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English National Opera makes a mythological move

The opera company is staging the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s acclaimed story of Phaeton at Lilian Baylis House, followed by a new production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial by Jury

25 May, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

Phaeton driving the Sun god’s chariot

West End opera is moving to West Hampstead over the coming two weeks.

English National Opera is leaving its headquarters at the 2,400-seat London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, to stage two operas at the 200-seat Lilian Baylis House, Broadhust Gardens in West Hampstead. The venue has been the ENO’s rehearsal studios since 1981. Before then, it was Decca’s recording studios and, earlier, West Hampstead Town Hall.

First up, starting on Friday, May 26, is the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s highly-acclaimed The Day After.
The piece tells the story of Phaeton who challenges his father Phoebus, the Sun god of Greek mythology, to let him drive the chariot of the Sun. Phaeton fancies himself to be a god. But his youthful impetuousness leads to tragedy and disaster.

The opera received an enthusiastic response at its first performance in Holland two years ago. Critics said it was “spectacular in the highest degree” and “a blazing coup de théâtre audiences are unlikely to forget”. Singing in the opera is the full ENO Chorus which can be absolutely terrific in full flow.

The second ENO opera – opening at Lilian Baylis House on Saturday, June 3 – is a new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1875 Trial by Jury, reputedly the most successful British operetta of all time. The piece pokes fun at a tale of broken engagement and the law that allowed a jilted fiancée to demand compensation from her intended partner. It’s satirical approach is witty in the extreme.

The Day After is performed on May 26, 27, 30 and 31 at 7.30pm. Trial by Jury is performed on June 3 and 6 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £25 for each production or £40 for the two. Disabled and student concessions £12.50. From the box office at the London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2, 020 7845 9300, www.eno.org

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