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Ravenhill Turns Director for Early Opera Poppea

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Shopping and Fu***ng playwright Mark Ravenhill will make his directorial debut at the helm of Monteverdi's 1640 opera The Coronation of Poppea when it opens in rep at Little Opera House’s production on 12 April (previews from 5 April 2011) playing ten performances, ending 19 May 2011.

Staged as part of the Little Opera House's first repertory season at the King's Head Theatre the early opera will be given a "fresh treatment" by Ravehill and Alex Silverman as well as a new jazz-inspired orchestration.

Having come to prominence with his 1996 play Shopping and Fu***ng Ravenhill's well known stage works include Some Explicit Polaroids which was staged in the West End and on tour by Out of Joint's Max Stafford-Clark and Mother Clap's Molly House which was first produced by the National Theatre in 2001, playing the NT Lyttleton under the direction of Nicholas Hytner.

Speaking about staging the opera at the King's Head the playwright - who also works as an actor and journalist - today said in a press statement: "I wanted to stage The Coronation of Poppea 'up close' because I thought it would benefit from an intimate setting. Monteverdi didn't write it for a big 19th century opera house but for a more intimate theatre with a relatively small band. It was one of the very first operas ever written - and probably the very first that was ever written about real people rather than mythical people or gods."

Ravenhill will work with Alex Silverman, one of the team behind Hamlet The Musical, which was a surprise hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, to revise the piece.

The cast, the size of which has been reduced through Ravenhill's revision, has today (11 February 2011) been announced as Rebecca Caine (Ottavia), Tom Lowe (Arnalta), Jassy Husk (Drusilla), Jessica Walker (Nero), David Sheppard (Ottone), Zoe Bonner (Poppea), Adam Kowalczyk (Liberto/Soldier) and Marcin Gesla (Seneca).

Caine, who created the role of Cosette in Les Miserables at the Barbican, played Christine opposite Michael Crawford in Phantom of the Opera and made her opera debut at Glyndebourne as Amor in Peter Hall's production of Coronation of Poppea, has recently been seen in Tête-à-Tête's Salad Days at the Riverside Studios.

As previously reported, the piece joins OperaUpClose's other English language operas Madam Butterfly (23 January-28 March), Cinderella (23 January-18 February), The Barber of Seville (15 February-25 March), Pagliacci (14 February-31 March) and the company's critically acclaimed interpretation of La Boheme (1-31 March 2011).

Mark Ravenhill was announced as an associate director of London's Little Opera house when Adam Spreadbury-Maher took the reins of the Islington venue earlier this year. Spreadbury-Maher, who is also artistic director of the Kilburn’s Cock Tavern Theatre, aims to present "new, challenging and classic operas in intimate spaces" with the venue - the first to dedicated itself to opera in the capital for more than 40 years.


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