Small picture of Donizetti




Donizetti's The Wild Man of the West Indies

(Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo)

English Touring Opera,  March 12 - May 27, 2015

Photographs by Richard Hubert Smith, courtesy of English Touring Opera


English Touring Opera's Spring 2015 tour includes a new production of  Donizetti's The Wild Man of the West Indies (Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo) as well as a revival of Donizetti's The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais) and a new production Puccini's La bohème.

Tim Ashley (The Guardian, March 13, 2015) wrote that "conducted by Jeremy Silver, it’s performed with terrific commitment. Sally Silver’s Eleonora and Craig Smith’s Lear-like Cardenio really convince you of the couple’s pain. Nicholas Sharratt’s Fernando is superbly uppity and elegant, while Peter Braithwaite’s Kaidamà has the wit and bravado of the born survivor. A brave revival of a complex, sometimes tricky piece, and highly recommended". Nick Kimberley (Standard, March 13, 2015)  thought the opera well served and that "The vocal star is Sally Silver: as the repentant wife, she shows real bel canto style. It may be another century before The Wild Man returns; this is a welcome sighting." Rupert Christiansen (The Telegraph, March 13, 2015) concluded "Even if this opera [is] never going to catch on widely,  Donizetti fans will be grateful to have seen and heard it so competently and honourably performed. Hats off to ETO."

Alan Jackson, the Society Treasurer, saw the new production in Hackney on March 12 and has sent the following:

The Wild Man isn’t a perfect opera – Fernando gets two big arias (though he lost his cabaletta repeats here) which somewhat exaggerates his importance – but the music is always responsive to the words and situations (the original libretto is by Jacopo Ferretti, also responsible for Rossini’s La Cenerentola) and the opera is possibly unique for its period in its non-stereotypical treatment of a black character (Kaidamà).

This opera was more consistently well-voiced than The Siege. Only Nicholas Sharratt, elegant much of the time, disappointed in the higher-lying reaches of the demanding tenor role of Fernando. The crucial duo at the centre of the drama, Craig Smith as Cardenio, driven to anger and madness by his wife’s betrayal, and Sally Silver as his unfaithful but now repentant wife Eleonora, were convincing: both pure toned, he eloquent and she flexible in her coloratura – though she should forego a couple of piercing interpolated high notes. The smaller parts are cast from strength. Donna Bateman made an attractive Marcella, daughter of plantation manager Bartolomeo, sung by Njabulo Madlala, a velvety-toned baritone I greatly look forward to hearing again. The slave Kaidamà is the comic character that helps give this opera its semi-seria status; in Shakespearean fashion he is the source of both comedy and sanity. He was played by Peter Brathwaite whose acting, both facial and bodily, almost hid how well he was singing. All these actor-singers shone and the Hackney Empire is the right size for them.

As with The Siege, it was sympathetically conducted by Jeremy Silver, who unfailingly found tempi right for the music and obtained decent playing from the ETO orchestra – I won’t pretend it has the finesse or tonal allure of London’s permanent opera bands, but like the chorus it is enthusiastic and committed. The set was both convincing and beautiful and Iqbal Khan mercifully refrained from any imposed concept and concentrated on keeping the narratives clear and obtaining convincing stage performances from the talented casts.

Full details of their tour can be found at . There is more good news: Pia de’Tolomei is planned for their tour in Spring 2016. Dare one also hope that a whisper of Il paria is still alive for the future? Meanwhile, don’t miss these current offerings.

Russell Burdekin saw the April 8 performance in Cheltenham and commented:-

An intriguing choice of opera and, at least for much of its time, rather unusual in its plot and sentiments. Only the denouement as Cardenio and Eleonora are reconciled seemed rather formulaic and perfunctory. Overall, it seemed a tighter and better production than I remember The Siege from two years back with Iqbal Khan pointing up the continuing boredom and toil facing those left behind after the departure of Cardenio and co., almost certainly not the downbeat ending that Donizetti envisaged but a perfectly valid reading. The staging was simple but effective. Emma Watkinson, one of the chorus, did an excellent job standing in as Marcella and overall the singing was of a high order. The orchestra has had time to bed in since Alan saw them and generally it was very good even if the odd exposed note still needs to be worked on. Unfortunately, given all these positive features, the opera itself just doesn't have the melodic depth or memorable moments that one often finds even in the most neglected Donizetti opera and did not leave one racing for the CD player.

The Team


Fernando - Nicholas Sharratt

Eleonora - Sally Silver

Cardenio - Craig Smith

Bartolomeo - Njabulo Madlala

Marcella - Donna Bateman

Kaidamà - Peter Brathwaite


Conductor - Jeremy Silver

Director - Iqbal Khan

Designer - Florence de Maré

Lighting Designer - Mark  Howland








Kaidamà and Cardenio



Marcella and Bartolomeo






Cardenio and Eleonora



All the principals




Page last updated: March 26, 2015