Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Conductor, Alexander Joel
Director, Jonathan Miller
Revival Director, Natascha Metherell
Natalya Romaniw makes her ENO debut as Mimì in the fourth revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of La bohème
Opens Monday 26 November (15 performances)
After forty years and more than eighty revivals of operas from across the operatic repertoire, legendary director Jonathan Miller’s work returns to ENO in November with his beautiful 1930s-set La bohème. Inspired by the Parisian aesthetic captured by photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, this ‘beautifully integrated piece of music theatre’ (The Guardian) marks its fourth revival since its first outing in 2009. One of Britain’s most exciting sopranos Natalya Romaniw makes her ENO debut as Mimì.
One of opera’s iconic tragedies, La bohème tells of the impoverished poet Rodolfo’s love for the doomed Mimì during a freezing Paris winter, here updated from the 1830s to the 1930s. Miller’s naturalistic storytelling along with Isabella Bywater’s richly observed design make this a perfect example of a first-time opera for new audiences. The cast includes Jonathan Tetelman in his ENO debut as Rodolfo and ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Musetta, with three other Harewood Artists taking principal roles.
Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw is ‘one of the outstanding sopranos of her generation’ (The Daily Telegraph), hugely acclaimed for her roles as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera (2016) and Welsh Nationa Opera (2017) (‘a Tatyana in a thouasand’ – The Sunday Times, ‘one of the performances of the year’ – What’s On Stage) and the title role of Jenůfa (‘a wonder to behold’ – The Daily Mail) at Grange Park. She was nominated for the Breakthrough category at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2017.
Jonathan Tetelman is a fast rising tenor (‘a total star’ – The New York Times) who makes his European debut in this production. Praised for his singing of Rodolfo at Tanglewood earlier this year, he has won First Prize in the 2016 New York Lyric Opera Competition. His singing of Puccini continues in 2019 with a Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Musetta is sung by ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin, in her second production with the company after her Clara in Porgy and Bess earlier in the season (‘one of the loveliest I’ve heard’ – The Times). She will appear as a guest on the Guilty Feminist podcast, recorded live at the London Coliseum on 27 November. With more than 50 million downloads the podcast is a comedy phenomenon, and will turn its attention to opera with a little help from Benjamin.
Baritone Nicholas Lester sings Marcello, having sung as the title role opposite Romaniw in Eugene Onegin for WNO. Bass David Soar returns for a second engagement of the season after his Jokanaan in Salome, singing Colline after performing the role at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, earlier in 2018. ENO Harewood Artist David Ireland shares the role, singing in four of the fifteen performances.
Schaunard is sung by Božidar Smiljanić, sharing the role with fellow ENO Harewood Artist Matthew Durkan. He debuted with the company earlier in the year as the Marquis in La traviata. Durkan has been seen in numerous ENO roles, most recently as Hel Helson in Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall, as well as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fiorello in The Barber of Seville and Malcolm Fleet in the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie.
The cast is completed by Simon Butteriss as Benoît and Alcindoro.
Conducting the production is Alexander Joel, former General Music Director at Braunschweig State Theatre, making his ENO debut. With a varied and impressive career on the continent, he was last in London to conduct Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House. He has been praised for his more than 100 performances of La bohème (‘Outstanding’ – The Spectator), having conducted it more than 100 times. He is assisted by ENO Mackerras fellow Valentina Peleggi, who will conduct the 20 and 22 February performances in her company debut.
Sir Jonathan Miller’s association with ENO stretches back to 1978, when he made his ENO directorial debut with The Marriage of Figaro. Since then he has produced iconic productions of Rigoletto, The Barber of Seville and The Mikado. His career has incorporated work as a physician, author, lecturer, television producer and presenter as well as an opera director. He received the inaugural ENO Lifetime Achievement Award at the Opera For All Gala in October. Revival direction is by long-time Miller collaborator Natascha Metherell.
Design is by Isabella Bywater with lighting design by Jean Kalman, revived by Kevin Sleep. Translation is by Amanda Holden.
La bohème opens Monday 26 November at 7.30pm at the London Coliseum for 15 performances: 26, 28 November, 03, 06 December, 29 January, 02, 07, 12, 14, 20, 22 February at 7.30pm, 08 December and 09 February at 6.30pm and 01 Dec and 16 Feb at 3pm
500 tickets for £20 or less are available for each performance. Tickets start from £12*.
A Co-production with Cincinnati Opera
Plus booking fee of 2.25. No booking fee in person
Notes to Editors
English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone.
We sing in English to be as accessible to the widest possible audience, we offer over a fifth of all tickets for £20 or less, we create opera that feels different, more theatrical and creatively daring. We’ve been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.
We bring together artists from different art forms, from photography, sculpture and fashion to dance, slapstick comedy and puppetry, all adding something new to the extraordinary art form that is opera.
We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in 2017/18 were first-time bookers. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis last year touched the lives of over 15,000 school children and community groups, and our talent development programme nurtures the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme) and conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship).
Our ongoing support and development of British talent meant 80% of the cast in the 2017-18 season were British or British trained. That’s important to us and is fundamental to our ethos of giving new talent their break.
Our home has been the London Coliseum for 50 years this year, and we are committed to cherishing and continuing to develop this national treasure.
In April 2018 ENO was readmitted to the ACE National Portfolio, entering into a four year funding agreement with ACE; delivering public value is at the centre of all we do.
Last year, the percentage of audience members under 44 increased by 13% year-on-year and the proportion of our audience with a black or minority ethnic background increased from 4% to 10%.
ENO is about opera for everyone.
Mimì Natalya Romaniw
Rodolfo Jonathan Tetelman
Marcello Nicholas Lester
Musetta Nadine Benjamin
Colline David Soar
David Ireland (Jan 29, Feb 2, 7, 9)
Schaunard Božidar Smiljanić
Matthew Durkan (Jan 29, Feb 2, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 20, 22)
Benoît/Alcindoro Simon Butteriss