Manchester Theatre Awards

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Ellen Kent - back in town

Ellen Kent returns to Manchester with opera by mainly eastern European forces – and this time with three shows in one weekend, all at the Palace Theatre (3rd to 6th May).

They’re all works she’s presented here before, but with fresh features, as ever.

Aida, for instance (on the 5th and 6th) now has a black stallion for the famous triumphal march.

“I have produced and directed Aida over the years,” Ellen says, “and it still remains the biggest challenge a producer can face.  I have staged it at the Royal Albert Hall with a cast of 100s, in arenas and outdoors in the middle east and in the UK, and in many regional theatres from Liverpool to Limerick in Ireland. 

“My vision of Aida matches Verdi’s vision and I try and give it the grandeur which Verdi achieved in the first production in Egypt, when he was commissioned to write an opera for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1871.

“From dancing alabaster fountains, Las Vegas style, life-size be-jewelled elephants, walls of fire, ballet and Bedouin dancers – now for the first time I am introducing a black stallion.  I want all my public to enjoy the grandeur of this magnificent opera, in my opinion the best score Verdi ever wrote – not an easy task. 

“Even now, it’s my ambition to stage Aida on the banks of the Nile, with a cast of thousands.”

The tour, which includes Verdi’s Nabucco on 4th May and Puccini’s La Boheme on the 3rd, features celebrated international soloists sopranos Olga Perrier, Alyona Kistenyova and American mezzo-soprano Zara Vardanean, returning after her critically acclaimed performances as Carmen in 2015 and 2016, along with Spanish tenor Giorgio Meladze, and Vitalii Liskovetskiy from the Ukrainian National Opera, Kiev.

Never daunted by the theatrical warning against working with children or animals, Ellen also has the horse in her Nabucco, and a dog on stage for Musetta in her La Boheme.

Robert Beale