English Touring Opera returns to Storyhouse in Chester for Spring 2020 with a trio of stunning new shows to entertain audiences – Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and the St John Passion by J.S Bach.
English Touring Opera (ETO) follow the success of their Silver Lake/Seraglio in Autumn 2019 by bringing together the great pillars of the baroque and classical periods – Bach, Handel and Mozart – taking the new tour to venues across the country.
The English Touring Opera shows will be particularly special for two Chester choirs, who will sing alongside the ETO performers – Chester Festival Chorus and Chester Cathedral Saturday Singing Club.
English Touring Opera will return to Storyhouse from Tuesday 7 April to Thursday 9 April 2020. Tickets are on sale, including a limited number of £5 tickets for aged 26 and under.
The company’s aim for this new season is to platform exciting new creative leaders; target new audiences to opera; and continue to improve access to its work.
As part of its commitment to collaborating with community choirs throughout the tour, the ETO will engage with more than 500 local singers nationally through a dedicated outreach programme. At Storyhouse, Chester Festival Chorus and Chester Cathedral Saturday Singing Club will perform alongside the ETO.
Chester Festival Chorus was formed in 1981 by Martin Merry, a founder of Chester Summer Music Festival and Artistic Director from its inception in 1978 until 1985. The group has established itself as one of the North West’s leading large-scale mixed-voice choirs. At the annual Chester Summer Music Festival, the choir performed major choral works from composer including Handel, Mozart, Britten, Poulenc, and Tavener. Music director is Ellie Slorach.
The chorus made its first visit to the BBC Proms in 1992 when it gave the London premiere of John Tavener’s We Shall See Him As He Is. The chorus has since returned to the Proms on three occasions – with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) in 1994; with the BBC Philharmonic in 1988; and once again with the RLPO in 2005. The chorus also appeared with the BBC Philharmonic and other choirs from the North of England at the opening choral concert at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.
Chester Catherdral Saturday Singing Club perform at cathedral services throughout the year. Each term the singers learn popular songs and learn basic music theory, including good singing technique, posture, and breathing.
English Touring Opera’s resident period orchestra, the Old Street Band, will feature in all three shows on baroque and classical instruments, providing a rare opportunity to audiences across the country during its 44-date tour.
Storyhouse is encouraging music fans to experience a live show from English Touring Opera – Giulio Cesare, Così Fan Tutte, St John Passion – as the perfect introduction to opera.
Giulio Cesare will be performed on Tuesday 7 April 2020 at 7.30pm. This is one of Handel’s most celebrated opera. A story of passion and revenge, featuring a treasure trove of great arias with immense dramatic intensity. The opera follows the events surrounding Julius Caesar’s conquest of Egypt, as well as his uneasy alliance and romance with fabled Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. Due to its huge success in ETO’s Autumn 2017 tour, Artistic Director James Conway and Conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny rework their production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare. There is a pre-show talk in the Garret Theatre from 6.30pm. The opera is sung in Italian with English surtitles.
Così Fan Tutte will be performed on Wednesday 8 April 2020 at 7.30pm. Mozart’s combination of glorious music and farcical comedy make Così Fan Tutte an enduring favourite, a story of young love and fidelity. It is in many ways Mozart’s most perfect opera, and was his third collaboration with librettist Da Ponte, following their successes with The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. Conductor Holly Mathieson (NZ Opera, Scottish Ballet, Decca Classics) and Laura Attridge (ROH, Mahogany Opera Group, Waterperry Opera) collaborate for the first time on this new production, which is set in 1930s Alexandria – a decade of contradictory gender politics and a city of flourishing cosmopolitanism, and sung in Jeremy Sams’ fluent and witty translation. There is a pre-show talk in the Garret Theatre from 6.30pm. The opera is sung in English with English surtitles.
St John Passion will be performed on Thursday 9 April 2020 at 7.30pm. Following the overwhelming success of English Touring Opera’s performances of the great choral masterpieces of J.S Bach, the ETO will present St John Passion in an immersive and semi-staged performance. Professional soloists perform with Chester Festival Chorus and the Old Street Band for a distinctive and reimagined production. The ETO has commissioned new translations of the chorales from theological and literary figures including Anglican Priest, journalist and broadcaster Dr Giles Anthony Fraser, and former Archbishop Of Canterbury and poet Dr Rowan Williams. The opera is sung in English and German with English surtitles.
Tickets for English Touring Opera are on sale now priced from £20.50. Each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee. There are a limited number of £5 tickets for aged 26 and under.