Mignon

“Superb central performances. Nicholas Jenkins conducts with great sensitivity and an admirable sense of Thomas’s often elusive style”.
****Tim Ashley - Guardian
“Philine’s extraordinary, dazzling Titania aria blazes like a Roman candle of originality”. Bachtrack
****
“The chorus showed again just why they are the backbone of  New Sussex Opera. The 35 strong group demonstrated their professionalism and love of opera with fearlessness and commitment and provided worthy support for the career singers in the starring roles.
Argus
“Territory that none of the big guns would have dared approach: definitely something that will delight…”
The Telegraph

Ambroise Thomas

Opéra comique in three acts
Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier
English translation by Hugh Macdonald

November 2015
Lewes Town Hall
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Cadogan Hall, London SW1

NSO Chorus
St Paul's Sinfonia
conductor Nicholas Jenkins
director Harry Fehr
designer Eleanor Wdowski
lighting designer Claire Childs
choreographer Victoria Newlyn

photographs by Robert Knights

Mignon Victoria Simmonds
Philine Ruth Jenkins Róbertsson
Wilhelm Meister Ted Schmitz
Lothario Adrian Powter
Laerte Christopher Diffey
Frédéric Thalie Knights

Jarno Jason Crook
Two actors Richard Fisher, John Newman
Dancers Catrin Jones, Alison Read, Rachel Rogers, Georgina Thorburn, Fiona Wilson
Waitresses Cate Couch, Jo Doezema
Antonio Neil Fraser-Smith
Prince of Tiefenbach Michael Dlamini
Baron Rosenberg Tim Locke
Baroness Rosenberg Anne Locke
Hippolyta Harriet Anderson
Theseus David James
Hermia Georgina Thorburn
Helena Catrin Jones
Lysander Jake Wilson
Puck Francesco Purpura
Bottom Richard Pulham

Footnotes

Our setting for this once hugely popular Opéra Comique was in 1920s Berlin, during the Weimar Republic. Harry Fehr’s conception featured vintage suitcases of all shapes and sizes (including two massive ones that served as portals), to indicate a cast constantly on the move. The scene opened in a sleazy nightclub full of out-of-work actors and traveller musicians, all taunting the unfortunate Mignon (Victoria Simmonds) to perform the ‘egg dance’.

The most lavishly costumed production of recent years, this opera includes a scene where the entire cast from a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream come on stage (strange to see Oberon return, after the eponymous Weber opera the year before) and a brilliantly choreographed scene where Philène as Titania (Ruth Jenkins-Róbertsson) exerts her magic over the cast during her  dazzling coloratura  Polonaise – one of the most over-the-top arias in all opera (and surely a parody of the likes of Rossini and Bellini).

The original story by Goethe has a tragic ending, but we used the version preferred by French audiences in which Mignon is reunited with her long-lost father and marries Wilhelm Meister (Ted Schmitz).