Abbas Kiarostami is unable to attend his production of Così fan tutte at ENO

Opera news

8 May 2009

Abbas Kiarostami Abbas Kiarostami, director of the forthcoming Così fan tutte at ENO, will not be able to participate in the performances of his production. This is due to complex issues related to his visa application at the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

Associate Director Elaine Tyler-Hall, who worked with the Iranian director in Aix-en-Provence (where this production was originally staged), will take on Kiarostami's role. 

In a press release, John Berry, Artistic Director of ENO, expressed his support to Kiarostami, but remained confident of the excellent team-work of those involved in this production: 'Abbas, together with his designer and the ENO team, has been meeting in Paris over the last six months to further develop his production since its premiere in the Aix-en-Provence Festival last year. It is very sad that such a widely admired artist as Abbas will not be coming to London. However, we are delighted that his trusted British Associate Director Elaine Tyler-Hall […] will take over the production in his absence. Abbas and I will be in close touch over the coming weeks, even if it has to be from a distance'.

From Tehran, Kiarostami shares his disappointment for the unfortunate circumstances and his gratitude to the team at the Coliseum: 'I would like to thank John Berry and the rest of the crew at ENO for the understanding and support they have shown in this very complicated but delicate situation. They respected my position and my principles in spite of the obvious fact that it was putting them in a very precarious and disagreeable position'.

Così fan tutte, opening at the London Coliseum on 29 May, is staged in a co-production with Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg. It will be performed under the baton of Stefan Klingele, who makes his ENO conducting debut. Klingele, a Mozart specialist, is also the Music Director of the Bremer Theatre.

An excellent line-up features Susan Gritton as Fiordiligi, Fiona Murphy as Dorabella, Thomas Glenn as Ferrando, Liam Bonner as Guglielmo, Steven Page as Don Alfonso and Sophie Bevan as Despina. Sets and costumes are designed by Malika Chauveau with lighting by Jean Kalman.

Kiarostomi's presence in this ENO season is noteworthy. His artistic explorations are wide-ranging and take many forms: he is a poet, a photographer and an award-winning film director. His works have been presented in numerous venues around the world - MOMA, New York, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran to mention only a few.

Moreover, Kiarostomi's philosophical and political engagement with the contemporary milieu is deep-rooted. Being one of the pioneering 'Iranian New Wave' film directors in the 1960s, he has always maintained strong connections to his country even after the artistic diaspora following the revolution of 1979, when many artists decided to pursue their projects in the West. He is acclaimed for his poetry and his photography, and in 1997 his film Taste of Cherry was awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

by Marina Romani

Così fan tutte opens at the London Coliseum on 29 May. It runs for ten performances until 5 July. A pre-performance talk by Nicholas Till will take place on 6 June.

For further information and tickets visit

Photo: Abbas Kiarostami; Photo credits: Hanne Hvattum.

lineVillazon HandelRelated articles:

Interview: Felicity Palmer on returning to ENO for a new Peter Grimes
News: ENO announces the 2009-10 Season
Review: ENO's After Dido opens at the Young Vic
Review: Amanda Roocroft in ENO's Jenufa


Have your say: discuss this article in our Forum.