Friday 16 March 2012

Royal Opera new season

The Royal Opera's 2012/13 season has been announced, and there are quite a few goodies.

The 60th anniversary of the Coronation is being celebrated with a new production of Britten's Gloriana, the work which the opera house commissioned to celebrate the Coronation. This will be directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Paul Daniel with Susan Bullock as Elizabeth I and Toby Spence as Robert Devereux. The strong cast also includes Kate Royal as Lady Rich and Patricia Bardon as Frances Devereux. I have strong memories of Opera North's stunning production of the opera so will be interested to see what Jones makes of it. Regarding the casting, the title role was written for Joan Cross who was a notable dramatic soprano in her day. I first saw the production in the 1970's in the ENO production with Ava June and then much later the same production was revived for Sarah Walker and of course the Opera North production starred Josephine Barstow.

Rossini's La Donna del Lago is getting a new production, with a terrific cast. Having previously performed this opera (with Marilyn Horne) in a production from Houston which wasn't well liked, the house seem to have decided not to risk things again. The new production is not going to be the planned co-production, but John Fulljames is doing his first production for the big house, which should be very exciting. Cast includes Joyce DiDonato as Elena, Juan Diego Florez as Uberto and Daniela Barcellona as Malcolm. The conductor is Michele Mariotti, principal conductor of the Teatro Communale in Bologna.

Another rarity, Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable in a production by Laurent Pelly. Pelly seems to be one of the directors who has become rather too ubiquitous at the ROH recently, hopefully Holten will change that. But we've been woefully deprived of Meyerbeer so it will be good to see one of his operas on the Covent Garden stage. Bryan Hymel is Robert with Diana Damrau and Marina Poplavskaya in the contrasting female roles.

New director of the Royal Opera, Kaspar Holten  makes his own house debut with a production of Eugene Onegin, with Simon Keenlyside in the title role,  Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana and Pavol Breslik as Lensky. Robin Ticciati conducts, good to see him conducting here in the big house.

Another new production is Verdi's Nabucco directed by Daniele Abbado, notable mainly for the fact that the veteran baritone Leo Nucci is sharing the title role with Placido Domingo. Liudmyla Monastyrska sings Abigaille and Nicola Luisotti conducts. This is a co-production with La Scala.

Moving to the 21st century we get George Benjamin's new work, his first to be performed in the big house, Written on Skin, again with a libretto by Martin Crimp. Katie Mitchell directs, her first production in the big house, with Christopher Purves, Bejun Mehta and Victoria Simmonds; George Benjamin conducts. And I can't wait!

Also contemporary, Harrison Birstwistle's The Minotaur is being revived, again with the amazing John Tomlinson in the title role, Christine Rice returns as Ariadne, Antonio Pappano conducts.

Other notable revivals include Laurent Pelly's L'elisir d'Amore with Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak; La Boheme with a variety of casts including Rolando Villazon, Vittorio Grigolo and Barbara Frittoli with Mark Elder sharing the conducting honours. Amanda Echalaz is amongst the Toscas in the revival of Jonathan Kent's production. Sophie Bevan and Andrew Staples make their debuts in revivals of David McVicar's The Magic Flute, with Christopher Maltman and Simon Keenlyside sharing Pappageno.

Don Carlo is coming back with Jonas Kauffman in the title role, alas presumably still in Italian. But Anja Harteros sings Elisabeth, Marius Kwieczen sings Posa and Christine Rice is Eboli, Pappano conducts; so its certainly a revival not to be missed.

Thomas Hampson starts in the revival of Simon Boccanegra with  Ferrucio Furlanetto as Fiesco. Angela Gheorghiu and Ermonela Jaho share the honours in a revival of Nicholas Joe's production of La Rondine with Vittorio Grigolo as Ruggero and Edgaras Montvidas as Prunier.

Richard Strauss's Capriccio makes an appearance, in concert, with Renee Fleming, Christian Gerhaher, Bo Skovhus, Peter Rose and Christine Rice, conducted by Andrew Davies. Not a new production, but a cast and conductor which makes everything worthwhile.

Over in the Linbury there is the return of OperaShots, David Bruce's The Firework-Maker's Daughter, directed by John Fulljames (the opera is based on a story by Philip Pullman); Music Theatre Wales (in collaboration with Scottish Opera) in a contemporary double bill. The double bill consists of The Locked Room by Huw Watkins with libretto by David Harsent (Librettist of The Minotaur) and Ghost Patrol by Stuart MacRae with libretto by novelist Louise Welsh (author of The Cutting Room).

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