Garsington Opera Teams Up with Royal Shakespeare Theatre for its 2015 Season


Garsington Opera Teams Up with Royal Shakespeare Theatre for its 2015 Season Read more

Wild Men and Fantastic Tales: A Preview of English Touring Opera’s 2015 Season


United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Wild Men and Fantastic Tales: A Preview of English Touring Opera’s 2015 Season

Artists from ETO will soon be packing their suitcases as the company embarks on another busy tour schedule starting with a spring season which features rare bel canto gems by Donizetti, a Puccini favourite, and two new operas for young people.

The first port of call is Hackney Empire with new productions of Donizetti’s The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo) and Puccini’s La bohème, together with a revival of ETO’s Spring 2013 production of Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais). They are joined by Shackleton’s Cat and Waxwings, two new operas for young people, to be performed in schools, libraries and studio theatre spaces.

 Donizetti’s The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo) was premiered in Rome in 1833 and became hugely successful before vanishing from the repertoire until the late 20th century. ETO’s new production marks both the opera’s first staging in the UK and first tour on this scale anywhere in the world in the modern era. The libretto by Jacopo Ferretti is based on a play by an unknown author, but ultimately derives from an episode of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Unusually for its time, the plot centres on a male victim of spousal infidelity: After his wife Eleonora is unfaithful, Cardenio flees for an island in the West Indies, where he loses his senses and his mind. It  features a love story of huge psychological depth, and a host of beautiful bel canto arias. ETO’s new production is sung in Italian with English surtitles, directed by Iqbal Khan, and the conductor is Jeremy Silver. Craig Smith sings the title role of the ‘Wild Man’ Cardenio, with Sally Silver as Eleonora and Nicholas Sharratt as Cardenio’s brother Fernando. Also starring in the production are Njabulo Madlala as the islander Bartolomeo, Donna Bateman as his daughter Marcella, and Peter Brathwaite as his servant Kaidamà.

 ETO last toured La bohème over ten years ago, and this is new production directed by James Conway. Ilona Domnich and Paula Sides share the role of Mimi, with David Butt Philip as Rodolfo, Grant Doyle and Nick Lester sharing the role of Marcello, and Sky Ingram and Donna Bateman as Musetta. Michael Rosewell conducts ETO’s orchestra. La bohème also features the work of Linbury Prize-winning designer Florence de Maré, who is designing the sets and costumes for both this production and The Wild Man of the West Indies.

 The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) enjoyed its first ever UK professional tour as part of ETO’s Spring 2013 season. Constructed of bel canto arias and ensembles of extraordinary quality,  the opera tells the story of the burghers of Calais who offer up their lives to save their city from the besieging English army. Their sacrifice culminates in one of the most moving ensembles in all of opera, the momentous O sacra polve, o suol natio (O Sacred Earth).

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, The Siege of Calais features designs by Faroese artist Samal Blak, inspired by the siege of Stalingrad. The production is again directed by James Conway, and the conductor is Jeremy Silver. ETO’s production follows Donizetti’s own expressed wishes by performing the opera in a two-act version. King Edward’s brilliant aria from act 3 is retained and relocated to the first act, again in accordance with the composer’s plans. The role of Eustachio, the Mayor of Calais, is sung by Craig Smith. Catherine Carby and Helen Sherman (Helen reprising the role she created in 2013) share the ‘trouser role’ of his son Aurelio. Paula Sides also stars, as Aurelio’s wife Eleonora, a role she also originally sang in 2013. Grant Doyle and Nicholas Merryweather share the role of the English King Edward.

 Shackleton’s Cat is based on the true story of the tabby cat that accompanied Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctic expedition. Designed for children aged 7-11, the opera incorporates elements of the geography and history curricula, and is complemented by a Teacher’s Pack for schools.

 Waxwings is ETO’s new opera for children with severe special educational needs. Based on the story of flight and the myth of Icarus, the highly interactive piece brings together singing with a combination of live accompaniment and recorded electronic music.

 The spring season opens at Hackney Empire from Saturday 7 March to Saturday 14 March 2015.  The operas then tour to the Hall for Cornwall in Truro, Lighthouse Poole, Norwich Theatre Royal, Sheffield Theatres, (MARCH);  Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Snape Maltings, Leicester Curve, Warwick Arts Centre, Exeter Northcott Theatre (APRIL); Crawley The Hawth, Canterbury Marlowe Theatre,  Blackpool Grand Theatre, Buxton Opera House, Durham Gala Theatre, Perth Festival and Cambridge Arts Theatre (MAY).

 English Touring Opera ‘s autumn 2015 season has a French flavour and features three new productions of French operas: Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Massenet’s Werther, and Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman. All three operas are performed in arrangements for chamber orchestra. James Conway, ETO’s General Director, said: ‘We set out to find three of the very best French operas, with compelling dramas that could be especially well told on an intimate scale – and decided on three that are essentially ‘French’, though they could hardly be more different from each other. ’

 Belgian composer Annelies van Parys’s arrangement of Pelléas et Mélisande receives its English premiere this autumn in ETO’s new production, directed by James Conway. Jonathan McGovern sings the title role of Pelléas, with Stephan Loges as his half-brother Golaud. The role of Mélisande, and the conductor, are announced later this year. The opera was composed after Debussy spent years searching for the perfect drama to set to music, and finding it in Maurice Maeterlinck’s play. The story sees an intense widower bringing home a young woman and marrying her, before becoming violently jealous when she sings lovingly of his half-brother Pélleas.

 Commonly acknowledged as the greatest of Massenet’s operas, Werther distinguishes itself for its elegance, charm and raw emotional impact. Based on Goethe’s classic novel, the opera tells the story of an apparently idyllic family torn apart by uncontrollable passion. Oliver Platt directs this new production, with Iain Farrington conducting his own new arrangement of the score for a salon ensemble performing on stage with the singers. The title role of the impassioned and over-sensitive young artist Werther is sung by emerging talent Ed Ballard, in the special version Massenet prepared for baritone. Carolyn Dobbin sings the role of Charlotte, the object of Werther’s love, who is engaged to be married to his friend Albert (sung by Simon Wallfisch).

 The Tales of Hoffman is both a work of genius, studded with famous melodies by its composer Jacques Offenbach, and as dark a comedy as you can get.  Whilst waiting for his latest mistress, the poet Hoffman tells his audience the strange and vivid story of his former loves, which range from the mechanical doll Olympia to a Venetian courtesan. ETO’s new production, directed by James Bonas and conducted by Philip Sunderland, matches the talents of young tenor Sam Furness in the title role and Ilona Domnich (ETO’s Mimì in the company’s new production of La bohème this Spring) as his three heroines.

 Pelléas et Mélisande and Werther are sung in French with English surtitles, and The Tales of Hoffman is sung in English. The productions are designed by Oliver Townsend (sets and costumes) and Mark Howland (lighting).

 After the performances at the Britten Theatre in early October the operas tour to Buxton Opera House, Durham Gala Theatre, Harrogate Theatre, Cambridge West Road Concert Hall and Snape Maltings, with further venues to be announced.  For further details contact:

Preview: London International Mime Festival January 2015


Preview: London International Mime Festival January 2015

The London International Mime Festival (the longest-established theatre season of its kind) returns with its 39th programme of innovative visual theatre from around the world. From Thursday 8 January to Saturday 31 January, eighteen companies will give sixty-four performances – the majority of them London or UK premieres – at venues in different parts of the capital. America, Belgium, France, Japan and New Zealand are among the countries represented. Several of the performances will be accompanied by workshops, films and artists’ talks.

The festival opens with the young acrobats of Barely Methodical Troupe in the Edinburgh ‘Total Theatre’ award-winning Bromance at Central St. Martin’s Platform Theatre in King’s Cross. It closes with the cinematic set design and ‘jaw-dropping’ physicality of 32 rue Vandenbranden, the UK debut of Belgium dance-theatre company, Peeping Tom, at the Barbican Theatre.

Performances on the twenty-two days in between include anime-style storytelling inspired by Edward Snowden’s revelations in Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Light at The Pit, Barbican. The same venue will host a collaboration between New York puppeteer Basil Twist (creator of the silk effects design for the ‘Exit pursued by bear’ moment in The Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale in April 2014) and master musician Yumiko Tanaka. France’s Lonely Circus makes its UK debut at Southbank Centre with Fall/Fell/Fallen, a physical dialogue between wire-walker Sebastien Le Guen and electro-acoustic musician Jérôme Hoffman. Also at Southbank, Circus Ronaldo presents Amortale, a Felliniesque, commedia-circus combination of tragedy and clowning, opera, marionettes, and a ‘touch of arson’.

Juggling meets ballet at The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in the world premiere of 4X4, by Sean Gandini and choreographer Ludovic Ondievela (whose Cassandra premiered there last month). At the Soho Theatre, Trygve Wakenshaw performs the London premiere of the ‘blissfully funny’, hour-long, physical stream-of-consciousness, KRAKEN. Jackson’s Lane in Highgate plays host to two more circus-based events: British company Joli Vyann blurs the boundaries between circus and dance in Stateless, on the theme of refugees and immigration; in Noodles, NoFit State Circus conjures up a world of knots, wires, chaos and spaghetti.

Compagnie 111/Aurélien Bory (who performed their enthusiastically received What’s Become of You at the Barbican in last year’s festival) will this year be at Sadler’s Wells with Plexus, in which the Japanese dancer Kaori Ito triumphs over the five-thousand cords that entrap her.

Further details can be found at

John O’Dwyer




The Sound World of Opera Director Barrie Kosky


 The Sound World of Opera Director Barrie Kosky, Los Angeles16.10.2014 (JRo)


Director Barrie Kosky

Read more

Christmas at St John’s, Smith Square (11-23 December 2014)


Christmas at St John’s, Smith Square (11-23 December 2014) Read more

Early Music Christmas Festivities in York 2014


Early Music Christmas Festivities in York 2014

York Early Music Christmas Festival from Friday 5th to Sunday 14th December) showcases a brilliant line-up of musicians including: La Serenissima, who celebrate their 20th anniversary with a festively cheerful Vivaldi programme The Red Priest (Fri 5 Dec). Joglaresa turns Christmas upside down with Merriment & Misrule (Mon 8 Dec)and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment provide Chamber Music for a Winter’s Evening (Fri 12 Dec) along with Pitter Patter Raindrops – two concerts for children aged 2-5 years and their families (Sat 13 Dec at 10.30am and 12 noon). Stile Antico bring the the Festival to a close with a brand new Christmas programme  A Wondrous Mystery (Sun 14 Dec).

Delma Tomlin MBE, Administrative Director of York Early Music Christmas Festival, says:

“We couldn’t have wished for a more joyous start to the Christmas Festival than La Serenissima’s glorious Vivaldi programme The Red Priest. Theatre of the Ayre’s Purcell programme allows us to welcome back Elizabeth Kenny following her term as one of the Artistic Advisors to York Early Music Festival. And they are joined by York’s own recorder virtuoso, Pamela Thorby, who will lead a recorder workshop linked to the concert and Purcell’s music.

“Stile Antico, proud winners of the 2005 Friends of York Early Music Festival International Young Artists Competition, make a welcome return to York and celebrate their 10th Anniversary with an irresistible new Christmas programme, with some well-known carols including In dulci jubilo – a great way to round off the Festival.”

Other highlights include:

▪ University of Huddersfield Chamber Choir & Early Music Ensemble: Ave maris stella with

Christmas music by Josquin, Lassus, Palestrina, Gabrieli, Stolzer and Festa  in praise of the Virgin Mary, Saturday 6 December at 3.00pm

▪ Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists: Handel: Messiah, Saturday 6 December at 7.00pm.

▪ Theatre of the Ayre: Purcell: The Lost Recordings. Theatre of the Ayre breathes new life into the hidden consort repertoire of Purcell’s suites from King Arthur, The Fairy Queen and The Indian Queen alongside a seasonal helping of Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and Charpentier’s Noëls.Sunday 7 December at 7.30pm.

▪ Renaissance: A Hymn of the Nativity. Music by the Tudor Greats, William Byrd and Thomas Tallis alongside medieval carols and festive works of the 20th and 21st centuries inspired by gems from the 16th century. Wednesday 10 December at 7.30pm.


Full programme details available at:

The Henschel Quartet Celebrate 20th Year 1994 – 2014


The Henschel Quartet Celebrate 20th Year 1994 – 2014

Henschel Quartet Photo Georg Thum (c)

Henschel Quartet Photo Georg Thum

Read more

Innovation and Accessibility at Bristol Proms (28th July – 2nd August). A Preview


 Innovation and Accessibility at Bristol Proms (28th July – 2nd August). A Preview Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

  • NEW! Carnegie Hall’s 2020-2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! London’s Wigmore Hall in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and ENB in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • NEW! Transitions Dance Company’s 2020 UK Tour from 21 Feb – 6 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Aldeburgh Festival from 12 – 28 June 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH UKRAINIAN SOPRANO LIUDMYLA MONASTYRSKA __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH CHINESE SOPRANO HUI HE __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month