ETO announces Handel Festival, Flute, Norma, Katya Kabanova for 30th anniversary

Five baroque productions to tour the UK in autumn 2009 for Handel 25oth birthday

23 November 2008

ETOEnglish Touring Opera has announced a five-production festival of the operas of Handel for autumn 2009 to celebrate the composer's 250th birthday.

This extremely ambitious project will begin the weeks of 12 and 19 October 2009 with fully staged productions of five of Handel's operas at the Britten Theatre in London, later touring the whole festival to Malvern, Exeter, Buxton and Cambridge.

The operas presented will be Flavio (in a new production of this delightful mix of low comedy and high seriousness) and revivals of ETO's acclaimed productions of Ariodante, Alcina, Teseo and Tolomeo. The Festival will tour alongside a programme of lectures, discussions, recitals, chamber concerts and masterclasses. 

In addition, the remainder of ETO's thirtieth anniversary celebrations has been confirmed. The season starts on 12 March 2009 with a new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The company describes it as 'an enchanting story with all the elements of great opera - drama, magic and Mozart's musical genius. From the stratospheric arias of the Queen of the Night to the jolly folk tunes of the bird catcher Papageno, join Prince Tamino in his quest for his ideal bride, through trials of silence, fire and water, and the clashing forces of Night and Day.'

ETO's new production, sung in Jeremy Sams' witty English translation, is directed by physical theatre specialist Liam Steel and promises to be a memorable night for all ages.

In tandem with the Flute, ETO will present Janacek's Katya Kabanova, the moving story of a sensitive married woman who falls in love with an attractive young man. This near-perfect blend of music and drama is based on the Russian play, The Storm; like the play it is dominated by the Volga, a brooding, fateful presence. Inspired by the composer's own love for a married woman, Katya is a character with whom every listener falls in love; she transcends the small town prejudices that overwhelm the other characters.

Moreover, the company plans to perform concert versions of Bellini's Norma at several venues, including London's Cadogan Hall on 27 April and Cambridge's West Hall Concert Hall on 11 May.

All of these plans mark an ambitious continuation of English Touring Opera's season, which currently includes Dvorak's Rusalka and Leah-Marian Jones in Bizet's La Tragédie de Carmen.

By Dominic McHugh

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