English Touring Opera Coming to Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury in May

OLIVIER-award-winning English Touring Opera (ETO) perform a new season of fully-staged Italian opera at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, next month (May).

Puccini's masterpiece La bohème is joined by a rare Donizetti title The Siege Of Calais (L'assedio di Calais). Both are sung in full costume, in Italian with English surtitles, accompanied by ETO's chorus and 25-piece orchestra.

One of the greatest and 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 St Peter's Methodist Primary School, Canterbury, recruited especially for ETO's tour to sing a children's chorus of street urchins.

The Siege Of Calais (L'assedio di Calais) tells the story of the citizens of Calais who offer up their lives to save their city from the besieging English army. Their sacrifice culminates in one of the most moving ensembles in all of opera, the momentous O sacra polve, o suol natio (O Sacred Earth).

The opera combines Donizetti's sparkling score with a gritty depiction of the harsh realities of a city gripped by siege.

The Siege Of Calais was acclaimed as one of ETO's greatest achievements when it had its first ever UK professional tour as part of the company's spring 2013 season. It is being performed in Canterbury for the first time.

James Conway, General Director of ETO, said: "This spring ETO's opera productions are all Italian, and all sung in that beautiful language - even though not one is actually set in Italy!"

"La bohème is the ideal first opera, and one to which everyone loves to return - a nostalgic look at the pathos and folly of youth. The Siege Of Calais is a testament of extraordinary power and beauty to those who resist and recognise value in a city or a family under threat."

ETO's season also continues the company's record of work for younger audiences. Shackleton's Cat (for children aged seven to 11) is based on the true story of the tabby cat that accompanied Ernest Shackleton's 1914-16 Antarctic expedition. It is at The Marlowe Studio at 10.30am on Friday 8 May.

La bohème is at 7.30pm on Friday 8 May; The Siege Of Calais at 7.30pm on Saturday 9 May. Tickets, priced from £21 to £40 (concessions available; booking fee applies), are from the Box Office on 01227 787787 or marlowetheatre.com.

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