Tuesday 25 March 2008

Next year at Covent Garden (1)

The Royal Opera House have released details of their 2008/2009 season. It is full of interesting things, but only a few that make me really go wow.

In the main house there are 8 new productions. Of these 4 have appeared elsewhere first - La Calisto (Munich 2005), Matilde de Shabran (Pesaro 2004), Die Tote Stadt (Salzburg 2004) and Dido and Aeneas (Milan 2006). As you can see from the dates, none of the productions is in the first flush of youth, but it is an interesting way of getting new repertoire into the system. La Calisto comes in a production by David Alden, his first at Covent Garden, which is something. Die tote Stadt is frankly one of those operas which it is interesting to encounter occasionally but I can't see it become a staple of the house's repertoire (now I'll be proved wrong). Similarly, Matilde de Shabran which needs the right singers, notably Juan Diego Florez in the lead male role.

Of the other productions, Christoph Loy's Lulu is a co-production with Madrid and the remainder are Covent Garden's Own. Wayne MacGregor gets to create Acis and Galatea to go with Dido (a neat pairing, killing 2 centenaries in one and getting Covent Garden out of the tedium of doing another boring Opera Seria). Leiser and Caurier are doing a new Hansel and Gretel, notable for having Ana Silja as the Witch, Alice Coote as Handel and Elizabeth Connell as Mother. Though being as it is double cast, I'm not quite sure who is singing with whom. Silja is sharing the role of the Witch with Ann Murray (her husband, Philip Langridge recently did the role in New York, not at the same pitch I hasten to add). There is also a new Flying Dutchman with Bryn Terfel in the title role, producer Tim Albury. In another interesting pairing veteran conductor Sir Colin Davis is being paired with Robin Ticciati, a dynamic young 20 year old. I can see I'll have to sample more than one performance.

Of this latter, I can't raise too much enthusiasm. I am rather keen to see the Korngold, but have a vague feeling that reviews of Decker's original production were not too positive. Similarly I am very keen to see the Rossini and welcome it even though I know we'll only get the one opportunity, it is unlikely to be revived.

Also new is a production of Benjamin Britten's Beggars Opera at the Linbury Theatre. This is definitely more of a curiosity than a thing to look forward to. Very much a notch on the bedpost, one of the Britten operas that I've not seen.

Even more tempting is the fact that The Opera Group and London Sinfonietta will be presenting the UK premiere of George Benjamin's Into the Little Hill - and about time too! It will be given as a double bill with Birtwistle's Down by the Greenwood Side. Still in contemporary vein, the ROH and the Britten Sinfonia will give the first fully staged performances of James MacMillan's Parthenogenesis - Katie Mitchell will direct (hurrah).
So, a moderate amount to look forward to in the new productions. I'll come back to the revivals later this week.

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