Thursday 19 April 2007

ENO New Season

ENO's new season is remarkably accomplished considering the odium and bad press that the company has been garnering lately. The new artistic directors seem to have decided that the way forward, in the current economic climate, is collaboration so that the new season consists of 11 new productions and only 3 revivals. The new productions are all done in association with others, either as equal partners or simply being bought in.

That said, the season does seem to keep faith with some of the ideas in the previous season. British opera is represented by Britten's Turn of the Screw and Birtwistle's Punch and Judy. The season is also strongly cast, featuring some of the best singers from ENO's previous seasons. Amanda Roocroft returns as Hanna Glawari, perhaps a strange follow-up to Jenufa. Clare Rutter takes the title role in the new Aida, with John Hudson as Radames, Ann Murray is Mrs Grose in the new Turn of the Screw, Barry Banks is Edgardo in the new Lucia di Lammermoor, Alice Coote and Julian Gavin take the leads in the new Carmen; Janice Watson, Sarah Connolly, John Tomlinson and Sarah Tynan take the leads in the new Rosenkavalier.

The notable feature of this casting is showing people in the repertoire that they do best. It is good to be able to see Barry Banks in the bel canto repertoire that he excels at, and both Hudson and Gavin are welcome returns in the standard repertoire.

David McVicar seems to be turning into the house producer, his Maryinsky production of Turn of the Screw and his Scottish Opera Rosenkavalier both make an appearance. I am very excited about the Rosenkavalier, especially as Sarah Connolly is doing Octavian as she did in Scotland.

I'm less excited about Sally Potter's Carmen, though can't wait to hear Alice Coote in the title role. But ENO will obviously be hoping that Potter will managed to work the same box-office magic as Antony Minghella. The director of Aida, Jo Davies, is rather overshadowed by her designer, Zandra Rhodes. Whether they can make this difficult opera work in the Coliseum remains to be seen. In an interview Rhodes commented that she had borrowed 4 DVD's of the work. In 3, the costumes were white night dresses and the 4th a riot of colour. She figured that she had not been engaged to design white nightdresses.

ChenShi-Zheng's Monteverdi cycle continues with The Coronation of Poppea with Christine Rice as Nero.

Bel canto is something of a rarity at the Coliseum and the management obviously felt that if they were going to do Lucia di Lamermoor they had to give it some street cred, so the producer is David Alden, with Paul Daniel conducting. The set will be designed by Charles Edwards who designed Jenufa so don't expect a gorgeous 17th century setting! The title role is being sung by Anna Christy, who sang Cunegonde in Robert Carsen's Candide when it was premiered at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.

The new Merry Widow seems to have no director attached to it yet, rather an ominous sign. And they are definitely doing the Robert Carsen Candide which premiered at the Chatelet Theatre. I saw this on TV and it was frankly a mess. ENO's version is going to be re-worked but I think the main draw will be Toby Spence as Candide, no word on the Cunegonde yet.

The new chief conductor, Edward Gardner, is conducting Aida, Carmen, Der Rosenkavalier and Punch and Judy. It will be interesting to see, and hear, how he shapes up in this challenging mix of repertoire.

The full season PDF is here.

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