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Britten's operas often focus on the way particular worlds deal with an outsider. The outsider in Billy Budd is a young man, press-ganged into naval service on the HMS Idomitable around 1797. His story is told in an opera-length flashback by the ship's captain, Edward Fairfax Vere, who is racked by guilt over Billy's fate. Billy's optimism, good-heartedness and trusting nature wins over all but the most venal of the downtrodden crew. He's keen for promotion, but his charisma and beauty cause the evil master-at-arms, John Claggart (who resembles Iago in Shakespeare's Othello), to plot his destruction. Billy's fatal flaw is that, under pressure, he suffers from a crippling stutter. When Claggart falsely accuses him of fomenting mutiny, in front of a sceptical Vere, Billy cannot find the words to defend himself and strikes Claggart dead. At the subsequent court-martial, Vere must follow the letter of the Articles of War and Billy is condemned to death. Typically, just before his execution, Billy cries out in praise of Vere. Now a very old man, Vere concludes that Billy's blessing has, in fact, saved him.
New Production. Sung in English.
The story of Cinderella. Angelina (nicknamed Cinderella) lives wither her sisters Clorinda and Tisbe and their father Don Magnifico - all in poverty. Then the messengers arrive with news of a ball.
New Production. Sung in Italian with English titles.
Vienna, in the golden age of the Empress Maria Theresa. The Feldmarschallin, beautiful and married, has a besotted young lover, Count Octavian. But Octavian is half her age, and the Feldmarschallin knows that one day she must give him up to a younger woman. How soon will that time come? When the boorish Baron Ochs charges Octavian to present a silver rose (a traditional engagement gift) on his behalf, Octavian comes face to face with the delightful Sophie; the Feldmarschallin is the first to realise what is going on.
Revival production. Sung in German with English titles.
When their Mother sends Hansel and Gretel out of the house to look for food, the children quickly find themselves lost in the depths of a dark forest. Finally, almost starving, they find a house made of bread, cakes and sweets. No one's about; in their relief they begin to eat. However, the house is inhabited by a Witch, who hunts children to turn into gingerbread. She captures Hansel and Gretel, and begins to fatten them up, ready for the oven...
New production. Sung in English with English titles.
HMS Pinafore premiered in 1878 at the Opera Comique in London, and became Gilbert and Sullivan's first smash hit, enjoying a successful run of 571 performances. Satirising the snobbery and hypocrisy of the English social system of its day. HMS Pinafore is a comic tale of love, class pretensions and mistaken identities. Questioning the integrity of the ruling elite and exposing the duplicitous motives of leaders of power, this comedy still has remarkable resonance today.
All Male Production
Giorgetta, the young wife of Michele, a river-barge master, has tired of her husband and of the vagabond life she leads with him. She has fallen in love with a young stevedore. They plan to meet on the barge later, but Michele, alone on the deck that night, unwittingly gives the pre-arranged signal When Giorgetta comes out from the cabin her husband's cloak has already been wrapped around her lovers dead body.
Revival Production. Sung in Italian with English titles.
Double bill with Suor Angelica
A satire on the Parliament of the day (or of today!) - fantasy and fact collide in this, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operettas. Iolanthe, a fairy, has been banished for marrying a mortal. Her son, Strephon is in love with Phyllis a Ward of Court. The entire House of Lords has also fallen for Phyllis but she declines to marry a peer. The fairies persuade their Queen to pardon Iolanthe. She returns and is reunited with her son. The peers and Phyllis misinterpret the scene and believe that Strephon is being unfaithful. The fairies take revenge by sending Strephon to Parliament with astonishing results.
From prisoner to president, Mandela Trilogy tells the extraordinary life story of Nelson Mandela. Set in three contrasting sections - highlighting Mandela's traditional upbringing in the Eastern Cape; the turbulent but heady atmosphere of the townships at the onset of Apartheid; and finally Mandela's long years in prison - the production employs a variety of musical styles, as well as an outstanding cast of over 40 performers, to cast new light on one of the world's most iconic figures.
The story of the beautiful Snow Maiden, who cannot fall in love because her heart is ice. Composed during a particularly happy period for Rimsky-Korsakov, it contains magical depictions of nature as well as some of his most lyrical and spontaneous music.
New production. Sung in English with English titles.
'Suor Angelica'....A Tuscan convent, late 17th Century, Sister Angelica was forced by her noble family to take the veil after giving birth to a son out of wedlock. The opera ends when Angelica drinks a poison she has made herself, realises she has committed a deadly sin and prays to the Virgin for forgiveness. As she dies, she has a vision in which the Virgin brings her son to her.
Double bill with Il Tabarro