ENO announces ambitious new season and positive financial news
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The world premiere of Julian Anderson’s first opera, Thebans, and a new production by Monty Python legend Terry Gilliam of Berlioz’s rarely staged Benvenuto Cellini are highlights of English National Opera’s 2013-14 season, unveiled today.
A 14-opera programme will also include a first production for ENO of Thomas Adès’s widely acclaimed Powder Her Face, originally commissioned for the 1995 Cheltenham Festival, which gets nine performances at Ambika P3, the University of Westminster’s space for contemporary art, architecture and music, converted from the vast former subterranean concrete construction hall of the School of Engineering in Baker Street, London.
Former Gramophone Award-winning composer Anderson’s Thebans, which will open next May, will be the first of four ENO world premieres by British composers over the next four seasons. Anderson, who is currently the LPO’s composer in residence, has worked with Frank McGuinness, who has based his libretto on the ancient Greek trilogy of plays by Sophocles. Thebans follows the tragedy of Oedipus, the mythical King of Thebes, who kills his father and marries his mother. ENO’s music director Edward Gardner will conduct.
Gilliam’s much anticipated return, following his award-winning opera directorial debut with The Damnation of Faust two years ago, will see him resume his partnership with Gardner in Berlioz’s two-act work based loosely on the life of the Florentine sculptor. The cast will include Michael Spyres as Cellini, American soprano Corinne Winters, recently a memorable Violetta, as Teresa and Willard White as Pope Clement VII.
Powder Her Face will continue ENO’s partnership with theatres across London to take award-winning opera to a variety of locations which, in recent seasons, have included the Young Vic, Hampstead Theatre and, most recently The Sunken Garden at the Barbican. Powder Her Face follows the scandalous stories about Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, known as the ‘Dirty Duchess’, who was brought to the attention of the British media during her divorce from the Duke of Argyll in 1963. The opera has already been performed all over the world.
The season opens in September with a new-to-London Fidelio, directed by Calixto Bieito, with Emma Bell as Leonore and Stuart Skelton as Florestan. Gardner conducts a production first seen in Munich in 2010.
Other productions new to London will include two directed by Christopher Alden, Die Fledermaus, which will be conducted by Eun Sun Kim, and Rigoletto, a co-production with Canadian Opera Company, which Graeme Jenkins will conduct.
The Coliseum will also see a new Magic Flute, directed by Simon McBurney, a new Così fan tutte – a co-production with the Met, directed by Kate Mitchell with Ryan Wigglesworth in the pit, and an exciting co-production with the Bolshoi Opera of Handel’s Rodelinda, directed by Richard Jones, which Christian Curnyn will conduct with a starry line-up including Rebecca Evans (Rodelinda), Iestyn Davies, John Mark Ainsley and Susan Bickley.
There will be revivals of Madama Butterfly, Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, David Alden’s much talked-about Peter Grimes, with Stuart Skelton in the title role, and Penny Woolcock’s The Pearl Fishers.
ENO’s artistic director John Berry said: ‘This season shows the power of loyal artists – singers, conductors, directors, composers and designers – who are prepared to put themselves on the line in a remarkably diverse and exciting range of work. And it is wonderful that so many opera houses and festivals from around the world want to collaborate so closely with us.’
At this morning’s press conference unveiling the new season’s plans, ENO’s CEO Loretta Tomasi gave a bullish update on the company’s financial state, following the news in January that it had lost £2.2 million during 2011-12. She said: ‘Preliminary indications show that ENO will have a significant overall surplus for the 2012/13 financial year and that we have reduced the unrestricted deficit by two thirds to around £800,000. In addition, box office income is up on last year by £1.3 million. The Arts Council Catalyst award sum is £3 million and the fundraising target against this is £6 million over three years. ENO has so far achieved about 85 per cent of this.’
The company also announced the launch of a programme of ENO House Composers, as part of its commitment to developing talent. The inaugural house composers are Alastair Putt, Richard Causton, Helen Grime and Edmund Finnis.