The ENO has revived an original Jonathan Miller production that took flight in 1982 – it received rave reviews regarding its unique and authentic stage work. Back in 1982, Miller’s innovation came from shifting Verdi’s original 19th century Italian Renaissance setting to the 1950s, a world of organised crime and gangster mafia. For Miller, a familiar and relatable reality, fuelled by betrayal, lawlessness, and murder, confirmed how equally disturbing and dark Verdi’s opera is.
Various accounts from those who saw it back then spoke kindly of Miller’s artistry, however, after seeing it at the Coliseum, revived by Elaine Tyler-Hall with designers Rosemary Vercoe and Patrick Robertson, whatever magic they saw then didn’t seem present here. Perhaps for the 1980s this was a novelty, but after three decades, where stage directing has clearly evolved, this may not seem so new to a contemporary audience. Nevertheless, there are some extraordinary moments and performances to take away from this revived undertaking.