more details please email Tim Yealland or Talia Lash at ETO, or call 020 7833 2555.

English Touring Opera and the National Portrait Gallery would like to acknowledge the generous support of Sarah and Geoff Roberts for this project.

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<![CDATA[Sing a Portrait]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - National Portrait Gallery English Touring Opera and the National Portrait Gallery collaborate once again to hold a professional development day for primary teachers this summer term, focusing on using music and portraiture in classroom teaching.

Unlock the creative power of portraiture and music for your primary pupils

Building on eight years of successful collaboration, this one-day CPD workshop explores the methodology behind the ‘Sing a Portrait’ Key Stage 2 workshops run by the National Portrait Gallery and English Touring Opera. Learn how to use a portrait to ignite your primary pupils’ creativity. The ‘Sing a Portrait’ workshops respond to a single portrait, and follow the paths of the pupils’ curiosity, helping them to create and perform their own musical composition. Discover strategies to support cross-curricular work bringing art, history and literacy together with music.

Working with a top professional composer/animateur from English Touring Opera, learning staff from the National Portrait Gallery, and a musician from the Royal Academy of Music, CPD day participants take part in a collaborative music workshop culminating in a performance of their new composition in the Gallery spaces. The day will be inspiring, creative, collaborative and fun.

Sing a Portrait CPD

  • Discover the rich potential of NPG collections to support learning across the curriculum
  • Methodology employs effective ‘talk for learning’ strategies to promote pupil discussion
  • Inclusive and open-ended possibilities of musical collaboration
  • Flexible multi-modal approach, inclusive for all learners including EAL / SEN

Learn how to help your pupils

  • Increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement
  • Look at and respond to portraiture
  • Use their voices to create and compose music on their own and with others
  • Develop an understanding of musical composition, organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures, and reproducing sounds from aural memory

Curriculum areas covered

Art – Evaluate and analyse creative work, discover the artist’s creative choices in portraying the personality and life of the sitter
Literacy – Pupils learn how to ‘read’ a portrait, develop skills of inference, giving evidence and reasoned justification for views
Writing – composition, draft and write, evaluate and edit, assess suggestions and improvements
History – learn about the life and representation of a significant individual
Music – singing, musical styles, composition

Enhance your pupil’s skills

Working collaboratively
Listening and speaking skills

This event costs £40 per teacher for the day, including handouts. Lunch is not provided. Participating teachers will also receive a discount on tickets to ETO’s operas in the Spring 2015 season.

In partnership with:

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<![CDATA[Waxwings at Tete a Tete]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Tête à Tête Festival Waxwings is a joyfully multi-sensory, interactive opera for children aged 3–8 and their families.

Credit: Julian Claxton

Waxwings is a joyfully multi-sensory, interactive opera for children aged 3–8 and their families.

The story is about a boy called Olly and his sister Cilla. Olly is obsessed with birds and when they find an injured waxwing on their way to a new school they take it with them. Olly struggles with the simplest questions, and when the teacher hears the little waxwing sing in his pocket she calls for the Head, who turns out to be part cook, part monster, with an appetite not just for small birds, but for Olly too. Somehow they have to escape, and they make wings of wax and feathers.

The opera features beautiful new music by Clive and Mark Ives (of the celebrated ensemble Woo Music), words and direction by Tim Yealland, and interactive design by Ruth Paton. The cast includes singers Guy Elliott, Katie Grosset and Emily Blanch, and cellist and percussionist Jonathan Kitchen. The show also includes animated film by Babis Alexiadis featuring dancer Ricardo Campos.

The cast interact with the audience throughout the performance, with tactile props, gorgeous projection and opportunities to join in.

The opera lasts 50 minutes.

2015-08-06T00:00:00 2015-08-06T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pelleas et Melisande]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Royal College of Music Debussy's only finished opera, Pelléas et Mélisande tells the story of the burgeoning romance between Pelléas and his step-brother Golaud’s wife, as they fret around a cursed castle.

‘Music begins where words are powerless. Music is made for the inexpressible.’

There is no other opera like Pelléas et Mélisande. For years Debussy searched for the perfect drama to set, and once he saw the strange, compelling play by Maurice Maeterlinck he had no doubt that this was it. The resulting marriage of music and drama is sensuous, mysterious, utterly captivating. For no other opera is the sensation of being ‘under a spell’ so applicable.

In a way, the drama is simple: a very intense widower brings home a simple girl, and marries her; when there are signs of her attachment to his young half-brother, he is violently jealous. But this is one of those dramas where what is unsaid is as important as what is said – and this is where Debussy’s wonderful score makes its magic. The mysterious setting of the remote castle by the sea, the terrific tension as the childlike lovers approach their doom, and the profound examination of character and fate all do their work: Pelléas et Mélisande affects everyone who sees it in an unforgettable way.

Belgian composer Annelies Van Parys’s sensitive, transparent arrangement has been much praised on the continent, and receives its UK premiere in this production, directed by James Conway with Paula Sides, Jonathan McGovern and Stephan Loges in the central roles.

New production, sung in French with English surtitles
Age guidance: 10+

2015-10-01T19:30:00 2015-11-13T19:30:00
<![CDATA[Werther]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Royal College of Music Certainly the greatest of Massenet's many operas, Werther has all the elegance and charm that distinguishes this composer, but also a raw emotional impact than none of the others achieve.

Based on the great classic novel by Goethe that took Europe by storm, Werther is an entirely domestic story of an apparently idyllic middle class family, torn apart by uncontrollable passion. The opera is dominated by the handsome, over-sensitive young artist (played by emerging talent Ed Ballard, and sung in the special version for baritone prepared by the composer) and the lovely Charlotte (Carolyn Dobbin), who is engaged to be married to his friend Albert (Simon Wallfisch).

Rarely in opera is the destructive power of love felt so close to the bone – and rarely, too, has the innocence and sweetness of a young family at Christmas been so touchingly depicted. An opera for anyone who confesses to having a feeling or two, for those who are drawn to artists, to nature or to poetry, Werther is a veritable whirlwind.

Musically, ETO’s new version promises to be extraordinary. Iain Farrington is preparing an intimate arrangement for a salon ensemble that will be on stage, in the room with the singers.

New production, sung in English
Age guidance: 10+

2015-10-02T19:30:00 2015-11-12T19:30:00
<![CDATA[The Tales of Hoffmann]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Royal College of Music A dark comedy from the master of French operetta, based on the brilliant, bizarre stories of fantasy author E.T.A. Hoffmann.

From the master of French operetta, who virtually reinvented comic opera in France, this work of genius, studded with famous melodies like the Barcarolle, is as dark a comedy as you can get. No wonder, you say – for it is based on the brilliant, bizarre stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann!

Late at night in a tavern, while waiting for his latest mistress, the character Hoffmann tells an audience the story of his former loves, always shadowed by a dark adversary. These versions of an ideal woman range from a mechanical doll (the celebrated Olympia, whose aria literally unwinds!) to a Venetian courtesan – and as he recreates them he presents around them a gallery of strange, vivid characters and remarkable narrative.

Offenbach’s masterpiece has had many lives – and this new production by James Bonas promises to be inventive, and highly theatrical, matching the virtuoso talents of young tenor Sam Furness in the title role, ETO favourite Ilona Domnich as his three heroines, and Louise Mott (from ETO’s Ariodante) as his friend and inspiration.

New production, sung in English
Age guidance: 12+

2015-10-09T19:30:00 2015-11-14T19:30:00