Two consecutive live sell-outs at the Wellesley – for Mice & men and Winter’s Tale – should warn us to book early for December’s treats for theatre, opera and ballet fans, starting with The Mikado.
English National Opera’s production is transmitted live from London on Thursday 3 December at 7.30pm. This interpretation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved classic is set in an English seaside hotel and directed by Jonathan Miller as a Marx Brothers’ romp.
Critics have applauded the production as “riotous. It hits the funny bone once again” and “ageless. as fresh as paint” despite this being its 14th revival by ENO. The Guardian’s critic said, “If you have never seen it, go. If, like me, it’s a decade or two since you last went, then go again. It’s still a great show. Miller comes on at the end and gets a well-deserved ovation. As a piece of classy operatic entertainment, it’s irresistible.”
The Bolshoi’s classic ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ can be seen on Sunday 6 December at 3pm. Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the ballet was first created for Stuttgart Ballet in 1979 by John Neumeier and set to Chopin’s music. Neumeier’s production was revived by the Bolshoi last year.
Essentially, this is a love story. Marguerite is a beautiful Parisian courtesan who suffers from tuberculosis. She wears a white camellia when she is well enough to be available to her lovers, one of whom, Amand Duval, falls in love with her and determines to win her heart and make her well by taking her to live with him in the countryside. His father is scandalised by the relationship and attempts to prevent it.
However, the narrative gains great poignancy by being told in flashbacks after Marguerite has died and as her possessions are sold.
The National Theatre’s production of ‘Jane Eyre’ comes to The Wellesley on Tuesday 8 December at 7.pm. Directed by Sarah Cookson this has been called “a tumultuous re-creation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel. “It’s a girl” are its first and last words.”
First presented (and highly praised) as a two-part version at Bristol Old Vic last year, the narrative has now become a single drama. All the elements familiar to those who know Charlotte Bronte’s novel about a poor, plain heroine will be found in this production but Jane herself is presented as “a picture of exultant feminism, sturdy and strong-minded, yet at her most vulnerable, she looks the picture of theatrical derangement, swinging from a ladder, with wild Medusa hair”.
In setting, dramatisation and music, this promises to be original and dramatic in the true sense of the word or, as one critic said, “an adaptation that Charlotte Bronte herself might have approved.”
The double bill from The Royal Opera House of ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ & ‘Pagliacci’ opens on 3 December and is transmitted live on Thursday 10 December at 7.15pm. In the first of a double bill popularly known as ‘Cav & Pag’, ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ is a tale of passion, jealousy and death set in Southern Italy. It has been called “a tragedy of ancient codes and illicit love, Sicilian style.”
It tells the story of peasant girl Santuzza and her relationship with a young villager, Turiddu, who has recently returned from the army to find his wife, Lola, has been unfaithful with Alfio, a carter. He seduces Santuzza as an act of revenge and fights for his masculine pride in the ultimate duel.
‘Pagliacci’ – meaning ‘clowns’ – is based on a real-life crime actually witnessed by the composer, Ruggero Leoncavallo. An acting troupe’s performance on the stage of a community hall unravels as strong passions between hunchback clown Tonio, Canio and his wife Nedda who is in an adulturous affair with Silvio are exposed. Events which are part of the performance and those in real life quickly become merged until Nedda is murdered by the enraged Canio.
Both operas are conducted by Antonio Pappano and directed by Damiano Michieletto with a world class cast headed by Eva-Maria Westbroek and Aleksandrs Antonenko.
On Wednesday 16 December The Royal Ballet’s production of the timeless ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ is transmitted at 7.15pm. A seasonal favourite set to Tchaikovsky’s majestic score, the ballet tells the story of the adventures of Clara after she and her brothers are given a humble nutcracker doll as a Christmas gift by her godfather, the magician Herr Drosselmeyer. After being rejected by all the children except Clara, the doll comes to life to lead an army of soldiers against the Mouse King. She saves his life during the battle and is led on a magical journey through the Land of Ice and Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.
‘The Nutcracker’ stars Lauren Cuthbertson as The Sugar Plum Fairy, Matthew Golding as The Prince, Gary Avis as Drosselmeyer and Francesca Hayward as Clara. It opens at The Royal Opera House on 8 December.
Advance booking for this and other Live events is recommended and details can be found on www.wellesleycinema.co.uk.