Taking opera to the regions is no easy task, but after a strong spring season with Don Giovanni, Susannah and Anna Bolena, English Touring Opera has now announced the two productions for its autumn tour.
Dvorak's underrated masterpiece Rusalka will be presented alongside La tragédie de Carmen, Peter Brook's revision of Bizet's Carmen.
Opening at the Hackney Empire on 9 October 2008, ETO will take both productions to Malvern, Exeter, Lincoln, Kendal, Snape Maltings, Bath, Buxton and Tonbridge Wells, ending with a week-long stint at Cambridge Arts Theatre from 25 to 19 November.
Rusalka is all too rarely performed in the UK – though Renee Fleming is to sing the title role at the Met next season – so the opportunity to witness it live is not to be missed. Telling the story of a love affair between a mermaid and a prince, the opera is crowned by the popular 'Song to the Moon'. Dvorak's score will be performed in a chamber version for James Conway's new production, which is designed by Paul Wills and conducted by Alex Ingram.
Returning to ETO after a critically-acclaimed Susannah earlier in the year, Donna Bateman will sing the role of Rusalka. Richard Roberts will play the Prince, Fiona Kimm is Ježibaba, and the very promising Camilla Roberts sings the part of the Foreign Princess.
The company's other offering, La tragédie de Carmen, is described as 'opera at its most powerful, a raw and visceral adaptation of Bizet's most popular work'. The adaptation is by Peter Brook, Marius Constant and Jean-Claude Carrière, who 'have crafted a concentrated night of theatre that focuses on the fatal relationships between the gypsy, soldier, village girl and bullfighter'. However, we're assured that all the big numbers remain; the opera is performed in French with surtitles.
Casting-wise, it's a luxury to have Leah-Marian Jones (who was the best thing about The Royal Opera's revival of La Cenerentola at Christmas) in the title role. Soprano Sinead Campbell will play Micaëla; David Curry stars as Carmen's lover, Don Jose; and baritone Nicholas Garrett will be Escamillo.
Andrew Steggall will direct ETO's new production, which will be conducted by Gareth Hancock.
Further details will be released in due course. See http://www.englishtouringopera.org.uk/index.php for more information on how to book.
See also our preview of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden's 2008-09 season here.
See also our preview of ENO's 2008-09 season here.
See also our preview of the Opera national de Paris' 2008-09 season here.
See also our preview of the 2008 Edinburgh Festival here.
Plus our preview of the Barbican's Great Performers 2008-09 season here.
And read our preview of the London Philharmonic's 2008-09 season here.
Also see details of Welsh National Opera's 2008-09 season here.