Wednesday 12 September 2012

Southbank 2012/13 season - part 1

The Southbank's new season kick’s off with a bang later this month with a pair of rarely performed operas. The New London Orchestra under Ronald Corp are performing Delius’s A Village Romeo and Juliet on 24 September with a terrific cast, Andrew Staples, Anna Devin, Christopher Maltman, Andrew Shore and David Wilson-Johnson as the Dark Fiddler. It is a welcome opportunity to see an opera which has been woefully lacking in London. Then the London Philharmonic under Vlladimir Jurowski is performing Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy, based on Oscar Wilde’s play. This will be teamed with excerpts from Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten. These are just the harbingers of a season at the Southbank which has reacquired some of the zing and sparkle that seems to have been missing recently.

There’s more opera on 30 September when Anna Caterina Antonacci sings Gluck, Berlioz and Cherubini with OAE.

In October, Goldsmith’s Choral Union and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are teaming up for Mendelssohn’s Elijah, with Roderick Williams in the title role and a cast including Joan Rogers. And there is an interesting trio of concerts from Vladimir Jurowski, he conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Britten, Walton and Prokofiev, then the Russian National Orchestra in Vaughan Williams Sixth Symphony and Prokofiev, finally the two orchestras join together for a joint concert of Britten and Shostakovitch, quite an undertaking and fascinating to hear what the Russians will make of the RVW symphony.

In November, Chelsea Opera Group continue to visit the operatic regions that others neglect, bringing us Massenet’s Don Quichotte (remember the lovely ENO production with Richard van Allen?) with Robert Lloyd in the title role and conducted by ROH chorus master Renato Balsadonna (25 November).

And the Britten celebrations start to hot up with a terrific performance of the War Requiem from the Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (27 November), with Sally Matthews, John Mark Ainsley and Alan Opie conducted by David Hill.

December starts with Vladimir Jurowski conducting Brahms’s Ein Deutches Requiem with the LPO and the London Philharmonic Choir, Dietrich Henschel and Miah Persson are the soloists. In the first half, very intriguingly there is Zimmerman’s Ecclesiatical Action, an oratorio for 2 narrators, bass and orchestra which will be semi-staged by Annabel Arden. It is a strange and striking piece, one which Zimmerman completed just before committing suicide.  But powerful and, I think, a must see. I just wish everyone was as imaginative in teaming up works with the standards. (1 December)

From the dark to the frivolous, the next day (2 December) John Wilson conducts the Philharmonia in The Merry Widow in a Sunday matinee performance. Lovely!

Because it is December, of course, everyone wants to do Christmas concerts. The Sixteen give their version on 10 December with an intelligent mixture of early polyphony and later Christmas piece including one by Arthur Oldham (one of Britten’s few pupils and for many years the chorus master of the Edinburgh Festival Choir).

There are at least two Messiahs. On 10 December by Candlelight with an interesting young cast Anna Devin, Kitty Whately, Nathan Vale and Charles Rice. Then the next day OAE give their version under Robert Howarth.

But the big event in December has to be Bryn Terfel’s appearance as the Dutchman in Zurich Opera’s performance of Wagner’s opera (15 December), with Anja Kampe as Senta.

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