Award-winning opera producer Ellen Kent is set to bring two epic productions to Norwich Theatre Royal both boasting top-name performers and some stunning sets.
One of the grandest of all operas, Aida will boast an impressive new set which will depict the grandeur of Rome’s Coliseum. It tells the story of the doomed love affair between the Ethiopian slave girl of the title and the Egyptian hero Radames set to Verdi’s stirring music which includes the well-known arias Celeste Aida, Ritorna Vincitor and the classic Triumphal March.
It will also boast Ellen’s trademark stunning touches including a temple dance, cascades of glittering gold, and some magnificent 7ft tall ebony statues.
And it remains one of her favourite operas. Ellen explained: “I have produced and directed many Aida’s over the years and it still remains one of the biggest challenges a producer can face. My vision matches Verdi’s and I try to give Aida the grandeur which the composer achieved in the very first production in Egypt when he was commissioned to write an opera for the opening of the Suez Canal.
“I want everyone to enjoy this magnificent opera as, in my opinion, it has the best score Verdi ever wrote. My productions of Aida have been described as ‘The Las Vegas of operas’ which I regard as a compliment. Even now, it’s my ambition to stage it on the banks of the Nile with a cast of thousands.”
The cast will include the French soprano Olga Perrier and the international soprano from the National Ukrainian Opera of Odessa, Alyona Kistenyova, plus international tenors Giorgio Meladze and Vitalii Liskovetskiy.
Ellen’s 2017 Norwich programme will also feature Nabucco which will be a poignant experience for her as it is was the first opera she ever produced. To mark the celebration, she is mounting it on a grand scale with a large cast including dancers and international soloists. It will also feature some stunning lighting and stage effects including the burning down of Solomon’s temple and an exotic dance sequence.
It is an epic tale of revenge, destruction and jealousy set against the background of the Hebrews being forced from their homeland, conquered and sentenced to death by the Babylonian King Nabucco.
Verdi wrote it as a way of highlighting the tyranny in the world and those who seek freedom. It was composed soon after the death of his wife and children and he saw it as the opera which really started his career.
The cast will also include Olga Perrier and she will be joined by the American mezzo-soprano Zara Vardanean. Also in the cast will be the celebrated Moldovan baritone Iurie Gisca and the Ellen Kent Opera debut of the young and talented bass Vadym Chernihovskiy from the Odessa National Opera.
John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Ellen and her company back. What better way to mark Ellen’s long and distinguished career than what promises to be a stunning production of Nabucco? Match that with the epic story of Aida and some fantastic performances are promised.
“Her return to Norfolk will also be poignant for her as she spent much of her childhood at school on the coast and she is delighted to come back to a part of the country which is so important to her.”
Nabucco and Aida will be performed here on 9&10 May, and tickets are available now.