Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

Martin Roscoe is quite simply one of the most admired and respected pianists of his generation.  Equally at home in concerto, recital and chamber performances he describes himself as a musical all-rounder, or more specifically as “a musician who plays the piano, rather than a pianist”. It is an interesting, typically self-effacing definition suggesting that his performances aim to serve the music and the composer’s intentions rather than imposing his own personality on either. On Sunday, as the guest of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, he will turn his flawless technique and musicianship to Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, a work held together by a pervading sense of joy that surges through the work from beginning to end, belying the alarming deterioration in the composer’s physical and mental health during the period of its composition. It was a work that was to influence both Grieg and Rachmaninov in the creation of their concerti for piano and orchestra.

Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth makes a welcome appearance on Sunday to bring the Philharmonic’s current season to a close with a performance of Alexander Scriabin’s Second Symphony. The heart of this glorious work is a sumptuously-coloured slow movement, while the finale achieves the universal appeal the composer aimed for with a triumphant march. The concert begins with Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, an orchestral evocation of the small Hungarian market town’s long established gypsy band, full of exciting rhythm and brilliantly colourful orchestration.

There is much to look forward to then in this, the final concert of the Brighton Philharmonic’s 92nd season. The Orchestra has maintained its high performance standards throughout with a wonderfully diverse programme of music. I look forward with eager anticipation to its 93rd season.

Peter Back

ENO Studio Live

ENO showcases emerging talent with UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Day After and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury

ENO is pleased to announce ENO Studio Live, a new initiative which offers audiences the opportunity to experience the power of our forces and a team of world-class soloists in an intimate studio environment.

ENO Studio Live will showcase the company’s exceptional emerging and in-house talent, from members of ENO’s award winning Chorus and Orchestra to our Staff Directors, Harewood Artists and Music Staff.

The initiative will launch with the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Day After, performed for the first time in a new choral version, and performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury.

These performances will welcome audiences to ENO’s historic rehearsal studios, Lilian Baylis House, in West Hampstead. Formerly the site of the West Hampstead Town Hall, and named after ENO’s founder, Lilian Baylis House was once the Decca Recording Studios and hosted many classical recording sessions alongside albums by Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie.

Speaking about the initiative, ENO’s Artistic Director Daniel Kramer commented: “We strive to present world-class opera at ENO. This is made possible by the brilliant work of my exceptionally talented colleagues – many of whom are emerging artists in their own right.

“My own opera career was launched at the Young Vic in 2008 when ENO took a risk and gave me the chamber opera, Punch and Judy. It is a priority for me, therefore, to ensure we develop our emerging artists by providing platforms and opportunities for them to experiment and develop their own craft.

“I am delighted to launch ENO Studio Live – an opportunity for us to provide more opportunities for rising talent within the British opera scene. Audiences will have the rare opportunity to hear an impressive array of soloists alongside members of our award-winning Chorus and Orchestra performing in an intimate studio setting. It will be a wonderful chance to experience the power of our forces up close.”

Tickets for ENO Studio Live are £25.00, with a buy-both discount of 20% (so both for £40) available online and from the box office

Disabled and student concessions are available from the box office at £12.50

The Day After: UK Premiere
Jonathan Dove
April de Angelis

26, 27, 30, 31 May at 7.30pm

Trial by Jury
Arthur Sullivan
W.S. Gilbert

3, 6 June at 7.00pm, 5 June at 7.00pm and 8.30pm

Performances will take place at Lilian Baylis House, West Hampstead

Marius de Vries to work with ENO as Creative Consultant 

Multi award-winning music producer and composer Marius de Vries will be working with English National Opera (ENO) as Creative Consultant, with immediate effect.

Liaising closely with ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer, de Vries will advise on future projects for staging at the London Coliseum. Drawing on his exceptional knowledge of the music, theatre and film industries, he will contribute to a series of daring projects combining and colliding opera with popular music and electronic music as well as other genres to bring ENO’s work to an audience that may never have considered engaging with opera before.

Marius de Vries has been involved in some of the most culture-defining recordings and soundtracks of the past three decades. He has written, arranged and produced across a wide range of styles and genres for artists such as Madonna, Bjork, David Bowie, David Gray, Massive Attack, Chrissie Hynde and Annie Lennox. In the film and theatre world, his work includes music direction, score composition and song productions for Baz Luhrmann, George Lucas, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Matthew Vaughn, Zack Snyder and Daniel Kramer. De Vries was the Music Director for Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001) and also worked with Nellee Hooper on the soundtrack for Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet. He has won two BAFTA awards, an Ivor Novello Award, and four Grammy nominations for soundtrack and record production. Most recently De Vries was the Music Director and Music Producer for La La Land, which won both Music awards – song and score – at this year’s Oscars.

Speaking about his appointment, Marius de Vries said: ‘I am thrilled to be reconnecting my creative relationship with the inspirational and visionary Daniel Kramer, honoured to be welcomed into the ENO family, and beyond excited to be helping to develop and nurture new projects and collaborations informed by the ENO’s long tradition of adventure and innovation, at the same time reaching out to whole new audiences.’

Artistic Director Daniel Kramer said: ‘Alongside ENO’s more traditional productions, it is vital that we continue to push the boundaries of opera and explore the different routes that this most wonderful art form may take in the future. I’m delighted to be working with Marius again on a series of projects that will collide opera with music of many different genres. He brings with him an exceptional level of expertise across the music, film and broadcast industries, and I look forward to sharing the fruits of this collaboration with you in due course.’

Marius will be providing his consultancy services to ENO on a pro bono basis.

Sally Burgess joins ENO Board

Today, 28 February 2017, English National Opera (ENO) is pleased to announce that Sally Burgess is joining the ENO Board of Trustees with immediate effect.

Highly acclaimed mezzo soprano Sally Burgess began her long and renowned relationship with ENO in 1978 as Zerlina (Don Giovanni). She has since returned to perform over 40 roles with the company, the most notable being Carmen, Octavian (Rosenkavalier) and Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle). Her distinguished career includes performances at most of the world’s major opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, New York; Bayerisches Staatsoper, Munich; Opera National de Bastille, Paris; The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and Houston Grand Opera. On the concert platform she has collaborated with many eminent conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Sir Charles Mackerras and Daniel Barenboim. Sally is Vocal Professor at the Royal College of Music and Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is an internationally sought after teacher of voice and stagecraft and leads masterclasses, workshops, competitions and regularly directs opera scenes across Europe, Russia and South Africa. In 2011 she was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music (FRCM).

Commenting on the appointment, ENO Chair, Dr Harry Brunjes says, ‘I am delighted that Sally Burgess has kindly accepted our invitation to join the board. As a company we will all benefit enormously from Sally’s expertise and experience. It will be a privilege to work alongside a singer and a performer with such a deserved reputation in the opera world.’

ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer commented, ‘I am thrilled to welcome Sally back to ENO, and certain that she will be a huge asset to our Board. She brings with her a deep understanding of the company, its history and its values to support the artistic team with long-term strategy and planning.’

ENO’s Chief Executive, Cressida Pollock said, ‘We are all looking forward to working with Sally, and to the numerous ways in which her significant creative expertise and experience, alongside her passion for the company, will strengthen ENO’s Board.’

Sally Burgess commented: ‘I am delighted to join the Board of English National Opera, and I look forward to contributing insights gained from my experience as both a performer and a vocal specialist. ENO is a company I have performed over 40 roles with, and so I know first-hand how wonderful it is to work alongside their award winning Orchestra and Chorus as well as their exceptional production and technical teams.’

GARSINGTON OPERA AND COASTAL CULTURE NETWORK

As a result of Magna Vitae and Garsington Opera for All’s pioneering education and outreach work integrated with free public screenings of opera in isolated coastal and rural communities, a new online network – the Coastal Culture Network (CCN) – has been formed.  CCN aims to strengthen the network of cultural provision around the coast by bringing together coastal local authorities, cultural organisations, Coastal Community Teams and others with an interest in the role of culture in seaside locations.

Culture and the coast are inextricably linked. Always part of the English seaside attractions, in recent years contemporary arts and culture have helped to reinvigorate many coastal towns following the decline of traditional tourism.  The potential of culture to be a key factor for regeneration is now widely acknowledged and the CCN aims to build on this and drive it forward.  Projects such as Opera for All feed into the process by raising confidence and aspiration and impacting on community cohesion.

Opera for All was set up by Garsington Opera, Magna Vitae and the Coastal Communities Alliance in 2015 after a successful bid made to Arts Council England for funding, which enables a large-scale programme of education and outreach work in isolated and rural coastal communities together with free digital screenings of a performance from Garsington Opera to be run. For a period of three years, this has provided ground-breaking opportunities for communities to be involved in creating, learning about and performing opera.

Projects and free screenings will again take place this year in Skegness, Ramsgate, Highbury/Burnham–on-Sea and Grimsby  and over 1000 young people will take part in creative residencies at both primary and secondary schools.  For the students in each of the 25 schools, the experience of working alongside a team of professional artists to create and perform their own pieces in relation to the opera that will be screened (Semele 2017, Eugene Onegin 2016, Così fan tutte 2015) is transformative.  For many, it is their first experience of live professional singing and it sets confidence and aspirations soaring. The programme challenges expectation by uncovering the ingredients and foundation of opera – drama, music, story-telling and expressive emotion.

The CCN can be found within the Coastal Communities Alliance website.  Members will be able to join an online forum, communicate with other members to build partnerships, and access case studies, information and resources.  These functions will go live March 2017.

OXFORD LIEDER 2017

Gustav Mahler and fin-de-siècle Vienna will be the focus of the Oxford Lieder Festival (13-28 October 2017), exploring his influences, contemporaries and legacy. Mahler was a dominant musical personality: composer and preeminent conductor, steeped in tradition but a champion of the new. During this Festival, his complete songs with piano will be heard, inviting a fresh look at this ’symphonic’ composer and the enduring place of song in the musical landscape. His choices of texts, wider artistic influences from literature to art to nature and folk music, his Jewish background in a conservative Catholic city, his encounter with Freud, his encouragement of other composers and more will all be explored over the fortnight.

Mahler’s Vienna will also be placed in a wider context, with tradition represented in the songs of Schubert and Beethoven, an exploration of Brahms’ glorious melodic gifts, an in-depth look at Richard Strauss, and music by Hugo Wolf, Alexander Zemlinsky, Erich Korngold, Joseph Marx and others. A late-night salon will look ahead to the Second Viennese School, including several of Schoenberg’s seminal works. Study days, readings, screenings, workshops and more once again make for an exhilarating Festival that will illuminate the era.

Some of the world’s leading singers and instrumentalists will take part, including Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly, Katarina Karnéus, Angelika Kirchschlager, Mark Padmore, Roderick Williams, Imogen Cooper, the Doric String Quartet and members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Passes will be on sale from 1 March from www.oxfordlieder.co.uk  / 01865 591276.
Full Passes: £600/£510. One-week Passes: £400/£340.

General booking opens 1 June 2017

www.oxfordlieder.co.uk

ENO: Partenope

Christopher Alden’s Olivier Award-winning production of Partenope returns to ENO starring Sarah Tynan

Partenope

Opens Wednesday 15 March at 7pm at the London Coliseum (5 performances)

One of the most celebrated new productions of Handel’s work in the last decade will return to ENO in March, with the original partnership of Christopher Alden and Christian Curnyn resuming their roles as Director and Conductor respectively. Called ‘riveting’ byThe Guardian and ’superb’ by The Sunday Telegraph in a five-star review, the original run won the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production.

One of Handel’s outstanding comic works, the tale of Queen Partenope and her three suitors features cross-dressing, mistaken identity and the crazed politics of romance. In Alden’s production, which has also been seen to great acclaim at the Sydney Opera House and the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House since its London premiere, the action is relocated from mythical ancient Naples to the salons and drawing rooms of the socialite set of twenties Paris, with design inspired by the surrealist photography of Man Ray.

The production will feature an outstanding cast showcasing some of the best British singers at work today, led by Sarah Tynan (’some of the finest baroque singing you’ll hear anywhere’ – The Guardian) in the title role. Sarah’s previous Handel roles at ENO include a ’superbly beautiful’ (Opera Today) Romilda in the 2014 performances of Xerxes, with Marzelline in 2013’s Fidelio and Zerlina in 2012’s Don Giovanni being other highlights. This marks her role debut.

Mezzo soprano Patricia Bardon will sing Queen Partenope’s dashing suitor Arsace. Patricia most recently sang at ENO in 2014 as Mary Magdalene in The Gospel According to the Other Mary, described as ’the performance of her life’ by The Guardian. Her strength as a Handelian has been praised, giving an ’utterly melting’ (New York Times) performance as Zenobia in The English Concert’s 2013Radamisto.

Countertenor James Laing sings as the shy suitor Armindo. James has previously appeared at ENO as Nireno in Julius Caesar in 2012. He has sung Handel’s operas on numerous other occasions, including as Tirinto in Imeneo for the 2016 Göttingen International Handel Festival and as Medoro for Welsh National Opera’s 2015 Orlando.

Returning ENO favourite Robert Murray sings Emilio, the suitor warring for the Queen’s hand. In addition to his starring roles here inThe Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, his singing of Handel in Acis e Galatea at Wigmore Hall in 2013 was called ’splendid’ by TheObserver. Rosmira, the former lover of Arsace in disguise as the male Eurimene, is sung by Stephanie Windsor Lewis, who debuted at ENO last year as Suzuki in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madam Butterfly. The cast is completed by ENO Harewood Artist Matthew Durkan as Ormonte.

Conductor Christian Curnyn is well-known as one of baroque’s foremost interpreters in the UK: ’Find anything exciting happening in period opera in the UK and Curnyn will be involved’ (The Spectator). He founded the Early Opera Company in 1994 in order to champion the relevance of baroque opera, and has won great acclaim for his recordings and performances in the area since. His most recent Handel conducting at ENO, for 2014’s Rodelinda, was called ’well-nigh flawless’ by The Guardian.

Christopher Alden has directed numerous ENO productions across the years including Norma and The Makropulos Case. He has directed operas across the world, long known for his challenging and innovative concepts. On top of winning the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Opera, this production of Partenope won the 2011 Helpmann award for Best Opera in Australia.

The design team of Andrew Lieberman (set) Jon Morrell (costume) and Adam Silverman (lighting) provide the striking surrealist look while the witty English translation is by Amanda Holden.

Partenope opens on Wednesday 15 March 2017 at 7.30pm for 5 performances – 17, 20, 22, 24 March.

A NEW ORCHESTRA FOR THE SOUTH EAST

Led by South Coast native William Kunhardt, the Arensky Chamber Orchestra (ACO), Britain’s orchestra of revolutionaries, make their South Coast debut in March 2017.

Sea Fever 1

Their first project, Sea Fever, is a classical experience inspired by the ocean. Sea Fever will tour the Cultural Coastal Trail Galleries, with performances at Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery on March 4th, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion on March 8th, and Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery on March 10th. See seafevertour.com for more. It will be followed by Aulanko, an exploration of Sibelius’s 5th Symphony, at Eastbourne’s new Birley Centre in June. Classical Music. But not as you know it.

The ACO specialises in gripping performance and mind-opening presentation. Its mantra is to make classical music more social, meaningful and dramatic, without losing any of its depth or sincerity. They work with mixologists to invent cocktails inspired by the music, served during concerts. They host pre-concert ‘warm up acts’ and post-concert ‘chamber jams’. They also give ‘live programme notes’ where the orchestra tells the story of the music from the stage. They shun concert halls, preferring clubs, galleries, and urban spaces. The orchestra’s main performances are of Masterpieces in Miniature – large orchestral works reduced for chamber ensembles of 16-20. ‘They allow us to take music out of large, impersonal concert halls and into more intimate, modern settings’ says ACO Director of Collaboration Eddy Hackett. ‘They also reveal fascinating details in the music that get missed in the full versions’. In Sea Fever, the orchestra will perform world premieres of Britten’s Sea Interludes and Debussy’s La Mer ‘in miniature’.

The ACO has recorded for Classic FM, worked with leading soloists like Benjamin Grosvenor and Jennifer Pike, and collaborated with artists ranging from video DJs to dancers. The group’s players are the most indemand young artists in the country. They come from major orchestras, like the Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony, and leading chamber music groups. In 2016, the orchestra enjoyed its second 100% sell-out season in a row, won praise from the critics of the Telegraph, Guardian and Independent, and saw the average age of its listeners fall 10 years below leading statistics. For more, visit www.theaco.co.uk. Building a permanent home in the South East Sea Fever is funded by the Arts Council and aims to build the foundations for a permanent, year-round ACO series in the region. This series will give local artists in many genres opportunities to collaborate with the orchestra, creating a new culture of innovation and cross-arts collaboration throughout the region. In time, it will redefine iconic local landmarks as surprising live music venues.

The orchestra will also bring its education programme to the area. As part of Aulanko, the ACO will run a two-day composition workshop for 150 children – from Grade 8 students to untrained first-timers. They will come from schools in Eastbourne Schools Partnership and the Jerwood Gallery’s Learning Programme. Artistic Director, William Kunhardt – a homegrown talent. The tour is the brainchild of Artistic Director William Kunhardt. Kunhardt grew up and went to school in Eastbourne, winning a music scholarship to Eastbourne College. At 18, he left for London to study violin at the Royal College of Music, quickly transitioning into conducting. In 2014, Kunhardt won the James Conlon Prize at Aspen Festival, Colorado, launching his career internationally. Since then, he has gone on to work with orchestras in Asia, America, and Europe and with soloists like Benjamin Grosvenor and Sarah Chang. However, his passion remains the Arensky Chamber Orchestra, the group he founded as a student in 2009.

GARSINGTON OPERA ANNOUNCES EXTENDED SEASON

GARSINGTON OPERA SEASON 
1 June to 30 July 2017

For the first time in its history, this summer Garsington Opera will present four productions as well as a large community opera.  2017 also sees the arrival of the Philharmonia Orchestra for one opera production each season for the next five years. This year the festival offers Handel’s seductive masterpiece Semele, Debussy’s enigmatic Pelléas et Mélisande, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and will conclude with Silver Birch, a large-scale work for a professional cast with local community participants of all ages, commissioned by Garsington Opera, from leading British composer Roxanna Panufnik and librettist Jessica Duchen. The JLT Group is the season’s sponsor for the fourth consecutive year.   As part of the Garsington Opera for All programme, funded by Arts Council England and run in partnership with Magna Vitae, Semele will also be screened free of charge in Skegness, Ramsgate, Burnham-on-Sea and Grimsby

Semele is a love story in which the god Jupiter is captivated by the beauty of the all-too-human Semele; these dramatic and colourful mythological characters inspired Handel’s most memorably beautiful arias. The title role will mark the British debut of American sopranoHeidi Stober, an established favourite at some of the world’s most important opera houses, including San Francisco Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Vienna Staatsoper  and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.  Singing the pivotal role of Jupiter is Robert Murray with Christine Rice singing his spurned wife Juno. They are joined by Jurgita Adamonyt? (Ino), David Soar (Cadmus & Somnus), South African countertenor Christopher Ainslie (Athamas) and Leonard Ingrams Foundation Award winner Llio Evans (Iris).  Leading early music specialist Jonathan Cohen will conduct the Garsington Opera Orchestra and Chorus and Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director of Norwegian National Opera will direct, in collaboration with designer Nicky Shaw.

 

Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy’s only opera, and often considered to be one of the most original in the history of music,  is full of shimmering beauty creating a work of intense hypnotic allure. It will feature established French bass-baritone Paul Gay (Golaud) and two rising stars taking the title roles – Jonathan McGovern (Pelléas) and American soprano Andrea Carroll (Mélisande) making her British debut, with Brian Bannatyne-Scott (Arkel) and Susan Bickley (Geneviève). Jac van Steen returns (Strauss Intermezzo 2015) to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in its first year of partnership with Garsington Opera. Michael Boyd (director) together with Tom Piper(designer) return following their acclaimed production of Eugene Onegin last season.

 

Il turco in Italia will be a revival of Garsington Opera’s joyous 2011 production directed by Martin Duncan with designs by Francis O’Connor. Three members of the original cast return – Mark Stone as the poet Prosdocimo,  Quirijn de Lang as the dashing Turk Selim, and Geoffrey Dolton as the devoted but dull husband Geronio. They are joined by renowned British soprano Sarah Tynan as the dazzling and flirtatious Fiorilla and rising star Katie Bray as Zaida.  Italian tenor Luciano Botelho returns as the love-lorn Narciso. Rossini doyen  David Parry will conduct the Garsington Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this glittering musical score.

 

John Cox’s legendary production of Le nozze di Figarofirst seen at Garsington Manor in 2005will be recreated for the opera pavilion at Wormsley.  Written at the height of his genius, this is one of Mozart’s finest works. Australian born Joshua Bloom (Leporello, Don Giovanni, 2012) returns to sing the title role with the exciting soprano Jennifer France (Leonard Ingrams Award winner) as Susanna. The Canadian singer Kirsten MacKinnon will make her UK debut as the Countess with Duncan Rock as the Count and Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Cherubino. Stephen Richardson (Bartolo), Janis Kelly (Marcellina), and Timothy Robinson (Basilio) join the vibrant young cast.  Douglas Boyd will again conduct this highly acclaimed production with the Garsington Opera Orchestra and Chorus.  In June the principals and chorus of Garsington Opera will travel to  the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris to give a semi-staged concert performance of Figaro with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris conducted by its Music Director Douglas Boyd.

 

Roxanna Panufnik’s Silver Birch is a commission for Garsington Opera’s Learning & Participation programme with Jessica Duchen as librettist. The production will see over 180 community participants aged 8-80, including recruits from the local military community, performing as dancers, singers, actors, instrumentalists, as well as student Foley artists from Cressex Community School under the guidance of Pinewood Studios Sound Designer Glen Gathard.  They will perform alongside favourite Garsington professionals in the cast and orchestra. The story explores the extraordinary power of love within the devastating context of war and makes use of Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry from WW1 (some of which was written while staying at Garsington Manor). The creative team is Karen Gillingham director, Rhiannon Newman Brown designer, and Garsington Opera’s Artistic Director Douglas Boyd joins them to conduct.  The professional roles will be performed bySam Furness (Jack), Victoria Simmonds (Anna), Darren Jeffery (Simon), Bradley Travis (Sassoon), Sarah Redgwick (Mrs Morrell) andJames Way (Davey) and the Garsington Opera Orchestra will be playing.

ENO: The Winter’s Tale

Rory Kinnear makes directorial debut with the world premiere of The Winter’s Tale, the first opera by composer Ryan Wigglesworth

Opens Monday 27 February at 7.30pm at London Coliseum (5 performances)

ENO will present the world premiere of Composer-in-Residence Ryan Wigglesworth’s first opera The Winter’s Tale this spring, directed by acclaimed Shakespearean actor Rory Kinnear in his directorial debut. One of the most anticipated arts events of 2017, this will be a major operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s late masterpiece.

The world premiere is the latest in a series of ENO commissions by British composers of operas in English, which includes Tansy Davies’s Between Worlds and Julian Anderson’s Thebans. Both won British Composer Awards for their work. With a top-flight cast of British singers including returning ENO favourites Iain Paterson as Leontes and Sophie Bevan as Hermione, it is sure to be a significant event for British opera.

Rory Kinnear has a long history of performing Shakespeare on the stage, having recently played Iago (for which he won the 2014 Olivier award for Best Actor) and Hamlet at the National Theatre. He now  takes the director’s seat for the very first time. An opera enthusiast and an accomplished singer himself, he played Macheath in last year’s National Theatre production of The Threepenny Opera. He is best known to wider audiences for his role as M’s chief of staff, Bill Tanner, in the three most recent James Bond films and for television roles in Black Mirror, Penny Dreadful and more.

Commenting on his directorial debut with ENO he said ‘Opera has become a big passion of mine over the last seven or eight years. ENO is the right place to do a commission from a great, young English composer and also an opera of a Shakespeare play. This feels the right kind of piece ENO should be doing’.

Ryan Wigglesworth has established himself as one of the foremost conductor-composers of his generation. Augenlieder, an orchestral song cycle for soprano Claire Booth, received the vocal prize at the 2010 British Composer Awards.

Ryan has written the roles specifically for the voices of the singers, making this line-up particularly significant – he says he ‘couldn’t imagine a greater British cast’. Many of these are figures who have been nurtured at ENO: Iain Paterson as Leontes has been a stalwart of Wagner productions here, with his role debut Hans Sachs in Richard Jones’s Olivier Award-winning The Mastersingers of Nurembergdescribed as ‘towering’ (Bachtrack) and ‘quite beautiful’ (The Telegraph). He is a graduate of the ENO Young Singers Programme.

Soprano Sophie Bevan, who is appearing as Hermione, is among the finest young singers of her generation, receiving the Young Singer award at the 2013 International Opera Awards, the 2010 Critics’ Circle award for Exceptional Young Talent and The TimesBreakthrough Award at the 2012 South Bank Sky Arts Awards. An alumna of the ENO Harewood Artist programme, she makes a welcome return.

The Winter’s Tale opens on Monday 72 February 2017 at 7.30pm for 5 performances – 27 February, 3, 8, 10, 14 March at 7.30pm.

500 tickets for £20 or less are available for each performance. Tickets start from £12. www.eno.org

Pre-performance talk:  Wednesday 8 March 2017  5.15-6pm, £5/£2.50 concs.