English National Opera’s new season starts in a few weeks, and across the seven operas this side of Christmas new productions vie with classic revivals to cover works spanning the 18th to 20th centuries.
The season’s opener is National Theatre Director Nicholas Hytner’s hit 1988 production of The Magic Flute (from 13 September). Although undoubtedly a masterpiece, Mozart’s creation remains notoriously difficult to stage, given that a production needs to bridge the gap between the opera’s fun and religious elements, its obvious magic and deeper symbolism. No attempt stays around for a generation without meeting the challenge well, and since this is the final time that the production will be staged at the Coliseum it is something of a must-see.
ENO has a strong track record with Handel and so we have high hopes for its new production of one of his most famous operas, Julius Caesar (from 1 October), directed by the highly innovative Michael Keegan-Dolan. The 20th century is represented by Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrim’s Progress (from 5 November), based on John Bunyan’s allegory and directed by Yoshi Oida, and Bohuslav Martinu’s Julietta (from 17 September), directed by Richard Jones. The latter, in particular, provides a rare opportunity to experience a work from this hardly obscure, but still perhaps underrated, Czech composer.
Georges Bizet is acknowledged with a new production of his most famous opera, Carmen (from 21 November), which with its catchy melodies and exuberant staging from Calixto Bieito could be a good choice for first time opera-goers. The season also includes the first revival of Rufus Norris’ Don Giovanni (from 17 October). Last time around we felt that its obvious dynamism slightly undersold the class conflicts inherent in the plot, but it comfortably made the grade still. Then December sees a revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1986 production of The Mikado, which time and again has proved its staying power. While not directly connected with Christmas, this huge dose of good quality fun should prove the perfect festive treat.
ENO’s autumn season begins on 13 September. For further details and tickets visit the ENO website or call 0871 911 0200.
Photo: Nicholas Hytner’s classic production of The Magic Flute returns to the Coliseum for the final time, © Richard Smith.