Wednesday 13 March 2013

Covent Garden's 2013/14 opera season.

Covent Garden Theatre
Covent Garden's 2013/14 season has, of course, new productions of Verdi and Wagner, but we also get a new Richard Strauss and a new Donizetti. Francesca Zamballo's Don Giovanni is being replaced, and there is a new Manon Lescaut. There are strong casts, with Karita Mattila in two roles, Anna Netrebko making a return, Jonas Kaufmann (alas not in the new Parsifal) and Joyce DiDonato to name but a few. Pappano gets the lions share of new productions, but Mark Elder, John Eliot Gardiner, Colin Davis, Semyon Bychkov, Simon Rattle and Andris Nelsons are also in the pit. Some old warhorses do make an appearance, there are also some welcome revivals. There is the opportunity to see both the Puccini and the Massenet Manons in the same season, and there is also a mini-festival around Gounod's Faust. And over in the Linbury there is a strong programme of new opera.

Verdi's other French Grand Opera Les Vepres Siciliennes gets a new production directed by Stefan Herheim (making his Covent Garden debut), conducted by Antonio Pappano with a strong cast including Marina Poplavskaya, Bryan Hymel and Erwin Schrott, thankfully in French. The opera's first outing in Covent Garden and the first London staging since Rosalind Plowright sang it at ENO. The staging will include the ballet sequence, with choreography by Johan Kobborg and principals from the Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet (the production is a co-production with the Royal Danish Opera).

Wagner's Parsifal gets a new production with Simon O'Neill in the title role, directed by Stephen Langridge, with Angela Denoka as Kundry, Rene Pape as Gurnemanz, Gerald Finley as Amfortas (his role debut) and Willard White as Klingsor, conducted by Antonio Pappano. 

Francesca Zamballo's production of Don Giovanni is being replaced, with a new one directed by Kasper Holten (we are promised video design by Luke Halls) with Mariusz Kwiecen in the title role, Alex Esposito is Leporello, Malin Bystrom is Donna Anna and Veronique Gens is Donna Elvira. Nicola Luisotti conducts. 

Richard Strauss's Die Frau Ohne Schatten makes a welcome appearance, in a production by Claus Guth (already seen in Milan) with Johan Botha as the Emperor, Emily Magee as the Empress, Michaela Schuster as the Nurse, Johan Reuter as Barak and Elen Pankratova as his wife. Semyon Bychkov conducts.

Robert Carsen's much travelled production of Poulenc's The Carmelites makes its way to Covent Garden with some 'interesting' casting - Magdalene Kozena as Blanche, Emma Bell as Madame Lidoine, Sophie Koch as Mere Marie and Deborah Polaski as Madame de Croissy. Simon Rattle conducts, of course. This is the first time the opera has been seen at Covent Garden since 1983.

And Jonathan Kent directs Puccini's Manon Lescaut  with Kristine Opolais, Christopher Maltman and Jonas Kauffmann - can we wait! Pappano conducts

Perhaps my highlight in the new productions is Maria Stuarda, with a fabulous cast; Joyce DiDonato in the title role, Carmen Gianattasio sings Elisabeth with Charles Castronovo as Leicester, whilst Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier direct. Maurizio Benini conducts. 

In the Linbury, there are also a number of interesting new operas. There is the debut of electro-acoustic composer Ben Frost's new opera based on Ian Bank's novel The Wasp Factory, with a libretto by David Pountney. And Julian Philips and Edward Kemp's How the Whale became, is based on the works of Ted Hughes; the piece will be seen in a production directed by Natalie Abrahami. Elspeth Brook and Francisco Colli will be writing new works for a double bill, and there will also be a new opera from Luke Bedford as a companion piece to Gounod's Faust.

Still in the Linbury, James Fulljames will be directing a new production of  Luca Francesconi's Quartett.

Revivals in the main house are a mixed bunch. Andrei Serban's venerable production of Turandot returns with Lise Lindstrom and Irene Theorin in the title role. Eri Nakamura and Ailyn Perez share Liu.

David McVicar's fine production of Le Nozze di Figaro continues to attract strong casts with both Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Colin Davis conducting, and Luca Pisaroni, Alex Esposito, Lucy Crowe, Camilla Tilling, Renata Pokupic, Anna Bonitatibus, Christopher Maltman, Gerald Finley, Rebecca Evans and Sally Matthews.

McVicar's production of Faust is also back, with Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko and Bryn Terfel. There are a number of events in the Linbury surrounding this revival.

Christine Goerke, Adrianne Pieczonka and Michaela Schuster star in a revival of Charles Edwards production of Elektra, conducted by Andris Nelsons. Keith Warner's production of Wozzeck returns with Simon Keenlyside in the title role, John Tomlinson as the Doctor, Gerhard Siegel as the Captain and Karita Mattila as Marie. Mark Elder conducts.

Karita Mattila also takes the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos, in Christoph Loy's production, with Roberto Sacca, Jane Archibald and Ruxandra Donose, conducted by Antonio Pappano.

Christine Rice and Elena Garanca share the title role in Carmen, still alas in Francesco Zamballo's production, Daniel Oren conducts whilst Roberto Alagna and Younghon Lee are Don Jose.

Rather more interesting, Ermonela Jaho and Ailyn Perez share the title role in a revival of Manon, in Laurent Pelly's production, Emmanuel Villaume conducts whilst Matthew Polenzani sings Des Grieux and Audun Iversen is Lescaut.

More Laurent Pelly; this time Patrizia Ciofi is back as Marie in La Fille du Regiment with Juan Diego Florez again on duty, Yves Abel conducts. Celebrating her 70th birthday (!), Kiri te Kanawa will be returning to the Covent Garden stage as the Duchesse de Crackentorp - now that's more like it.

Visiting companies include Music Theatre Wales, with Mark Anthony Turnage's Greek with Marcus Farnsworth as Eddie. English Touring Opera will be bringing Tippett's King Priam and Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan. Welsh National Opera will be bringing their new production of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, another opera long absent from the Covent Garden stage.

Five operas are being done live in the Cinema, Turandot, Les Vepres Siciliennes, Parsifal, Don Giovanni and Manon Lescaut.

Further information from the Royal Opera House website.

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