Women, and supportive men too, were feeling uneasy enough about their portrayal as victims, and about sexual abuse. Was this really the moment for an opera about a man who exploits vulnerable and poor women in the East End of London?
Kramer was ready with his answer: not only does the so-called Ripper never appear, the opera, newly composed for ENO by Iain Bell, focuses on the lives of the women stalked by the invisible assailant, and not on their deaths. Their relationships, methods of day-to-day survival and network are at the forefront of the opera, which bears the subtitle The Women of Whitechapel.
However you might wish the subtitle were the main title, it is the Jack the Ripper story that will draw audiences to the Coliseum for this world premiere. And they will find there a rolecall of the best sopranos, mezzos and contraltos in Britain today, among them Josephine Barstow, who scored a big hit in Follies, Janis Kelly, Susan Bullock, and Lesley Garrett, (who plays many roles in Elena Langer's Rhondda Rips It Up! for Welsh National Opera at Hackney Empire on 21 and 22 June).
Leading the cast as Mary Kelly is Claudia Boyle, who was last heard at ENO as the ailing society hostess Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata.
The few men in the cast include tenor Nicky Spence as Sgt Johnny Strong.
Opera-goers who are intrigued but unsettled might consider the performance on 3 April, which is preceded by a pre-performance talk from 5:45PM to 6:30PM, admission £5.
However it pans out, we can be sure that Jack the Ripper:The Women of Whitechapel is the opera of the 2018/19 season that will get the world talking about English National Opera...
Booking is open now. Click here for the full ENO season 2018/19
|What||Jack the Ripper, English National Opera|
|Where||English National Opera, London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
30 Mar 19 – 12 Apr 19, six performances
|Price||£12 - £99|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|