English National Opera (ENO) has announced that it will return to the stage with a full season of seven operas running from 14 October 2021 to 14 April 2022.
The season comprises four new productions, as well as three revivals of acclaimed favourites. It is preceded by two semi-staged outdoor performances of Puccini’s Tosca (1900) at South Facing Festival, a new music festival taking place in August in Crystal Palace Park in south London.
The 2021-22 season begins with a revival of Philip Glass’s Satyagraha (1980). This three-act opera is loosely based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The text, which is taken from the Bhagavad Gita, is sung in the original Sanskrit.
Tenor Sean Panikkar sings the role of Gandhi, leading a cast that also features bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana as Lord Krishna and Harewood Artist William Thomas as Parsi Rustomji. Conductor Carolyn Kuan takes up the baton in her ENO debut. Peter Relton directs Phelim McDermott‘s acclaimed 2007 staging.
Cal McCrystal returns to ENO to direct a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera HMS Pinafore (1878). In this satirical take on the British class system, Josephine, the daughter of Captain Corcoran, falls for lowly sailor Ralph Rackstraw. But she’s torn between her heart’s true love and her desire to honour her father’s wish for her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty.
This new production sees actor and entertainer Les Dennis making his operatic debut as Sir Joseph. He is joined by bass-baritone John Savournin as Captain Corcoran, with ENO Harewood Artists Elgan Llŷr Thomas and Alexandra Oomens as Ralph and Josephine, respectively. Chris Hopkins conducts.
Also new is a Richard Jones production of Wagner’s The Valkyrie (1870). The second part of the composer’s four-opera Ring saga, the seeds of a final apocalypse are sown in this epic tragedy as the earth is plunged into conflict by scheming gods in their search for power.
The cast features bass Matthew Rose as Wotan, soprano Rachel Nicholls as Brünnhilde, tenor Nicky Spence as Siegmund, soprano Emma Bell as Sieglinde, bass Brindley Sherratt as Hunding and mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley as Fricka. ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts.
A new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (1924) is directed by up-and-coming director Jamie Manton. The opera tells the tale of a clever vixen named Sharp Ears. Captured by a local Forester when she is young, she manages to escape his clutches, but he is forever haunted by her memory.
The cast includes sopranos Sally Matthews and Pumeza Matshikiza as the Vixen and the Fox, respectively, baritone Lester Lynch as the Forester and bass Clive Bayley as the Priest.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel, Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale plunges us into the Republic of Gilead, where women have been entirely stripped of their rights and freedoms.
This powerful new production is directed by ENO’s Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon and conducted by contemporary music specialist Joana Carneiro. An exceptional cast includes mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as Offred, with Susan Bickley as her mother, soprano Emma Bell as Aunt Lydia and Harewood Artist John Findon as Luke.
The season also includes revivals of two of the world’s best-known operas. Jonathan Miller’s classic production of La bohème (The Bohemians, Puccini, 1896) is inspired by Brassaï’s photographs of 1930s Paris. Conducted by Ben Glassberg, Puccini’s moving score follows Mimì and Rodolfo’s love unfolding from its joyful beginnings to ultimate heartbreak.
Sopranos Sinead Campbell-Wallace and Nadine Benjamin share the role of Mimì, with tenor David Junghoon Kim as Rodolfo, soprano Louise Alder as Musetta and baritone Charles Rice as Marcello.
Mozart’s comic masterpiece Così fan tutte (Women are Like That, 1790) is transported to 1950s Coney Island in a revival of Phelim McDermott’s 2018 production. Sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella are enjoying a holiday in Coney Island with their fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo. However, the fairground is a place where anything can happen – and its manipulative master, Don Alfonso, has a game to play with the lovers.
British conductor Kerem Hasan leads a cast of young talent with Harewood Artists Nardus Williams as Fiordiligi, Benson Wilson as Guglielmo and Soraya Mafi as Despina. Mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp sings Dorabella, with tenor Amitai Pati as Ferrando and baritone Neal Davies as the cynical Don Alfonso.
Tickets for the season are on sale now. Visit ENO’s website for dates and prices.
A new production of Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale will be staged at the Coliseum as part of English National Opera’s 2021-22 season.