You’ve read the book. You’ve watched the TV show. You’ve swanned around your living room during lockdown with a red duvet cover tied round your shoulders.
And now it’s time to consume Margaret Atwood’s award-winning story in a whole new medium, when it’s, er, sung by the English National Opera next Spring.
After two well-received revivals in 2022 and 2023, the London Coliseum is once again staging The Handmaid’s Tale opera, which was written back in 2000 (for context, that’s closer to the book’s publication than it is to this year). Put to dissonant and unnerving music by the Danish composer Poul Ruders, the FT described it as ‘one of the most powerful operas of the century’.
It’s set at the (spoiler alert) anthropological conference where the book’s epilogue takes place, opening with a newsreel detailing the global disasters that led to the formation of the Republic of Gilead two hundred years earlier. Split roughly into two acts, with a prologue and epilogue to frame it, it impressively veers between flashbacks of Offred’s past life to the dystopian setting of Gilead, given a deeply creepy vibe thanks to a lot of chanting and cloaked figures.
The opera will once again be directed by the ENO’s artistic director, Annilese Miskimmon, and she’s got a crack team of creatives on board. The award-winning Annemarie Woods is behind the design, and the cast includes Susan Bickley (regarded as “one of the most accomplished mezzo-soprano singers of her generation”); the award-winning Kate Lindsey as Offred; and the brilliant Avery Amereau returning as Serena Joy.
Tickets start at £10, and if you want to make a night of it then we’d heartily recommend booking a table at Bancone for a bite to eat before the show kicks off at 7.30pm…
May the curtains open.
NOTE: The Handmaid’s Tale runs at the London Coliseum from 1st – 15th February 2024. Tickets cost £10-150, and you can book right HERE.
The Handmaid’s Tale | London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
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