The Winter's Tale, English National Opera
English National Opera
A foundling baby abandoned in the wood, a jealous husband, a woman turned to stone ... The Winter's Tale has all the makings of a powerful and moving opera
The tragic romance of Romeo and Juliet inspired Tchaikovsky's suite, and the lethal jealousy of Othello prompted Verdi's great opera of the same name, but the bittersweet fable The Winter's Tale appears rarely in music.
Righting that wrong to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare is English National Opera, which has spotted in the story of another jealous husband the potential for an opera that is both gentle and painful.
Composer-in-residence Ryan Wigglesworth retells the story of love, loss and reconciliation in his first ever opera, and the brilliant actor and writer Rory Kinnear, whose own Shakespeareaan roles include a skilled Hamlet for the National Theatre in 2010, makes his debut as a director when the opera The Winter's Tale is given its world premiere.
Shakespeare's play tells the story of a couple whose single male friend stays with them so long that the husband begins to suspect the wife and guest are having an affair. When a baby is born, it is abandoned in the forest and raised by kindly shepherds, while the father believes his guilty wife is dead.
Only years later does the truth about the baby daughter and slighted mother emerge, and although much of the hurt cannot be undone, there is time for a new start.
Iain Paterson sings suspicious Leontes, whose open-hearted wife Hermione is sung by ENO favourite, the soprano Sophie Bevan. The mezzo-soprano Samantha Price, a finalist in the Young Welsh Singer of the Year awards 2014, plays the lost daughter, Perdita.
The hotly tipped young tenor Anthony Gregory is the eligible Florizel, son of Leontes' estranged friend Polixenes (Leigh Melrose), with Susan Bickley as the sage Paulina, and the tenor Neal Davies, playing both the foolish old Antigonus and the kindly shepherd.
Composer Ryan Wigglesworth (who is no relation to ENO's departing music director Mark Wigglesworth), conducts his own opera; he is sought-after conductor in his own right, and principal guest conductor of the Hallé orchestra in Manchester. Vicki Mortimer designs the set for this musical adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most visual operas.
The audience will certainly be impatient to see that famous moment when Antigonus is written out: "Exit, pursued by bear ..."
|What||The Winter's Tale, English National Opera|
English National Opera
London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
27 Feb 2017 – 14 Mar 2017, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£12 - £99|
|Website||Click here for further information and booking|