Editorial: Walt Disney: The Opera amongst ENO's 2012-13 offerings

A mixture of revivals of classic productions and bold new stagings characterises the new season

26 April 2012

Walt DisneyEnglish National Opera announced its 2012-2013 season this morning and, as one might expect, it is typical of the company: bold, innovative, and "risky." John Berry, the artistic director, additionally emphasized the family values (if you will) of the company, highlighting the many artists that will be returning to give a little back to the institution responsible for nurturing their careers.

A revival (the last one?) of Nicholas Hytner's 1988 production of Mozart's The Magic Flute will open the season and includes Duncan Rock and Robert Lloyd. Interestingly, they still have not cast a queen, so that will be an announcement to look forward to in the coming months. Mozart's classic is followed by the complete opposite, a rarely performed Czech work from the 20th century: Bohuslav Martinů's Julietta. The opera explores the surrealist movement of the 1930s and includes Peter Hoare (seen this season in Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust), Julia Sporsén (an ENO Harewood Artist), and will be conducted by the exuberant Edward Gardner.

Happily jumping periods, the season continues with a new production of Handel's Julius Caesar, directed by Michael Keegan-Dolan and conducted by (after the triumph of Castor and Pollux) Christian Curnyn. The veteran Lawrence Zazzo will be singing Caesar, whilst Anna Christy will join him as Cleopatra. A revival of Rufus Norris's production Don Giovanni follows Handel's opera seria, with the acclaimed Ian Paterson returning to sing the title role.

A new production of the rarely performed (it has not been seen in England since 1951) Vaughan Williams's The Pilgrims's Progress will take the season to a nationalistic height, and will be directed by Yoshi Oïda. The cast will include Roland Wood and Ann Murray. ENO's tangential focus on innovative directors will continue with Calixto Bieito's Carmen, a new production (though, originally staged at the Liceu in Barcelona) sung by Ruxandra Donose, Adam Diegel, and ENO Harewood Artist Elizabeth Llewellyn.

Celebrating two of the three major centenaries next year (Wagner was missing from the roster), ENO will present a new production of Verdi's La traviata (highly cut, somehow) and a revival of Britten's Death in Venice. The two will include Corinne Winters, Ben Johnson, John Graham-Hall, and Andrew Shore. The ever-popular La bohème, a recent production by Jonathon Miller, will be revived with Gwyn Hughes Jones as Rodolfo and Kate Valentine as Mimi. Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado will also make an appearance next season, also originally directed by Miller. Rossini fans can look forward to The Barber of Seville, a revival of yet another Miller production, and will include Lucy Crowe and Benedict Nelson singing Rosina and Figaro, respectively.

Personally, I am looking forward to Charpentier's Medea (with Sarah Connolly singing the title role) and Berg's Wozzeck, both new productions. Of course, the UK premiere of Philip Glass's The Perfect American, a surreal opera examining the last month's of Walt Disney's life, and the world premiere of David Mitchell's Sunken Garden, an opera about "crime, hoax, and dark truth," will be events to watch out for as well. The season will undoubtedly be one to remember; let's leave any further judgments (about how daring, risky, innovative, etc.) about the season to the critics.

by Mike Migliore

Photo: Time & Life/Getty Images

More information is available at www.eno.org.