Annilese Miskimmon, ENO’s Artistic Director, presents Korngold’s The Dead City (Die tote Stadt) at the London Coliseum  

25 March – 8 April 2023 (6 Performances) 

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)

Libretto by Paul Schott

Conductor, Kirill Karabits

Director, Annilese Miskimmon

Under 21s can get free opera tickets to all ENO performances at every level of the theatre, and 21-35 year olds can get discounted opera tickets. Tickets for everyone begin at £10. 

This March, after making her ENO directorial debut with the gripping new production of the multi-award nominated The Handmaid’s Tale in 2022, Annilese Miskimmon (the ENO’s Artistic Director) directs the new production of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s The Dead City (Die tote Stadt). Promising to fulfil Miskimmon’s acclaimed directorial style, this production will find the romance at the heart of Korngold’s story, sung in English with a new translation by Kelley Rourke. 

Composed in 1920 post-war Europe, Korngold’s cult classic opera The Dead City is a psychological exploration of loss. Grieving for his wife Marie, Paul shuts himself away in their home fixated on her memory, until an encounter with her doppelgänger turns the world on its head as he grapples with the blurred boundaries between his memories and newfound desires. 

At the age of 23, Korngold composed The Dead City (Die tote Stadt) which became commonly known as his strongest operatic work. The opera was adapted from Georges Rodenbach’s 1892 novel Bruges-la-Morte, which was then adapted by librettist Paul Schott – a pseudonym for Erich and Julius Korngold, the father and son duo who wrote the libretto together.

Whilst a notable composer of classical compositions, Korngold is known primarily as one of the most influential pioneers in Hollywood score-writing. During World War II, Korngold relocated from Austria to Hollywood due to the political turmoil in Europe, fleeing as a Jew from the rise of the Nazi regime. This move marked a transition into a new stage of Korngold’s career as a composer for film where he became a hugely influential figure best known for his Golden Age of Hollywood film scores. The roots of this can be found in The Dead City – remarkably cinematic in its score, the music is incredibly accessible to modern ears, perfect for those new to opera.

Annilese Miskimmon, Director and ENO’s Artistic Director, says: ‘I am delighted to bring Korngold’s rarely performed cult classic The Dead City (Die tote Stadt) to life at the London Coliseum with a world-class group of singers and musicians. With the help of Korngold’s cinematic score, we will be taking new audiences and our ENO regulars to the romantic world this groundbreaking composer has created.’ 

‘Based on the novella by Georges Rodenbach that also helped inspire Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the opera starts off in reality, before dissolving into a dark dreamscape of hallucination. This story of a man learning to move on to a new life after the untimely death of his beloved wife is utterly romantic and enigmatically surreal as a stranger he sees on a city street seems to be the living incarnation of his dead love. The audience are confronted with questions about holding on versus letting go, and whether memories are real or illusionary.’

Leading the award-winning ENO Orchestra, expanded to 88 musicians, is Ukrainian Conductor Kirill Karabits. Karabits is a Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and is returning to the London Coliseum following his ENO debut in 2010 for Rufus Norris’ Don Giovanni where he ‘drew exceptionally fine playing’ (The Guardian) from the Orchestra. 

Making his ENO debut is Swiss tenor Rolf Romei who is performing the role of Paul. Romei is returning to the role having previously performed it at the Enescu Festival in 2021. His other past performances have taken him to opera houses in Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Bern, Düsseldorf and Graz, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Theater an der Wien, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Edinburgh Festival, the Ruhrtriennale and the Bavarian State Opera. 

Making her ENO debut is British soprano Allison Oakes who is performing the role of Marietta – the doppelgänger of Paul’s late wife Marie; and she will also be the voice of Marie. Oakes has previously sung these roles with Hamburg Stage Opera in 2018 where she ‘scale[d] the heights of Korngold’s music with soaring beauty’ (Bachtrack). She has performed in opera houses including Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, Bayreuth Festival, and Semperoper Dresden. Actress Lauren Bridle is playing the non-singing role of Paul’s late wife, Marie. 

Making a highly anticipated return to the ENO in the role of Brigitta is mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, hailed as ‘one of Britain’s finest operatic exports’ (The Times). Connolly most recently sang in the ENO’s concert performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the London Coliseum which was broadcast on BBC Two in November 2020. Her opera engagements have taken her around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, La Scala Millan, the Vienna and Munich State Operas, and the Bayreuth, Glyndebourne, and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. 

Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen is singing the roles of Frank/Fritz. He is making a long-awaited return to the ENO following his performance in Eugene Onegin in 2011’s ‘superb’ (The Telegraph) production, directed by Deborah Warner. 

Performing the role of Juliette is former Harewood Artist and Welsh soprano Rhian Lois. Lois makes an exciting return to the ENO after her ‘heart-rending’ (The Arts Desk) performance as Janine/Ofwarren in The Handmaid’s Tale in the 2021/22 Season. 

British mezzo-soprano Clare Presland is returning to the London Coliseum to perform the role of Lucienne. Her previous performance at the ENO was in the role of Hermia for the critically acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2018. 

Former Harewood Artist and British tenor William Morgan is returning to the ENO to perform the role of Victorin. He will be joined on stage by UK-based Australian tenor Hubert Francis, an alumni of the Royal Opera House’s Young Artist Programme, making his ENO debut in the role of Graf Albert. 

Current Harewood Artist and South African tenor Innocent Masuku will be returning to the London Coliseum stage for his fourth engagement of the 2022/23 Season in the role of Gastone. Joining this stellar cast on stage is the award-winning ENO Chorus. 

Miriam Buether is the Set Designer, Nicky Gillibrand is the Costume Designer, James Farncombe is the Lighting Designer, and Imogen Knight is the Movement Director and Intimacy Coordinator. 

The Dead City (Die tote Stadt) opens on Saturday 25 March for 6 performances: Mar 25, 28, 31 and Apr 3, 6 at 19.30. Apr 8 at 15.00. 

British Sign Language performance: Monday 3 April, 19.30

Tickets start from £10 (plus booking fee*)

*£2.25 booking fee applies to online and telephone bookings.