Thursday, 19 September 2013

Season preview - ETO's Venetian Baroque operas

English Touring Opera's Autumn season opens on 28 September at the Britten Theatre in the Royal College of Music, on 28 September 2013 with three Venetian Baroque operas, Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea, Cavalli's Jason and Handel's Agrippina. As a taster for this we attended a private recital previewing some of the music as a fund raiser for ETO's Young Artists Programme.

We heard Paula Sides, Helen Sherman and Clint van der Linde, who are all performing in ETO's Venetian Baroque season, and they were joined by Tai Oney and Nick Pritchard.  Both Oney and Pritchard are still at the Royal College of Music and are part of the Young Artists Programme, understudying roles in the operas and performing in ETO's concert programme, Handel's Music for Vespers.  James Conway's production of The Coronation of Poppea was first seen at the Royal College of Music, when Pritchard sang the role of Lucanio.


Accompanied by Joseph McHardy, who is conducting Jason in the Venetian Baroque season, the result was a vivid taster for the three operas. Sides and Sherman, who are singing Poppea and Nerone in Monteverdi's opera, sang two duets from the opera including the lovely final duet (which probably isn't by Monteverdi). Sides is also singing Poppea in Handel's Agrippina and sang an aria from that opera too. Clint van der Linde sang music from Cavalli's Jason (in which he sings the title role) and from Handel's Agrippina (in which he sings Ottone), whilst Pritchard reprised the role of Lucanio in The Coronation of Poppea and also sang music from Jason where he is covering the role of Egeus. Tai Oney sang a selection from The Coronation of Poppea, where he is understudying Ottone, and an aria from Agrippina where he is understudying the role of Nerone. Sides and Sherman also treated us to a stunning duet from Donizetti's L'Assiedo di Calais which was part of ETO's Spring season.

It isn't only young singers with whom the company works. In 2015 ETO will be performing Donizetti's opera ll furioso all’isola di San Domingo, one of his very greatest works, though it has only been performed twice in the UK, and never outside of London. The finalists for this year’s Linbury Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for Stage Design, include three graduates designing for ETO’s production of Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo. Florence de Mare (RADA), Rosanna Vize (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School), and Faye Bradley (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School) will all work on the early stages of the design for ETO’s production. One of the three will subsequently win a commission to realise their design.

ETO's Venetian Baroque season tours to Snape, Malvern, Bath, Harrogate, Durham, Buxton, Cambridge and Exeter (full details from the ETO website). In Spring 2014 they will be reviving Liam Steel's production of The Magic Flute, plus new productions of Tippett's King Priam and Britten's Paul Bunyan.

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