On Friday evening I was at the Helios Collective's performance of Noah Mosley's Mad King Suibhne which was premiered at Bury Court in the spring. I was delighted to have had another opportunity to enjoy this 75 minute piece in Ella Marchment's economical and extremely effective production at Lilian Baylis House, the English National Opera's production and admin premises in West Hampstead. It was a full and enthusiastic house for a polished performance with minimal resources - the thing is that the singing and the playing were first class - with a remarkable instrumental ensemble led by an outstanding Japanese violinist Makoto Nakata, and conducted by the composer. The cast was led by the Portuguese baritone Ricardo Panela (seen above) in the title role - impressive.
Sasha Cooke (Marnie) and Daniel Okulitch (Mark)
But the big one was Marnie at the Coliseum on Saturday evening. This new opera was a commission by the Metropolitan Opera and is co-produced by them with the English National Opera. Their input into the casting was terrific - with Sasha Cook in the title role and Daniel Okulitch in the lead role of Mark Rutland. Sasha was with us at COT as Medea in Cavalli's Giasone back in 2010. We specialised in finding new stars - that was all we could afford in those days! And the Met delivered the terrific director and creative team - Michael Mayer and colleagues. The rest was pure ENO at its best with an outstanding team of singers in vital roles - Kathleen Wilkinson, Lesley Garrett, Diana Montague, James Laing, Alasdair Elliott......I could go on......yes, the stunning ENO chorus and orchestra - and all welded together by the authority of Martyn Brabbins, ENO's music director who is making such an impression on the company these days.
We'll see what happens to the opera in the coming years - its performances at the Met will be with a different cast. Isobel Leonard - (another COT alum) - will take on the title role. She is great but can hardly be better.....! It was a challenge for ENO to get over the claustrophobic menace of the piece in the Coliseum. The challenge at the Met will be no less.
This afternoon I will be at the NOS hearing the current crop in the company of Adrian Kelly who is artistic leader of the Salzburg Festival's young artists programme. He will be at the Guildhall on Wednesday, and Evamaria Wieser will join the team next week for auditions at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. British singers have always done well in Salzburg. This is the new generation - a great competition!
Tomorrow - a day off with good lunch and dinner dates!