Opens Saturday 14 March at the London Coliseum (10 performances)
Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to ENO with his staging of The Marriage of Figaro, making his main stage debut alongside Chief Conductor of the Munich Symphony Orchestra Kevin John Edusei, who makes his ENO debut in the pit.
The Marriage of Figaro (1786) is a comedic story set in a single crazy day – the wedding day of Figaro and Susanna. A whirlwind of mistaken identities, deception and general mayhem, the couple try to elude their employer – a philandering and promiscuous Count – teaching him a lesson in fidelity he’ll never forget.
This intimate production puts the magnifying glass over Mozart’s characters, sharing their thoughts, emotional journey and flaws with the audience. Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins (winner of the James Menzies-Kitchen Young Director Award), Joe made his house debut with Powder Her Face in 2014 at Ambika P3.
He comments: ‘I felt my primary job was to deliver Figaro in all its joy, power and complexity, rather than remake it for today. I wanted to make a production that was fun but also highlighted the opera’s dramatic intensity and emotional depth, including the cruelty and violence. Figaro has two centres: one is power (financial, social and political) and the other is sex (encompassing romance, love and desire). Together they interweave, driving all the characters and creating the dramatic situations.’
The Marriage of Figaro was originally based on La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro, preceded by Il barbiere di Siviglia, both by Pierre Beaumarchais. This is the first of three operas produced by Mozart in collaboration with his librettist Da Ponte; Le nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutte (1790). Regarded as a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire, it remains one of the most popular operas after more than 200 years.
Wielding the baton, Kevin John Edusei brings his ‘tasteful restraint and explosive energy’ (the Guardian) to the London Coliseum. James Henshaw takes over as conductor on 14, 16 & 18 April.
Rising star ENO Harewood artist Božidar Smiljanić makes his titular role debut for ENO, stepping back into Figaro’s shoes having previously delivered an ‘impressive’ (Bachtrack) Figaro while still studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Since his first performance for ENO in La traviata (2018), where ‘Smiljanic’s honeyed bass-baritone in particular marked him as one to watch’ (Backtrack), he has performed across Europe, including a variety of roles for Oper Frankfurt.
Soprano Louise Alder makes her ENO debut in the role of Susanna, following an ‘entrancing, bright-voiced Zerlina’ (The Times) in another Da Ponte opera – Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House. Louise has been heralded as ‘the brightest lyric soprano of the younger generation’ (The Arts Desk) and previously won best Young Singer at the International Opera Awards 2017.
Baritone Johnathan McCullough makes his ENO and UK debut as Count Almaviva. Johnathan previously won first prize in the 2019 Gerda Lissner Foundation Song competition and sung Figaro last season in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Wolf Trap Opera.
Elizabeth Watts, described as ‘one of Britain’s leading sopranos’ (the Guardian) takes on the Countess once more, having ‘excelled’ (the Independent|) in the role at WNO. ENO Harewood Artist Nardus Williams steps in on 18 April for the final performance.
Mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp brings her ‘seductive darker hues’ (the Guardian) to Cherubino, making her ENO debut. Hanna is a Royal Opera House Jette Parker alumni and has performed across Europe, including as Cherubino in one of her earlier roles for Scottish Opera.
Mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley returns to ENO as Marcellina in her first performance since Salome (2018). Susan trained at the Guildhall and was winner of the Singer Award at the 2011 RPS Awards. Sharing the part of Marcellina on 14, 16 & 18 April, is mezzo-soprano Yvonne Howard who most recently was in The Mikado as Katisha. Yvonne returns to ENO after her ‘outstanding’ (Opera Magazine) performance in Iolanthe (2018).
Comic ENO veteran Andrew Shore returns once more to the London Coliseum as Dr Bartolo after performing in The Mikado last season. Andrew has enacted more than 35 roles for ENO over the last three decades.
Tenor Colin Judson returns once more to ENO as both Don Basilio and Don Curzio having delivered a ‘clear-toned, wonderful of diction and excellent of timing’ (The Arts Desk) Basilio in ENO’s previous The Marriage of Figaro (2018) originally directed by Fiona Shaw. Colin studied at the GSMD and subsequently became an ensemble member of Oper Köln.
Completing the cast is ENO Harewood Artist Rowan Pierce as Barbarina in her third production for ENO. Rowan was awarded the President’s Award by the Prince of Wales at the RCM in 2017 and has recently been made a Rising Star of the OAE.
The set is designed by Johannes Schütz, with costumes by Astrid Klein. Lighting design is by Bernd Velder and Jenny Ogilvie is Movement Director.
The Marriage of Figaro opens on Saturday 14 March 19:00 at the London Coliseum for 10 performances: March 14, 19, 21, 25, 31 & April 02, 09, 14 and 16 at 19:00. April 18 at 18:00.
Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee)*
*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings
Co-production with Oper Wuppertal.
Notes to Editors:
The Press Officer for this production is Ella Baker.
About English National Opera
English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone. We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering tickets for as little as ten pounds and we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.
We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in the 2018/19 season were first-time bookers and this season more than 10% of our bookings have been by under 30’s. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis has reached more than 20,000 school children and community groups, and we have brought opera into schools, allowing more than 5000 schoolchildren from schools with a higher than average black or minority ethnic (BAME) background representation to experience opera. Our talent development programme continues to nurture the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and of conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship). We also give free tickets to Under 18s in our balcony for opening nights, Friday and Saturday performances.
Last season, the proportion of our audience with a BAME background increased from 4% to 10%. In January of last year, we announced that we would be recruiting four new members of our Chorus from a BAME background, as well as four BAME Director Observerships. This year, we announced that we will also be recruiting five new BAME string players to continue working towards our aim of making the opera industry more accessible and representative of the society in which we live.
Through our ongoing support and development of British talent, 85% of the cast in the 2018-19 season were British or British trained, up 5% from the previous season. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.
ENO is about opera for everyone.
The Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, after Beaumarchais
Director, Joe Hill-Gibbins
Conductor, Kevin John Edusei (James Henshaw, Apr 14, 16, 18)
|Figaro||Božidar Smiljanić *|
|Count Almaviva||Johnathan McCullough|
|Countess||Elizabeth Watts & Nardus Williams * (18 April)|
|Marcellina||Susan Bickley & Yvonne Howard (14, 16 & 18 April)|
|Dr Bartolo||Andrew Shore|
|Don Basilio / Don Curzio||Colin Judson|
|Barbarina||Rowan Pierce *|
* current ENO Harewood Artists