English Touring Opera Wins Olivier Award for King Priam and Paul Bunyan.

14/04/2014

  United KingdomUnited Kingdom English Touring Opera wins Olivier Award for King Priam and Paul Bunyan.

English Touring Opera has won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.   Revealed at yesterday’s ceremony at the Royal Opera House, the award was given for ETO’s ‘brave and challenging’ productions of Michael Tippett’s King Priam and Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan, which are halfway through a nationwide tour.

This is the first time ETO has ever won an Olivier Award. The other nominees in ETO’s category were Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez for their performances in La Donna Del Lago at the Royal Opera House, and Placido Domingo for his performance in Nabucco, again at Covent Garden. Established in 1976 and organised by Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the Laurence Olivier Awards celebrate the world-class status of London’s theatre and are recognised internationally as British theatre’s highest honour.

King Priam and Paul Bunyan opened at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House in February 2014, and are currently touring alongside a revival of The Magic Flute and two operas for children, as part of ETO’s Spring 2014 season.

King Priam is ETO’s first ever production of an opera by Michael Tippett. Its staging was a personal ambition of director James Conway since he began work as ETO’s General Director in 2002. The opera is based on sources including Homer’s Iliad and depicts the fall of Troy from the perspective of its ageing king, focusing on the difficulties and consequences of moral choices at a time of warfare. Conway, with season designer Anna Fleischle and lighting designer Guy Hoare, staged the opera in an ancient yet timeless setting, with extensive use of natural materials such as antlers, leather and bone, chosen to reflect the sparse beauty of Tippett’s score.

Paul Bunyan marks ETO’s final contribution to the Britten 100 centenary celebrations, and is one of the composer’s least-performed operas. Liam Steel’s production –also produced with Anna Fleischle and Guy Hoare – sees the action unfold  in the naturalistic setting of an early twentieth-century lumber camp. It draws on its director’s extensive choreographic experience to present a show that features strong elements of musical theatre as well as opera. The off-stage title role was pre-recorded for ETO’s current tour by award-winning actor Damian Lewis.

Both operas have been reviewed by Seen and Heard International.

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