Opera Classics

A love story which gripped Paris and one of the world’s most popular operas are set to take to the Norwich Theatre Royal stage as the award-winning producer Ellen Kent makes her spring 2018 return to the city with two productions.

The beautiful, heart-breaking and tragic La Traviata is performed on March 19 followed by Madama Butterfly the following day.

La Traviata tells the story of the passionate Violetta and her doomed love for the aristrocrat Alfredo. Penned by Verdi, the highlights include the Brindisi which is thought to be the best-known drinking song in opera, the duet Un Di Felice and the haunting aria Addio Del Passato.

Taking on the role of Violetta is Alyona Kistenyova, the international soprano from Odessa National Opera, who will be returning to the company after critically-acclaimed performances in Aida, La Boheme, Carmen and Tosca.

She will star opposite the Ukrainian tenor Vitalii Liskovetskyi who will perform as Alfredo. Originally a military pilot, he is a member of the Kiev National Opera and made his debut on an Ellen Kent tour back in 2015.

The orchestra will be conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko, who is the artistic director and conductor at the National President’s Orchestra of Ukraine, who will be joined by 30 members of the National Ukrainian Orchestra.

Meanwhile Madama Butterfly is Puccini’s popular tale which tells the heart-breaking story of the beautiful young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval officer but their intense passion turns to heartbreak and tragedy. The operatic highlights include the melodic Humming Chorus, the moving aria One Fine Day and the unforgettable Love Duet.

The production also boasts exquisite sets including a spectacular Japanese garden as well as featuring some fabulous costumes including antique wedding kimonos from Japan created by the renowned Russian designer Felix Bessonov.

Internationally-renowned Korean soprano Maria HeeJung Kim from the National Opera House of Seoul will sing the tragic role of Cio Cio San. Maria studied in Milan and made her debut at the city’s own opera house before going on to appear in the opera and La Traviata at major venues across Europe.

Vitalii Liskovetski will star opposite her as Pinkerton and it will also star Zara Vardanean, the American mezzo-soprano who trained at the Vienna State Opera.

Both productions come to Norwich Theatre Royal courtesy of the award-winning producer Ellen Kent who has been touring the UK and Ireland for well over 25 years and now personally directs all the operas under her banner too.

She has a strong affinity with Norfolk having spent many of her school-days at the former Sutherland House School in Cromer. Ellen has been orchestrating opera tours since 1992 with career highlights including the first British producer to present Carmen in the Gulf, opening the Beiteddine Festival in Lebanon, and presenting an arena production of Carmen to an audience of 6000 at Leeds Castle in Kent.

Her work has also won awards. She has won Best Opera and Best Contribution to Theatre in Liverpool Awards from the city’s Daily Post as well as twice being nominated for the title of European Women of the Year.

She has also presented work in a number of prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Manchester Opera House, and Edinburgh Playhouse.

John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “Ellen Kent has an enviable reputation for taking some of the UK’s favourite operas all over the country and her enthusiasm for doing so remains strong. This Spring, indulge in two well-known productions and experience the joy, passion and emotion of two classic productions.”

La Traviata is at the Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday 19th March at 7.30pm. Madama Butterfly, Saturday 20th March at 7.30pm.

Tickets £8-£36.50, with Discounts for Over-60s, Under-18s and Groups. NOTE: Surtitles are not visible from Stalls seats Rows Q-W.

To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.