Thomas Adès (B 1971)
Libretto Philip Hensher
Conductor Timothy Redmond
Director Joe Hill-Gibbins
ENO continues to explore new performing spaces in London with a new production of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face to be performed at contemporary arts venue Ambika P3
Opening Wednesday 2 April 2014, 7.30pm at Ambika P3, University of Westminster (9 performances)
English National Opera presents a new production of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, making his operatic debut. Adès’s opera focuses on the infamous Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll and the scandal her sexual exploits and subsequent divorce in the 1960s.
Powder Her Face will be performed in the intimate atmosphere of Ambika P3 – a contemporary arts venue that is one of the capital’s “hidden and most exciting new spaces” according to the Guardian. Part of the University of Westminster, this underground space has played host to numerous cultural events including exhibitions, art installations, fashion shows and live performances, but Powder Her Face is the first opera to be performed there.
The opera charts the glamorous rise and fall of the notorious socialite, Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll. Drawing on episodes from the Duchess’s colourful life, it takes a satirical view of the woman dubbed “The Dirty Duchess”. With references to her voracious sexual appetite, her celebrity lifestyle and her very public divorce, the work charts the demise of this elegant yet tragic figure.
Thomas Adès’s first opera, Powder Her Face launched his international career and it remains one of his most performed works. His precocious score is both witty and satirical, paying homage to Weill, Berg and Stravinsky with cabaret and tango influences.
Associate Director of the Young Vic, Joe Hill-Gibbins, embarks on his first opera. He has directed several productions for the Young Vic and Royal Court and most recently Edward II at the National Theatre which was deemed “tirelessly inventive” by the Observer. Set and costume designs are by Olivier award-winning designer Ultz who last worked with ENO on the Richard Jones production of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant in 2005.
An all-British cast, led by celebrated British soprano Amanda Roocroft as Margaret, once again highlights ENO’s commitment to showcasing British and British-trained talent.Amanda has a long history with ENO having performed roles in Der Rosenkavalier, The Makropulos Case, Peter Grimes and TheMerry Widow. She won an Olivier award for her performance in the title role of ENO’s production of Jenůfa in 2007 and has performed with opera houses across the world including the Royal Opera House, Hamburg State Opera and Die Nederlandse Opera.
Soprano Clare Eggington, most recently seen at ENO as Mrs Schlesen in Satyagraha, takes on the role of the Duchess’s maid.
Bass Alan Ewing makes his ENO debut in the role of the Hotel Manager, having sung with numerous opera companies including the Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera and Bregenz Festival.
Tenor Alexander Sprague also makes his ENO debut in the role of the Electrician. He trained at the National Opera Studio and the Royal Academy of Music and has performed with Opera North, Scottish Opera, Salzburg Festival and Gothenburg Opera.
British conductor Timothy Redmond is well known for his work with contemporary music and has a close association with Thomas Adès after working on the premiere of his opera The Tempest.He has conducted productions of Powder Her Face for the Royal Opera House and St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre and has worked with English Touring Opera, Opera North and Bregenz Festival.
Powder Her Face opens at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, NW1 5LS on Wednesday 2 April for 9 performances – 2, 4, 8, 10, 14, 16 April at 7.30pm, 5, 12, 19, April at 6.30pm.
Running time: 2 hours 20 mins
Pre-performance talk, 4 April 5.45-6.30pm £5/£2.50 concessions
Notes to Editors:
English National Opera (ENO) is the UK’s leading producer of world-class opera, sung in English. Working with the very best talent from across the arts and creative industries, we create distinctive, highly theatrical productions and stage more new work and contemporary opera than any other UK opera company. We champion British and British-trained talent by placing it at the heart of our performances and providing unique development programmes for singers, musicians, composers and conductors. Our productions are seen by audiences across the world thanks to partnerships with its most celebrated opera houses. Through all our activities we aim to make our work enjoyable, accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
For further information please contact:
Sara Parsons, Press Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7845 9433
NB Due to the size of the venue press tickets will be limited for this production. Thank you for your understanding.