Mike Figgis

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Figgis makes his opera-directing debut at English National Opera tonight with his eagerly anticipated production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia.

Donizetti’s rarely staged opera about the infamous Renaissance femme fatale tells a story as lurid as any Hollywood melodrama.

A member of the notorious Borgia clan and the illegitimate daughter of a pope, Lucrezia has become a byword for incest and murder. And in his staging, Figgis will be filling in some of her back story with three short films, which will screen before the opera’s prologue and subsequent acts.

An acclaimed jazz musician who scores his own films, Figgis is just one of a string of British filmmakers turning their attention to opera. The late Anthony Minghella started the trend with his award-winning staging of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly at ENO a few years ago, and Terry Gilliam will be following in Figgis’s footsteps with an ENO production of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust in May.

If you can’t get to London’s Coliseum during the run of Lucrezia Borgia (which goes on to 3 March), don’t worry. Sky Arts will be showing the opera live on Sky Arts 1 & Sky Arts 2 , and on Sky 3D

Lucrezia Borgia plays for 9 performances at ENO on Jan 31, Feb 9, 15, 18, 23, 25 & Mar 3 at 7.30pm, Feb 5, 12 at 6.30pm.