dmg media (UK)



Lucrezia Borgia Lighthouse, Poole Touring until May 26 ))))) English Touring Opera are back on the road with what their new general director, Robin NortonHale, calls ‘an extraordinarily ambitious season of three very different operas’, and they are all masterpieces in their way: Handel’s Julius Caesar, Rossini’s The Journey To Reims and Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia. As if that wasn’t enough, they will also be giving nearly 50 performances of two new operas for young people during this spring’s travels. I caught up with ETO in Poole, and a persuasive performance of Lucrezia Borgia which, even though more of a night for the fireside than for venturing out, attracted a well-filled and enthusiastic house. ETO always cast meticulously, and here a dozen strong singers all perform with real accomplishment. They are headed by two ETO regulars: the American soprano Paula Sides as a pleasingly understated Lucrezia, well matched by the mellifluous lyric tenor of Thomas Elwin as Gennaro. It’s invidious to single out any of the others, and I don’t have room anyway. Suffice to say, this was a thoroughly engaging listen throughout, that once again made me wonder how ETO do it with such limited resources. In the pit, ETO’s music director, Gerry Cornelius, turns in a typically sophisticated performance and the orchestra is the original instrument ensemble, the Old Street Band. It’s a serious joy (despite inevitable issues in this weather, with cracked notes in the brass) to hear 19th Century music played by an essentially baroque ensemble. More please. If you get a chance to catch up with ETO on this tour, don’t miss the opportunity to hear some of the most characterful and accomplished performances of unhackneyed operas you will ever encounter, at a price that will not break the bank. METICULOUSLY CAST: Paula Sides and Aidan Edwards in Lucrezia Borgia