Monday 6 April 2009

ENO new Season

ENO have announced their 2009/10 season and, such is the way of these things, Autumn 2009 is already open for booking for Patrons.

Overall its a bit of a mixed bag, plenty of new stuff but rather too much mixture as before as well.

Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre in a production by the Catalan group La Fura del Baus arrives in the UK in September, having already had an outing on the Continent. Its a co-production, so comes with a polyglot cast, which might not be ideal. Still it will be interesting to see the work. Edward Gardner conducts.

Also keenly anticipated is Turandot in a production by theatre director Richard Goold. The title role is being sung by the German soprano Kirsten Blanck in what is also her role debut. Blanck has been gradually moving into heavier territory and I will be interested to hear her in the role. Her Calaf is Gwyn Hughes Jones, with Amanda Echalaz as Liu. Edward Gardner conducts. I have not yet been able to learn which edition they are using. It is too much to hope that they will use the uncut Alfano ending, which has not received a proper staging in the UK yet.

New in the autumn also is a double bill of Bluebeards Castle directed by Daniel Kramer, with The Rite of Spring, in a production by Michael Keegan Dolan and his Fabulous Beast company. Edward Gardner conducts. Curious combination, but then Bluebeard is always difficult to place.

Finally the Christmas offering is Messiah in a production by Deborah Warner. The only comment on this one can be why? When Handel has so many amazing theatre works which remain unperformed at the Coliseum, why try to perform on of his non-theatre works, and one which isn't even built around a dramatic narrative. Oh, well, at least it has a fine cast, Sophie Bevan, Catherine Wyn Rogeors, John Mark Ainsley and Brindley Sherratt conducted by Laurence Cummings.

After Christmas Jonathan Miller's L'Elisir d'Amore comes from New York City Opera. Set in 1950's America, I'm not sure why we need the new production when the previous one worked adequately. Still get get to hear Sarah Tynan, John Tessier and Andrew Shore in the leads.

Having done so well with Jenufa, David Alden is being let loose on Katya Kabanova, with Patricia Racette in the title role and Susan Bickley as the mother-in-law from hell.

More excitingly Fiona Shaw is directing Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers.

Another new Tosca hoves into sight, this time a production by Catherine Malfitano with Amanda Echalaz repeating her Opera Holland Park triumph, along with Julian Gavin and Anthony Michaels Moore. Edward Gardner conducts. Certainly a cast to look forward to.

Penny Woolcock is directing The Pearl Fishers, though its no longer the rarity that ENO think it is. No word yet on which edition they are using, but I do hope that they use Brad Cohen's edition which re-creates Bizet's original last Act rather then the confection generally used. Rory Macdonald conducts.

The final new production is Mozart's Idomeneo, directed by Katie Mitchell with Paul Nilon, Emma Bell and Sarah Tynan. Edward Gardner conducts. For this one we do know which edition they are using, they have chosen Mozart's Vienna version, which turns Idamante into a tenor and makes the casting rather too tenor heavy.

Actually there is one more new production, but this is going to be a site specific piece done in collaboration with Punchdrunk.

Revivals: Anthony Michaels Moore in Rigoletto. Turn of the Screw is back with the same 4 principals as when it was new, but with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting. Lucia di Lammermoor is back, again with Barry Banks and Anna Christy.

So we have two new productions (Tosca, L'Elisir d'Amore) which replace apparently viable existing ones. At least two revivals with near identical casts to the work's first outing. The only English operas are Turn of the Screw and Handel's Messiah.

There is enough in the season to generate interest, but the season includes no Strauss, no Wagner and no Verdi apart from Rigoletto. The management seem to have an unhealthy interest in Puccini. There is lots of interest in this season, but the overall shape is odd.

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