Yesterday, English National Opera revealed their 2012-3 season. Talking to a modest number of guests, Artistic Director John Berry announced the 15 productions - nine of which are new - to be taking the stage during the next season.
In the autumn, Music Director Edward Gardner is conducting a new production of Martinů’s Julietta, and ENO’s first ever Composer in Residence Ryan Wigglesworth is conducting a new production of Carmen set in 1970s Spain, from radical Spanish director Calixto Bieito.
Also this autumn, Japanese director Yoshi Oïda will stage Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrim’s Progress, with Martyn Brabbins conducting, in the first professional production of this piece since its 1951 première.
In the bold spring season, a David McVicar production of French baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Medea will look to build on the success of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux last season, once again with conductor Christian Curnyn.
German director Peter Konwitschny is coming to the UK for the first time with a new production of La Traviata to coincide with Verdi’s bicentenary. He describes his version of the opera as ‘short’: running time will be just under two hours, with no intermission. The spring season will also see the world première of ENO commission The Sunken Garden by Michel van der Aa, set to a libretto by novelist David Mitchell.
Summer at ENO will see the UK première of The Perfect American by Philip Glass (co-commissioned and co-produced with Teatro Real Madrid). This is Glass’ 24th opera, and is about Walt Disney, with Christopher Purves as the lead. Also in the summer, to mark Britten’s centenary, will be Death in Venice, reuniting conductor Edward Gardner and director Deborah Warner.
Chief executive Loretta Tomasi spoke about opportunities for younger singers, through both the Harewood Artists and Opera Works programmes, as well as a new association with the Royal College of Music, which will offer opportunities for young instrumentalists to work alongside their orchestra.
ENO are also introducing a new pricing policy, with an Early Bird scheme which will see cheaper pricing for early booking on weekday tickets. Prices will start low and may increase as first night approaches; some dress circle tickets will be as low as £50 under this new scheme.
The season forms a considerable contrast with the Royal Opera House’s, with less emphasis on the year’s anniversary composers Britten, Verdi and Wagner, and a spot more baroque and contemporary in the mix. It will be fascinating to see how the programming plays out, particularly with so many intriguing new productions on offer.