On Sunday 21 August, the English National Opera (ENO) will present a concert performance of Puccini’s much-loved opera La bohème at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, South London.
Every ticket in the world-class 1,802-seat Concert Hall is priced at £5.
One of the most famous operas of all time, La bohème tells the story of Parisian poet Rodolfo’s doomed love for seamstress Mimì. This concert will be sung in English as part of the ENO’s mission to make opera accessible. With Puccini’s exquisite score, it makes for a perfect first-time opera for audiences.
Artistic Director of the ENO Annilese Miskimmon says: ‘It’s an honour for us to bring our full forces to Fairfield Halls ahead of Croydon’s historic year as the London Borough of Culture. Puccini’s opera is probably one of the most unforgettable love stories in the world, rivalling any Hollywood blockbuster. This stunning concert – sung entirely in English with the ENO’s 80 person Chorus and Orchestra – makes for a fabulous musical feast to sample at £5 a ticket for every seat in the house, whether it’s your first, or thirtieth opera.’
The ENO’s Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts the astonishing force of the ENO Orchestra and Chorus to bring Puccini’s romantic score to life. Brabbins has worked with many of the top international and UK orchestras, and is a regular at the BBC Proms.
Conductor and Music Director of the ENO Martyn Brabbins says: ‘Musicians love nothing more than performing to new audiences, and sharing the miraculous and moving music Puccini wrote. La bohème is amongst the greatest handful of operas, with unparalleled melodic invention, charming characterisation and powerful pathos. We are honoured to be performing in Croydon’s magnificent Fairfield Halls for the very first time.’
Singing the role of Mimì is Irish soprano Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, bringing her ‘rich, powerful soprano’ (Irish Independent), to the role. Through recent seasons, Sinéad has made fuller dramatic repertoire her speciality, with roles including a ‘magnificently sung’ (The Times) Leonore in a new Irish National Opera production of Fidelio, and recently made an ‘excellent’ (Daily Express) ENO debut in 2022’s La bohème at the London Coliseum.
Joining her on stage is the ‘powerfully commanding’ (The Stage) Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim. Kim is reprising his acclaimed role of Rodolfo having performed in the production of La bohème in the 2021/22 Season at the London Coliseum, in 2020’s ENO Drive & Live: La bohème – the world’s first fully staged drive-in opera, and recently performed at the first night of The Proms.
Singing the role of Musetta is the ‘bright and impressive’ Australian soprano and ENO Harewood Artist Alexandra Oomens. ‘Ooz[ing] charm and sweet lyricism’ (The Times), Oomens recently sang Josephine in HMS Pinafore with the ENO in 2021.
Reprising the role of her lover, the tortured artist Marcello, is Anglo-French baritone Charles Rice. Rice previously performed the role during the ENO’s 2021/22 Season where he ‘excelled in character and vocal punch alike’ (The i). With a well-established international career, Rice performs on both the operatic stages and the concert platform.
British bass and ENO Harewood Artist William Thomas reprises his role as Colline. Thomas recently ‘nobly sung’ (The Times) the role during the ENO’s 2021/22 Season and in ENO Drive & Live: La bohème in the grounds of Alexandra Palace.
The role of Schaunard is being sung by British baritone and ENO Harewood Artist Alex Otterburn. Otterburn has built a diverse concert repertoire and has been an audience favourite ever since he made his ‘notable Coliseum debut’ (The Daily Telegraph) in 2019’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel.
Completing the cast is British baritone Simon Butteriss, who ‘excels in his two roles’ (The Stage) as both Benoît and Alcindoro. Butteriss is the originator of the role of Benoît in this ENO version of La bohème.
Recently redeveloped, Fairfield Halls is home to arts, entertainment and community events in the heart of Croydon, recently selected as the London Borough of Culture for 2023.