A trio of productions with a regal theme will make up the English Touring Opera’s 2019 programme at Norwich Theatre Royal.
Kings, queens and the battle for love, loyalty and power are all featured in the season which runs from April 25-27
It begins with Rossini’s Elizabeth I, a work which helped the composer win over the sceptical and even hostile capital of opera, Naples. The famous novelist Stendhal raved about the thrilling piece which was inspired by the last Tudor queen’s passion for the Earl of Leicester and her bitter rivalry with her cousin, the Queen of Scots.
Taking on the title role is Mary Plazas who made her operatic debut in 1992 with the English National Opera and is a former company principal. She has also performed for the likes of Glyndebourne, Opera North, the Royal Opera and Aldeburgh, as well as giving many concerts including solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, and the Karajan Centre in Vienna.
The following evening, Verdi’s extraordinary treatment of Shakespeare’s Macbeth takes to the stage which will be performed in English to help preserve the Bard’s words. Expect high drama as the flawed murderous hero, his vicious tortured wife and the three witches all play with their ambitions.
Taking on the title role is Australian-born Grant Doyle who is a former Royal Opera Young Artist and has also performed for Garsington, Opera North, and Opera Queensland. His wife is portrayed by Madeleine Pierard who is also a former Royal Opera Young Artist who has previous credits with New Zealand Opera, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the role of Régine in Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna, and recitals at the Wigmore and Cadogan Halls and the Royal Opera House.
The cast also includes Ed Hawkins, who is no stranger to Glyndebourne having sung in Brett Dean’s trail-blazing Hamlet and Fiona Shaw’s new production of Cinderella, and it is directed by James Dacre, who has directed a host of touring and West End productions and is also the artistic director of the Royal and Derngate Theatres in Northampton.
Completing the programme on Saturday April 27 is Mozart’s Idomeneo. Written when he was 25, this was the composer’s fifth complete opera and is widely regarded by critics as the time his lyric genius is fully matured. It tells the story of King Idomeneo who promises the raging seas that he will sacrifice the first person he meets in return for his safe passage, only for that person to be his son.
The title role is played by Christopher Turner, who made his professional debut in Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera On Tour before joining the Young Singers Programme at English National Opera. He has also performed for English National Opera, Opera North, and Opera Holland Park, and also sings regularly in concert with recent engagements with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.
The cast also includes Catherine Carby who has performed with companies in her native Australia as well as across the UK, and Paula Sides who is no stranger to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage and was critically acclaimed for her portrayal of Tosca for English Touring Opera.
James Conway, who directs both Idomeneo and Elizabeth and is also general director of English Touring Opera, said it is an exciting season for Norwich audiences. He said: “We, as a company, are not known to be shy of challenges or wanting in ambition. The company’s practice makes it clear that it knows its own audience and has to be curious, engaged and ready to feel something.”
Enjoy a preview of the season below: