Chelsea Opera Group have just announced the 3 operas which they are performing next season. After my rather jaded reaction to the Royal Opera's new booking period (December to April), COG's season came like a breath of fresh air.
COG specialise in concert performances of operas not being performed currently in London. At the moment, this means we get a lot of Bel Canto, which is nice.
On Sat. 24th November they are doing Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at the Cadogan Hall, with Majella Cullagh in the title role. The opera has not been seen in London, I believe, since the ENO production mounted for Anne Murray. Notable for its lovely Jasper Conran costumes, it does not seem to have been revived (I understand for economic reasons).
On Sat. 29th March 2008 the group returns to the Queen Elizabeth Hall (hurrah!), for a performance of Verdi's original 1847 version of Macbeth with Nelly Miricioiu as the Lady and Brad Cohen conducting. This version of the opera has not been seen in London since the semi-staged production at Covent Garden just prior to closing. A promised revival of the current production but using the 1847 text never seemed to materialise. I've always been fond of this version, with its rather dour ending and rather more showy arias for the Lady. Do try the Opera Rara CD set from the BBC with Rita Hunter as the Lady.
The final opera of their season is Massenet's Cendrillon on Sat. 1st June 2008 , again at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. I know this opera has been done by the colleges but I'm not sure its ever feature at the Coliseum or Covent Garden, though WNO did once have a notable production.
So all in all, a magical trio of operas. Significantly, Bel Canto features highly as it seems out of favour on our London stages at the moment. Covent Garden do provide us with the odd morsel, but Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini have become something of a rarity in St. Martin's Lane. Though this seems, perhaps, set to change as they are doing a new Lucia di Lamermoor at the Coliseum in February.