Saturday 1 July at 7.30pm and Sunday 2 July at 3pm at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall
English National Opera is proud to present a unique and visually striking version of one of Britain’s most-loved pieces of music. Two performances of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius will take place as part of Southbank Centre’s Chorus festival.
With richly evocative design by the award-winning Lucy Carter, three of the UK’s most acclaimed singers will present an emotionally-charged rendition of John Henry Newman’s poem. Soloists Gwyn Hughes Jones, Patricia Bardon and Matthew Rose join ENO’s Olivier Award-winning Chorus and Orchestra, the BBC Singers, and Australian conductor Simone Young, who leads the ENO Chorus and Orchestra for the first time.
Elgar’s choral masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius tells the story of the passage of the soul of a dying man as he passes into the next world. One of the most popular choral pieces nationwide, this performance gives the rare opportunity to see it staged with design to match the sweeping power of the music.
Lucy Carter has been praised for her work in lighting design across theatre, ballet and opera, notably winning the 2015 Knight of Illumination Award for her work on the Royal Ballet’s Woolf Works. She received wide acclaim for her ‘beautifully nuanced’ (Time Out) lighting for 2016’s Oil at the Almeida Theatre and now brings her vision to Elgar’s oratorio. She comments:
‘The concept for the visual world of this performance is to create an immersive experience that heightens the emotional textures of the music with a light energy, creating visceral lighting environments that the audience feel and hear as well as see. It draws on religious imagery and symbolism connected to the themes of Elgar’s epic oratorio, and uses the idea of light as an elemental, evocative and ultimately cleansing force.’
The title role is taken by Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones. A singer frequently seen on the ENO stage, he was recently described as ‘everything you could want’ (The Times) for his Cavaradossi in 2016’s Tosca. His other performances for ENO include Walther in 2015’s Mastersingers of Nuremberg (a role he reprised earlier this year for the Royal Opera House) and Don Alvaro in 2015’s The Force of Destiny.
Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon sings the Angel. The youngest-ever prize-winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, she was much admired for her ‘magnificently sung’ (What’s On Stage) Arsace in 2017’s Partenope at ENO as well as her 2014 performances in The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
Bass Matthew Rose sings the dual role of Priest/Angel of Agony. Most recently seen with ENO as King Mark in Tristan and Isolde in an ‘impeccably sung’ (The Daily Telegraph) performance, he has sung this role on multiple occasions, including earlier this year at the Musikverein in Vienna.
Conducting the ENO Chorus and Orchestra will be Simone Young, former Intendant of the Hamburg State Opera and General Music Director of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and before that Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Opera Australia. Multi-award winning, including the Goethe Medal and the Brahms Prize, she is known as ‘one of the world’s most in-demand conductors’ (Sydney Morning Herald). This marks her first time performing with the ENO Orchestra and Chorus.