Updated: Mar 19, 2022
This story has changed dramatically following the Ukraine-Russia war: read Robert Beale's interview with impresario Ellen Kent here
Producer Ellen Kent's Opera International, which has done a lot over the past couple of decades to popularise the works of Puccini, Verdi and Bizet, returns in 2022 with three of the company's most familiar works – Bizet's Carmen and Puccini's Tosca and Madame Butterfly.
As in the past, the extensive tour takes in a wide range of towns and cities, starting on Thursday
(January 27-29) at Bradford's Alhambra and taking in northern venues Blackpool Grand Theatre (February 2-3), Sheffield City Hall (February 6, returning April 27), York Grand Opera House (February 25-26), Spa Theatre, Scarborough (March 3), Rhyl Pavilion (March 20) and Manchester Opera House (April 7-9). Full listing here.
As usual the company leans heavily on leading singers and chorus from east European countries, with Moldovan baritones Vladimir Dragos and Petru Racovita, Korean soprano Elena Dee or Ukrainian Alyona Kistenyova and tenor Vitalii Liskovetskyi, while the orchestra will be conducted by either Ukrainian conductor Vasyl Vasylenko or Moldovan Nicolae Dohotaru.
The five principals double-up in all three operas, which occasionally feature newer faces to the Opera International line-up, namely mezzos Maria Davydova (Russia) and Ecaterina Timbaliuk (Romanian), Moldovan baritone Vitalii Cebotari (Don Escamillo in Carmen) and Romanian tenor Sorin Lupu (Don Jose in Carmen).
As usual the Ellen Kent show adds a little something extra to the visual mix in the hope of enticing would-be opera lovers who "aren't quite sure...".
In the past we've had spectacular horses on stage, and this time Tosca features a promised pair of handsome greyhounds within the cast.
More information here