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The Enchanted Island

“A vibrant young cast”

A baroque extravaganza, The Enchanted Island was conceived by Jeremy Sams for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, where its premiere cast in 2011 included Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels and Placido Domingo. This production by British Youth Opera is its first staging elsewhere.

It is a pasticcio – a kind of jukebox opera. Sams has built his own English libretto around vocal music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and several lesser-known composers, drawing on both The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream: four lovers end up shipwrecked, through Ariel’s intervention, on Prospero’s enchanted island, also inhabited by Caliban and his mother, Sycorax.

On the wide stage of the Peacock Theatre, Stuart Barker creates spectacle through imaginative use of the lively chorus – the tightly choreographed shipwreck of the SS Utopia is a triumph.

Nicky Shaw’s decor comprises a cyclorama of mobile screens and the costumes range from Elizabethan (the chorus of island spirits) through late Victorian (Prospero and Sycorax) to Jazz Age (the lovers).

There is a glow on the sound of Southbank Sinfonia’s modern instruments and Nicholas Kraemer conducts with flair, ensuring that the string of numbers (more than 20 in Act I alone) retains pace and cohesion.

Tom Scott-Cowell’s ringing countertenor makes him a suitably dominant Prospero, pitched against Frances Gregory’s intense, technically assured Sycorax. The nine other roles offer less opportunity for characterisation, but Iuno Connolly sparkles as Ariel, Timothy Edlin is a granite-voiced Caliban, James Atkinson brags stylishly as Lysander and Tim Morgan, entering proceedings late as Ferdinand, sings with considerable charm.

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Production Details
Production nameThe Enchanted Island
VenuePeacock Theatre
StartsSeptember 1, 2018
EndsSeptember 7, 2018
Running time3hrs
ComposerGeorge Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Others .
DirectorStuart Barker
ConductorNicholas Kraemer
Set designerNicky Shaw
Lighting designerMark Jonathan
CastAlex Bevan, Frances Gregory, Iuno Connolly, Natalie Davies, Tim Morgan, Timothy Edlin. Milly Forrest, Tom Scott-Cowell
Production managerJames Anderton
Company stage managerBernard Davies
ProducerBritish Youth
VerdictLively UK premiere of Jeremy Sams’ jukebox opera that showcases a vibrant young cast
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