English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a return to live performance from October 2021 with a national autumn tour of Handel’s Amadigi.
The company has stayed connected with its audience through a number of successful digital projects during lockdown. ETO’s debut broadcast of the St John Passion for Easter 2020 was viewed 13,000 times and ETO’s digital performances have been viewed over 80,000 times since. Highlights include a new puppet opera for children Shh! We Have a Plan, based on the best-selling book. In January, ETO’s Autumn 2020 Lyric Solitude season was broadcast on Marquee TV.
Handel’s 1715 magic opera is based on the medieval epic Amadis de Gaulaca. In it, Handel exposes the powerlessness of young people in the face of all-consuming, youthful love. Amadigi is one of Handel’s finest, though rarely performed, and its sublime score hints at material later used in such works as his Water Music and the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. The opera’s understated orchestration will allow ETO’s period Old Street Band to safely perform the full score from theatre pits across the country in line with strict Covid-19 guidance if required.
This new production is led by director James Conway and conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny, the team responsible for ETO’s celebrated Handel productions Giulio Cesare (2017, 2020), Radamisto (2018), Xerxes (2016) and 2009’s Handel festival, a hugely unprecedented undertaking of performing five different Handel operas over five consecutive nights. Designers Neil Irish and Harry Pizzey will collaborate on Amadigi. Irish’s expansive opera portfolio includes several ETO productions, among them: La clemenza di Tito (2011), The Lighthouse (2012) and Albert Herring (2012). Theatre and installation specialist Pizzey was a 2019 Linbury Prize finalist, with notable credits including with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Watermill Theatre.
English Touring Opera’s Director, James Conway, said I can hardly express how much I have missed producing and touring live operas, connecting with artists and audiences all over the country. The expectation of doing so in the Autumn – especially with a joyous, innocent, passionate opera like Handel’s Amadigi, one of my all time favourites – is what has been keeping us all going. As you know, we have kept going, not least to keep paying the freelance artists on whom opera depends. Making unusual digital work in this last year has been no replacement for live art, but it has opened up all kinds of possibilities for making distinctive lyric work for the screen at home, exploring in a theatrical some really exciting music that we never would have had a chance to produce in the theatre.
Amadigi will open at Hackney Empire on Friday 1 October 2021 and tour nationally to eleven venues in October and November. Dates, venues and full performance details including casting will be announced in the summer. Rehearsals are underway, and this week ETO are releasing a series of filmed Amadigi arias and insight events, featuring members of the production’s cast and the Old Street Band. Focus on Amadigi is available on demand for free on ETO at Home from Friday 16 April. Full details can be found at www.englishtouringopra.org.uk.
ABOVE: Jonathan Peter Kelly and The Old Street Band perform Amadigi at Stone Nest, London (c) Andreas Grieger