Get our free email newsletter with just one click

English National Opera announces programme of new work dominated by female directors

The London Coliseum, home of English National Opera. Photo: Mike Peel The London Coliseum, home of English National Opera. Photo: Mike Peel
by -

Wayne McGregor and Emma Rice will make their English National Opera directing debuts as part of the company’s new season, in which women will make up the majority of directors for the first time.

Choreographer McGregor and Rice, artistic director of Wise Children, will direct two of four different operas based on the Orpheus myth. They will be joined by ENO artistic director Daniel Kramer and theatre and opera director Netia Jones.

The four operas, written over 230 years, will share one design by Lizzie Clachan. McGregor’s will be a production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, featuring Sarah Connolly and Sarah Tynan in the title roles and dancers from Company Wayne McGregor.

Rice will direct Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, starring Willard White and Lucia Lucas, while Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus will be directed by Kramer and conducted by ENO music director Martyn Brabbins. It will feature costumes by fashion designer Daniel Lismore.

Finally, Jones will direct a mixed-media production of Philip Glass’ Orphée, starring Jennifer France.

The line-up, which includes more new productions than any other time in the past five years, will also mark the first time ENO has programmed a season of work in which more than half of new productions will be directed by women.

Alongside the two female directors in the Orpheus series, Czech director Barbora Horáková Joly will make her UK debut with a production of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, while Tatjana Gürbaca, who hails from Germany, will direct at the company for the first time with Dvořák’s Rusalka.

Elsewhere, Joe Hill-Gibbins will helm a new production of The Marriage of Figaro.

The season also includes several revivals, including Jonathan Miller’s The Mikado, Calixto Bieito’s production of Carmen and Anthony Mingella’s 2006 staging of Madam Butterfly.

Madam Butterfly review at Coliseum, London – ‘unforgettable’

Season at a glance

Orpheus and Eurydice by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Directed by Wayne McGregor
October 1 to November 19

Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach
Directed by Emma Rice
October 5 to November 28

The Mask of Orpheus by Harrison Birtwistle
Directed by Daniel Kramer
October 18 to November 13

The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan
Directed by Jonathan Miller
October 28 to November 30

Orphée by Philip Glass
Directed by Netia Jones
November 15 to 29

Carmen by George Bizet
Directed by Calixto Bieito
January 29 to February 27

Luisa Miller by Giuseppe Verdi
Directed by Barbora Horáková Joly
February 12 to March 6

Madam Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Directed by Anthony Minghella
February 26 to April 17

The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins
March 14 to April 18, 2020

Rusalka by Antonín Dvořák
Directed by Tatjana Gürbac
March 28 to April 15, 2020

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.