Entering their thirtieth year of touring opera productions – of which there have been over a hundred to date – English Touring Opera has just announced full details of their Spring 2009 season, including new stagings of The Magic Flute and Katya Kabanova and a series of concert performances of Norma.
In the Spring season of the 30th anniversary year, there will be new productions of The Magic Flute and Katya Kabanova. This will be ETO's first production of Katya Kabanova and it will be the first time for many of the towns that we visit to see this opera. Linda Richardson will play Katya opposite Fiona Kimm's Kabanicha; Michael Rosewell will conduct James Conway's production in Adam Wiltshire's designs. For the Flute, Mark Wilde will be Tamino to Paula Sides's Pamina, while Paul McGrath will conduct Liam Steel's new production, designed by Chloe Lamford.
The spring season will also feature a series of concert performances of Bellini's majestic Norma, again conducted by McGrath. Yvonne Howard (Norma), Alwyn Mellor (Adalgisa) and Justin Lavender (Pollione) head the cast, which will tour to venues such as Cadogan Hall in London.
As previously announced, the autumn season is a celebration of the stage work of G F Handel. The ETO Handelfest is a touring presentation of no less than five of his operas – Teseo (1713), Flavio (1724), Tolomeo (1728), Alcina (1735) and Ariodante (1735) – in what is perhaps the largest of the UK events marking the 250th year anniversary of Handel's death.
James Conway, General Directory of English Touring Opera explains the season: 'This celebration of 3 decades of English Touring Opera will be one to remember. In the Spring Liam Steel should make a very special, physical new production of The Magic Flute (over these three decades one of the most popular operas for ETO audiences). Alongside it we are proud to present Janacek's sensitive mature masterpiece, Katya Kabanova, in what will be its first performance in almost every city and town on tour; the success we have had with The Cunning Little Vixen (2004) and Jenufa (2006) with theatre and opera audiences alike has encouraged us to take on this beautiful, stirring opera.
'The concert performances of Norma are a special marker in the anniversary year. It is a very big project, with some extraordinary artists working with English Touring Opera for the first time: Yvonne Howard, Alwyn Mellor and Justin Lavender. It's part of an effort to bring a rich and diverse experience of opera to audiences all over the country.
'The Autumn ETO Handelfest is extraordinary and ambitious. No other opera company in the world will be presenting 5 of the great master's operas in repertoire, giving audiences more than a sense of his genius for drama in music. Each stop on the festival tour will host lectures and discussions, recitals and masterclasses – so that as well as a week of pleasure, audiences come away with a sort of graduate degree in baroque opera!'
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