Monday 20 April 2009

Royal Opera new season

New Productions
The first new production of the season is Tristan und Isolde with Nina Stemme and Ben Heppner, conducted by Antonio Pappano. Unfortunately the production is in the hands of Christoph Loy, so we will be firmly in concept land. Pappano conducts.

Opera Genesis are presenting a new opera by Eleanor Alberga in the Linbury. Their track record so far has been patchy, but it is entirely laudable that they continue to try out new operas. Also in the Linbury is a rare outing for Arne's Artaxerxes with Christopher Ainslie in the title role. Conducted by the Ian Page and in association with his Classical Opera Company - make a date in the diary now.

Also, new, also in the Linbury is a revival of Jonathan Dove's perfectly wonderful The Enchanted Pig. We loved it at the Old Vic and look forward to seeing it again.

Tchaikovsky's Cherevichki is arriving in a new production by Francesca Zamballo with a mainly Russian speaking cast. I have happy memories of the ENO version of this with a memorable appearance of the Tsarina, or rather just her giant shoes. Except of course, that was Rimsky Korsakov's telling of the same tale!

Next new production is Prokofiev's The Gambler, being done In English! With John Tomlinson as the General, Susan Bickley as Babulenka, Roberto Sacca as Alexei and Angela Denoke as Polina. Richard Jones directs, with Antonio Pappano conducting.

For me, the potential highlight is the new production of Handel's Tamerlano. Except of course the production is not new and has travelled a bit. The guide has a rather ominous picture of the stage set with a giant purple elephant. Tamerlano is NOT a comedy. So fingers crossed. Ivor Bolton conducts a cast which includes Christianna Stotijn, Sara Mingardo, Christina Schafer and Renata Pokupic. But the name everyone will be following is Placido Domingo as Bajazet. Luckily the role is double cast so those of us who prefer to avoid Domingo can catch Kurt Streit who has proved himself a decent Handelian in the past.

A not so exciting new production. David McVicar's Aida; the opera is typically the elephant's graveyard at the Royal Opera so it will be interesting if McVicar can create something worthwhile (cue lots of dancing girls perhaps).

Laurent Pelly is directing the new Manon, with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon (so we're not holding our breath too hard for the casting to stay in place).


The premium revival must be Don Carlo, still in Italian alas. But now boasting Jonas Kaufmann as Don Caro. The remainder of the cast are pretty much as before (Marina Poplavskaya, Simon Keenlyside, Ferrucio Furlanetto, Sonia Ganassi, Robert Lloyd) with John Tomlinson as the Grand Inquisitor.

Prime Revival no. 2 is Der Rosenkavalier with Soile Isokoski, Sophie Koch and Lucy Crowe. I keep telling myself that I don't need to see the production again but then we get these fabulous casts!

Another good revival is Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Bill Bryden's wonderful production of The Cunning Little Vixen, this time with Emma Matthews and Christopher Maltman as the Gamekeeper. Emma Bell is luxury casting as the Fox and all the smaller roles are very strongly cast.

Carmen comes back with Elina Garanca, who made a memorable Romeo; she might make the production worth seeing. L'heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi are coming back with the same casts, another example of the terrible modern tendency to cast revivals with the same cast as the premiere.

Turco in Italia makes a welcome return (with a different cast!). Aleksandra Kurzak, who impressed in Mathilde di Shabran is Fiorella and Colin Lee, finally getting a decent run of something, as Don Narciso.

La Fille du Regiment comes back, but with Florez and Natalie Dessay again, though this time Colin Lee gets 3 performances rather than 1. Dawn French is off the menu as the Duchess and I suppose that we can't hope for Caballe who was the Duchess in Vienna.

Robert Lepage's dreary, pointless but realistic 1950's The Rakes Progress is coming back. It has Toby Spence in the title role and I think I might almost get over my dislike of the production just to hear him in the role. His Anne Trulove is Kate Royal.

There is a strong double-cast revival of McVicar's eminently intelligent Le Nozze di Figaro, with Erwin Schrott and Camilla Tilling as Figaro and his inamorata. Soile Isokoski does some performances of the Countess.

Salome is coming back with Angela Denoke in the title role. I think Denoke is a real soprano not a converted mezzo, so I look forward to her account.

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