Wednesday 5 April 2017

Rossini, Janacek, Benjamin and more: Covent Garden's 2017/18 season

Erwin Schrott and dancers in Les Vepres Siciliennes (c) ROH/Bill Cooper 2013
Erwin Schrott and dancers in Les Vepres Siciliennes
(c) ROH/Bill Cooper 2013
Covent Garden's 2017 season has just been announced, and a fascinating one it is too. It is Oliver Mears' first season as Director of Opera, though it will probably take some time for his presence to be felt fully, still there are some intriguing aspects to the season. There are six new productions at Covent Garden, Richard Jones directs Puccini's La Boheme, David Alden directs Rossini's Semiramide and Wagner's Lohengrin, and Barrie Kosky directs Bizet's Carmen. The highlight for me will have to be the premiere of George Benjamin's new opera Lessons in Love and Violence which Katie Mitchell directs, but it is good to see the Polish director Kryzystof Warlikoski making his UK debut with Janacek's From the House of the Dead  (the opera's first appearance at Covent Garden)  There is also a concert performance of a new reconstruction of Donizetti's unfinished French grand opera L'Ange de Nisida.

Three recent new productions are coming back, to give us a second chance to asses them Damiano Michieletto's strikingly realistic double bill of Cav and Pag, Katie Mitchell's distracting production of  Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Stefan Herheim's production of Verdi's Les Vepres Sicilienne. Other returning productions include Verdi's Macbeth, Rigoletto and Falstaff, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Puccini's Tosca.

Outside of the Royal Opera House, Mark-Anthony Turnage's Coraline is being premiered at the Barbican Theatre, John Fulljames will be directing Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse at the RoundHouse, Na'ama Zisser's Mamzer Bastard will be produced at the Hackney Empire, a new piece by Tansy Davies and Nick Drake is being premiered at the Printworks, Surrey Quays, and there are
plans to revive Philip Venables' Olivier Award-nominated 4:48 Psychosis.

Finally, the 2018/19 season will open with four complete Ring Cycles, conducted by Antonio Pappano, with Stefan Vinke as Siegfried, and two singers singing their roles for the first time at Covent Garden, John Lundgren as Wotan and Nina Stemme as Brunnhilde.

There is some interesting casting throughout the season.

Richard Jones' new production of La Boheme will have a total of four casts split over two outings during the season, including Michael Fabiano and Matthew Polenzani as Rodolfo, Mariusz Kwiecien as Marcello, Ekaterina Siurina as Mimi and Danielle de Niese as Musetta.

David Alden's new production of Semiramide, which debuted at the Bavarian State Opera so don't expect anything conventional, will feature Joyce DiDonato in the title role, with Daniela Barcellona, Lawrence Brownless and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo. No word as to how cut it will be (it is a famously long opera), but this is the first chance to see the piece staged at Covent Garden since 1885 and it was last performed there in concert in 1986 (with June Anderson and Marilyn Horne).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen promises to be equally controversial. It replaces a planned new production by Mariame Clement, and Kosky's production debuted at the Frankfurt Opera last year. Kosky includes music not normally used in the opera (which is not necessarily a good thing, the late Winton Dean gave the Fritz Oeser edition a good trouncing). Gone also is the spoken dialogue, instead there is a narration. Still the cast is tempting with French mezzo-soprano Gaelle Arquez sharing the title role with Anna Goryachov, and Francesco Meli and Andre Care sharing Don Jose. Micaela is shared between Annette Frisch and Susanna Hurrell.

David Alden's production of Lohengrin will be conducted by Andris Nelsons, which is something to look forward to, and will feature Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role (Vogt is a tenor who rather divides people) with Kristine Opolais as Elsa and Christine Goerke as Ortrud. So plenty of fire-power there then.

Parts of Donizetti's L'Ange de Nisida was re-cycled as La Favourite, but it has recently been discovered that much more of the discarded bits of the opera survive and so we have an edition which is promised to be 90% Donizetti. Mark Elder conducts, with Joyce El-Khoury Laurent Naouri, and Ludovic Tezier, in a collaboration with Opera Rara.

In the revivals we have Bryan Hymel, Elina Garanca and Simon Keenlyside in Cav and Pag, Bryan Hymel, Michael Volle, Erwin Schrott and Malin Bystrom in Les Vepres Sicilienne, Cuban American soprano Lisette Opropes making her Covent Garden debut as Lucia di Lammermoor, Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth, Dmitri Hvorostovky as Rigoletto, with Michael Fabiano and Ivan Magri sharing the Duke of Mantua, and Bryn Terfel as Verdi's Falstaff, Eva Maria Westbroek in the title role of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and Tosca shared between Adrianne Pieczonka, Angela Gheorghiu and artina serafin.

There are two recitals with Antonio Pappano conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra with baritone Christian Gerhaher and mezzo Joyce DiDonato with Antonio Pappano accompanying on the piano.

Full details from the Royal Opera House's website. (PDF), and news article.

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