English Touring Opera’s Spring 2017 season features the company’s first ever Gilbert & Sullivan production, a Puccini favourite marking the opera debut of stage director Blanche McIntyre, and two new operas for young people: Silver Electra and Different.
The season opens at Hackney Empire from Saturday 4 March to Friday 10 March 2017, with new productions of Puccini’s Tosca and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience. The operas then tour to Lighthouse, Poole; Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield; Churchill Theatre, Bromley; Snape Maltings Concert Hall; York Theatre Royal; Wolverhampton Grand Theatre; Curve, Leicester; Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham; Cambridge Arts Theatre; G Live, Guildford; Buxton Opera House; Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Gala Theatre, Durham; Perth Festival (Perth Concert Hall); Exeter Northcott Theatre; Hall for Cornwall, Truro; Norwich Theatre Royal; Regent Theatre, Stoke-On-Trent; Ulverston International Music Festival (Coronation Hall); Blackpool Grand Theatre.
They are joined by Silver Electra and Different, two new operas for young people, to be performed in schools, libraries and studio theatre spaces.
Tosca was last toured by ETO 11 years ago; this new production marks the opera debut of award-winning stage director Blanche McIntyre, whose most recent productions include Titus Andronicus and The Two Noble Kinsmen (RSC), Noises Off (Nottingham Playhouse), Welcome Home Captain Fox! (Donmar Warehouse), The Oresteia (HOME, Manchester), As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare’s Globe). Tosca will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.
“I am excited to present Blanche’s first opera production. Blanche McIntyre is a brilliant director, and Tosca is a fantastic opera.” – James Conway, General Director, ETO
Laura Mitchell and Paula Sides share the role of Tosca; Alexander James Edwards and Samuel Sakker are Cavaradossi, and Craig Smith and Andrew Slater share the role of Scarpia. Michael Rosewell conducts ETO’s orchestra; Linbury Prize-winning designer Florence de Maré is responsible for the set and costumes for both this production and Patience.
Patience, is ETO’s first Gilbert and Sullivan production. Patience was premiered in London at the Opera Comique in April 1881, before moving to the Savoy Theatre in October of the same year, where it became the first theatrical production to be lit entirely by electric light. The opera offers a satirical take on the Aesthetic movement of the 1870s and 1880s – a popular topic with Victorian theatre audiences, and already the focus of a lively industry of parody and caricature in the press.
“Think of original opera in English and you think of the wit and skill of Gilbert & Sullivan. Patience is my favourite Gilbert & Sullivan, with a brilliant script and a lovely score.” – James Conway, General Director, ETO
Lauren Zolezzi, as Patience, leads a cast of talented young singers, including Bradley Travis as Bunthorne (Masetto in ETO’s 2016 production of Don Giovanni) and Ross Ramgobin as Grosvenor. Timothy Burke conducts ETO’s orchestra; director Liam Steel returns to the company after the success of his 2014 production of Britten’s Paul Bunyan, part of an Olivier Award winning season.
ETO’s Spring 2017 season also continues the company’s record of touring new operas for younger audiences, with singers and players drawn from the cast and orchestra of the main-stage productions.
Silver Electra is the very first opera written about the early 20th century aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her dramatic disappearance in 1937, where she attempted to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra aeroplane. Designed for children aged 7-14, the opera looks both at the riveting story of Earhart, and issues around memory loss; highlighting the role of women pioneers in the twentieth century. Silver Electra’s creative team includes composer Russell Hepplewhite and ETO’s head of education Tim Yealland, who also created ETO’s award-winning children’s opera Laika the Spacedog, which toured the country in 2013 and 2016.
Different is ETO’s new opera for children with severe special educational needs. In another first for the company, this opera was created by Key Club, a group of young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome, together with composer Llywelyn ap Myrdden, designer Ruth Paton, animator Babis Alexiadis and cellist Jonathan Kitchen. Different builds on ETO’s many successful operas for special needs audiences, including in RedBlueGreen, Spin, Rumbled, Waxwings and Dust Child.