Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel review – murder victims refuse to come to life

Coliseum, London
English National Opera and composer Iain Bell’s reimagining of the lives and times of the Ripper’s victims is laudable and sincere but dramatically inert

Related: The opera bringing dignity back to Jack the Ripper’s victims

As composer Iain Bell and his librettist Emma Jenkins have made clear, it was English National Opera that insisted on adding the sensationalist tag to the publicity for their new opera. Whether adding “Jack the Ripper” to their preferred title, “The Women of Whitechapel”, will attract a bigger audience than it otherwise would have will never be known. But as the famously unidentified murderer never appears in Bell’s opera, which concentrates instead on the lives of his victims and their struggles to survive amid the appalling poverty of east London in the 1880s, the original choice is more accurate.

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