English Touring Opera to Bring PAUL BUNYAN & KING PRIAM to Exeter Northcott Theatre, 16-17 May

English Touring Opera to Bring PAUL BUNYAN & KING PRIAM to Exeter Northcott Theatre, 16-17 May

Audiences are set to enjoy Olivier Award-winning performances if they head to Exeter Northcott Theatre next month.

English Touring Opera (ETO) was recognised for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for its productions of Paul Bunyan and King Priam which take to the stage on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 May respectively.

It is the first time the company has ever won the prestigious prize and it was up against world-famous nominees - Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez for their performances in La Donna Del Lago at the Royal Opera House, and Placido Domingo for his performance in Nabucco, again at Covent Garden.

The award was revealed at a ceremony on Sunday 13 April at the Royal Opera House. ETO's productions were praised by the judges as 'brave and challenging'.

King Priam and Paul Bunyan opened at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House in February 2014, and are currently touring alongside a revival of Mozart's The Magic Flute, which is performed at Exeter Northcott on Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 May.

Paul Bunyan marks ETO's final contribution to the Britten 100 centenary celebrations, and is one of the composer's least-performed operas.

Liam Steel's production -also produced with Anna Fleischle and Guy Hoare - sees the action unfold in the naturalistic setting of an early twentieth-century lumber camp.

It draws on its director's extensive choreographic experience to present a show that features strong elements of musical theatre as well as opera. The off-stage title role was pre-recorded for ETO's current tour by award-winning actor Damian Lewis.

Paul Bunyan is performed on Friday 16 May.

King Priam is ETO's first ever production of an opera by Michael Tippett. Its staging was a personal ambition of director James Conway since he began work as ETO's General Director in 2002.

The opera is based on sources including Homer's Iliad and depicts the fall of Troy from the perspective of its ageing king, focusing on the difficulties and consequences of moral choices at a time of warfare.

Conway, with season designer Anna Fleischle and lighting designer Guy Hoare, staged the opera in an ancient yet timeless setting, with extensive use of natural materials such as antlers, leather and bone, chosen to reflect the sparse beauty of Tippett's score.

King Priam is performed on Saturday 17 May.

Established in 1976 and organised by Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the Laurence Olivier Awards celebrate the world-class status of London's theatre and are recognised internationally as British theatre's highest honour.

ETO's General Director James Conway said: 'It's a great honour for English Touring Opera's work to be recognised by SOLT nominators and judges, especially in such august company. Our wonderful regional audiences recognise our work now, and that is hugely gratifying; to be noticed in London's exciting theatre world is almost more than one could have hoped for.'

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