The English National Opera’s new season contains a welcome blend of the old and new, with established classics appearing alongside delightful rarities.
It starts with Jakob Lenz (from 17 April), which celebrates German composer Wolfgang Rihm’s 60th birthday, and represents the first ever English language production of the opera. Starring the peerless Andrew Shore, one of the best actors in the operatic business, this is a joint production with the Hampstead Theatre, and the only opera in the season not to be staged at the Coliseum.
If you have ever fancied a Wagner opera but didn’t think you could sit still for five hours, The Flying Dutchman (from 28 April) is for you. At two and a quarter hours, it is by far the shortest of his major works, and in Jonathan Kent’s new production, ENO’s Music Director, Edward Gardner, conducts his first Wagner opera. If it’s anything like how he conducts any other composer’s music, it will be very good indeed.
The late Anthony Minghella’s 2005 production of Madam Butterfly returns to the Coliseum from 8 May and, having seen it before, we can vouch that it should provide one of the most moving nights you are ever likely to have in the opera house. Then, from 25 May, Glanert’s Caligula, directed by Benedict Andrews, and starring Peter Coleman-Wright, enjoys a new production.
In 2009 director David Alden and conductor Edward Gardner staged an electrifying Peter Grimes, and now the same team returns with another of Benjamin Britten’s masterpieces, Billy Budd (from 18 June). Needless to say our expectations are high. Later in June, we have the London premiere of Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee, following the Blur frontman’s acclaimed Monkey: Journey to the West, which appeared around the world between 2007 and 2009.
By the time that the season rounds off with Cape Town Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess in July, you might be left feeling just a little bit breathless. Here’s to a great season!
ENO’s spring / summer season begins on 17 April. For further details and tickets see the ENO website or call 0871 911 0200.
Photo: Andrew Shore, seen here in The Barber of Seville (left), stars in Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz next week, © Alastair Muir.