Monday 23 July 2018

Going for Baroque again: ETO's Radamisto and more

ETO - Handel: Radamisto
English Touring Opera is going for Baroque again this Autumn with music by Handel, Purcell, Carissimi, Gesualdo and Bach. The tour, which opens in Hackney on 6 October 2018 and closes in Manchester on 28 November 2018, features Handel's Radamisto, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Carissimi's Jonas, madrigals by Gesualdo and Bach's St Matthew Passion.

Radamisto is perhaps the first work of Handel's maturity, it was the first that he wrote for the newly funded Royal Academy in 1719 and features the sort of high seriousness and complex plotting which are a feature of his operas for the Royal Academy. Involving the machinations of the royal family in old Armenia, it features marital fidelity tested along with some prime bad behaviour. As with many of Handel's operas, he revised the work for revivals but unusually his revisions are well worth considering so that as well as the first version, premiered in April 1720 with a soprano Radamisto (Margherita Durastantini) and contralto Zenobia (Anastasia Robinson), there is the revised version of December 1720 which featured an alto castrato Radamisto (Senesino) and a soprano Zenobia (Margherita Durastantini), so opera companies have even more material than usual to choose from when making their version! One of the work's other points of interest is Handel's use of ensembles, so that Act Three contains a quartet. For ETO Radamisto will be directed by James Conway and conducted by Peter Whelan, with William Towers as Radamisto, Katie Bray as Zenobia, Ellie Laugharne as Polinessa and Grant Doyle as Tiridate.

ETO is also presenting an intriguing triple bill of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, a staged version of Carissimi's oratorio Jonas (about Jonah and the whale) and a selection of Gesualdo madrigals under the title of I will not speak. Dancer Bernadette Iglich is directing the Carissimi and the Gesualdo, with Seb Harcombe directing the Purcell. Jonathan Peter Kenny conducts.

The final element of the tour is a series of performances of Bach's St Matthew Passion with Jonathan Peter Kenny conducting the Old Street Band and soloists Ellie Laugharne, Susanna Fairbairn, Katie Bray, William Towers, John-Colyn Gyeantey, Richard Dowling, Frederick Long and Andrew Slater, in partnership with 23 different choirs from around the country.

Full details from  the ETO website.

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