Out of the Shadows

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Royal Opera new season

Mariusz Kwiecien as King Roger in Santa Fe in 2012
Mariusz Kwiecien as King Roger in Santa Fe in 2012
The 2014/15 season at Covent Garden has much to enjoy. There are two new Verdi opera productions (I due Foscari and Un ballo in maschera), Giordano's Andrea Chenier with Jonas Kaufmann, Szymanowski's King Roger with Mariusz Kwiecien, Brecht and Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and Mozart's Idomeneo. And finally, Rossini's Guillaume Tell returns. There is a great deal to look forward to, with a programme of contemporary opera in the Linbury Studio.

All this innovation has to be paid for, and there are plenty of repeats of old favourites (16 La Traviatas, 10 Rigolettos, 11 La Bohemes) though these are leavened by some interesting casting. There are also the gaps, no Janacek, no Richard Strauss, no Russian opera, and nothing 20th century English.

Antonio Pappano conducts a new production of Verdi's I due Foscari directed by Thaddeus Strassberger with Placido Domingo (in another baritone role), Francesco Meli and Maria Agresta. (Strassberger was responsible for the Bard Summerscape production of Chabrier's Le Roi Malgre Lui which came to Wexford and was not much liked). I due Foscari was last staged at Covent Garden in 1995


Covent Garden seems to be continuing its exploration of early 20th century Italian opera with a new production of Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chenier, directed by David McVicar. Antonio Pappano conducts with Jonas Kaufmann. Eva-Maria Westbroek in the lead roles, Zeljko Lucic as Gerard, and Rosalind Plowright as the Countess de Coigny.

Kasper Holten directs the new production (Covent Garden's first ever) of Symanowski's King Roger. The title role will be sung by the wonderful Mariusz Kwiecien (whom was saw in the role in Santa Fe in 2012), with the young Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu as the shepherd and Georgia Jarman as Roxanna; Antonio Pappano conducts. It will be interesting to see what Holten makes of the opera's famously awkward plot with its homo-erotic undertones. Recent European productions of the opera have used is as a sort of excuse for an open season on directorial craziness.

John Fulljames is directing Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny which will be conducted by Mark Wigglesworth (ENO's music director elect) and a strong and interesting cast including Christine Rice, Anne Sofie von Otter, Willard W White and Peter Hoare.

Katharina Thoma, who directed the recent Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne, is working at Covent Garden for the first time directing the second Verdi new production of the season, Un ballo in Maschera with Daniel Oren conducting Joseph Calleja, Liudmyla Monastyrska (who made a big impression as Abigaille in Nabucco), Martina Serafin and Marianne Cornetti.

Mozart's Idomeneo returns after a gap of 25 years in a new production by Martin Kusej (artistic director of the Residenz Theater in Munich). It will be conducted by Mark Minkowski (best known for his work with his own period instrument ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble), with Matthew Polenzani in the title role. They are using the Munich version of the opera (hurrah) but instead of a mezzo-soprano, Idamante will be sung by counter-tenor Franco Fagioli with Malin Bystrom, Sophie Bevan and Stanislas de Barbeyrac. It is Kusej's first Idomeneo though he has directed other Mozart operas, but the work can be a notorious graveyard for directors unsympathetic to the opera seria form.

Pappano is also in charge for the final new production of the season with director Damiano Michieletto making his Covent Garden debut directing Rossini's Guillaume Tell. The cast include a number of people from Pappano's performances of the opera with the Academia di Santa Cecilia, including Gerald Finley, John Osborn and Malin Bystrom. There is more rare Rossini in the Linbury Studio as the annual Jette Parker Young Artists performance is going to be Rossini's La Scala di Seta.

Richard Jones's production of Mark Antony Turnage's Anna Nicole returns with Eva-Maria Westbroek again in the title role, Antonio Pappano conducting and many of the original cast returning. The opening night, the first of the 2014/15 season, will have the whole audience as students with tickets prices from £1 to £25.

Also returning is Christoph Loy's bleakly imaginative production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde with Nina Stemme reprising Isolde, this time with American Wagner tenor Stephen Gould, conducted by Antonio Pappano. I understand that the production will be re-studied so that sight lines are better.

John Copley's production of La Boheme returns for the last time, with a cast including Joseph Calleja and Anna Netrebko. Bryn Terfel returns in the title role of Tim Albery's production of The Flying Dutchman with Adrianna Pieczonka as Senta. Terfel is also singing Dulcamara at Covent Garden for the first time, with Vittorio Grigolo as Nemorino and Lucy Crowe as Adina. Simon Keenlyside adds Rigoletto to his roles at the Royal Opera, with Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda. Kasper Holten's Don Giovanni is returning with Simon Keenlyside as the Don, Rolando Villazon as Don Ottavio, Dorothea Roschmann as Donna Elvira. Mark Minkowski is also conducting La Traviata with a cast which includes two performances by Placido Domingo as Giorgio Germont.

Outside Covent Garden, the Royal Opera is collaborating with the Roundhouse on a new production of Monteverdi's Orfeo directed by Michael Boyd, conducted by Christian Curnyn with a cast including Gyula Orendt, Susanna Hurrell and Mary Bevan. It will be sung in a new translation by Scottish poet Don Patterson.

Other events at the opera house include further visits by Welsh National Opera who bring Richard Ayres' new Peter Pan in 2015. Placido Domingo's Operalia competition is at Covent Garden for the first time in 2015.

Eight of the operas are being presented live in the cinema, and the audience for these broadcasts is growing such the numbers seeing the Royal Opera in the cinema are on a par with the theatre's live audience.

The smaller Linbury Studio Theatre is being used mainly for contemporary work. Thaddeus Strassberger is also directing a new opera by German/Danish composer Soren Nils Eichberg, Glare, to be conducted by Geoffrey Paterson (a former Jette Parker Young Artist) and Sky Ingram.

In collaboration with Music Theatre Wales, the Royal Opera is staging the world premiere of Philip Glass's The Trial with a libretto by Christopher Hampton. Michael Rafferty conducts with a cast including Johnny Herford and Amanda Forbes. Opera North is presenting a new production of Jonathan Dove's 2009 opera Swanhunter based on an episode from the Kalevala.  The Virtues of Things by Matt Rogers and Sally O'Reilly is being presented in collaboration with Opera North and Aldeburgh Music.  Harrison Birtwistle's The Cure is a co-commission between the Royal Opera and Aldeburgh Music. Based on an episode from Metamorphoses it has a libretto by David Harsent, and will be directed by Martin Duncan.

There is also the UK premiere of Christoph Marthaler's King Size. And BCMG are presenting a double bill of works by David Sawyer directed by Richard Jones.

There are full details and castings at the Royal Opera House website.

Elsewhere on this blog:

1 comment:

  1. A little bird told me that there will be lots of Janacek starting in 2017. The ROH plan a Janacek cycle conducted by Esa Pekka-Salonen

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