Mike Leigh to make his operatic debut with Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ at ENO

The Pirates of Penzance

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)

W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)

Director, Mike Leigh

Conductor, David Parry

Opens Saturday 9 May at 7.30pm at London Coliseum (14 performances)

Broadcast live in cinemas across UK and Ireland, and selected cinemas worldwide, as part of ENO Screen on Tuesday 19 May at 7.30pm

Acclaimed film and theatre director and Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado Mike Leigh makes his operatic directorial debut at ENO with a new production of The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular farcical comedy.

Featuring swashbuckling pirates, flat footed policemen, razor-sharp satire and memorable melodies, this sparkling new production promises to be the theatrical and musical event of 2015.

ENO’s international reputation for working with exciting directors from across a wide range of artistic disciplines has offered a fresh perspective and unique approach to our productions. Film and theatre director Mike Leigh is the latest artistic talent to apply his skills to the world of opera. Previous directors ENO has worked with include Terry Gilliam, Anthony Minghella, Benedict Andrews, Rufus Norris, Carrie Cracknell and Fiona Shaw.

ENO has a long history of performing Gilbert & Sullivan with IolantheThe GondoliersPatienceThe Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado having all been part of the Company repertoire. ENO’s “bright and sharp” (The Guardian) production of The Mikado has become a true audience favourite having been revived 13 times in 28 years.

Leigh is a lifelong fan of the quintessentially English musical duo. He wrote and directed the 1999 BAFTA winning film Topsy Turvy (starring Jim Broadbent as W.S. Gilbert and Allan Corduner as Sullivan) which explored their turbulent relationship leading up to the premiere of The Mikado. He is President of both the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society and the W.S. Gilbert Society and has contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Gilbert and Sullivan. Fresh from success with the film Mr Turner, starring Timothy Spall as the artist J.M.W.Turner, Leigh has had a long and successful career which began in the theatre in the 1960’s as both a playwright and director. His plays include Bleak MomentsAbigail’s PartyEcstasy, and most recently, Grief at the National Theatre.

Olivier award-winning designer Alison Chitty has previously collaborated with Mike Leigh on Life is SweetNaked and Secrets and Lies.  She will design the set and costumes. Lighting is by Paul Pyant with choreography by Francesca Jaynes.

The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of the pirate apprentice Frederic and his love for Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley who has the famous tongue-twisting patter song ‘I am the very model of a modern Major-General’. The song has featured or been lampooned within popular culture including The Muppet ShowBabylon 5FrasierScrubs, Animaniacs, Star Trek-The Next Generation, Family Guy and Spitting Image.

British baritone Andrew Shore is renowned for his character roles and is a superb singer and actor. He makes his role debut as Major-General Stanley. He has performed numerous roles for ENO, most recently the twin cameos of Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème, and will appear as Beckmesser in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg in February 2015.

British tenor Robert Murray takes on the role of Frederic the pirate apprentice. His previous roles for ENO include Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Idamante in Idomeneo.

New Zealand born Samoan bass baritone Jonathan Lemalu makes his role debut as the Sergeant of Police. He has performed in The Marriage of Figaro for ENO and will also sing the role of Schwartz in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg in February 2015.

British mezzo-soprano Rebecca de Pont Davies is a fantastic character-singer and was last seen at ENO as Auntie in David Alden’s acclaimed production of Peter Grimes.  She makes her debut as Ruth.

British baritone Alexander Robin Baker has recently performed in The Way Back Home, ENO’s first children’s opera at the Young Vic. He was the miner Happy in Richard Jones’s acclaimed production of The Girl of the Golden West and has also performed the role of Prince Yamadori in Madam Butterfly, also for ENO in 2013. He makes his role debut as Samuel.

Making their ENO and role debuts are Australian/American bass Joshua Bloom as The Pirate King, Irish soprano Claudia Boyle as Mabel, British soprano Soraya Mafi as Edith, Welsh mezzo soprano Angharad Lyddon as Kate and Lydia Marchione as Isabel.

Celebrated British conductor David Parry, who conducted the most recent revival of The Mikado in which the Sunday Express noted that he brought out “the beauty of the score”, leads ENO’s orchestra.

The Pirates of Penzance opens at the London Coliseum on 9 May 2015 for 14 performances – 9, 14, 19, 23, 29 May, 5, 13, 20, 26, 27 June at 7.30pm, 16 May at 6.30pm, 23 May, 13 June at 2.30pm and 21 June at 3pm

Pre-performance talk: Thursday 14 May, 5.15-6pm, £5/£2.50 concs.

A co-production with Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and the Saarländische Staatstheater Saarbrücken

New production supported by a syndicate of individual donors


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


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