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English Touring Opera (ETO) presents its first season under the leadership of new general director Robin Norton-Hale in Spring 2023, with a national tour of three deeply contrasting operas. The Spring 2023 season features two new productions of operas never before staged by ETO – Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia and Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, each directed by women staging their first productions with ETO, as well as a revival of one of Handel's most beloved works, Giulio Cesare. The tour will take outstanding productions to audiences in fourteen locations across England, making live opera accessible and available to all.
Period-instrument specialists The Old Street Band will play for all three operas. This is the first time the operas by Donizetti and Rossini have toured in the UK with a period instrument orchestra.
Gaetano Donizetti's tragedy Lucrezia Borgia is staged for the first time by ETO, in a new production directed by Eloise Lally, making her ETO directorial debut. A thrilling and moving meditation on power and motherhood, Lucrezia Borgia is the tragedy of a complex woman in a dangerous situation. In Lucrezia, Donizetti created one of opera's great antiheroines, as well as one of the most challenging roles in the soprano repertoire. Paula Sides stars in the title role, with Thomas Elwin as Gennaro, Katie Coventry as Orsini and Aidan Edwards as Alfonso, and ETO music director Gerry Cornelius conducts.
The tour also features a new production of Gioacchino Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, another first for ETO. Intrigue, politics, romance and lost luggage all play their part in Rossini's last Italian opera, as a group of entitled guests from all over Europe are stranded in a provincial hotel on their way to a great coronation. Featuring a cast of twenty-seven - one of the largest ever assembled by ETO - the production includes a host of talented young singers including Lucy Hall as Madame Cortese, Luci Briginshaw as Contessa di Folleville, Susanna Hurrell as Corinna and Julian Henao Gonzalez as Conte di Lebenskopf. Valentina Ceschi, who directed ETO's online opera The Firebird to great acclaim in 2022, makes her ETO theatrical directorial debut, and ETO artist in association Jonathan Peter Kenny conducts.
One of George Frideric Handel's most loved operas, Giulio Cesare, also returns for the tour in a revival of ETO's acclaimed and popular 2017 production, with a planned 2020 revival curtailed by the pandemic. James Conway returns to direct, and Susanna Hurrell reprises her role as Cleopatra - noted by The Observer in 2020 as 'simultaneously coquettish, petulant and radiant ... wins the audience's heart as surely as she wins Cesare's' - with Cesare sung by countertenor Francis Gush, Cornelia by Carolyn Dobbin and Sesto by Margo Arsane. Sergey Rybin conducts The Old Street Band in some of Handel's finest music.
Robin Norton-Hale, general director of ETO, said: 'This hugely ambitious season demands virtuosic singing and exceptional dramatic ability from our casts, in stories encompassing farce, social satire, political intrigue and epic tragedy. We're delighted to be working with two outstanding directors to present two operas ETO has never staged before. It will be the first time these operas have been performed at all of our tour venues, and it's even more of a treat to hear them performed on period instruments. Audiences can expect musical and dramatic fireworks!'
The Spring 2023 announcement comes after the conclusion of their critically acclaimed Handelfest tour, which took three great Handel operas – Tamerlano, Ottone and Agrippina - to many thousands of people in seven venues across England. ETO also completed a successful run of Tutankhamun's Shoes, an opera for children exploring Ancient Egyptian history and mummification, in theatres, museums and schools around the country.
Alongside three theatre-based opera productions in Spring 2023, children across the country will also be able to experience the magic of opera in The Wish Gatherer, the first in a three-part series for Key Stage 2 focusing on helping children confront climate change, and Zoo!, their new opera for children aged two to five and audiences with special educational needs and disabilities – both led by emerging singers from the main tour.
Further information - englishtouringopera.org.uk
Posted 9 January 2023 by Yasmin Hoy