English Touring Opera's Spring tour explores what it takes to be a ruler with Rossini's Elizabeth I, Mozart's Idomeneo and Verdi's Macbeth
Three operas featuring monarchs and would-be monarchs explore the tensions between private and public lives, ambitions and deep personal emotions.
Rossini’s Elizabeth I (the first fully staged professional production to tour the UK since 1818) shows the woman behind the monarch. The queen had the reputation of ruling with her head and silencing her heart. Writers and composers have been fascinated by her private life and her rivalry with her cousin Mary Queen of Scots and Rossini’s opera contrasts the private and public spheres of her life, culminating in a virtuosic showdown between the virgin queen, her councillor, her lover and his wife.
Idomeneo, one of Mozart’s greatest ‘opera seria' explores the consequences of a solemn promise. Two princesses are in love with Idamante whose father, King Idomeneo, is on his way back from the Trojan War. A storm at sea prompts the king to promise the God Neptune that if he arrives home safely he will sacrifice the first person he meets. That person turns out to be his son. The aftermath of this situation tests romantic and fatherly love, the responsibilities of ruling and honourable conduct, and all of the protagonists, to breaking point.
Macbeth reveals the price for those who try to take power illegitimately and brutally. Packed with black magic (a whole chorus of witches), ghosts and two gloriously wicked yet desperately human protagonists in Macbeth and his wife, Verdi, who had a life-long passion for Shakespeare’s plays, thought it ‘one of the greatest creations of man’.
James Conway directs Elizabeth I and Idomeneo, whilst James Dacre directs Macbeth. The conductors are respectively John Andrews, Jonathan Peter Kenny and Gerry Cornelius, who conducts his first opera for the company.
The English Touring Opera Spring tour opens at the Hackney Empire, London on March 2 with Rossini’s Elizabeth I and continues on March 8 with Mozart’s Idomeneo and on March 9 with Verdi’s Macbeth.