Berg's Lulu in rehearsal

7th November 2016 in News

We caught up with the cast of William Kentridge’s new production of Alban Berg’s Lulu ahead of opening night on 9 November.

With a highly emotional and intensely expressive score, Lulu is one of the seminal operas of the twentieth century. We asked the cast how they were getting on with the rehearsal process of this major ENO event.

See the full gallery of rehearsal images here.

Photos by Catherine Ashmore

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Brenda Rae (Lulu) in rehearsal.

“The story of Lulu is fascinating, and she’s one of the most complex characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.”

Brenda Rae, Lulu

man holding giant white hand rehearses with woman backstage of Lulu

Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts (Prince/Manservant/Marquis) in rehearsal.

“This wonderful production is like a film that has come to life in front of your eyes. An exciting thriller full of plot twists and turns … blackmail, murder, illicit sex and suspense.”

Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts, Prince/Manservant/Marquis 

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Sarah Connolly (Countess Geschwitz) in rehearsal.

“Everyone is a moth to Lulu’s flame so we, as characters drift in and out of her life until our deaths. I think Act three scene 2 is when Geschwitz finally has something to say (and sing!)  that is more than a brief conversation. Her character is not that clear until the end, so I try to fill in the blanks by understanding what sort of person she might have been. Berg’s sister was gay, so he was acutely aware of the danger and loneliness and reflected this melancholy in her music.”

Sarah Connolly, Countess Geschwitz

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Michael Colvin (The Painter/The Second Client) in rehearsal.

“Lulu is bursting with a colourful cast of characters in a surreal, circus-like world… The music runs the gamut from traditional opera to 1920s jazz. Delightful stuff!”

Michael Colvin, The Painter/Second Client

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Sarah Labiner (Fifteen-year-old-girl), Nicky Spence (Alwa), Rebecca de Pont Davies (Girl’s Mother) and other cast members in rehearsal.

“What makes Lulu, and in particular this production of Lulu, so fascinating is that it takes the extraordinarily expressive musical world that Berg created, and combines that with a striking visual interpretation through art and movement in the unmistakeable style of William Kentridge.”

Sarah Labiner, Fifteen-year-old-girl 

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Nicky Spence (Alwa) and Brenda Rae (Lulu) in rehearsal.

“This was Berg’s masterpiece which he didn’t live to see completed. He was a huge fan of Wedekind’s original play and worked the text himself to form the libretto which you can tell by his commitment to the dramatic narrative.”

Nicky Spence, Alwa

Lulu stage rehearsals with woman with bucket with a face on her head

Brenda Rae (Lulu), Sarah Connolly (Countess Geschwitz) and Joanna Dudley (Solo Performer) in rehearsal

“Berg and Wederkind’s towering masterpiece with spoken dialogue and half-spoken half sung passages, (sprechgesang) sweeping arching tunes along with colourful atonality, humour (albeit dark) find a rich response in Kentridge’s fascinating designs, and Greta Goiris’ costumes from the 1930’s.”

Sarah Connolly, Countess Geschwitz

Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Brenda Rae (Lulu) and Joanna Dudley (Solo Performer) in rehearsal.

“There are a few different styles in which we use our voices in this opera, from spoken dialogue, a “sung” speech, half-sung, and then fully sung. The moments that are fully sung are the most dramatic ones, and boy does it get dramatic! I use a big chunk of my vocal range from low to high in this piece, and that alone adds a lot dramatically. Add a turbulent orchestra that rages at full blast sometimes but also whispers sweetly and sadly, and the result is one of the most atmospheric operas that I’ve come across!”

Brenda Rae, Lulu


Lulu 2016 Rehearsal (c) Catherine Ashmore

Nicky Spence (Alwa) and other cast members in rehearsal.

“William Kentridge’s treatment exploits every shade of lust, desire and jealousy which consumes every character and I think will prove to be a really evocative piece of music theatre for the audience. The set and projections are all encompassing and ENO has taken special measures in order  to house such an imposing production.”

Nicky Spence, Alwa

Performances of Lulu run from 9 – 19 November, with at least 500 tickets available at every performance for £20 or less (plus booking fee)*.

*Booking fees of £1.50 per ticket, or a maximum of £6 per transaction, apply.