ENO to stage new production of Poul Ruders’ rarely staged opera ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

This April, the English National Opera’s (ENO) Artistic Director Annilese Miskimmon will make her company directorial debut with a powerful new production of Poul Ruders’ rarely staged opera, The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid’s Tale will open at the London Coliseum on 4 April 2022 and play a total of 6 performances until 14 April.

This critically acclaimed opera is based on Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel and was last staged at the London Coliseum back in 2003 when it received its first English language debut.

Ruders’s score, influenced by minimalism, mediaeval chanting and gospel music, is filled with tension and unease, reflecting the visceral brutality of the regime. The haunting atmosphere is created and built from the repetitive chanting of the Handmaids. Ruders’ music accurately represents the emotions depicted in the award-winning novel and mirrors its complexity and discomfort.

This new production of The Handmaid’s Tale will be presented in a visually new and gripping way by the female led creative team.

Joining the ENO Orchestra in the pit is acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro who is highly sought after for her specialism in contemporary works.

American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey is making both her role and ENO debut as heroine Offred, and British soprano Emma Bell is making her role debut singing the role of Aunt Lydia.

British bass-baritone Robert Hayward will sing the role of The Commander, American contralto Avery Amereau will making her ENO debut as Serena Joy, American tenor Frederick Ballentine will sing the role of Nick, and Welsh soprano Rhian Lois will sing the roles of Janine/Ofwarren. South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza is singing the role of Moira, Welsh soprano Elin Pritchard is singing the role of Ofglen, and British mezzo-soprano and former ENO Harewood Artist Madeleine Shaw is singing the role of Rita. Also returning following his performance as both the Schoolmaster and the Mosquito in The Cunning Little Vixen this 2021/22 season, is the renowned British tenor Alan Oke, who is singing the role of The Doctor. British mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley is singing the role of Offred’s Mother, and current ENO Harewood Artist and British tenor John Findon is singing the role of Luke.

The creative team for The Handmaid’s Tale includes: Annemarie Woods (Set and Costume Designer), Paule Constable (Lighting Designer), Imogen Knight (Movement Director and Intimacy Coordinator), Akhila Krishnan (Video Designer), and Yvonne Gilbert (Sound Designer).

The suggested age guidance for The Handmaid’s Tale is 15+. This production contains scenes of sexual violence and strong language. 

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