The season opens on 7 February 2004 with the return of ENO's 2000 staging of John Adams' contemporary opera Nixon in China. Other 'ENO Encores' through the year will include Tosca, The Magic Flute, Carmen, Ernani, Falstaff, Semele as well as Calixto Bieto's highly controversial 2001 production of Don Giovanni and a second return for Robert Carsen's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, set to Britten's score with choreography by Matthew Bourne.
The Mikado (opening on 3 April 2004) - Jonathan Miller's ever-popular production of Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 operetta, this time featuring a new Yum-Yum in the form of Jeni Bern - will also be an 'encore', while The Pirates of Penzance (opening 4 December 2004), the pair's 1880 classic, will receive a new production care of director Elijah Moshinsky, who returns to the company after a long absence. The production, which opens first at Chicago's Lyric Opera in early 2004, will be the first new G&S production at ENO since 1992.
The main operatic highlight of the 2004 season will be the first new production of Wagner's epic Ring - The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie and Siegfried - sung in English in 30 years. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and conducted by Paul Daniels, the new Cycle will finally be completed in spring 2005 with the production of Twilight of the Gods.
Currently performing at the Barbican, ENO moved out of the London Coliseum this summer, while the theatre undergoes a £41 million refurbishment, which will create new seating and 40% extra public space. ENO's first season back at its home venue will mark the Coliseum's centenary year as well as the company's first season operating with a new £3 million corporate sponsorship from broadcasters Sky and Artworld. Spread out over three seasons, the sponsorship is the largest ever achieved by ENO.
- by Terri Paddock