English National Opera – 2021/22 Season Preview

English National Opera – 2021/22 Season Preview

Last Updated on September 19, 2021

English National Opera is back on stage again at The Coliseum.

It’s not long now until the Autumn season opens at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera.  We are excited – and keeping our fingers crossed that what sounds like an amazing schedule of performances goes ahead as planned this season.  Booking has already opened, even for productions that are not opening until 2022, although the first performance isn’t until 14th October.  What’s more, there are some great ticket schemes for younger visitors.  Anyone under 35 (sadly not me) can get a range of discounts and even free tickets for every production.  All you need to do is to sign up here. The best deal of all (in my opinion) is for those aged between 15 and 20, who are eligible for a free ticket for each production.  Under 35s can get great discounts too – the best seats in the house in the stalls for just £35 or tickets for £25 in the dress circle or £15 in the upper circle.  For those of us who are just a little older, ENO offers tickets from £10 and there are always discounted on the day tickets too.  And, if you want to try going to the Opera for the first time, one of the benefits of ENO is that all Opera there is sung in English.

What to see?

Table of Contents


We are particularly excited to see that Satyagraha is returning for its fourth revival at the ENO.  Phelim McDermott’s ‘unmissable masterpiece’ (Daily Telegraph) Satyagraha is a collaboration between the ENO and theatre company Improbable. Philip Glass, in our opinion, is one of the more accessible contemporary classical music composers.  You may have heard his music used as the soundtrack for films or even in advertising. Satyagraha marries Philip Glass’s hypnotic score with mesmerising stagecraft. The second in Glass’s ‘Portrait Trilogy’ (Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha and Akhnaten), Satyagraha is based on Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa, exploring the leader’s development of non-violent protest and its non-linear libretto was written entirely in Sanskrit.  With American tenor Sean Panikkar returning to the company to star as M.K. Gandhi, while Musa Ngqungwana sings Lord Krishna.

(c) Eric Standley

14 October − 28 October 2021

Oct 14, 16, 20, 23, 27, 28 at 19.00 Oct 17 at 15.00

Conductor: Carolyn Kuan, Director: Phelim McDermott, Revival Director: Peter Relton

Cast includes Sean Panikkar (M.K. Gandhi), Musa Ngqungwana (Lord Krishna), William Thomas (Parsi Rustomji), Felicity Buckland (Kasturbai), James Cleverton (Mr Kallenbach), Sarah Pring (Mrs Alexander), Ross Ramgobin (Prince Arjuna), Gabriella Cassidy (Miss Schlesen).

HMS Pinafore – New Production

Quintessentially English Operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan works are a great introduction for anyone new to Opera and an old favourite for many of the rest of us. Cal McCrystal will direct a new production of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic classic − HMS Pinafore. This will be the first time that the ENO has ever staged the work. It sounds like a not-to-be-missed production.  An acclaimed comedy director and the mastermind behind some of the most celebrated comic scenes in theatre and film (One Man, Two Guvnors, Paddington), Cal lends his trademark slapstick humour to this farcical satire of the British class system, packed with witty characters aboard a grand naval vessel.  There’s even the odd sea shanty!

(c) Simon Webb

29 October − 11 December 2021

Oct 29 at 19.00 Oct 30, Nov 6, 12, 17, 18, 27, 30 & Dec 3, 6, 9, 11 at 19.30 Oct 30 & Nov 6, 7, 14, 27 at 15.00 Nov 20 at 14.00

Conductor: Chris Hopkins, Director: Cal McCrystal, Set Designer/Costume Designer: takis, Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell, Choreographer: Lizzi Gee.

Cast includes Les Dennis (Sir Joseph), John Savournin (Captain Corcoran), Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Ralph Rackstraw), Henry Waddington (Dick Deadeye), Marcus Farnsworth (Boatswain), Alexandra Oomens (Josephine), Bethan Langford (Hebe), Hilary Summers (Buttercup).

The Valkyrie – New Production

This autumn will see the first of celebrated director Richard Jones’s new Ring Cycle productions, which will be staged at the London Coliseum over the next five years, co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera. Commencing with The Valkyrie, a heroic tale of power and conflict set against the rich landscape of Norse mythology, eight-time Olivier Award-winner Richard Jones joins forces with ENO’s Music Director Martyn Brabbins to bring Wagner’s thunderous story to life. This is Richard Jones’s first production for the ENO in 5 years.

(c) Rekha Garton

Leading a stellar cast is Matthew Rose, who makes a role debut as the mighty Wotan, returning to the ENO following his ‘smoothly sonorous King Mark’ (the Guardian) in 2016’s Tristan and Isolde. Established Wagnerian Rachel Nicholls, who sang a ‘delightful’ (The Daily Express) Eva in the ENO’s 5-star 2015 production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, revisits the role of Brünnhilde. Nicky Spence makes his role debut as Siegmund. A former ENO Harewood Artist, versatile Scottish tenor Nicky’s last Wagner role at the ENO was a ‘world-class’ (the Independent) David in 2015’s The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Singing his twin sister Sieglinde and also making a role debut is Emma Bell, whose performance in the Royal Opera House’s Tannhäuser in 2016 rocketed her ‘into the Wagnerian premier league’ (The Times). Respected bass Brindley Sherratt who we’ve just seen in Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House sings Hunding, and ENO favourite Susan Bickley is Fricka. 

19 November − 10 December 2021

Nov 19, 22, 25 & Dec 1, 7, 10 at 17.00

Nov 28 & Dec 4 at 14.30

Conductor: Martyn Brabbins/Anthony Negus (7 Dec), Director: Richard Jones, Set Designer/Costume Designer: Stewart Laing, Lighting Designer: Adam Silverman, Video Designer: Akhila Krishnan, Movement Director: Sarah Fahie, Translator: John Deathridge.

Cast includes Matthew Rose (Wotan), Rachel Nicholls (Brünnhilde), Nicky Spence (Siegmund), Emma Bell (Sieglinde), Brindley Sherratt (Hunding), Susan Bickley (Fricka), Claire Barnett-Jones (Rossweisse), Fleur Barron (Schwertleite), Nadine Benjamin (Gerhilde), Jennifer Davis (Helmwige), Sarah-Jane Lewis (Waltraute), Idunnu Münch (Siegrune), Katie Stevenson (Grimgerde), Mari Wyn Williams (Ortlinde).

Co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

La bohème

Set in inter-war Paris, Jonathan Miller’s now-iconic production of La bohème has travelled to stages around the world since its premiere in 2009, and now returns to the London Coliseum.

In the pit is Ben Glassberg, one of Britain’s most exciting young conductors, who last conducted the ENO Orchestra at Regents Park Open Air Theatre for 2019’s Olivier Award-nominated co-production of Hansel & Gretel. Ben is currently Music Director at Opéra de Rouen Normandie, and Principal Conductor of the Glyndebourne Tour.

Soprano Sinéad Campell-Wallace makes her ENO debut as Mimì, with former Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin sharing the role for two performances. They are joined by David Junghoon Kim as Rodolfo, reprising his role following ENO Drive & Live: La bohème and returning to the London Coliseum after delivering a performance imbued with ‘radiance, lyricism and power’ (The Stage) in 2020’s Luisa Miller. Baritone Charles Rice sings Marcello, and Louise Alder makes a welcome return to the ENO as Musetta, whose ‘vocal warmth’ (The Arts Desk) as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro was cut short by theatre closures in March 2020. The role of Schaunard is shared by Harewood Artists Alex Otterburn and Benson Wilson, the latter sang this role in ENO Drive & Live. Also reprising his Drive & Live role is William Thomas as Colline; his second ENO engagement of the season. Completing the cast is originator of these roles Simon Butteriss, as both Benoit and Alcindoro.

31 January − 27 February 2022

Jan 31 & Feb 2, 4, 10, 12, 19, 23, 25, 27 at 19.30

Feb 5, 12, 19, 27 at 14.30

Conductor: Ben Glassberg, Director: Jonathan Miller, Revival Director: Crispin Lord, Set and Costume Designer: Isabella Bywater, Lighting Designer: Jean Kalman. Revival Lighting Designer: Kevin Sleep, Translator: Amanda Holden

Cast includes Sinéad Campell-Wallace/Nadine Benjamin (Matinees 12, 18, 27 Feb) (Mimì), David Junghoon Kim (Rodolfo), Charles Rice (Marcello), Louise Alder (Musetta), William Thomas (Colline), Benson Wilson/Alex Otterburn (Schaunard), Simon Butteriss (Benoît/Alcindoro).

A co-production with Cincinnati Opera.

The Cunning Little Vixen – New Production

One of Janáček’s best-loved later works, this production of The Cunning Little Vixen will be the first time the company has staged the opera since 2001. With a score typical of Janáček’s musical style − incorporating the folk music and speech rhythms of his Moravian roots − the tale of the capture and escape of the titular fox treads a careful balance between comic and tragic. This new production is contemporarily staged, contrasting the ageing human world with the constant renewal of the animal kingdom.

This is director Jamie Manton’s first main stage production for the ENO, having previously directed The Day After at Lilian Baylis House and Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall and Alexandra Palace Theatre. Joining Jamie to lead the ENO Orchestra is Martyn Brabbins, conducting his second production of the season. 

Making a much-anticipated return to the ENO in the role of Vixen is outstanding British soprano Sally Matthews who last appeared at the London Coliseum in David McVicar’s La clemenza di Tito in 2005. Making her ENO debut this season as Fox is South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza. The Forester is sung by Lester Lynch, returning to the ENO following 2018’s ‘superb’ (Daily Telegraph) Lucia di Lammermoor

(c) Tim Booth

18 February −1 March 2022

Feb 18, 22, 24, 26 & Mar 1 at 19.30

Feb 20 at 15.00

Conductor: Martyn Brabbins, Director: Jamie Manton, Set Designer/Costume Designer: Tom Scutt, Lighting Designer: Lucy Carter, Movement Director: Jenny Ogilvie, Translator: Robert T. Jones & Yveta Synek Graff.

Cast includes Sally Matthews (Vixen), Pumeza Matshikiza (Fox), Madeleine Shaw (Forester’s Wife/Owl), Alan Oke (Schoolmaster/Owl), Lester Lynch (Forester), Claire Barnett-Jones (Dog), Clive Bayley (Priest (Parson)/Badger), John Findon (Innkeeper (Pásek)/Cock), Sarah-Jane Lewis (Innkeeper’s Wife/Hen), Alexandra Oomens (Pepík/Woodpecker), Ffion Edwards (Frantík/Jay).

Così fan tutte

Returning for a triumphant revival is Phelim McDermott’s riotous Così fan tutte, created in collaboration with Improbable. Premiering in 2014, the production transports audiences to a faded 1950s Coney Island-esque seaside attraction complete with pleasure garden, fairground rides, and an end-of-the-pier circus sideshow. A cast of exciting new talent – including three ENO Harewood Artists in main roles – will be joined by an ensemble of spectacular circus skills performers to set the scene and Phelim McDermott returns to direct.

Taking up the baton for his ENO debut is young British conductor Kerem Hasan, Chief Conductor of the Tiroler Symphonieorchester-Innsbruck. Winner of Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award, Kerem has recently conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic.

Nardus Williams, who recently shared the role of Mimì in ENO Drive & Live: La bohème, makes a role debut as Fiordiligi. Mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp, who sang Cherubino in 2020’s The Marriage of Figaro will sing the role of her sister Dorabella, a role Hanna has previously sung for Seattle Opera. Known as part of the New Zealand operatic trio Sol3 Mio, tenor Amitai Pati makes his ENO debut as Ferrando, with Harewood Artist Benson Wilson singing Guglielmo following a ‘strong’ (Opera) Schaunard in ENO Drive & Live. They are joined by another current Harewood Artist, ‘diamantine’ (Daily Telegraph) soprano Soraya Mafi, also fresh from ENO Drive & Live where she sang Musetta. ENO favourite Neal Davies completes this lineup as Don Alfonso, returning to the London Coliseum following 2017’s Rodelinda.

10 − 22 March 2022

Mar 10, 14, 16, 18, 22 at 19.00

Mar 12 at 18.00

Mar 20 at 15.00

Conductor: Kerem Hasan, Director: Phelim McDermott, Set Designer: Tom Pye, Costume Designer: Laura Hopkins, Lighting Designer: Paule Constable, Revival Lighting Designer: Kevin Sleep. Translator: Jeremy Sams.

Cast includes: Nardus Williams (Fiordiligi), Hanna Hipp (Dorabella), Amitai Pati (Ferrando), Benson Wilson (Guglielmo), Soraya Mafi (Despina), Neal Davies (Don Alfonso).

Co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera, New York. In collaboration with Improbable.

The Handmaid’s Tale –  New Production

Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon will make her ENO directorial debut this season with a new production of Poul Ruders’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The ENO last staged this outstandingly relevant work in 2003, when it received its first English language debut at the London Coliseum. Based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece of the same name (the basis of the hugely successful Hulu series of the same name starring Elisabeth Moss), the opera is set in a totalitarian state in which women, stripped of their identities and rights, are subjected to the whims of a patriarchal republic. Ruders’s minimalist score is filled with tension and unease, reflecting the brutality of the regime.

Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey makes both her role and ENO debuts as heroine Offred. Bass Soloman Howard returns, singing The Commander. ENO Harewood Artist John Findon joins the cast as Luke whilst ENO favourite Emma Bell sings Aunt Lydia. Following his successful UK debut in 2018’s Porgy and Bess, tenor Frederick Ballentine is Nick, and making her ENO debut is Raehann Bryce-Davis as Serena Joy. Another exciting talent making her ENO debut is Elin Pritchard singing Ofglen. Also included in this compelling lineup are Susan Bickley as Offred’s Mother, Pumeza Matshikiza as Moira and Alan Oke as The Doctor. They are joined by former ENO Harewood Artists Rhian Lois as Janine/Ofwarren and Madeline Shaw as Rita.

(c) Nicky Hamilton

4 − 14 April 2022

Apr 4, 6, 8, 12, 14 at 19.30

Apr 10 at 15.00

Conductor: Joana Carneiro, Director: Annilese Miskimmon, Set Designer/Costume Designer: Annemarie Woods, Lighting Designer: Paule Constable, Video Designer: Akhila Krishnan, Movement Director: Imogen Knight.

Cast includes Kate Lindsey (Offred), John Findon (Luke), Susan Bickley (Offred’s Mother), Emma Bell (Aunt Lydia), Pumeza Matshikiza (Moira), Rhian Lois (Janine/Offwaren), Raehann Bryce-Davis (Serena Joy), Madeleine Shaw (Rita), Solomon Howard (The Commander), Frederick Ballentine (Nick), Elin Pritchard (Ofglen), Alan Oke (The Doctor)

Published at Sun, 19 Sep 2021 12:57:37 +0000

This story originally posted here

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