English National Opera has announced its 2019–2020 season, which will feature seven new productions and three revivals.
The forthcoming season will celebrate the “rise of the feminine,” following last season’s focus on the notion of the patriarch and toxic masculinity. Following aspects of powerful women and the men they inspire, the season explores how opera can move beyond its traditional status as a place for doomed and punished women. More than half of the new productions are directed by women.
The season will be highlighted by a single story that will form the basis for several new productions. In fact, the autumn will see four different versions of the Orpheus myth envisioned by different composers with different theatrical styles. Designer Lizzie Clachan provides the linking thread, with her transforming set providing the basis for all four productions.
The Orpheus-themed productions follow: choreographer and director Wayne McGregor CBE makes his ENO directorial debut with a new production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (1762), with Dame Sarah Connolly and Sarah Tynan in the title roles; director Emma Rice makes her ENO debut with Offenbach’s operetta Orpheus in the Underworld (1858) with Sir Willard White as Jupiter and Lucia Lucas making her ENO debut as Public Opinion; ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts one of his signature pieces, Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus, more than three decades after its world premiere at ENO in 1986; and multi-media director Netia Jones bolsters ENO’s reputation for the music of Philip Glass with a production of Orphée (1991), with parts of the original 1950 Cocteau film forming part of a mixed media experience, with Jennifer France making her ENO debut.
Three revivals are also set to return in the new season: Jonathan Miller's take on The Mikado returns, having run for more than 30 years at the London Coliseum; Calixto Bieito’s sensual production of Carmen, set in the dying days of Franco’s Spain, will feature Justina Gringytė reprising her title role from 2015; and Madam Butterfly, which sees the return of Anthony Minghella’s 2006 staging, winner of that year’s Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production.
Among the other offerings: Czech director Barbora Horáková Joly makes her U.K. directorial debut with a new production of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, with Elizabeth Llewellyn in the title role and Christine Rice as Federica; a new production of The Marriage of Figaro created by British director Joe Hill-Gibbins; and German director Tatjana Gürbaca and designer Klaus Grunberg, who make their ENO debuts with the first new ENO Rusalka in two decades, with Corinne Winters in the title role and David Butt Philip as the Prince.
Artistic Director of Daniel Kramer said in a statement, “I am delighted to present ENO’s 2019/20 artistic season, the second that Music Director Martyn Brabbins and I have curated together. The ten operas we are going to present on our main stage will touch on something very relevant today: the rise of the feminine in the world around us and within ourselves. What is a healthy balance of feminine and masculine energy in our society, our systems and, above all else, within ourselves? If last season questioned what aspects of ourselves and our society we might choose to lay to rest, this season asks what aspects we choose to carry forward together.
“Our very exciting Orpheus project shows that a single idea can be imparted in a vast array of different forms. It is difficult to imagine a quartet of directors more different in background than myself, Netia, Wayne and Emma, but we will all be looking at this one tale of Orpheus and his quest to reclaim that which he lost. It’s one of the most universal stories there is and I hope audiences will come to see each one of the four to find something new in each opera, seeing and hearing how these master composers, reflecting our own lives, all share in the human struggle to hold onto that which we hold dear – love.
“It is so important that ENO continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on the operatic stage and at the same time keep bringing in new audiences who may not have considered us before. Whether you’re a theatre-lover or a Philip Glass fan, a dance addict or maybe just want a rollicking night out, there’s going to be something for everybody.”