Actor and comedian Les Dennis is making his opera debut in a new production of HMS Pinafore later this year.
The former host of Family Fortunes, who has previously appeared in the West End and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, will play Sir Joseph, the First Lord of the Admiralty, in the English National Opera show at the London Coliseum.
The production, which is the first time the ENO have put on a performance of the classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, will be directed by Cal McCrystal who helped make hits out of One Man, Two Guvnors and the Paddington films.
McCrystal, whose career has included working in stage, film and with circus acts, is renowned for his slapstick physical comedy and also worked with Andrew Garfield on the Spiderman films.
ENO’s new season also includes productions of The Handmaid’s Tale, La Boheme and Wagner’s The Valkyrie and its free ticket scheme for under 18s will be extended to under 21s.
Its artistic director Annilese Miskimmon, who only joined in September, said she had been “blown away” by what they had managed to do during lockdown.
She said: “The overwhelming determination of all to create ambitious and brilliant opera no matter what the challenges will make this a very special season for the ENO. We have painstakingly planned this new season to give audiences a wealth of choice.
“The ENO’s belief that opera can provide an emotionally invaluable experience in good times and bad is demonstrated by our season which sees a return of old favourites and bold new productions. The season is one in which all can encounter the joy, the drama and the emotion of the most beautiful of art forms.
“The 2021/22 season offers a collection of stories from across opera’s history that are as pertinent today as ever. We have not let the past difficult year dim our ambition and I look forward to welcoming audiences both new and old back to the ENO’s home, the London Coliseum.”