Xerxes

George Frideric Handel - Autumn 2016

A revival of Handel’s comedic masterpiece set in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

Conductor 
Jonathan Peter Kenny
Director 
James Conway
Designer 
Sarah Bacon
Lighting Designer 
Mark Howland

The direction is smart, the jokes get the audience laughing, and ETO does Handel’s music proud.

★★★★ The Times

Outstanding musicality… Five years on, it’s still fun.

★★★★ WhatsOnStage

A tremendous spectacle. The singing varies from splendid to astonishing.

★★★★ Broadway World

A pitch-perfect cast, beautiful direction and a score that soars.

★★★★ A Younger Theatre

One of ETO’s most warm-hearted and humorous productions of recent years was Xerxes, which saw Handel’s astonishing setting of a Venetian text relocated to the Battle of Britain, with the Persian king recast as a glamorous prince-turned-pilot jealous of his brother’s stronger sex appeal.

The score is absolutely Handel at his best, sometimes fiery and even explosive, at other times deeply touching. Julia Riley, Clint van der Linde, Laura Mitchell and Andrew Slater return in their original roles, with Peter Brathwaite and Galina Averina in her company debut, and Jonathan Peter Kenny directing the spitfire brilliance of the Old Street Band.

Revival, sung in English with captions
Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes (including interval)

Interviews, videos and trailers

Showing At

  1. Hackney Empire
    8th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  2. Malvern Theatres
    22nd Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  3. Theatre Royal Bath
    25th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  4. Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden
    4th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  5. New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
    9th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  6. Gala Theatre, Durham
    14th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  7. Buxton Opera House
    19th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  8. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    22nd Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  1. Hackney Empire — 8th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm

    291 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1EJ

  2. Malvern Theatres — 22nd Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm

    Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR14 3HB

  3. Theatre Royal Bath — 25th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm

    Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET

  4. Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden — 4th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

    Audley End Road, Saffron Walden , CB11 4UH

  5. New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth — 9th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

    20-24 Guildhall Walk, PO1 2DD

  6. Gala Theatre, Durham — 14th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

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

  7. Buxton Opera House — 19th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

    Water Street, SK17 6XN

  8. Exeter Northcott Theatre — 22nd Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

    Exeter Northcott, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB

Jonathan Peter Kenny

Jonathan Peter Kenny

Conductor

Jonathan is from Liverpool and studied at the University of Exeter and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is a founder of the Old Street Band.

He has performed a wide range of music from Monteverdi to the present day, including 14 Handel operas, 13 oratorios and numerous premieres for composers such as Michael Nyman, Jonathan Dove, Pawel Mykietyn, Fabio Vacchi, Deirdre Gribbin, Thomas Ades and Roxanna Panufnik. He has sung for the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Royal Opera Copenhagen, Salzburg Festival, Halle Handel Festival, Badischestaatsteater Karlsruhe, BBC Proms, Glimmerglass Festival NY, Teatr Wielki Warsaw, Opera du Rhin and in Australia and Japan.

Jonathan has performed with Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Baroque Soloists, Gabrieli Consort, Ulster Orchestra under such conductors as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox, David Parry, Ivan Fischer, Thierry Fischer, Jane Glover, Andrew Parrott, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Ivor Bolton, Paul McCreesh, Harry Bicket. Recordings include Mattheus-Passion (Miller/Goodwin); Agrippina (Gardiner); Buxtehude/Cantatas (Immerseel); La conversione di Clodoveo (Gester); Israel in Babylon (Fontaine).

Jonathan is baroque specialist at the Royal College of Music International Opera School and prepared singers for Handel’s Poro, Atalanta, Alessandro, Il pastor fido and Rodelinda, as well as Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea with Michael Rosewell whom he also assisted on Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. For Trinity-Laban, Jonathan worked on Giustino and Rinaldo.

Jonathan’s performing edition of Tamerlano has been performed in London, Melbourne, Lisbon, Dublin and Prague.

After many years leading his own ensembles, Jonathan made his operatic conducting debut in 2005 with a staging of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater on Valentia Island for artist Dorothy Cross and OTC Dublin. The film was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and in Los Angeles. In 2007 he conducted a new production of Handel’s Teseo for ETO, touring the UK, and in 2009 a new production of Flavio which opened to great enthusiasm as part of the HANDELFEST marking the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death. From these performances, a new period instrument orchestra, the Old Street Band, was formed, making a highly acclaimed debut in autumn 2011 in a new production of Xerxes. Other appearances include a staging of Carissimi’s Jephte for the National Churches Trust; Monteverdi: 1610 and all that at the RCM and a highly praised The Duchess of Malfi Webster/Gesualdo at the Royal and Derngate Theatre Northampton.

Plans include a revival of Flavio, a production of Alcina in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, where Ariosto (author of Orlando furioso on which Alcina is based) was governor, in summer 2012, a reconstruction of Muzio Scevola (Amadei/Buoncini/Handel) and a new production of Agrippina.

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).

Sarah Bacon

Sarah Bacon

Designer

Sarah studied Architecture at University College Dublin, and 3D Design at Brighton University. She trained in Theatre Design at Motley. In 2009 she was a Linbury Prize finalist, and Jerwood Young Designer. Designs for opera include The Raven (Arcola, King’s Head); Phillip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles (UK premiere); The Rape of Lucretia (Arcola); La Clemenza di Tito and Susannah (Hampstead Garden Opera); La Tragedie de Carmen (English Touring Opera); Xerxes (Opera Theatre Co.); Suor Angelica, La Voix Humaine, Il Signor Bruschino, Rita, (all Wexford Festival Opera). Theatre includes Medea (The Gate/Headlong); Present Tense (Southwark Playhouse); Still the Blackbird Sings (Derry Playhouse); Starvin’ (Fitzgerald & Stapleton); costume/prop design for The Rehearsal: Playing the Dane (Pan Pan Theatre Co, Dublin Theatre Festival 2010).

Mark Howland

Mark Howland

Lighting Designer

Cast

Julia Riley

Julia Riley

Xerxes

Praised for her “plush mezzo” and “lively presence on stage”, British mezzo-soprano Julia Riley is much sought after on both the operatic stage and the concert platform. She is currently a principal artist at the Zürich Opernhaus, where her roles so far have included Charlotte in Calixto Bieto’s groundbreaking production of Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten; Dinah Trouble in Tahiti; Tebaldo Don Carlo under Fabio Luisi; Second Niece Peter Grimes; Fidalma Il Matrimonio Segreto; Tisbe La Cenerentola; and Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte.

Recent engagements elsewhere include role debuts as Sesto La Clemenza di Tito and Xerxes with English Touring Opera, as well as Dorabella Cosi fan tutte for Opera Holland Park, for which she received great critical acclaim: “This Dorabella, really rather a nasty piece of work, is sung with great flair and rhythmic rigour by the glowing mezzo of Julia Riley” (Hilary Finch, Times).
Other roles include Nancy Albert Herring for the Opéra Comique, Opera de Rouen, and Glyndebourne on Tour; Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte for Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, and Glyndebourne on Tour; Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro for Glyndebourne on Tour; Donna Elvira Don Giovanni and Giovanna Seymour Anna Bolena for English Touring Opera; and Alessandro Eliogabalo for Grange Park Opera.

Highlights of the current season include Second Maid Elektra, Flora in Jonathan Dove’s The Enchanted Pig, Giovanna Rigoletto, and Second Lady Die Zauberflöteat the Zürich Opernhaus, as well as Charlotte Die Soldaten at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires.

Recent concert highlights include performances with La Scintilla (Zürich Opernhaus Baroque Orchestra) under Laurence Cummings, her first Verdi Requiem with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, and her BBC Proms debut in Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music under Sir Andrew Davis. She has also performed at London’s Barbican Centre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, London’s Cadogan Hall, BBC Welsh Proms, London Bach Festival, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon, and with the Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr at the Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid.

Julia Riley was born in York and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio. She is winner of the Mozart Singing Competition and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

Laura Mitchell

Laura Mitchell

Romilda

Ms Laura Mitchell will sing the role of Tosca on 9 March (London), 25 March (Bromley), 30 March & 1 April (Snape), 8 April (York), 11 April (Wolverhampton), 13 April (Leicester), 22 April (Cheltenham), 25 & 29 April (Cambridge), 2 May (Guildford), 5 May (Buxton), 9 May (Coventry), 13 (Canterbury), 27 May (Exeter), 29 May (Truro), 2 June (Norwich), 5 June (Stoke) and 10 June (Blackpool).

Born in Hertfordshire, Laura studied at the Royal College of Music where she gained a first-class honours degree and postgraduate diploma. She then joined the Benjamin Britten International Opera School, studying with Lillian Watson. In 2007, she won the Song prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and the Lies Askonas Prize. Laura attended the National Opera Studio during the 2007/08 season.

While at the NOS, Laura took part in residencies at WNO, Scottish Opera, Theatre Royal and Opera North, singing Illia/Idomeneo, Helena/A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni, Leila/The Pearlfishers. Other operatic roles include Countess Almaviva/Le nozze di Figaro and Elisa/Tolomeo for BBIOS, Aldimira in Cavalli ‘s Erismena, First Witch/Dido and Aeneas, Ninfa and Proserpina/Orfeo (cover), all for English Touring Opera. More recently, she appeared at Scottish Opera in Smetana’s Two Widows, covering the role of Lidka.

Concert work includes Tippett’s Spirituals and Rutter’s Requiem at St.John Smith Square, Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate and Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras no 5 with the Emerald Ensemble at Bristol Cathedral, Bach’s B Minor Mass at St John Smith Square, Haydn’s Nelson Mass with Sir David Willcocks, Handel’s Messiah at Kings College Cambridge with Stephen Cleobury,Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate with the London Pro Arte Orchestra in Denmark and Strauss’ Four Last Songs at the Hatfield Auditorium, conducted by Peter Stark.

In 2007/08, Laura sang Bach’s St. John Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Mark Padmore at the QEH in London, which was followed by a tour through South Korea and Japan.
As a recitalist she has performed at the Teatro dei Rozzi Siena, the St.Peters Basilica Rome as well as the Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall, St Martin in the Fields, St.James’ Piccadilly, and the Windsor, Chester and Beaumaris Festivals.
She has taken part in master classes with Robin Stapleton (Amici di Verdi) and with Roger Vignoles at the Leeds Lieder Festival.

Her most recent appearances include Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall with Mark Padmore and the OAE, recitals for the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Ismene/Mitridate for WNO with Sir Charles Mackkeras, Gilda/Rigoletto for the Grange Park Opera ‘Rising Stars’ series and ‘Messiah’ concerts with John Nelson and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.

Future engagments include Helena and Countess Almaviva for ETO, Donna Elvira at Opera Holland Park and Kristina/The Makropoulos Case at ENO.

Laura gratefully receives the support of The Countess of Munster Musical Trust for their Funding and Recital scheme, the Concordia Foundation for the Barthel Prize, the Wingate Scholarship, the Zetland Foundation, and the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

Galina Averina

Galina Averina

Atalanta

Galina Averina studied vocal performance in Russian University of Theatre Arts in Moscow. Laureate of international contests, she has participated in performances in France, Ireland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Latvia and England.

Her roles have included Brigitta in Iolanta (Tchaykovsky), Frascita in Carmen (Bizet) and Ksenia in Boris Godunov (Musorgsky). In July 2013 she sang Despina in Cosi fan tutte (Mozart) on Dubrovnik Summer Festival (director – Sally Burgess, conductor -Oliver Gilmour).

Participated in Les Azuriales Russian Festival in Nice (April 2013) and Les Azuriales Young Artist’s Competition and Masterclass (August 2013), where won Haidee Saretski Prize.

Clint van der Linde

Clint van der Linde

Arsamenes

Clint studied at the RCM. He has worked as a soloist with many groups such as the OAE; RPO; The Academy of Ancient Music; The London Handel Orchestra; Le Musiche Nove; Israel Camerata. Clint’s opera roles include Lotario/ Flavio/ Flavio; Dardano/ Amadigi; Judas/ Brockes Passion; In November 2001 he sang the role of Oberon/ A Midsummer Night‘s Dream, which was the launch of the BBIOS, and also performed this role in the ROH in Copenhagen in 2004. Festival engagements include Carmina Burana (Ludwigsburger Schossfestspiele); Halle Händel Festspiele; Cuenca Festival, Spain. In addition, Clint recorded the title role of Francesco Conti’s David with the Lautten Compagney. In December, Clint will tour Handel’s Messiah (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Queensland Orchestra).

Andrew Slater

Andrew Slater

Ariodate

Mr Andrew Slater will sing the role of Scarpia on 30 March (Snape), 25 April (Cambridge), 3 May (Buxton), 16 May (Durham), 23 May (Exeter) and 29 May (Truro).

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).

Carolyn Dobbin

Carolyn Dobbin

Armastris

Carrickfergus born mezzo- soprano and Samling scholar, trained at the RSAMD and on the YAP of OTC in Dublin in 2006.

Carolyn has worked with many UK and Swiss Opera companies. Repertoire includes, Lucretia/ The Rape of Lucretia, Carmen, Alisa / Lucia di Lammermoor, Bradamante / Alcina, Teodata / Flavio, Lisetta / Il mondo della luna, Dorabella / Così fan tutte( radio3), Second Lady / The Magic Flute, Idamante/Idomeno, Nicklaus / The Tales of Hoffmann, Dido and First Witch / Dido and Aeneas, Ottavia/ The coronation of Poppea, Cherubino / La nozze di Figaro, Concepcion / L’heure espagnole, Orlofsky / Die Fledermaus and Maddalena / Rigoletto, flora / La traviata, Janet / The Doctor’s Tale for ROH2, Scipio / Caligula (radio3) and Hannah / The Passenger both for ENO, Andronico / Tamerlano, Meg Page / Falstaff for OHP, Emilia / Otello for DO, Maddalena / Rigoletto and Polina/ Pique Dame for GPO. During 2010 Carolyn was a WNO Associate Artist and the recipient of the WNO Chris Ball Bursary and the Sir John Moores Award.
Her recordings include Lynne Plowman’s Cries Like Silence (London Mozart Players).

Roles at Lucerne Theatre – Penelope / Il ritorno d’Ulisse, Annio / La clemenza di Tito, Tisbe / La cenerentola, Lidwina/ Fraulein Bixel und Herr Glück, Flora Bervoix / La traviata. Bradamante/ Alcina, and the title role of Carmen. She made her debut for Bern Stadtheater as Annina & Flora/ La Traviata.
Recent and future engagements include the roles of Polina/Pique Dame, Emilia in Rossinis Othello -Buxton Festival, Elgars ‘Dream of Gerontius’ ,Title role The rape of Lucretia for IYO, Fatima/ Oberon NSO, The Page / Salome for OperaNI and The Verdi Requiem, Third Lady in Magic flute in Switzerland, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Devils jukebox for ON, and the role of Charlotte in Werther for ETO. www.carolyndobbin.com

Peter Brathwaite

Peter Brathwaite

Elviro

Reviews for 2011 production

No praise can be too high for mezzo Julia Riley in the title role, or for the bewitching Laura Mitchell as Romilda; major plaudits for soprano Rachel Lloyd and counter-tenor Clint van der Linde, whose luxuriously powerful sound has no equal. Covent Garden would count itself lucky to host a baroque show of this calibre.

***** (5 STARS) The Independent

The Old Street Band plays like a charm for Jonathan Peter Kenny; the counter-tenor turned conductor shapes a gorgeous reading, flowing and spruce, that never fails to support the singers and favour the drama… A production that takes flight in more ways than one.

**** (4 STARS) What’s On Stage

A remarkable achievement and a tribute to the creativity and teamwork of all those involved at ETO. In its way it makes a statement as powerful as the celebrated Hytner production at the Coliseum, and that is no mean feat indeed.

**** (4 STARS) Opera Britannia

Musically gripping from take-off to landing. Jonathan Peter Kenny’s classy, high-octane conducting achieves wonders of continuity and contrast from his period band, while the cast is among ETO’s most impressive yet.

The Guardian

…excellent singing and rumbustious playing from the Old Street Band.

The Observer

Julia Riley brings vocal authority to the role of Xerxes.

London Evening Standard

It’s chocks-away for English Touring Opera’s autumn tour!

The Times

Showing At

  1. Hackney Empire
    8th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  2. Malvern Theatres
    22nd Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  3. Theatre Royal Bath
    25th Oct 2016 - 7:30 pm
  4. Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden
    4th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  5. New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
    9th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  6. Gala Theatre, Durham
    14th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  7. Buxton Opera House
    19th Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm
  8. Exeter Northcott Theatre
    22nd Nov 2016 - 7:30 pm

Your Comments

  1. Brilliant performance.
    My only criticism is that there was too much abuse of women for my liking. AND it was the same woman each time. Real life experiences portrayed on stage, without warning, I found too upsetting. Even when Romira fainted, nobody went to her rescue, not even the man who was supposed to be her beloved.

    Said Anne Carpenter at 18:22pm on 23rd Nov 2016

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