English Touring Opera to present La boheme on The Wild Man of the West Indies

Peter Brathwaite and Craig Smith in English Touring Opera's The Wild Man of the West Indies
Peter Brathwaite and Craig Smith in English Touring Opera's The Wild Man of the West Indies

The Olivier Award-winning English Touring Opera (ETO) is performing a new season of fully-staged Italian opera in Buxton next week.

Puccini’s masterpiece La bohème is joined by a rare Donizetti title, The Wild Man of the West Indies.

Both are sung in full costume, in Italian with English surtitles, accompanied by ETO’s chorus and 25-piece orchestra.

One of the greatest, most moving operas of all time, La bohème is a story of young love, starting on Christmas Eve in a Parisian garret. On this festive, snowy night the lovers Mimi and Rodolfo draw close, but poverty and ill-health force them apart.

The production features a group of 12 young singers from Buxton Opera House Young Company, recruited for ETO’s tour to sing a chorus of street urchins.

La bohème is performed at Buxton Opera House at 7.30pm on Thursday 14 and Saturday 16 May.

The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo) was hugely successful when first performed in 1833, but then vanished until the late 20th century. This is its first ever performance in Buxton.

The opera sees a love story of Shakespearean depth relocated to a Caribbean island. After his wife Eleonora is unfaithful, Cardenio flees for the island of San Domingo in the West Indies, where he loses his senses and his mind.

ETO’s new production is directed by Iqbal Khan, who has previously worked for the National Theatre and RSC, for which he will direct Othello later this year.

The Wild Man of the West Indies is performed at Buxton Opera House on Friday, May 15 at 7.30pm.

Baritone Craig Smith, playing Cardenio, said: ‘I made my professional debut at Buxton Opera House – in another Donizetti opera, as it happens – so I always feel it’s like coming home when I sing there. I’m really looking forward to singing this role in Buxton’.

James Conway, ETO General Director, said: ‘La bohème is the ideal first opera, and one to which everyone loves to return. The Wild Man of the West Indies is a remarkable Caribbean fantasy which recalls Shakespeare’s late plays. Musically and dramatically, it is a rare treat.’

ETO’s season also continues the company’s record of work for younger audiences, with two new productions touring to local schools.

Shackleton’s Cat, for 7-11 year olds, is based on the true story of the tabby cat that accompanied Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-16 Antarctic expedition, and incorporates elements of the geography and history curriculum. Waxwings is a new interactive opera for children with special educational needs, based on the story of flight and the myth of Icarus.

Tickets to ETO’s performances at Buxton start at just £18, with half price concessions available. To book tickets call 0845 127 2190 or visit buxtonoperahouse.org.uk