Beautiful music sung and acted by beautiful people, is the secret to Ellen Kent’s success.
The producer has been staging operas in the UK for 24 years, and while she admits at 65 she won’t go on for ever – there’s certainly no date in the diary for retirement.
Ellen Kent Operas are a visual, emotional and musical feast
Ellen, whose company brings Verdi’s classic, heart-breaker of an opera La Traviata to the Grand Theatre on Sunday, said: “You go on as long as you have the strength, energy and mental prowess.
“At the moment, we are rocking and rolling at quite a high level.”
Ellen, who directs as well as produces her touring company, added: “I have fine tuned the shows and have them running well with wonderful, glittering reviews – although if the money was as good as the reviews I would be laughing.”
But the money made is ploughed back into the company, ensuring the shows look ‘fabulous’ by spending ‘more money than I should’, she admits.
“La Traviata really is one that I’ve put money into.
“It’s a very beautiful show, very much set in the era of when it was written, which is the 1830s.
“I have a very beautiful girl playing the lead and good looking men, too, which makes it a believable love story.”
A former actress, trained at Bristol Old Vic and with credits including Chekhov, Shakespeare – and Emmerdale, much of Ellen’s work has been aimed at boosting the standards of acting on stage in opera. Where the vocal skills of performers are often seen as paramount, the acting for many a year in traditional operas has been somewhat neglected, even though they’re telling big, dramatic stories.
She’s fiercely committed to making the classic operas work for contemporary audiences – while staying true to their origins.
“I do my works for the audiences,” she said. “When I was acting, I could make them laugh and cry, and that’s what I do now. I train my people to act. Believable is what it has to be, as well as beautiful.
“Opera should be type cast, not just choosing someone well over 40 as the young love interest because of their voice.
“The younger generation don’t want the old thing of ‘It’s not over until the “fat” lady sings’, and I’ve been criticised for making a Las Vegas-style of opera. What I have done is created a brand name, which means Ellen Kent Operas are a form of entertainment; a visual, emotional and musical feast.”
La Traviata is the love story that gripped Paris, weaving a tragic tale of passion.
It’s based on which became one of the 19th Century’s most popular love stories, La Dame aux Camelias, about the passionate loves and life of the consumptive courtesan.
It features some much-loved highlights of traditional opera, including the Brindisi drinking song, the duet Un Di Felice, and the heroine’s haunting aria Addio Del Passato.
This production features Ellen’s sumptuous sets and costumes and will be sung in Italian with English surtitles, starring the internationally-renowned sopranos Elena Dee and Maria Tonina.
* Blackpool Grand Theatre is offering savings to those buying tickets to two or three of Ellen Kent Productions’ operas in the next year, including Sunday’s La Traviata, Die Fledermaus on November 17, Carmen on November 8 and Tosca on February 7. Call the box office to book on (01253) 290190.