Two tales of leaders on the brink
As part of their season of Kings and Queens English Touring Opera bring two new productions to Sheffield next week, Verdi’s first Shakespearian masterpiece Macbeth and Mozart’s Greek opera, Idomeneo.
In both operas, flawed leaders attempt to hold onto power, preserve peace and calm a stirring populace.
ETO will perform at the Lyceum Theatre with a live orchestra and large chorus backing a cast which combines internationally celebrated stars and exciting young singers with local talent.
That includes 11-year-old Sheffield boy Jake Saville who will perform a small but pivotal role in Macbeth as Banquo’s son.
Directing Macbeth is James Dacre, artistic director of Royal and Derngate, Northampton, who returns to Shakespeare following his critically-acclaimed 2015 Globe Theatre production of King John.
Dacre’s staging of Macbeth brings its topical relevance into sharp focus, with a modern setting on the border of two warring nations.”
Making his ETO debut, Dacre says, “Verdi's Macbeth has such powerful resonances for today both in its portrayal of a nation on the brink but also in its intimate depictions of the inner psychological turmoil of our leaders.”
Verdi wrote that Shakespeare’s play was “one of the greatest creations of the human spirit” and was the first of his three Shakespeare-inspired operas, later adapting Othello and Falstaff.
ETO will perform Andrew Porter’s celebrated English translation of the libretto (with English surtitles), which preserves much of the original Shakespeare.
Local lad Jake Saville, who is playing Banquo’s son, started performing at the age six when he appeared as Master Fitzwilliam Darcy in BBC's Death Comes to Pemberley.
He has since gone on to act alongside David Tennant, appeared on CITV and worked as an extra in Victoria, The Royals, David Copperfield on TV and the feature film shot in Sheffield, How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
He also has modelled for brands such as John Lewis, Dixons and Tesco.
Jake, who previously performed in ETO's performance of La Boheme at the Lyceum Theatre in 2015 and Tosca in 2017, said: "I am very excited in performing with the company again, especially at the Lyceum Theatre. I have studied Macbeth at school and look forward to playing an important character in Macbeth."
He will join established operatic names from as far afield as Russia, Australia, India, the US, Armenia, as well as from around the UK on stage at Lyceum.
Mozart’s Idomeneo explores royalty, high ideals and deep emotions, and remains one the greatest of Mozart’s ‘opera seria’ (serious operas).
Returning from the Trojan War and caught in the midst of a storm, King Idomeneo promises the raging seas that he will sacrifice the first person he meets in return for his safe passage. But cruelly, the first person he encounters is his only son, Idamante.
The rivalry between the princesses Ilia and Elettra for the heart of Idamante - coupled with a king’s ill-fated promise - provide a rich, emotional drama and unforgettable music.
Idomeneo is directed by ETO artistic director James Conway and conducted by Jonathon Peter Kenny. The opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.
Verdi's Macbeth is at the Sheffield Lyceum on Tuesday, April 16, and Mozart's Idomeneo on Wednesday, april 17. Performances start at 7.30pm with a Pre-show talk at 6.30pm.
Winner of the 2014 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, English Touring Opera (ETO), is the most prolific touring opera company in the UK, travelling annually to around 70 venues, more than any other English opera company.
With its mission to offer opera to everyone, the company presents as many as 140 performances per year.
The company is also a national leader in the provision of arts for people living with dementia.
ETO has helped launch the careers of singers including Amanda Echalaz and Dame Sarah Connolly and gave the world première of Alexander Goehr’s opera Promised End in 2010.
Last month ETO were in Buxton to play in one of the most intimate venues on their circuit: a sitting room on Lismore Road.
Three singers and a pianist performed as part of the Friends of Buxton Festival’s campaign to bring beautiful music to interesting places.
Friends’ supporters Pat and Philip Holland host an ETO concert every year in their home, Moorcroft House, bringing music of a standard normally only found in some of the best-known theatres and opera houses to a relaxed and informal setting.
Soprano Tanya Hurst, tenor David Lynn, and bass Ed Hawkins, accompanied by pianist Hannah Quinn, gave a programme ranging from items from La Boheme and The Magic Flute to Bess, You is My Woman Now from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess.