1 October – 12 November

London, Poole, Great Malvern, Saffron Walden, Buxton, Exeter & Truro

This autumn also sees world premiere of Tutankhamun’s Shoes, a new interactive opera for children

21 October – 2 December

London & Oxford

English Touring Opera (ETO) returns to stages across the UK this autumn with ‘Handelfest’, showcasing three of Handel’s finest operas – OttoneAgrippina and Tamerlano – giving audiences up and down the country the chance to immerse themselves in the music of one of the world’s greatest composers.

This autumn also sees the world premiere of their new interactive opera for children, Tutankhamun’s Shoeswhich will tour theatres, schools and museums across England – making exceptional opera available and accessible to new audiences across the country. 

The tour will feature a brand-new production of Handel’s gripping psychological drama Tamerlano, directed by ETO’s Artistic Director James Conway performed by period instrument partners the Old Street Band [Saturday 8 October – Saturday 12 November]. Exploring themes of tyranny and freedom, the story of the eponymous emperor and his prisoner Bajazet’s intense power struggle is brought to life in a stunning modern production, shining new light on one of Handel’s darker operas. Regarded as one of the composer’s finest works and written in the same year as Giulio Cesare and RodelindaTamerlano contains not only some of Handel’s finest music but also one of the first major tenor roles in opera. Featuring prominent countertenor Rodrigo Sosa Dal Pozzo in the title role and Jorge Navarro Colorado as Bajazet, the talented young cast also includes James HallEllie Laugharne and April Koyejo-Audiger.

The tour also includes revivals of two critically acclaimed ETO productions. A revival of its 2014 production of Ottone opens Handelfest, giving audiences a rare opportunity to see this often-neglected gem [Saturday 1 October – Wednesday 9 October]. Featuring radiant Byzantine-inspired designs by takis and sung in a translation by Andrew Porter, the original production was loved by audiences and critics alike, stating that “this often-overlooked Handel opera received the performance it deserves” (The Daily Telegraph). James Hall also stars in this production in the title role, joined by Nazan Fikret as Teofane, Gillian Webster as Gismonda and Kieron-Connor Valentine as Adelberto, and ETO Music Director Gerry Cornelius conducts the Old Street Band

Audiences around the country can be enthralled once again by Handel’s masterpiece of political intrigue, Agrippina, in a revival of ETO’s 2013 production [Friday 7 October – Friday 11 November]. An early success of Handel’s, this devilish comedy brings one of ancient Rome’s most notorious characters to life amid a web of scheming, ambition and deceit. Described as “inspired” (The Independent) and “sparkling” (Evening Standard), the original production was also met with particular praise for James Conway’s direction and “zippy translation” (Evening Standard). Paula Sides stars as cunning Empress Agrippina, and is joined by Hilary Cronin as Poppea, Edward Hawkins as Claudio and Esme Bronwen-Smith as Nerone. Acclaimed Handel interpreter Leo Duarte conducts the Old Street Band through Handel’s sparkling score.

Alongside Handelfest, ETO will also premiere Tutankhamun’s Shoesa new interactive opera for children, touring in theatres, museums and schools around the country [Friday 21 October – Friday 2 December]. Taking audiences on an adventure to Ancient Egypt and the roaring Twenties, families can learn all about the ancient world, mummification and even what links Tutankhamun with Downton Abbey, through this fun, vibrant production. Written by new ETO General Director Robin Norton-Hale and composed by Rosabella Gregory, this production forms an important part of ETO’s work in making exceptional artistic experiences available to everyone and stimulating access, appreciation and understanding of opera in innovative and exciting ways.

Robin Norton-Hale, General Director of English Touring Opera, said“ETO’s reputation for exceptional artistry and commitment to opera for all is highlighted once again with our autumn tour. Handel’s operas are of course loved around the world, and [under James Conway’s leadership] ETO have developed an affinity with this repertoire. It’s a real pleasure to bring some of his lesser performed works like Tamerlano to new audiences, alongside revivals of acclaimed productions of Ottone and Agrippina. This season demonstrates Handel’s breadth of skill as a dramatist, from the depths of tragedy to exuberant comedy, and is sure to captivate opera lovers up and down the country. ETO aims to bring opera to everyone, including the very young – something very close to my heart. It feels fitting that my first production as part of the creative team since being appointed General Director is our opera for schools and families, Tutankhamun’s Shoes. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to introduce children to the exhilarating world of opera.”

All three Handelfest productions will premiere at London’s Hackney Empire before touring to various venues around England, including Lighthouse, Poole; Malvern Theatres; Buxton Opera House; Exeter Northcott Theatre; Saffron Hall; and St John’s The Evangelist Church, Truro. Alongside school performances, Tutankhamun’s Shoes will also perform at Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.