English Touring Opera - Upcoming events http://englishtouringopera.org.uk/productions/rss/ Upcoming events at Warwick Arts Centre en-gb <![CDATA[Hoffmann's World]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Buxton A series of free workshops aimed at secondary school students, exploring the world of opera and how it is produced.

ETO is offering free short secondary school workshops this autumn to accompany our production of Offenbach’s dark comedy, The Tales of Hoffmann.

We had a fantastic time – it was a great first opera for the students and they were really positive about it – really enjoyed it. I massively appreciate the openness with which the theatre and ETO allowed us access on stage and gave us a chance to be in the auditorium with the director, designer and cast members. It was such a privilege and really exciting to feel part of it. I think it made the whole experience more “edible” for them so thanks a million to you all. Space costumes were hilarious!

Teacher, Chingford Foundation School, on 2014’s workshop

The staff conductor will come into schools and talk with students about the opera itself; he will also explain how the production has travelled from an original concept to the stage with the help of the designers’ model boxes. Whenever possible students will look at the set itself just before curtain-up in local theatres, and meet a few of the singers backstage.

The director’s workshop during the afternoon was very interesting and offered a genuine insight into both ETO and his own experience of working professionally in the theatre, which was exceptionally valuable for the students. Overall, I felt that this was a very successful experience for my students and one which I hope will open them up to attending more theatre and opera of their own volition.

Teacher, Framwellgate School, Durham, on 2014’s workshop

This is a unique opportunity to explore the real gritty world of opera and how it is produced. At the core of the experience is the chance to see a great opera in a brand new production by ETO’s Olivier Award-winning team. After having seen the show, students will be invited to write reviews and a selection will be published on ETO’s website and blog.

What each school gets:

  • A short workshop with an ETO conductor about the opera and the evolution of the production

  • A visit onto the stage of the local theatre prior to the show (whenever possible)

  • Discounted tickets to see Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann in their local venue

  • A meeting with members of the professional cast after the show

This experience is aimed at Music or Drama GCSE or A-level groups, but would be a great experience for any keen secondary school-aged group.

For more information or to book this experience, please contact Lucy Beech: lucy.beech@englishtouringopera.org.uk or call 020 7833 2555.

2015-10-09T00:00:00 2015-10-09T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pelleas et Melisande]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Buxton Opera House In a dark castle weighed down by grief, a widower has brought home a mysterious young girl. When an attraction develops between the girl and his brother, the family is shattered. Delicate, erotic, and menacing by turns, this is an opera like no other.

© Richard Hubert Smith

Wonderfully done.

4 STARS, Guardian

The instrumentation’s bright variety somehow makes the music more like Debussy, not less. And the lack of fuss in ETO’s show allows audiences to focus on what matters most: the words sung, the thoughts expressed.

4 STARS, The Times

Conway directs with expertise: even with its multiple ambiguities, the narrative maintains focus and the characterisations conviction.

4 STARS, The Stage

English Touring Opera has cast its production brilliantly: Jonathan McGovern is an unforgettable Pelléas.


The chance to hear a Pelléas this good at venues right across the country is a rare one, and one that should be seized.

The Arts Desk

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 Jonathan McGovern, Susanna Hurrell and Stephan Loges in the central roles.

New production, sung in French with English surtitles
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: 10+

Discover more

10 questions for ETO’s Pelléas Jonathan McGovern
10 questions for soprano Susanna Hurrell

Season podcast and music playlist

2015-10-01T19:30:00 2015-11-20T19:30:00
<![CDATA[The Tales of Hoffmann]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Buxton Opera House A dark comedy from the master of French operetta, based on the brilliant, bizarre stories of fantasy author E.T.A. Hoffmann.

© Richard Hubert Smith

With this hugely enjoyable production, English Touring Opera hits the jackpot. Catch it on its forthcoming tour – I guarantee you an evening rich in musical and theatrical pleasure. The singing is of exceptional quality. This is ETO at its best.

5 STARS, Telegraph

Blending the comic and the sinister, Offenbach’s fantastical opera is imaginatively realised in ETO’s visually striking and strongly cast production.

4 STARS, The Stage

Furness is terrific in the immensely difficult title role. Gauchely attractive, he charts Hoffmann’s descent from naive idealism to self-destructive despair with compelling veracity, and sings it all with great ease and impeccable style.


There’s much to enjoy, particularly from the women. Ilona Domnich … sings lusciously in the soprano roles.

The Times

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 with surtitles
New English version by Jeff Clarke
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (incl. interval)
Age guidance: 12+

Discover more

• Director’s notes: Hoffmann as a maker of silent movies
10 questions for soprano Ilona Domnich

Season podcast and music playlist

2015-10-09T19:30:00 2015-11-21T19:30:00
<![CDATA[Werther]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Buxton Opera House 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.

© Robert Workman

Iain Farrington has done an outstanding job in retaining the spirit of the original in his skillful chamber rescoring… A rewarding evening.


The staging looks intelligent: Oliver Platt and his designer Oliver Townsend have moved the setting to Midwest America in the Fifties, establishing an atmosphere of Norman Rockwell cosiness in which Charlotte presents as the perfect cookie-baking wife for a GI husband Albert (Simon Wallfisch). Michael Druiett is her amiable Pop and Lauren Zolezzi her sweet kid sister Sophie – both of them excellent.


Iain Farrington’s reduction for piano, violin, cello and clarinet is very attractive, and under his own direction it’s immaculately played.


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
English translation by Norman Tucker
Running time: 2 hours 22 minutes (including interval)
Age guidance: 10+

Discover more

• Director’s notes: Exploring the set design for Werther
10 questions for baritone Ed Ballard

Season podcast and music playlist

2015-10-02T19:30:00 2015-11-18T19:30:00
<![CDATA[Werther]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Buxton Opera House Eight groups of children are joining ETO's production of Massenet's opera.

Children from Vauxhall Primary School rehearsing with ETO cast, September 2015

This season we are delighted to be working with groups of children around the country who will play the younger siblings of Charlotte and Sophie in Werther. The children come from schools, via music hubs and from performing arts groups attached to the venues we visit.

Each group received their music and a learning CD before the summer holidays, and will rehearse with us in advance of their performance. For many, it will be their first experience of opera, so we look forward to nurturing the undiscovered opera stars of the future!

The groups are as follows:

  • London: Vauxhall Primary School
  • Buxton: Buxton Opera House Young Company
  • Malvern: Great Malvern Primary School
  • Durham: Gala Theatre Stage School
  • Harrogate: Harrogate Youth Singing
  • Cambridge: Milton Road Primary School
  • Snape: Members of Jubilee Opera, from Coldfair Green Primary School
  • Exeter: Countess Wear Community School

Don’t miss a chance to support your local youngsters in this production. We heartily thank all the teachers and coordinators around the country for preparing their groups.

2015-10-02T00:00:00 2015-10-02T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Under the Hammerbeam Roof]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Great Hall, Hampton Court Palace English Touring Opera is creating a new community opera to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Hampton Court Palace.

Under the Hammerbeam Roof is an exciting new opera written for the Sing 500 celebrations that mark the anniversary of the building of Hampton Court Palace in 1515. Working with 100 local adults, all of whom are involved in the creative process, the piece is performed twice in the Great Hall on Sat 14 November 2015, under its famous hammerbeam roof. Workshops begin in July and continue throughout the late summer and early autumn.

The story is about the tourists, ghosts and servants who walk, haunt and work in the Palace. The composer is Rachel Leach. The Great Hall is a magnificent setting for the new opera, and Henry VIII, the king who commissioned the set of tapestries that line its walls, features in the piece, as does his fifth Queen, Catherine Howard, now the Palace’s most famous ghost.

Under the Hammerbeam Roof is commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces.

Participants in the opera come from the following groups, and the wider community:
• Freedom Stage Company
Kingston RISE
Molesey Musical Theatre
Otakar Kraus Music Trust
Wellness With A Goal

2015-11-14T00:00:00 2015-11-14T00:00:00
<![CDATA[800 Miles as the Albatross Flies]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Royal Albert Hall, London ETO and the Oval Learning Cluster are leading the massed ensemble Music for Youth Prom at the Royal Albert Hall this autumn.

800 Miles as the Albatross Flies is a new piece to be premiered on Wed 25 November at the Music for Youth Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. ETO is working with over 400 students from the Oval Learning Cluster in Lambeth. Russell Hepplewhite is writing the music for the new song cycle. The inspiration for the project comes from a key moment in the story of Shackleton’s Cat, ETO’s recent opera for children. The 400 young people taking part in 800 Miles as the Albatross Flies take a direct role in the creative process, which culminates in the performance.

The story of the new piece has children from Lambeth signing up for an extreme Outward Bound adventure, in which they find themselves sailing in a replica of the tiny James Caird lifeboat from Elephant Island in Antarctica to South Georgia, precisely 100 years after the first heroic voyage. Unfortunately they were expecting the adventure to be in the warm climes of another South Georgia – in the southern states of America.

Oval Learning Cluster in collaboration with English Touring Opera is supported by PRS for Music Foundation.

2015-11-25T00:00:00 2015-11-25T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Iphigenie en Tauride]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Hackney Empire When Oreste is shipwrecked on the island of Tauride, the king Thoas demands he be sacrificed. At the center of the drama is Iphigénie: forced to live among her enemies, she holds Oreste's life in her hands - unaware that he is her brother.

© Richard Hubert Smith

One of the most refined and perfect of operas, Iphigénie en Tauride is a stark, beautiful account of the meeting of Iphigenia and Orestes, children of Agamemnon, in the aftermath of the Trojan War.

Snatched from human sacrifice by a goddess at the outset of the war, Iphigenia (Catherine Carby) is Diana’s priestess at Aulis, where her instructions are to sacrifice all strangers. Led there by fate is the brother (Grant Doyle) she can hardly remember, fresh from the family bloodbath back home.

With characters like gods, and a goddess like a child, Gluck’s opera is an eloquent, heart-wrenching masterpiece.

New production, sung in French with English surtitles

2016-03-05T00:00:00 2016-03-05T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pia de' Tolomei]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Hackney Empire Ghino has fallen in love with Pia, wife of his cousin Nello. When she refuses his love, as revenge Ghino informs Nello that he has discovered a secret message proving that Pia has an adulterous relation.

Photographer: Johan Persson

Donizetti’s rarely performed Pia de’ Tolomei is drawn from an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy in which a noblewoman is locked in a tower in the Maremma by her jealous husband, whose heart has been poisoned by a friend and kinsman – whose advances the innocent wife had rejected.

The characters are drawn with extraordinary intensity, and the two men in particular are reminiscent of Iago and Othello. This production, performed by an exceptional cast, should be a very special event.

New production, sung in Italian with English surtitles

2016-03-10T00:00:00 2016-03-10T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Don Giovanni]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Hackney Empire Don Giovanni, a Spanish nobleman, travels through Europe seducing women, accompanied by his long-suffering servant Leporello. When his actions lead to murder, he unleashes vengeance from beyond the grave.

Is Don Giovanni a hero who defies all authority, or an amoral faker, a rapist and a murderer? To whichever conclusion you are pulled by the first, immortal bars of the score, every performance of Mozart and Da Ponte’s masterpiece is a musical and dramatic whirlwind, culminating in a supernatural intervention. It is as if the gods, or the dead, are summoned to finish the man who acknowledges no father, no law, no love, no fate.

With George van Bergen/Nicholas Lester in the title role, Matthew Stiff as Leporello, and a formidable trio of women in opposition, Lloyd Wood’s new production, conducted by Michael Rosewell, promises a heady evening.

New production, sung in English

2016-03-11T00:00:00 2016-03-11T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Laika the Spacedog]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Truro Award-winning interactive opera for children aged 7–11 and their families returns to the UK in Spring 2016.

Laika the Spacedog flies again in Spring 2016, touring across the UK to schools and other venues. The opera toured the country in 2013 to great acclaim, and in the autumn of that year travelled to Szeged in Hungary, where it won the Jury Prize and the University Prize as Best Production of the mainstream Armel Opera Festival. It was then performed at the Opéra Grand in Avignon. The opera also won the PRS David Bedford Music Education Award.

It was stunning! Visually very effective. Amazing how such a small company and simple set can bring the story to life in such a creative and captivating way. We loved trying to use our voices in an operatic way and were amazed at the sounds that can come out of our bodies. Learning about the story of Laika provoked a wonderful discussion about ethics, animal rights and testing in the name of science. Information provided in advance was very useful. Thank you!

Teacher, Arbury Primary School, Cambridge

Written for children and family audiences, it is designed for Key Stage 2 in primary schools, and incorporates many areas of the curriculum, including science, history and literacy as well as music. The music is by Russell Hepplewhite, words and direction by Tim Yealland, design by Jude Munden, and animation by Babis Alexiadis.

I love opera now. What have I been missing?

Callum, age 10

The opera’s thrilling story is told in many diverse ways by nine professional performers – and also includes archive film, filmed animation (created with children) and puppetry. The characters include the idealistic young student Mikhael, the great scientist Korolev, the dog-hating Valentina, and of course the little dog herself. The piece features also a specially made theremin (the original electronic instrument), along with percussion, clarinet, cello and bassoon.

Absolutely brilliant! Best we have ever had. Opera is a difficult area – children have preconceived ideas that it’s posh. You dispelled the myths. It was awe inspiring and the children were open-mouthed with the whole experience.

Headteacher, Uplands Junior School, Wolverhampton

The action takes us from an apartment in Moscow to Gorky Park, to the Kremlin (where we meet President Khrushchev), and finally to the Cosmodrome in Baikonur, brought to life with stunning design, and from where we launch the famous Sputnik rockets. The piece is highly interactive, and includes songs for everyone. A comprehensive teachers’ pack and CD support the project.

2016-03-15T00:00:00 2016-03-15T00:00:00
<![CDATA[Dust Child]]> English Touring Opera English Touring Opera - Truro A new interactive opera for young people with Special Educational Needs in Spring 2016.

Image © Gabriela Sandoval

Dust Child is ETO’s latest opera created especially for young people with special needs and follows RedBlueGreen, Spin, Rumbled, and most recently Waxwings. Interactive, multisensory and vivid, the opera is designed to engage with and excite young people with a range of different and complex needs and interests, using music, movement, tactile props and participation.

Created by the talented young team of composer James Garner, writer/director Anna Pool and designer Anna Driftmier, Dust Child will visit special schools around the country in the spring. Three singers take the main roles, and are accompanied by a string trio. The musical world of the piece borrows from different styles, including the folk traditions of the American mid-west.

The opera tells the story of Sylvia. Sylvia loves the stars. From the farm where she lives with Mama, you can see hundreds of them glittering in the night sky. But when Mama gets sick and there is no water to make her better, Sylvia (and our brave audience) must set out on a perilous quest across the dusty desert to find her some, with only the stars to guide their way…

The opera lasts 50 minutes.

We really enjoyed the performance and I got very positive feedback from staff, who felt that there was a good balance of music, singing, action, interactive opportunities, and good changes of mood and pace, all of which help to engage our pupils. Some of the children were able to tell me that they enjoyed it but with others, we can only interpret responses, which indicated real enjoyment and good attention – so thank you!

Assistant Headteacher, The Hall School (about Waxwings, 2015)

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

ETO’s production of Dust Child has been made possible thanks to the generous support of:
Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund
The Equitable Charitable Trust

2016-03-15T00:00:00 2016-03-15T00:00:00
<![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

Eight years of collaboration!

2015 marks the eighth 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.

2010-05-04T10:30:00 2010-09-24T10:30:00