English Touring Opera presents two new productions for 2023 autumn tour

A pair of shoes with a crown

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ETO’s The Coronation of Poppea and Cinderella © feastcreative

London, Leamington Spa, Norwich, Saffron Walden, Snape, Buxton, Exeter, Poole

30 September – 15 November

  • Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea with a new English translation and arrangement
  • Rossini’s Cinderella alsosung in English
  • New ‘ETO Unboxed’ programme offers audiences live and digital events that explore the multi-disciplinary, multi-genre nature of opera

English Touring Opera (ETO) explores themes of love, power and how the two interact for its Autumn tour, presenting two brand-new productions of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea and Rossini’s Cinderella. The first tour to be programmed by General Director Robin Norton-Hale since taking up the role in January this year, this ambitious season brings fresh perspectives to these operas and implements new initiatives such as specially commissioned English librettos and a new programme of extra events. Continuing ETO’s mission to make exceptional artistic experiences available to all, the tour brings outstanding live productions and impactful education and community projects to various locations across the country. 

Robin Norton-Hale directs The Coronation of Poppea, a darkly entertaining depiction of violence and intrigue at the court of Emperor Nero. The production will be sung in English in a new punchy, poetic translation by Helen Eastman, and features a new arrangement of Monteverdi’s score by multi-genre pianist and music director Yshani Perinpanayagam, who also conducts – bringing a modern twist to one of opera’s earliest masterpieces. The cast includes 2020 Kathleen Ferrier First Prize winner Jessica Cale as Poppea, Feargal Mostyn-Williams as Ottone, Kezia Bienek as Ottavia and Martha Jones as Nerone.

The tour also features a new production of Rossini’s Cinderella, which will also be sung in English. On the surface a joyous retelling of the Cinderella story where goodness and kindness triumphs, Rossini’s opera masks a more biting commentary on status and desire. The production is helmed by director and movement specialist Jenny Ogilvie and conducted by Naomi Woo, who recently assisted the world premiere of Oliver Leith’s Last Days at the Royal Opera House. Esme Brownen-Smith, First Prize winner at the 2022 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and acclaimed for her performance of Marchesa Melibea in ETO’s production of Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims in the previous tour, leads the cast as Cinderella, with Joseph Doody as Ramiro, Edward Hawkins as Alidoro, Nazran Fikret and Lauren Young as stepsisters Clorinda and Tisbe and Arshak Kuzikyan as stepfather Don Magnifico.

Both productions are designed by Basia Bińkowska, winner of the 2017 Linbury Prize for stage design and creator of a beautiful set for The Little Prince at La Scala, Milan last year.

Robin Norton-Hale, General Director of English Touring Opera, said: “We’re delighted to be touring these wonderful operas to audiences across the country and to bring new perspectives to Cinderella and Poppea for audiences familiar with these stories, as well as presenting new ways into these masterpieces for those who are new to the works. We want to bring the thrilling experience of opera to the widest possible audience, showing that this centuries-old but ever-evolving artform can speak to – and sing about – the world we live in now.”

In addition to the main productions, ETO also provides audiences with additional entry points and enriching insights into the world of opera with a new programme of live and digital events under the title ‘ETO Unboxed’. These explore the multi-disciplinary and multi-genre nature of opera, covering music, theatre, design, language, movement, and more. For the Autumn 2023 tour, ETO has commissioned a new work for electronics and soprano from experimental duo drøne, which will be performed at Iklectik in London on 19 September, and new poetry and spoken word from local performers in Norwich, Exeter and Buxton to be performed at events during the tour. Full details will be confirmed in due course. 

ETO also presents a new interactive opera for babies, Under the Little Red Moon by Russell Hepplewhite and Tim Yeallandas part of their celebrated Learning and Participation programme. Aimed at children under two and developed in consultation with the General Paediatrics Department at King’s College Hospital, the work addresses many elements crucial to a young infant’s development such as motor skills, language, peer and parent bonding and more, all enabled by the power of live music. Starring Bradley TravisAbigail KellyRachel Spiers and Ben KnightUnder the Little Red Moon is staged at the Half Moon Theatre, Arts Depot and Polka Theatre in London and Theatre Royal York, as well as libraries and community centres across the country.

ETO’s 2023 Autumn tour opens with The Coronation of Poppea on 30 September at London’s Hackney Empire and continues until mid-November with shows in Leamington Spa, Norwich, Saffron Walden, Snape, Buxton, Exeter and Poole. Further information and tickets for the Autumn tour can be found on English Touring Opera’s website.