Friday, 19 October 2012

English Touring Opera - Full details of Britten/Ullmann/ Maxwell Davies at Exeter Northcott

Intimate Opera, High Drama:
English Touring Opera Autumn 2012
Exeter Northcott Theatre
Wednesday 24 October – Saturday 27 October
In collaboration with Aurora Orchestra

The Lighthouse
Adam Tunnicliffe is Sandy
Nicholas Merryweather is Blazes
Richard Mosley-Evans is Arthur
(photo: Richard Hubert Smith)

The Lighthouse (Wednesday 24 October)
Music and words by Peter Maxwell Davies
Conducted by Richard Baker, Directed by Ted Huffman

 Albert Herring (Thursday 25 October & Saturday 27 October)
Music by Benjamin Britten, words by Eric Crozier
Conducted by Michael Rosewell, Directed by Christopher Rolls

The Emperor of Atlantis (Friday 26 October)
Music by Viktor Ullmann, words by Sonja Lyndon
translated from original libretto by Peter Kien
Conducted by Peter Selwyn, Directed by James Conway

performed alongside
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach,
arranged by Iain Farrington and directed by James Conway

English Touring Opera are once again collaborating with Aurora Orchestra this autumn on a unique season of theatrical opera set to be performed across the country. The tour presents a rare opportunity for audiences at regional theatres and opera houses to see full-scale performances of three diverse and unusual works.

From Wednesday 24 October to Saturday 27 October, ETO will perform new productions of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring and a paired staging of Viktor Ullmann’s short opera The Emperor of Atlantis and the Bach cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden.

All performances are at the the Northcott Theatre, Exeter University Campus, starting at 7.30pm.  On Wednesday and Thursday, at 6.30pm, there will be pre-show talks about the operas in 'The Forum' - which is between the Northcott and the Great Hall. On Friday there will be a pre-show talk between the cantata and the opera.
Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, a satire with undertones of melancholy, has become recognised as a classic, comic depiction of English village life. At the start of the composer’s centenary year, ETO’s new production, conducted by Michael Rosewell and directed by Christopher Rolls, includes many experienced and award-winning singers including Jennifer Rhys-Davies, and Mark Wilde in the title role.

Viktor Ullmann’s short opera The Emperor of Atlantis was written when the composer and librettist were prisoners of the Nazis at the Terezín concentration camp, and was first rehearsed by inmates of the camp, all of whom perished when transferred to Auschwitz before the premiere. The opera has been acclaimed in performances around the world as an extraordinary testament of wit and humanity in the face of barbarity.

James Conway’s new production of Ullmann’s opera is conducted by Peter Selwyn and will be paired with a poignant staging of J S Bach’s cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ Lay in Death’s Bonds), arranged for the first time by Iain Farrington for Ullmann’s unusual orchestra.

James Conway said: ‘This is no normal season of operas, but a sort of touring festival of approachable, intimate, theatrically compelling operas from the last century. It has every chance of being a performance that changes your ears and your eyes, even your life.’

Ted Huffman said: ‘It's an honour to direct Maxwell Davies' The Lighthouse this autumn for ETO. The opera presents a unique series of challenges because it is built considerably on atmosphere and suggestion, giving me both great freedom and the feeling that sands are shifting beneath my feet. As is the case with most good ghost stories, I believe that the frightening thing about this story is not what the dead might be getting up to but rather what the living might be capable of.’

John Harte, General Manager of Aurora Orchestra, said: ‘We are delighted to be working again this season with English Touring Opera, not only because of the consistently superb quality of its artistic output, but also in particular because of its imaginative programming and commitment to making great music as widely accessible as possible.  This approach dovetails closely with Aurora's own ethos, and we look forward very much to inspiring new and existing audiences together on tour later this year.’

Listings Information

Albert Herring
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Conductor: Michael Rosewell
Cast: Mark Wilde (Albert Herring), Jennifer Rhys-Davies (Lady Billows), Rosie Aldridge (Florence Pike), Anna-Clare Monk (Miss Wordsworth), Charles Johnston (Mr Gedge, the vicar), Richard Roberts (Mr Upfold, the mayor), Tim Dawkins (Superintendent Budd), Charles Rice (Sid), Martha Jones (Nancy), Clarissa Meek (Mrs Herring)

The Lighthouse
Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
Conductor: Richard Baker
Cast: Adam Tunnicliffe (Sandy), Nicholas Merryweather (Blazes), Richard Mosley-Evans (Arthur)

The Emperor of Atlantis (Der Kaiser von Atlantis)
Composer: Viktor Ullmann
Conductor: Peter Selwyn
Cast: Richard Mosley-Evans (Emperor Overall), Robert Winslade Anderson (Death), Callum Thorpe (Loudspeaker), Paula Sides (Bubikopf), Jeffrey Stewart (Harlequin), Katie Bray (Drummer)

Exeter Northcott, Exeter, UK

24 October 2012: The Lighthouse
25 October 2012: Albert Herring
26 October 2012: The Emperor of Atlantis
27 October 2012: Albert Herring

Booking information: 01392 493 493 /

Running Times

Albert Herring – 2 hours 40 minutes, including one 20 minute interval

Christ lag in Todesbanden / The Emperor of Atlantis – 1 hour 20 minutes, with no interval
(c.20 minutes for Christ lag in Todesbanden; c.55 minutes for The Emperor of Atlantis)

The Lighthouse – 1 hour 35 minutes, including one 20 minute interval

English Touring Opera is the leading touring opera company in the UK. ETO travels to more regions and to more venues than any other English opera company, touring annually to around 70 theatres and presenting as many as 140 performances per year.  Our aim is to offer opera to everyone, with a varied repertoire of high-quality professional productions and education projects. Each year there are touring productions in Spring and Autumn. The Spring tour tends to be larger scale, with a modern orchestra and chorus, while Autumn tours tend to be more intimate, with a diverse repertoire. The roughly ‘classical’ scale of presentation is dictated by the size of the venues, generally theatres which receive little or no other opera. The repertoire is selected with respect to that scale, to the company’s eager audiences around the country, and to the particular strengths of our current cast.

Aurora Orchestra
Since its creation in 2005, Aurora Orchestra has established itself as the most significant new British chamber orchestra in a generation. With two flourishing London residencies and a busy national and international touring schedule, the orchestra has attracted particular praise for its innovative and eclectic programming, adventurous cross-art form collaboration, and commitment to building new audiences for classical music.  It has worked with a roster of world-class artists including Ian Bostridge, Gerald Finley, Rosemary Joshua, Angelika Kirchschlager, Kate Royal, Maxim Rysanov and Robin Ticciati, and last year became the youngest-ever recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society's Ensemble Award.  Current season highlights include debut appearances at the Royal Festival Hall and Camden's Roundhouse, collaborations with break dancers, klezmer musicians and filmmakers as part of its New Moves series, and a a televised appearance at the BBC Proms. 

James Conway
General Director of ETO, James Conway has directed a range of operas for the company – including, most recently, the critically-acclaimed Xerxes (Handel), Il tabarro (Puccini), La clemenza di Tito (Mozart) and Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky). In 2010, James directed the world première of Alexander Goehr’s opera, Promised End. His production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (performed by ETO in 2004, and revived in 2010) was nominated for an RPS award. 2012 is Conway’s 10th year with English Touring Opera. During his decade as General Director, he has directed 20 new productions and 4 revivals. In Spring 2013, Conway will be directing Verdi Simon Boccanegra and Donizetti The Siege of Calais for ETO. Conway has written original libretti for two operas and translations for three others, as well as several works of fiction.

Christopher Rolls
Christopher Rolls is a theatre and opera director based in London, UK. He trained in International Theatre Directing (MA) at Middlesex University (London, N. Ireland, Bangkok, Moscow) and has worked all over the world. In November 2011, he was nominated in category of ‘Outstanding Newcomer’ for a London Evening Standard Theatre Award. In February 2011, Christopher’s production of Les Parents Terribles by Jean Cocteau was nominated for an Olivier Award in the category of Outstanding Production in an Affiliate Theatre. In 2005 Christopher was Resident Assistant Director (RAD) for the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London’s West End. Christopher has worked as an Assistant Director and Associate Director for the UK’s National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera house – Covent Garden, and in the West End.

Ted Huffman
American stage director Ted Huffman has created opera and theatre productions throughout North America and Europe. Ted co-founded the Greenwich Music Festival in Connecticut and continues to serve as the company’s Artistic Director, creating productions including Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and Henze’s El Cimarrón, for which he received a nomination for “Best Opera Direction 2010” in Opernwelt. As a guest teacher and director, Ted has been engaged by many young artist development programs, including Canadian Opera Company’s Studio, LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Pittsburgh Opera Studio and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program. He is also a graduate of San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program and the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme at the Aldeburgh Festival (UK).

Michael Rosewell
Michael Rosewell is currently Music Director for English Touring Opera and Opera Director at the Royal College of Music. He began his conducting career in Germany before joining the Vienna State Opera. In Vienna he assisted Claudio Abbado and worked closely with the world’s leading singers, notably Pavarotti and Domingo. Michael has conducted in Kassel, Wiesbaden; Mannheim, where he was resident staff conductor; ENO, and at numerous international festivals, including Buxton, Bath, Perth and Montepulciano. He has appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival and is recognised as one of the leading interpreters of Britten's music. In concert he has worked with many European orchestras and broadcast on Radio France Musique and Südwestfunk. Most recently, Michael conducted Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for ETO and recorded a CD with Grammy award winning tenor Alfie Boe and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

Peter Selwyn
Born in London, Peter Selwyn began his career on the Music Staff of ENO, before moving to London’s Royal Opera. At the Bayreuth Festival, he worked for three seasons as assistant to Adam Fischer and Giuseppe Sinopoli on Der Ring des Nibelungen. From 1999 to 2005 he was Kapellmeister and Head of Music at the Staatstheater Nuremberg. He has conducted Jenufa and La cenerentola for ETO, and other companies with whom he has worked include Singapore Lyric Opera, Stadttheater Fürth, OHP, Opera North, Pegasus Opera and WNO. Peter Selwyn is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Internationales Kammermusik Festival Nürnberg.

Richard Baker
Richard Baker is a leading figure on the British contemporary music scene as one of the foremost composer conductors of his generation. He has relationships with many of the UK's leading ensembles – London Sinfonietta, BCMG, Composers Ensemble and Apartment House.  He is a regular collaborator for the BBC Total Immersion days; for Karlsruhe in Spring 2013  he will conduct a new production of Gerald Barry's The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit. Richard  studied composition in theNetherlands with Louis Andriessen and in London with John Woolrich, and has a  significant number of works to his credit including 'Learning to Fly', a basset clarinet concerto, 'Gaming' and 'Written on a Train' for voice and ensemble. He is currently writing a new work for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group,for February 2013.

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