ENO and Sky collaborate again on a world-first broadcasting project, with the first live opera in 3D around ENO’s new production of Lucrezia Borgia, directed by Mike Figgis.

Both ENO and Sky Arts are committed to developing new audiences for the arts and to pioneering innovative and dynamic ways to present opera and this project continues these ambitions. The partnership will create the world’s first ‘quadcast’ on 23 February 2011 with a live broadcast on Sky Arts 2 (HD), Sky 3D and live into selected cinemas in 3D around the UK and a deferred relay in 2D into selected cinemas internationally. The fourth element of the ‘quadcast’, onto Sky Arts 1, is directed by Mike Figgis, and will allow audiences a closer understanding of his concept for Lucrezia Borgia as well as including interviews with people behind the scenes.

ENO’s new production of Lucrezia Borgia brings together opera and film in a unique and compelling way. This new staging integrates a newly commissioned film by Mike Figgis which runs at interludes throughout the performance. Set in location in Rome with an outstanding cast of Italian actors, the film provides a parallel narrative about the early life of Lucrezia Borgia and is accompanied by a film soundtrack produced from Donizetti’s original score. Mike Figgis’s film is central to the concept and direction of the opera and bears all the hallmarks of a classic Figgis treatment.

Lucrezia Borgia follows the success of two recent Donizetti productions – The Elixir of Love and Lucia di Lammermoor. Staged for the first time in the Company’s history, it is conducted by one of Britain’s most important conductors, Paul Daniel, with acclaimed lyric soprano Claire Rutter in the title role. Fast rising star Michael Fabiano, who made an impressive UK debut in his portrayal of the Duke of Mantua in ENO’s revival of Rigoletto, sings the role of Gennaro. British bass Alastair Miles sings the role of Alfonso d’Este, Elizabeth DeShong makes her ENO debut as Maffio Orsini and Richard Roberts is Rustighel.

Mike Figgis is best known for films such as Leaving Las Vegas and Internal Affairs, yet his background in theatre, music and the visual arts as a performer and director is eclectic. It ranges from his earliest projects, including Redhugh, Slow Fade and Animals of the City, which won awards for their innovative blend of live action with music and film, to his role as musician and performer in the experimental group People Show. He has focused on film for the past 20 years, taking artistic risks, experimenting with digital technology and producing works such as the ground-breaking Timecode and Hotel. This new production of Lucrezia Borgia shows his visionary talent applied in an operatic context for the first time.

Donzietti’s psychologically profound masterpiece is loosely based on the Borgias and follows the complicated relationship between mother and illegitimate son, exploring the brutal nature of Machiavellian politics and the struggle for power. Lucrezia’s reputation as a ruthless femme fatale precedes her; such status is shown to be entirely justified when she unwittingly condemns her own son, Gennaro, and his friends to death after they deface her family crest. Although she manages to save Gennaro from death once, the second attempt she makes on his friends’ lives ends in tragedy as his rejects Lucrezia as his mother and embraces death with his friends. Lucrezia’s motherly tenderness in spite of her reputation runs throughout the opera, as well as providing a strong element of drama in this opera’s tragic conclusion.

Designer Es Devlin has worked extensively in opera, theatre and dance with artists such as David McVicar, Max Stafford Clark and Russell Maliphant, as well as designing large-scale concert tours by artists such as Take That and Kanye West. The creative team is completed with costume designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel and lighting designer Peter Mumford.

John Berry, ENO’s Artistic Director said, ‘ENO’s second collaboration with Sky Arts not only gives audiences a unique opportunity to view Mike Figgis’s production of Lucrezia Borgia in a multitude of ways, it also reflects ENO’s ambition to create an exciting future for opera and reach out to a wider audience through innovative collaborations with the wider arts.’

John Cassy, Channel Director, Sky 3D commented, ‘Our work with ENO on La bohème was a groundbreaking production, simulcasting both the production on stage, and the work backstage. We’re delighted to be able to continue this relationship with another pioneering project. Simultaneously broadcasting on three channels, as well as the world’s first live 3D opera, is a huge challenge but one that we’re delighted to tackle. Having Mike Figgis at the helm, along with the esteemed company of ENO, will guarantee a dramatic, thrilling and unique operatic experience, which perfectly reflects the shared ambitions of Sky 3D and Sky Arts, to bring the best of the arts to new audiences in exciting and innovative ways.’

New production supported by Lord and Lady Laidlaw and the Friends of ENO

Release issued by: ENO press office

LINKS

English National Opera website