enologoEnglish National Opera recently announced the details of their eagerly anticipated new season last week, boasting 11 new productions (including 2 world premieres by British composers) and 5 revivals.  Continuing the recent trend for performing certain pieces outside of their regular home at the Coliseum, ENO will also be showcasing their work at the Young Vic, the Barbican and Bristol’s Old Vic theatres.  There are 170 performances scheduled in total, which is a 38% increase compared to this present season – an ambitious move in today’s uncertain economic climate.  Somewhat controversially, they also announced plans to start using ENO resources to produce West End musicals at the Coli (in a new partnership with Michael Grade and Michael Linnit) as well as a major redevelopment of the restaurant, bar and cafe facilities in order to turn the Coliseum into an arts centre which will be open to members of the public seeking a stylish place for food and drink during the day.

The new season opens on 13 September with Stuart Skelton and Leah Crocetto starring in a new production of Verdi’s Otello conducted by Edward Gardner and directed by David Alden, followed by a classic revival of Nicholas Hytner’s beautiful production of Xerxes with a strong cast of Handelian singers led by Alice Coote, Andrew Watts and Sarah Tynan.  From 2 October, audiences will be treated to Susan Bullock in the role of Minnie in Puccini’s Fanciulla, advertised under the English title The Girl of the Golden West opposite Peter Auty’s Dick Johnson.  This new production will be directed by Richard Jones. A revival of Fiona Shaw’s enjoyable Marriage of Figaro returns in October with Benedict Nelson, David Stout, Mary Bevan and Sarah-Jane Brandon leading the cast.  Jonathan Miller’s popular production of La bohème is back too – this time with Angel Blue taking on the role of Mimi, after singing Musetta to great acclaim in the same production in 2013. Former ROH Jette Parker Young Artist David Butt Philip makes his ENO house debut as Rodolfo.

A date for the diary of contemporary opera fans in particular – 21 October is the world stage premiere of John AdamsThe Gospel According to the Other Mary, directed by ENO Director-in-Residence Peter Sellars and with a cast led by Patricia Bardon as Mary Magdalene.  ENO are also premiering their first childrens’ opera at the Young Vic – a piece entitled The Way Back Home by composer Joanna Lee in a production directed by Katie Mitchell.

Wagner fans will doubtless be delighted at another chance to see Richard Jones’ picturesque production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (previously seen at Welsh National Opera in 2010) – with rising bass-baritone star Iain Paterson taking on the role of Hans Sachs, alongside Gwyn Hughes Jones as Walther and Wendy Bryn-Harmer as Eva. With Ed Gardner on stick-waving duty in the pit this show should be a sure-fire hit.  Peter Konwitschny’s minimalist Traviata returns with Elizabeth  Zharoff as Violetta, joined by Ben Johnson and Anthony Michaels-Moore reprising their roles from last year. Purcell’s rarely performed unfinished opera The Indian Queen makes a visit to the Coliseum in a new production directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by leading baroque specialist Laurence Cummings with an international cast including Julia Bullock, Lucy Crowe and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. 

ENO will perform the world premiere of Between Worlds at the Barbican on 11 April 2015, a piece by the British female composer Tansy Davies based on the tragedy of 9/11 and the people whose lives were irrevocably affected by it.  Later in April 2015, ENO will be performing Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Bristol Old Vic – a new production by Tom Morris and conducted by Christopher Bucknall.

Gilbert & Sullivan fans will be thrilled to learn that acclaimed film director and G&S expert Mike Leigh will be presenting a new production of The Pirates of Penzance starring Andrew Shore, Robert Murray and Claudia Boyle – and with a staggering 19 performances then there’s no excuse to miss what will surely be a very popular choice with audiences.

Calixto Bieito’s bold reimagining of Carmen returns for 14 performances, led by the former Jette Parker Young Artist Justina Gringyte in the title role and Eric Cutler as Don José.  ENO’s excellent music director Ed Gardner will sadly be leaving at the end of next season but his final performances will be a new production of Tchaikovsky’s epic The Queen of Spades directed by David Alden – with Peter Bronder as the obsessive Hermann and Giselle Allen  and Felicity Palmer as the women whose lives he destroys.  It promises to be a spectacular end to a very varied season which spans 400 years of opera and has something for everyone.

It’s fantastic to see ENO continuing down the route of cinema broadcasts for some of their key productions, allowing opera lovers outside of the London area to enjoy what ENO has to offer and reaching a wider audience.  The cinema broadcasts this season will be Otello , The Way Back Home, La traviata, The Pirates of Penzance and Carmen

Faye Courtney