English Touring Opera provide a wonderful service to opera lovers around the less trodden areas of England, and to much smaller theatres, mainly too small to accommodate the large companies - Opera North, Glyndebourne on Tour, and the Welsh National Opera.
They opened their autumn season with performances in the Britten Theatre of the Royal College of Music and will proceed from October 16 to Buxton, Malvern, Durham, Harrogate, Cambridge, Bath, Exeter, and Snape. And they have three French operas in store - Pelléas et Mélisande, Werther, and The Tales of Hoffmann - just the Debussy to be performed, quite rightly, in French.
I was at the performance on Thursday evening - and there are two striking young singers in the title roles - Jonathan McGovern and Susanna Hurrell - seen above. They will certainly grow into their roles during the coming tour for they have been well cast and are spot on for this elusive piece, magical and mysterious as it is. I do so hope that the audiences in these out of the way but quite sophisticated places will discover the seduction of this opera, one I fell in love with back in 1962 when it was the opening new production of my first season at Glyndebourne. A revelation...........
ETO are adapting the orchestral contribution to each of these three pieces - and for Pelléas they have chosen the arrangement by Annelies van Parys.
On Friday I spent the bulk of the day with my friends and colleagues at Garsington auditions - we heard a fine selection of the best of the new generation of British singers. This was part of an ongoing assessment - few were completely new to me but it is good to watch these young people developing - something they do very fast when in their twenties!
Meanwhile we are all gripped by the Rugby World Cup. Poor England were ignominiously knocked out last night. So our hopes now rest with Wales, Scotland, and Ireland! This early evening it is Ireland v Italy!