English National Opera gives world premiere of British composer Julian Anderson’s first opera, Thebans



Composer: Julian Anderson (b.1967) | Librettist: Frank McGuinness (b.1953) 

Director: Pierre Audi | Conductor: Edward Gardner

English National Opera gives world premiere of British composer Julian Anderson’s first opera, Thebans

Opening Saturday 3 May 2014, 7.30pm at London Coliseum (7 performances)

Thebans, the first opera by Julian Anderson with a libretto by Frank McGuinness, will receive its world premiere by English National Opera. This is the first of a series of new British operas to be premiered by ENO over the next two years, which will champion British talent to a global audience. This epic production is led by a world-class creative team, including director Pierre Audi, Irish playwright and poet Frank McGuinness and ENO Music Director Edward Gardner.

Thebans is based on the three Theban plays by Sophocles – Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, which chronicle the cursed life of the mythical monarch Oedipus and his daughter Antigone. The three plays are reworked as three acts, and retold in non-chronological order, focusing on the death of Antigone before that of her father Oedipus, in order to exploit the full dramatic potential of this complex familial and political story.

Described by the Evening Standard as “one of the finest composers of his generation”, Julian Anderson is well-known for his exemplary vocal writing, having written Alleluia for the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall in 2007 and Harmony, which opened the 2013 BBC Proms, of which The Times commented, “Rarely can a Proms season have opened so quietly, or vast choral and orchestral forces been used with such exquisite fastidiousness”.

In addition to his post as Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Julian is also Composer in Residence at the Wigmore Hall, Composer in Residence at the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Director of the LPO’s Leverhulme Young Composers programme. In 2013, Julian was awarded the South Bank Show Award for his orchestral work The Discovery of Heaven and for education work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Playwright Frank McGuinness is well known for his translations and adaptations of works by Ibsen, Chekhov, Brecht, Strindberg, Racine and Euripides. His version ofOedipus the King premiered at National Theatre in 2008 with Ralph Fiennes in the title role. He has recently been named the recipient of the 2014 Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature.

Founder of the Almeida Theatre and current Artistic Director of Dutch National Opera and the Holland Festival, Pierre Audi makes his directorial debut at ENO. Pierre is well-known as a visionary director, having commissioned many new works for Dutch National Opera, including Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream in 2007, which Pierre directed for WNO in 2013, of which the Sunday Telegraph said, “…Pierre Audi’s production is simplicity itself…a visually seductive framework for this important modern opera”.

The set for Thebans has been designed by Tom Pye, who has designed several productions for ENO, including The Death of Klinghoffer, Death in Venice and The Messiah. Completing the design team are costume designer Christof Hetzer, lightning designer Jean Kalman and video designer Lysander Ashton.

ENO’s Music Director Edward Gardner leads an exceptional, predominantly British cast which includes Roland Wood as Oedipus, Peter Hoare as Creon, ENO Harewood Artist Julia Sporsén as the doomed Antigone, Matthew Best as Tiresias, Susan Bickley as Jocasta and Christopher Ainslie as Messenger/Theseus.

Joining them are ENO Harewood Artist Anthony Gregory, as Haemon/Strangers, young baritone Jonathan McGovern as Polynices and Paul Sheehan as Shepherd.

Thebans opens at the London Coliseum on 3 May 2014 for 7 performances – 3, 8, 10, 23 May and 3 June 7.30pm and 17, 31 May, 6.30pm

Pre-performance talk: Thursday 8 May, 5.15pm-6.00pm, £5/£2.50 concessions

A co-production with Theater Bonn

New production supported by The Boltini Trust, PRS for Music Foundation and ENO’s Contemporary Opera Group

For more information and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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