Barry Millington Opera

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English National Opera

Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, WC2 (020-7632 8300).

THE HANDMAID'S TALE Ruders. Dir: Phyllida Lloyd, cond: Elgar Howarth. With Stephanie Marshall (Offred), Andrew Rees (Luke), Heather Shipp (Offred's Double). Fri 11 & Mon 14 Apr, 7.30pm, ends Fri 2 May, pound sterling3-pound sterling64.

*Danish composer Poul Ruders's The Handmaid's Tale, based on the book by Margaret Atwood, dramatises events following an overthrow of a US government by a fundamentalist religious group.

Close to the bone? So opera should be. Not to be missed.

ALCINA Handel. Dir: David McVicar, cond: Richard Hickox. With Lisa Milne (Alcina), Deanne Meek (Ruggiero).

Wed 16 Apr, 7pm, ends Thur 22 May, pound sterling6-pound sterling58.50.

*David McVicar's rollicking realisation of Handel's great magic opera, Alcina, with its lavish costumes and imagery of enchantment, all given a sharp postmodernist twist, makes for an entertaining evening in theatrical terms. Lisa Milne, a strong Alcina when the production was first seen in 1999, returns in this revival under Richard Hickox.

Royal Opera Royal Opera House, Bow Street, WC2 (020-7304 4000). …


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