Bloglikes - Tag: English National Opera https://www.bloglikes.com/tag/english-national-opera en-US Sat, 19 Sep 2020 01:57:25 +0000 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter The Only West End Show Still Standing https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/15/theater/west-end-coronavirus-horrible-histories.html Mon, 15 Jun 2020 16:05:17 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs England News Cameron Theater West End Mackintosh Friedman Sonia Royal National Theater English National Opera London (England Shakespeare's Globe Theater Old Vic Theater Coronavirus Reopenings Southwark Playhouse (London Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain (Play Peter Jonas, Whose Innovations Changed Opera, Has Died At 73 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Artsjournal/~3/NGEHuBzYANY/peter-jonas-whose-innovations-changed-opera-has-died-at-73.html

Jonas ran the English National Opera and the Bavarian State Opera in his career, emphasizing “bold interpretive approaches to the great yet elusive and multilayered operas of the past.” And he changed the options for opera houses’ rotations: “He championed overlooked 20th-century works, reached out to living composers and presented many premieres. Yet he also made the case that Baroque operas were not just fare for early-music aficionados but also compelling music dramas.” – The New York Times

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Sun, 03 May 2020 14:30:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art People Jonas English National Opera Peter Jonas 05.02.20
Looking Hopeful, Long-Troubled English National Opera Appoints New Artistic Director http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Artsjournal/~3/Hl32MOAX9pA/looking-hopeful-long-troubled-english-national-opera-appoints-new-artistic-director.html

“Annilese Miskimmon, the Belfast-born opera director who has drawn influence from Sondheim, Shakespeare and the Muppets [and is currently director of opera at Norwegian National Opera and Ballet], has been named as the new artistic director of English National Opera, after a search to replace Daniel Kramer, who announced in April that he would step down in July.” – The Guardian

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Wed, 09 Oct 2019 08:35:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art Music Belfast English National Opera Daniel Kramer Annilese Miskimmon 10.08.19 Sondheim Shakespeare Norwegian National Opera and Ballet
The Fight for the Future of Jack the Ripper https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/opinion/sunday/jack-the-ripper-tour.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Sat, 20 Apr 2019 18:08:25 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs News Jack Great Britain Murders English National Opera Women and Girls Attempted Murders and Homicides London (England Serial Murders English National Opera announces 2019/20 Season http://www.operatoday.com/content/2019/04/english_nationa.php Tue, 09 Apr 2019 14:55:59 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Religion Eno English National Opera Youngest presenter appointed at BBC Radio 3 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/radiotoday/~3/A9cm9CzpTfc/

A brand new weekly programme called This Classical Life, fronted by saxophonist Jess Gillam, is just part of some schedule changes planned for BBC Radio 3.

The 20-year-old former BBC Young Musician finalist will be the youngest presenter on the station, joined each week by her contemporaries to select and discuss their favourite pieces from across the musical spectrum, giving an insight into the musical influences on young performers.

Confirmed guests include 22-year-old pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, double bassist Sam Becker, former BBC Introducing pianist and sound artist Belle Chen and film and television composer Ollie Howell. This Classical Life will immediately precede Radio 3’s Saturday lunchtime programme Inside Music.

The first episode of This Classical Life will air on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 6 April and will be available as a podcast on BBC Sounds.

Jess Gillam said: “I’m so excited to be joining BBC Radio 3 as the presenter of This Classical Life. Music is such a huge part of my life, and I can’t wait to share all my latest and greatest discoveries with fellow musicians who will be joining me on the show, as well as with listeners at home.”

Hear and Now, Radio 3’s primary contemporary music programme becomes New Music Show. Retaining the same timeslot on Saturday evenings, New Music Show will feature a regular new presenting line-up of Tom Service and Kate Molleson. Each week, Tom and Kate will showcase recordings made especially for the programme, discovering the latest in contemporary composition from around the world.

There’s a new second slot on the station for The Listening Service on Friday afternoons at 4.30pm presented by Tom Service.

Other programming changes includes Opera Fix, a four-part Classical Fix special on Sunday evenings presented by soprano Danielle de Niese, beginning on the 11 March. Recorded at English National Opera, the programme will aim to demystify opera for the uninitiated. BBC Asian Network presenter Bobby Friction, comedian London Hughes and journalist and filmmaker Ben Zand will be the first to receive their opera inductions from Danni. Classical Fix is available as a podcast on BBC Sounds.

Also on Sundays, two former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists will present upcoming programmes on the station, Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani an upcoming three-part series The Alternative Bach, and guitarist Sean Shibe a six-part special Guitar Zone.

Unclassified, a programme which celebrates the increasingly popular ambient and neo-classical music genres, returns for another six-part series on Sunday evenings, presented by Elizabeth Alker.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3 commented: “These new presenter signings of a series of musicians will serve to complement the expertise offered by our existing presenting line-up. What I want audiences to know is that when you come to BBC Radio 3, you can really get beneath the skin of the music, and hear insights that will change your perspective on the world in a way that is both entertaining as well as informative. We want to provide a space to take time out and experience great music by great performers, broadcasting full-length concerts and offering insight from people who know what it means to perform these works. These new presenting names and programming that gives the listener time to be with the music will do just that.

“I am of the belief that classical music doesn’t sit in isolation, and I know that audiences are ceasing to distinguish it from other genres. I’m keen, therefore, that our schedule acknowledges that as part of our distinct offer which aims to connect audiences with remarkable music and arts; From Jess Gillam’s discussions with young performers of their musical influences, premieres and new takes on established works such as Mahan’s revisionist history of Bach, or Sean Shibe’s look at the guitar, there’s something for everyone on BBC Radio 3.”

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Tue, 26 Feb 2019 04:25:36 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Bbc Radio Kate Tom BBC Radio Bach Mahan Tom Service Mahan Esfahani Sam Becker BBC Asian Network Danielle De Niese Jess Gillam English National Opera Personalities Station News Bbc Radio 3 London Hughes Kate Molleson Bobby Friction BBC Young Musician Belle Chen Isata Kanneh Mason Ben Zand Sean Shibe Ollie Howell Listening Service Elizabeth Alker Alan Davey Controller
Porgy and Bess at Dutch National Opera – Exhilarating and Moving http://www.operatoday.com/content/2019/01/porgy_and_bess_.php Sat, 19 Jan 2019 02:54:48 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs New York London Religion Amsterdam George Gershwin Bess Metropolitan Opera English National Opera Dutch National Opera In Defense Of Opera In English Translation http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Artsjournal/~3/tMV819-G3RI/in-defense-of-opera-in-english-translation.html Mark Wigglesworth, former music director of English National Opera, makes the case: “If opera is drama first and foremost, why is the question of the language it’s sung in so hotly debated? Shouldn’t the same rules as drama apply? I don’t hear complaints about Ibsen or Chekhov being compromised by translations. … Both Verdi and Wagner were energetically supportive of translations. If we could ask them about surtitles, I suspect they wouldn’t understand the question.” — Bachtrack

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Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:35:14 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art Music Audience Verdi Wagner Chekhov Ibsen English National Opera Mark Wigglesworth 01.09.19
Poll Suggests That Audiences Would Object To Ads During Live Theatre Intermissions http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Artsjournal/~3/1edFDOYFzN4/

The online survey was held in response to news that English National Opera is seeking permission to project adverts on to its safety curtain. Of 443 respondents to the poll, which asked: “Would you object to theatres screening adverts during the interval?”, 62% said they would object and 38% said they would not.

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Tue, 20 Nov 2018 16:29:56 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Art Theatre Audience English National Opera 11.19.18
ENO half price cinema offer https://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2014/06/eno-half-price-cinema-offer.html

Get two tickets for the price of one to tomorrow's cinema screening of Benvenuto Cellini when you subscribe to the ENO Screen newsletter. Participating cinemas are listed here.

This is the best thing ENO have done in years, so don't miss it.

[Author: inter mezzo]

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Wed, 24 Oct 2018 02:55:18 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Religion Eno Benvenuto Cellini ENO Screen FREE STUFF & CHEAP DEALS Inter Mezzo English National Opera
A Newcomer to Opera Tries to Tame a Tempest https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/11/arts/music/daniel-kramer-english-national-opera.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Mon, 14 May 2018 10:42:47 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs News Opera Kramer English National Opera Daniel Kramer Daniel (1977- London Theater Review: ‘Chess’ at the English National Opera http://variety.com/2018/legit/reviews/chess-review-english-national-opera-1202795353/ ]]> Wed, 02 May 2018 15:09:34 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Reviews London Russia West Chess Björn Ulvaeus Benny Andersson Tim Rice Laurence English National Opera Review: Nico Muhly’s ‘Marnie’ Brings Hitchcock Into the 21st Century https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/19/arts/music/review-nico-muhly-marnie-english-national-opera-metropolitan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Sun, 19 Nov 2017 08:31:27 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs News Graham Opera Nico Muhly Michael Nico Mayer WINSTON Metropolitan Opera Hitchcock Marnie English National Opera Muhly Marnie (Opera Bizet’s ‘Pearl Fishers’ by Los Angeles Opera is a great catch http://www.dailynews.com/2017/10/09/bizets-pearl-fishers-by-los-angeles-opera-is-a-great-catch/ They don’t keep stats in opera the way they do in baseball. If they did an opera’s On-Stage Percentage, its OSP, would top the list and George Bizet’s “Carmen” would be a true superstar. But if you compare “Carmen’s” OSP to Bizet’s only other major opera, “The Pearl Fishers” (Les pêchures de perles), the ratio of onstage performances would be around 1,000 to 1!

When Los Angeles Opera opened its fall season last month with the latest in a long parade of “Carmens,” the audience (whether they realized it or not) was so familiar with its tunes they were happily humming along!

That was not the case Saturday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when the company presented its first-ever production of “The Pearl Fishers.” The only other time the opera appeared on that stage was in the 1970s when we had to import our opera seasons from New York.

pf_1385pr Nicholas Brownlee, left, and Nino Machaidze in “The Pearl Fishers”

“The Pearl Fishers” is treated like “Carmen’s” ugly sister principally because of its libretto by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon which involves a complicated three-way romance set in an exotic fishing village in ancient Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Bizet (then a student of 24) was offered the project on a take it or leave it basis. He took it, then did everything he could to turn a lemon into lemonade.

When the opera premiered in September 1863, the critics failed to appreciate the atmospheric score, sumptuous choruses, soaring duets and glimmering arias. Bizet, who died at the age of 36, would be remembered almost entirely for “Carmen.”

Now LA Opera is presenting an eye-dazzling production of “The Pearl Fishers” by way of English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera that features inventive direction by Penny Woolcock and a visually rambunctious staging (with atmospheric projections) that updates the action to the present. In fact, it feels almost too current when the fishing village is ravaged by a hurricane!

From its crowd-pleasing pearl diving opening to its fiery conclusion, this production of “The Pearl Fishers” is a pleasure to behold — a treat for the eyes and the ears. Its lavish Sri Lankan costumes and evocative sets by Kevin Pollard and Dick Bird replace fairy tale Ceylon with a tin-shack seaport town that bustles with activity against the background of a Vogue-worthy billboard promoting the eternal glamour of peals.

Saturday’s opening performance conducted by Plácido Domingo, however, took a while to find its sea legs. It may have been opening night jitters, but each of three principals: baritone Alfredo Daza as the local political chief, Zurga; tenor Javier Camarena as his long-lost buddy and love rival, Nadir; and soprano Nino Machaidze as the virgin temple priestess, Leila, began in less than lustrous fashion.

There were wildly fluttering vibratos from Daza and Machaidze; Camarena cracked a high note in his romantic aria “Je crois entendre encore”; and Machaidze’s initial tone was steely and knife-edged. The imposing bass Nicholas Brownlee, as the high priest, Nourabad, was the most solid as was the large diverse chorus of villagers.

As the performance progressed the elements came together beginning with the opera’s one hit tune, the soaring tenor/baritone duet, “Au fond du temple saint.” It proved to be the first of the many vocal and orchestral highlights. Machaidze’s vigil aria during which “the virgin priestess” expresses her forbidden love for Nadir was filled with emotion and vocal intensity, as was the lovers reunion duet that followed.

As the complexity of the plot unfolded Daza’s performance consistently gained strength vocally and dramatically as his emotions vacillated between compassion, jealousy and thoughts of bloody revenge.

Domingo conducted a resoundingly solid performance that illuminated the luster of Bizet’s creation. The chorus, prepared by Grant Gershon, was superb. Gershon is also scheduled to conduct the performances on Oct. 25 and 28.

This may be your best chance you’ll have to see “The Pearl Fishers.” Don’t miss it. Who knows when this ship will sail again?

Jim Farber is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.

‘The Pearl Fishers’
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion: 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.
When: 2 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 22; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19, 25 and 28.
Length: 2 hrs., 15 mins. with one intermission.
Suitability: For all ages.
Information: laopera.org.

 

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Mon, 09 Oct 2017 19:34:42 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs New York Los Angeles Sport Things To Do Soccer Vogue Placido Domingo Carmen Ceylon Bizet George Bizet Domingo Leila Grant Gershon Zurga Nadir Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Los Angeles Opera Gershon LA Opera English National Opera Nicholas Brownlee Kevin Pollard Camarena Javier Camarena Penny Woolcock Jim Farber Music + Concerts Nino Machaidze Michel Carr Sri Lanka Bizet Dick Bird Alfredo Daza Daza Machaidze Nourabad
Don Giovanni, English National Opera, 30 September 2016 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Boulezian/~3/zyqOCALgPtU/don-giovanni-english-national-opera-30.html Leporello (Clive Bayley) and Don Giovanni (Christopher Purves)
Images: (c) Robert Workman
Coliseum
  (sung in English)   Don Giovanni – Christopher Purves Commendatore – James Creswell Donna Anna – Caitlin Lynch Don Ottavio – Allan Clayton Donna Elvira – Christine Rice Leporello – Clive Bayley Masetto – Nicholas Crawley Zerlina – Mary Bevan
Chorus of the English National Opera (chorus master: James Henshaw) Orchestra of the English National Opera Mark Wigglesworth (conductor).   Richard Jones (director) Paul Steinberg (set designs) Nicky Gillibrand (costumes) Mimi Jordan Sherin (lighting) Sarah Fahie (movement)   A perfect staging of Don Giovanni is too much to hope for, especially when the ‘traditional’ conflation of Prague and Vienna versions is employed. Perfection is reserved for Mozart, of course, although Da Ponte does not do badly at all here. But the opera in any case does not have the absolute dramatic perfection of the other two Mozart Da Ponte operas; its greatness, like that of Wagner’s operas, lies partly in the impossibility of the challenge it sets. Even Don Giovanni himself, after all, fails to live up to the expectations voiced in the Catalogue Aria; or at least he usually does.
Don Ottavio (Allan Clayton) and Donna Elvira (Christine Rice)
  That said, so many stagings fail so dismally, that it is a great pleasure to welcome one that (mostly) convinces as a piece of intelligent theatre, if one that might well have been seen twenty years or so ago. Like most productions – not, I hasten to add, the still eminently watchable Salzburg Herbert Graf production, for Furtwängler – it fails to reckon with the work’s religion and theology. Sin goes unconsidered. Nevertheless, Richard Jones shows a commendable willingness to consider many of the ideas and (potential) problems, and to weld them into a far from inconsiderable narrative – and challenge, both to us and to the work (‘itself’ and reception). What Jones’s staging and the designs of Paul Steinberg and Nicky Gillibrand lack in apocalyptic grandeur and high stakes, they gain in connection to the tawdry here and now (or perhaps ‘here and then’: we are a few decades in the past). If Giovanni cannot be an aspirant Faust – the nineteenth-century and indeed Straussian hero – perhaps he can be, if not quite Everyman, then a familiar manipulator and exploiter. The visual æsthetic is familiar House of Jones, although less clichéd than some of its wares, but the Personenregie is tight.
  I worried to begin with about the lack of specificity, even coherence. During the Overture, a series of women – and one Leporello look-alike, or at least dress-alike – pass by, cannot refuse the seedy veteran (a nice touch!) seducer, and gain their ten seconds of fame with him behind a hotel/brothel door. For the first scene, a sado-masochistic (lightly so: this is certainly not Calixto Bieito, or, less successfully, for the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, Roland Schwab ) scene announces itself, the Commendatore a hypocrite, Donna Anna, playing on ETA Hoffmann’s ghost, opening up her own deceptive narrative; how much she is deceiving herself, her father, Don Giovanni, her fiancé, us, is unclear, and productively so. So far, so good, but is it not a bit odd for so much of the rest of the action to take place in the same setting? It seems too specific, too limiting, or, on the other hand, not nearly liminal enough. (The brilliant Munich staging by Stephan Kimmig , perhaps the best I have seen, certainly the equal of Bieito, is the place to go for the latter.) Such a concern, however, was largely banished by the strength of character and narrative drive drawn out – an old-fashioned virtue this, and as necessary a virtue as ever – by Jones.    
Donna Anna (Caitlin Lynch), Commendatore (James Creswell), Don Ottavio (Allan Clayton)
What saves – and I suppose that is, irredeemably, as it were, a theological concept – the production from mere modern-ish conventionality, is the long game that Jones plays, revealing his hand only at the end of the Stone Guest scene, and only granting us full understanding in the final, endlessly alienating scene itself. (If you do not want to know his surprise, please look away now, and move on to the next paragraph.) Eschewing atheistic heroism of the old school, and avoiding Hell, or perhaps perpetuating it – insert Sartre quotation here, if so inclined – the old rake, at the last, accepts his servant’s offer to take his place with the Commendatore. That has been cunningly prepared by what at first seems an irrelevant Jones cliché: Leporello’s creepy, verging-upon-yet-not-quite-attaining-outlandish orange wig. The aforementioned Leporello look/dress-alike, part of the chorus, as the work progresses, helps keep it in mind, or at least in visual memory. In lieu of a change of clothes in the second act – yes, we lose the distinction of social order here, which is something, but not necessarily everything – a change of wig does the trick. And it will again, and again. Not only does Giovanni, his grim work far from done, take Leporello’s place in the final sextet, he picks out the Leporello-alike from the chorus as his new servant, and the events witnessed in the Overture start up once again.
Donna Anna and Don Giovanni
Musically, we were on strong ground. Mark Wigglesworth, following an Overture that came a little too close to Rossini – however fast, or not, Mozart should never sound inflexible – offered a reading which, whilst rarely close to the Romantic grandeur of Furtwängler or Barenboim, impressed on its lighter terms. Tempi were varied, and that is the important thing, and there was always life to be heard, to be felt, in the music. The playing of the ENO Orchestra – and the singing of the cruelly victimised Chorus – was always excellent. If there were more light than shade, the scales were not tipped unduly, and the production offered a goodly amount of the latter. Wigglesworth, who really should be reinstated as Music Director yesterday, paced the work with a mastery born not only of lengthy acquaintance, but of intimate understanding. Kate Golla’s harpsichord continuo – no modish, and historically ‘incorrect’, fortepiano here – proved just as alert to the needs of the drama and, more generally, of the words (even when less than happily and/or accurately translated).   Christopher Purves’s assumption of the title role was, crucially, very much in line with what seemed to be Jones’s view of work and character alike. He had seen it all, and would see it all again. Initially, he might seem like an ordinary bloke, but when it mattered, not least in the serenading of ‘Deh, vieni alla finestra’, he was transformed – and transformed the situation. There were a few passages when Purves sounded a little tired, but even those could, with a little good will, be readily assimilated into the concept. Clive Bayley’s Leporello was, likewise, quite different from what has become the norm, but was equally convincing on its own terms. Allan Clayton offered an object lesson in the art of the lyric tenor, his Don Ottavio blessed with as honeyed a tone as one could wish for. Caitlin Lynch’s Donna Anna was more variable, not always on top of her coloratura, and less than convincing dramatically. Christine Rice’s Donna Elvira, on the other hand, proved brilliantly unstable – in a dramatic rather than a vocal sense. The production seemed curiously uninterested in Mary Bevan’s Zerlina, but there was some fine singing to be heard, in tandem with Nicholas Crawley’s truly excellent, darkly attractive Masetto, so much more than a stock buffo character. James Creswell’s still darker Commendatore was as finely sung as we have come to expect from this artist.
Masetto (Nicholas Crawley) and Zerlina (Mary Bevan)
I only have one real complaint. As with the Royal Opera’s recent new Così fan tutte, the greatest impediment to a successful evening proved to be bad behaviour from a selfish section of the audience. Where do these people come from, laughing hysterically at someone walking onstage, applauding all over the place, chattering, consulting their telephones throughout? (They seemed to find the use of a telephone onstage too hilarious for words: a double whammy, I suppose, which needless to say necessitated use of their own.) I am not sure that a single number went uninterrupted, in one way or another, by the man seated next to me, who remained quite impervious to even the hardest of stares. Such disrespect shown to the performers, to the rest of the audience, to the work itself, is unforgivable. A performance of Don Giovanni is a privilege for all concerned; one is, or should be, a participant, not a sociopathic ‘customer’. Nevertheless, the evening for the most part rose above such distractions: no mean achievement at all.

[Author: Mark Berry]

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Mon, 03 Oct 2016 14:47:16 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Religion Prague Vienna Munich Jones Mozart Wagner Sartre Barenboim Don Giovanni Giovanni Richard Jones Rossini Da Ponte Wigglesworth Mark Berry Bieito Christine Rice Royal Opera English National Opera Calixto Bieito Allan Clayton James Creswell Nicky Gillibrand Mark Wigglesworth ENO Orchestra Paul Steinberg Sarah Fahie Mimi Jordan Sherin Purves Leporello ETA Hoffmann
Madama Butterfly, English National Opera, 16 May 2016 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Boulezian/~3/Z-IOQ8lejpQ/madama-butterfly-english-national-opera.html Coliseum
(sung in English, as Madam Butterfly)
Cio-Cio San – Rena Harms Suzuki – Stephanie Windsor-Lewis
Kate Pinkerton – Samantha Price
Pinkerton – David Butt Philip
Sharpless – George van Bergen
Goro – Alun Rhys-Jenkins
Prince Yamadori – Matthew Durkan
The Bonze – Mark Richardson
Yakuside – Philip Daggett
Imperial Commissioner – Paul Napier-Burrows
Official Registrar – Roger Begley
Mother –Natalie Herman
Cousin – Morag Boyle
Aunt – Judith Douglas
Sorrow – Laura Caldow, Tom Espiner, Irena Stratieva
Anthony Minghella (director) Carolyn Choa (associate director, choreography, revived by Anita Griffin)
Sarah Tipple (revival director)
Michael Levine (set designs)
Han Feng (costumes)
Peter Mumford (lighting, revived by Ian Jackson-French)
Blind Summit Theatre: Mark Down, Nick Barnes (puppetry)
Chorus of the English National Opera (chorus master: James Henshaw) Orchestra of the English National Opera Richard Armstrong (conductor)  
This was my second viewing of the late Anthony Minghella’s much-revived production of Madam Butterfly. As on the first occasion , Sarah Tipple was the excellent (insofar as I could tell) revival director. I cannot claim knowledge of bunraku (Japanese puppet-theatre) beyond the little I have read, but the contribution of Blind Summit Theatre seemed to me as impressive as before, both in itself and with respect to the intriguing interaction between the realism of the work and the æsthetic artificiality of the puppetry. Arnold Toynbee, quoted in the programme, wrote of an Osaka puppet show in 1929: ‘I duly found, as I had been assured beforehand I should find, it possible to entertain the illusion that the puppets were animated by an autonomous life of their own, although the human artists manipulating them were in full view of the spectators.’ So did I, on this occasion. ‘An artistic effect which, in the West,’ Toynbee went on, ‘would have been produced by the artifice of keeping the manipulators out of sight, was produced in Japan by their artistry in keeping themselves out of mind notwithstanding their visibility.’ Again, such was my experience, likewise with Toynbee’s claim that the puppeteers succeeded ‘in subjectively effacing their objectively visible living human forms’.  
The greatest problem of all with the work remains, though. Is its Orientalism more or less offensive than that of Turandot? Probably less, but more to the point, it is different.   Minghella’s production – and here, that is even more than usual, a shorthand, for the designs and choreography, as well as the puppetry, are surely just as important – offers, as I wrote last time, ‘a convincing blend of abstraction, stylisation, and moments through which more conventional, if highly disturbing, emotion, may flow like blood – or like the scarlet, silken banners unfurled by actors and dancers’. The brazen, colourful Orientalism of Hang Feng’s costumes might fool some, but surely not many; it accuses us, ensures that we acknowledge our complicity. Its relationship toward the relative abstraction of Michael Levine’s set designs is interesting; both aspects interrogate the other in a far more dialectical production than lazy glancing at production stills – or lazy slouching in the comfort of one’s seat – might suggest.  
More problematical, I think, is the work’s objectification of its heroine. Clearly we are not supposed to sympathise with Turandot, or Turandot (even if we are cynically manipulated to sympathise with Liù, and then revolted by her treatment – both onstage and by Puccini). Equally clearly, we are supposed to sympathise with Cio-Cio San. Yet her objectification as a young, a very young, Japanese woman (or should we say girl?) is at best problematical. My inclination would be to bring the element of imperialistic sex tourism to the fore, but there are other routes, and that taken by Minghella is fruitful, not least in its apparent disinclination to take sides. Indeed, in that respect one might say he is acting more strongly against Puccini than a simple indictment would. Similarly, nightfall and moonlight – or rather, star light – at the end of the first act perform, or at least may be understood to perform, a similar role: drawing us in to Puccini’s manipulations but, at the same time, so clearly a construction of beauty – puppets an element, but only one such element, of that – that we are enabled, I should say encouraged, to interrogate those manipulations. More Straussian than Strauss? Perhaps; at any rate, the effect was not entirely dissimilar.  
If one can progress beyond those problems, or at least prevent them from overwhelming everything else, the composer’s magic might work all too well. Here, it did not, but for rather the wrong reason. Rena Harms’s anonymous, small-voiced Cio-Cio San rarely convinced. Diction was a problem – so, of course, was the use of English in the first place, but let us leave that on one side – but there were difficulties too with stage presence and indeed with a convincing assumption on the terms of this particular staging. Too often, the voice sounded stretched, or worse. The orchestra and indeed other characters can supply some of what is missing, but they cannot – and could not – supply it all. Richard Armstrong’s conducting, moreover, whilst admirable in its lack of sentimentality, arguably went too far in the opposite direction. Too often, the orchestra sounded merely cold and brash; what we heard was neither ‘Romantic’ nor modernistic. That said, kinship with Götterdämmerung at the beginning of the third act registered more strongly than I recall. Orchestrally, this was a performance that improved significantly over the evening; maybe it will over the (lengthy) run too.  
Elsewhere on stage there was much to enjoy. David Butt Philip’s Pinkerton was ambiguous. He seemed trapped by circumstance, by a degree of genuine enthusiasm for his tragic ‘project’. This was a rabbit trapped in the headlights, even if the headlights were of his own – as well as imperialism’s – making. Words and vocal line, moreover, were so clear that one could have taken dictation. George van Bergen’s Sharpless was also a fine musico-dramatic portrayal; again, the conflicts within the character were intelligently, even movingly, represented to us. Stephanie Windsor Lewis’s Suzuki was sympathetic throughout, especially during the third act. Most of the ‘smaller’ roles, not least the wheedling Goro of Alun Rhys-Jenkins, were cast from strength too, which makes it all the more surprising that such an error was made in the casting of so thin-voiced a Butterfly. Not for the first time – and I do not mean this in a nationalistic sense – one was left wondering why an American singer had been miscast by ENO, when there would surely have been many English, or other, singers well capable of taking on the role.

[Author: Mark Berry]

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Wed, 18 May 2016 14:48:39 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Japan Religion Osaka Strauss Puccini Liu Suzuki Goro Sharpless Han Feng Nick Barnes Madama Butterfly Ian Jackson Mark Berry Richard Armstrong English National Opera Arnold Toynbee Michael Levine Pinkerton Cio Cio San Anthony Minghella Götterdämmerung Toynbee
Rory Kinnear part of new season at ENO http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36214090#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa Thu, 05 May 2016 11:28:38 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Eno Rory Kinnear English National Opera English National Opera choristers threaten to strike http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/534871/s/4d704097/sc/13/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Ccelebritynews0C121462850CEnglish0ENational0EOpera0Echoristers0Ethreaten0Eto0Estrike0Bhtml/story01.htm

[Author: Patrick Foster]

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Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:39:48 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Strike Equity Decline Threat Choir Patrick Foster Eno Orchestra Pirates of Penzance Mikado English National Opera
ENO half price cinema offer http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2014/06/eno-half-price-cinema-offer.html

Get two tickets for the price of one to tomorrow's cinema screening of Benvenuto Cellini when you subscribe to the ENO Screen newsletter. Participating cinemas are listed here.

This is the best thing ENO have done in years, so don't miss it.

[Author: inter mezzo]

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Thu, 04 Feb 2016 05:56:29 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Eno Benvenuto Cellini ENO Screen FREE STUFF & CHEAP DEALS Inter Mezzo English National Opera