English Touring Opera's spring season features protagonists from Mozart, Donizetti and Gluck who defy the social codes of their times and places
Sex, revenge and death. This trio of themes tends to dominate classic opera plots. A perfect example is the story of Don Giovanni, given its most sublime expression in Mozart’s version (there have been many others). Who doesn’t know the story of the Spanish nobleman who travels through Europe seducing women? He flagrantly violates moral codes; his actions lead to murder and he unleashes vengeance from beyond the grave. One of the most famous of all operas, Don Giovanni will be directed for English Touring Opera by Lloyd Wood.
The company also champions rarities and James Conway will be directing Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei which features the same themes. A brother, whose advances are rejected by his sister in law, takes revenge by making her husband believe she is unfaithful. Her husband has her locked up in a tower in the marshy Maremma and makes arrangements to have her killed if he should die in battle. Drawn from an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy it again features a man who flouts the norms in exacting revenge for his thwarted sexual desires.
The company's season opens with an opera that doesn’t fit the usual pattern. Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride (also directed by Conway) is not a story of sexual passion, something of an innovation in an 18th century work. Revenge? It’s in the background. In the aftermath of the Trojan War, Iphigenia and Orestes, children of Agamemnon, are separated. Iphigenia ends up as a priestess on the island of Tauris, where the custom is to sacrifice all strangers. Orestes, who has previously killed his mother in revenge for murdering his father, is washed up on this shore and the story revolves around the siblings’ reunion and the cliffhanger of whether or not she will be forced to kill him. So, death? No spoilers.
English Touring Opera’s spring season opens on March 5 at the Hackney Empire with Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride. Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei opens on March 10 and Mozart’s Don Giovanni completes the season on March 11. The company then tours the UK until early June.