NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin

08/06/2017

Daniel Barenboim Unveils The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin

pbs Daniel Barenboim and Ole Bækhøj announced the second season of the Pierre Boulez Saal on Thursday, June 8 in Berlin. In the spirit of Pierre Boulez, flexibility, openness, and musical curiosity will remain the essential ideas for the 2017–18 programme. Contemporary music will stand side by side with chamber music masterworks of the Classic and Romantic eras and major compositions of the 20th century.

The Boulez Ensemble, founded for the hall’s opening and consisting of members of the Staatskapelle Berlin, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, as well as students and faculty of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and international guests, will be heard in concerts with Daniel Barenboim, François-Xavier Roth, Emmanuel Pahud, Zubin Mehta, and Sir Antonio Pappano, among others. Commissioned new works by Luca Francesconi, Aribert Reimann, and Benjamin Attahir, Pierre Boulez’s last student, will have their world premieres.

A staged production of Luther dancing with the gods, will be seen at the Pierre Boulez Saal for the first time. Director Robert Wilson is creating this project, which features texts by Martin Luther and music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Knut Nystedt, and Steve Reich. This is a collaboration with the Rundfunkchor Berlin for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Three concert cycles are dedicated to major Classical works: Daniel Barenboim, Michael Barenboim, and Kian Soltani perform Beethoven’s complete piano trios. Renaud Capuçon and Kit Armstrong take on Mozart’s violin sonatas; and the Streichquartett der Staatskapelle Berlin presents Schubert’s 15 string quartets.

The Staatskapelle Berlin returns to the Pierre Boulez Saal for three concerts conducted by Lahav Shani, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Lorenzo Viotti.

Jazz and early music offer new programmatic aspects. Trumpeter and vocalist Till Brönner will host a series of five concerts with national and international guest stars entitled “Talking Jazz.” Music from the 15th to 18th centuries is heard in concerts by the RIAS Chamber Choir, the Capella della Torre, the Freiburg BarockConsort, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the Orlando Consort, and Il Giardino Armonico.

Music from the Middle East and Northern Africa will once again be featured prominently, with the Arabic Music Days in December 2017 as the centerpiece. Kinan Azmeh, Naseer Shamma, and others will be the headliners. Three lecture concerts offer introductions by the performing artists themselves: Jörg Widmann and François-Xavier Roth present music by Boulez, and Sir András Schiff takes on Bach’s piano partitas.

Other highlights include performances starring Thomas Hampson, Daniil Trifonov, Sergei Babayan, Piotr Anderszewski, Gidon Kremer, Yefim Bronfman, Radu Lupu, Mitsuko Uchido, Martha Argerich, and many others. There will also be, children’s concerts, and academy concerts featuring students of the Barenboim-Said Akademie.

Further information  at: https://boulezsaal.de/ .

NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18

03/05/2017

Ex Cathedra Unveils an Exciting Season of Choral Music in Birmingham and Beyond

ExCathedra-logoThe Birmingham-based Ex Cathedra is a leading UK choir and Early Music ensemble.  It is a unique musical resource, comprising a specialist chamber choir, vocal Consort, period-instrument orchestra and a thriving education programme. Ex Cathedra was founded in 1969 by Jeffrey Skidmore OBE so the ensemble is fast approaching its 50th anniversary. Details of their 2017/18 season have just been announced.   Read more

NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018

02/05/2017

Major new international singing competition launched by Glyndebourne

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Website http://www.glyndebourne.com/

Glyndebourne today launches a new international singing competition.

The Glyndebourne Opera Cup – the international competition for opera singers is designed to discover and spotlight the best young singers from around the world, offering a top prize of £15,000 and a platform for launching an international opera career.

The eight-strong panel of judges includes representatives from top international opera houses. Among them are Barrie Kosky, Artistic Director of Komische Oper Berlin, Sophie de Lint, Opera Director of Zurich Opera and Director designate of Dutch National Opera, David Devan, who runs Opera Philadelphia, and Fortunato Ortombina, Artistic Director of Teatro La Fenice in Venice.

Acting as honorary president will be Dame Janet Baker, whose own early career was fostered by Glyndebourne.

Sky Arts, Glyndebourne’s official UK broadcast partner, will bring the competition to a wider audience with a dedicated TV series. Following each stage of the competition, the series will feature preliminary rounds in a number of international cities, culminating in the finals at Glyndebourne, and will allow audiences to learn more about the individual competitors involved.

The Glyndebourne Opera Cup will be unique to other competitions of its kind in a number of ways. Firstly, alongside prize money, the overall winner is guaranteed a role at one of the opera houses represented on the jury within five years of their victory. The time frame is designed to ensure that a suitable role for the winner can be found and reflects the long planning times in opera.

In addition, the biennial competition will focus on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire each time it is held.  This is in order to cater for the various specialisms within operatic training, and to ensure competitors can be accompanied by an orchestra with instruments appropriate for the period. Eligibility criteria, including age limit, will vary to reflect the chosen theme.

The inaugural competition, culminating in March 2018, will require singers to focus on Mozart, accepting entrants to an upper age limit of 28. Contestants will be accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

The competition has been devised by Glyndebourne’s General Director, Sebastian F. Schwarz, who will chair the judging panel. Glyndebourne already has an international reputation for discovering and nurturing new talent. This includes Glyndebourne Chorus members who have gone on to fame, such as Sarah Connolly and Thomas Allen, as well as stars, such as Kiri Te Kanawa and Luciano Pavarotti, who were given a place in the spotlight at early stages in their career.

Sebastian F. Schwarz, said: “I’ve been on the judging panels of a number of singing competitions and have seen what works and what doesn’t. When I arrived at Glyndebourne, with its giant reputation for discovering exceptional talent, it seemed an incredible opportunity to design the perfect singing competition from scratch. To me this means offering maximum benefit to those who enter. This is reflected in the jury which comprises esteemed colleagues representing houses that, like Glyndebourne, have a lot to offer competitors as they seek to develop careers. Our ambition is to establish The Glyndebourne Opera Cup as among the premiere competitions of its kind and we are delighted to be partnering with Sky Arts to bring this to a wider audience.”

Dame Janet Baker, also commenting on the competition, said: “My own career began at Glyndebourne so I’m well aware just how much the company has to offer to singers as they seek to establish themselves and develop as artists. This new competition is thoroughly in keeping with the strong commitment to nurturing singers that I observed and benefitted from during my time at Glyndebourne so I was delighted to be invited to act as honorary president.”

Sky Arts Director, Phil Edgar-Jones, says: “Sky Arts has had a long association with Glyndebourne over the years and, as opera enthusiasts, we are always keen to break new ground and seek out new audiences for this unique art form. So, when Sebastian brought us his idea for a partnership with Glyndebourne on its new opera singing competition his vision and infectious enthusiasm were impossible to resist. We’re sure it’ll hit the right note with our audience.”

The international jury for The Glyndebourne Opera Cup is:

  • Sebastian F. Schwarz, General Director, Glyndebourne (Chair)
  • Barrie Kosky, Artistic Director, Komische Oper Berlin
  • David Devan, General Director and President, Opera Philadelphia
  • Joan Matabosch, Artistic Director, Teatro Real de Madrid
  • Sophie de Lint, Artistic Director, Zurich Opera and Director designate of Dutch National Opera
  • Fortunato Ortombina, Artistic Director, Teatro La Fenice, Venice
  • Pål Christian Moe, Casting Consultant for Bayerische Staatsoper Munich and Glyndebourne
  • Maria Mot, Associate Director, Vocal & Opera, Intermusica

Applications for the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup open later this year, with preliminary rounds taking place in January 2018 in Philadelphia, London and Berlin. The final stages of the competition take place at Glyndebourne in March 2018.

Full details, including information on the application process, will be released this summer.

Glyndebourne Festival 2018

The UK’s first professional production of Samuel Barber’s Pulitzer prize-winning opera Vanessa takes place at Glyndebourne Festival 2018.

One of the great American operas, Vanessa was hailed as a triumph at its premiere in 1958 but quickly fell out of the repertoire and has only been staged intermittently since.

Sebastian F. Schwarz, General Director of Glyndebourne, said: ‘Given my first chance to programme a work at Glyndebourne, my thoughts quickly turned to this neglected masterpiece. It’s remarkable that there has never been a UK production of Vanessa, the first opera by such a popular composer – and the man who wrote the Adagio for Strings. Sixty years on from its 1958 premiere, I’m delighted that Glyndebourne will give it the UK showcase it so richly deserves.’

The new production will be directed by British director Keith Warner, fulfilling his long-held ambition to stage the piece and marking his Glyndebourne directorial debut. Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša returns to Glyndebourne to lead the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The cast includes British soprano Emma Bell in the title role, alongside Lithuanian tenor Edgaras Montvidas as Anatol.

The second new production for Festival 2018 is Claude Debussy’s only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande.

With Pelléas et Mélisande, premiered in 1902, Debussy sought to rewrite the rules of the art form, producing a completely new style of opera, heavy with symbolism and deploying naturalistic vocal writing, with one note per syllable, phrased according to speech intonation.

The new production will mark the Glyndebourne debut of the in-demand Norwegian director Stefan Herheim, and is conducted by Glyndebourne’s Music Director Robin Ticciati.

Leading the cast are Austrian soprano Christina Gansch as Mélisande and American baritone John Chest as Pelléas. British baritone Christopher Purves returns to Glyndebourne in the role of Golaud.

Glyndebourne Festival 2018 opens with the Festival debut of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Originally staged for Glyndebourne Tour 2016, Annilese Miskimmon’s production is the first staging of the work at Glyndebourne.

Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his first appearance at Glyndebourne since he made his debut conducting Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Glyndebourne Festival 2014.

Taking on one of the greatest soprano roles in the repertoire is Moldovian soprano Olga Busuioc as Cio-Cio-San. The role of Lieutenant BF Pinkerton will be performed by American tenor Joshua Guerrero, with American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki.

Completing the 2018 Festival season are revivals of three of the most popular productions in Glyndebourne’s recent history.

Offering a chance to compare and contrast one of Handel’s finest operas with one of his great oratorios are revivals of David McVicar’s ground-breaking 2005 production of Giulio Cesare and Barrie Kosky’s smash-hit 2015 staging of Saul.

A number of artists involved in the original Giulio Cesare production return for next summer’s revival, including director David McVicar, conductor William Christie and British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly in the title role. American soprano Joélle Harvey takes the role of Cleopatra.

Barrie Kosky returns to Glyndebourne to oversee the first Glyndebourne Festival revival of Saul, with Laurence Cummings conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

German baritone Markus Brück will perform the role of Saul with British tenor Allan Clayton as Jonathan and British countertenor Iestyn Davies returning to the role of David, which he performed in the 2015 premiere.

Completing the season is the first Glyndebourne revival of British director Richard Jones’s stylish and original take on Strauss’s masterpiece, Der Rosenkavalier, conducted by Robin Ticciati.

British soprano Kate Royal stars as the Marschallin, as she did in the original 2014 staging, opposite American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey as Octavian. British bass Brindley Sherratt performs the role of Baron Ochs.

Glyndebourne Festival runs from 19 May – 26 August 2018.

Fifty years of the Glyndebourne Tour in 2018

Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Massenet’s Cendrillon forms the highlight of the Glyndebourne Tour, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. Cendrillon will be directed by Fiona Shaw, who previously directed a critically acclaimed production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne.

The Glyndebourne Tour launched in 1968 with two aims – to make Glyndebourne’s work accessible to broader audiences and to give performing opportunities to young, promising singers. These objectives remain as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

The second fully-staged opera in the 2018 Tour is a revival of Tom Cairns’s opulent production of Verdi’s La traviata, which had its premiere at Glyndebourne Festival 2014.

There will also be a return for Behind The Curtain – a new style of event introduced in 2016, with Don Giovanni: Behind the Curtain, to take audiences behind the scenes on the creation of opera. On this occasion the event will take an in-depth look at La traviata, with performance extracts from the cast and orchestra of the main Tour 2018 production.

Glyndebourne Tour runs from 13 October – 1 December 2018.

Further information and casting to follow.

Plans for biggest capital investment since new opera house

Glyndebourne is in the final stages of planning a new, state-of-the-art production hub that will unite all its expert making departments under one roof.

It will be the organisation’s biggest capital investment since the rebuilding of its world-class opera house in 1994.

In addition to housing technical workspace, the building will contain three music practice rooms and an extra rehearsal space.

The new hub will enable Glyndebourne to sustain its competitive edge, providing state of the art facilities that support the company’s high artistic standards and help it attract and retain creative staff.

The building will also improve the organisation’s environmental footprint, with a design that gives careful consideration to environmental factors. The development is being designed  to meet the BREEAM Excellent standard for sustainable development.

In addition, the hub will enhance the visitor experience through the addition of an attractive new building that offers greater potential for running tours of backstage departments.

A targeted fundraising effort will seek to raise the money for the project, underwritten by reserves that have been built up in recent years for this purpose.

Nicholas Hare Architects have been appointed to the project and an architect’s model of the development will be on display to visitors during the 2017 Glyndebourne Festival. Work on the new building is expected to begin this winter.

The new production hub is part of a wider programme of investment taking place at Glyndebourne that includes upgrades to front of house facilities, re-landscaping and the extension of wet weather facilities.

These initiatives all support Glyndebourne’s commitment to sustaining its high standards and retaining its reputation for excellence in all areas.

Education and outreach

Recruitment will get underway in 2018 for Glyndebourne’s latest large-scale main stage community opera.

The latest new commission will be composed by Howard Moody and directed by Simon Iorio. It will be delivered in partnership with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and staged at Glyndebourne in March 2019.

Also in 2018, a new Young Composer-in-Residence will join Glyndebourne.

The position is a three year, part-time residency for an emerging composer, giving the holder an unrivalled opportunity to immerse themselves in the work of an opera house and observe the creation of new operas, as well as create new work of their own.

Based within Glyndebourne’s pioneering education department, the Young Composer-in-Residence will also involve themselves in Glyndebourne’s broader artistic, learning and audience development activities.

An annual bursary of £17,000 is provided to cover time, expenses and any work composed for Glyndebourne during the residency.

Recruitment for the position is open now via glyndebourne.com

Glyndebourne will crown the latest winners of its two biennial awards for young singers in 2018.

The Gus Christie Award is for a young singer who has demonstrated outstanding vocal talent, while the Bill Weston Young Singers Award is for an exceptionally promising singer who would benefit from financial support to continue their development.

Both awards were launched in 2016 to mark 30 years since the formation of Glyndebourne’s education department.

NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season

01/05/2017

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has announced details of its 2017-18 season, the second of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s tenure as Osborn Music Director

Photo Credit Frans Jansen

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (c) Frans Jansen.

In 2016/17 her appearances with the orchestra were somewhat limited – from memory just 8 were scheduled in Birmingham. However, that was clearly a transitional phase: she would have had diary commitments made prior to accepting the Birmingham post and, I suppose, the orchestra would also have had to engage well in advance quite a number of guest conductors. The 2017/18 season properly shows how committed she is to the post for she will conduct 22 concerts in Birmingham alone.

One feature that caught my eye is the involvement of the CBSO choruses. On taking up her appointment Miss Gražinytė-Tyla, who comes from Lithuania where there is such a strong singing tradition, made clear how excited she was at the opportunity to work with the CBSO’s renowned choirs. They’ll be firmly in the spotlight, starting with the opening concert when she’ll conduct the CBSO Chorus and a fine trio of soloists in Haydn’s perennially fresh The Creation (21 & 23 September). Later in the season the choirs will feature in the orchestra’s celebration of the Debussy centenary, of which more in a moment, and they’ll also be involved in a most enticing programme that includes the Fauré Requiem and four works by Lili Boulanger who died tragically young in 1918, the same year as Debussy (31 May 2018). The choirs will be kept busy singing for other conductors as well. Among other commitments they are scheduled for Verdi’s Requiem with Edward Gardner (25 October) and Orff’s Carmina Burana with Michael Seal (17 February 2018).

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the forthcoming season will be Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s focus on the music of Debussy, marking the centenary of his death in 2018. It’s become something of a CBSO tradition to put on a concert performance of an opera towards the end of each season and so, happily and inevitably, the choice this time will be Pelléas et Mélisande. A strong cast will include Jacques Imbrailo and Katja Stuber in the title roles with Laurent Naouri as Golaud (23 June 2018). Before that there will be a Debussy Festival spread over two weekends in May with four concerts each weekend. Miss Gražinytė-Tyla will conduct six concerts and two will be given by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. There’ll be plenty of music by the French master as well as works by many composers influenced by him, including George Benjamin, Boulez, Messiaen, Tristan Murail and Toru Takemitsu. This will be a major celebration of one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century (17-18 March, 24-25 March 2018).

Among Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s other offerings will be two symphonies by Mahler: the Fourth (27 & 28 September) and the First – a work she played in the 2016/17 season too (29 March 2018). She’ll also put the CBSO through their collective paces in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (17 & 20 January 2018). She’ll close the season with a blockbuster programme including the Shostakovich First Violin Concerto (Nicola Benedetti) and two works by Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps and his recently re-discovered Funeral Song (27 & 28 June 2018).

She’ll also be on the rostrum early in the season for two concerts in which Jörg Widmann plays the Mozart Clarinet Concerto (4 & 5 October). These concerts are significant because they’re the first in which Widmann appears as the orchestra’s artist-in-residence for the season. At various times he’ll be featured as clarinettist, conductor and composer – his Babylon Suite receives its UK premiere in the 5 October concert. Widmann returns later in the season for a concert in which he features in all three capacities: three of his works will be played, he’ll be the soloist/director in Weber’s First Clarinet Concerto and he will conduct Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony (6 June 2018).

Among the appearances by guest conductors two programmes pair the Brahms Piano Concertos with ballet music by Prokofiev. Martin Helmchen plays the Second Concerto as part of a programme in which Alexander Verdernikov conducts excerpts from Cinderella (6 & 7 December). Romeo and Juliet, an even greater score, comes under the spotlight in a programme conducted by Leo McFall when Paul Lewis will do the honours in the D minor concerto (22 February 2018). Another great Prokofiev score features towards the end of the season: Ludovic Morlot will conduct the Fifth Symphony. In that same programme Tasmin Little will play Bernstein’s Serenade, a piece we don’t often get a chance to hear (24 May 2018).

That performance of the Serenade is presumably a nod to the fact that 2018 marks the centenary of Lennie’s birth. A different facet of his work will be celebrated when John Wilson leads the CBSO in a concert entitled Bernstein: Stage and Screen. The renowned vocalist Kim Criswell will be on hand too as excerpts from such Bernstein hits as West Side Story, Candide and On the Town are performed. It should be quite a party! (24 January 2018)

Classical and pre-Classical repertoire will be well-served too. In that context it’s particularly good to anticipate two occasions when the CBSO will join forces with Jeffrey Skidmore and his excellent Ex Cathedra choir. One programme is devoted to Bach, including the superb Magnificat (14 October). Later in the season Mozart is to the fore in a programme entitled Mozart and his Women. The composer’s love for the soprano voice will be celebrated and a bevy of soprano soloists will be led by Carolyn Sampson (4 February 2018).

Last, but emphatically not least, mention should be made of the CBSO Youth Orchestra, whose concerts rightly form part of the CBSO’s season. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will conduct then for the first time – that should be an energising experience for the young players – in a programme entitled Spanish Fiesta. Debussy’s Images will be on the menu as well as works by Bizet and Falla (29 October). Later in the season the orchestra plays Mahler’s massive Sixth Symphony in which they’ll be conducted by Jac van Steen, always a welcome guest in Birmingham (25 February, 2018).

This really is a season with something to suit all tastes: there are, for example, a good number of concerts of lighter music and programmes aimed at families. This preview only scratches the surface of what will be on offer from the CBSO. Full details of the orchestra’s 2017/18 season can be found here. Public booking commences on 22 May 2017, either online or by calling 0121 780 3333.

UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season

27/04/2017

ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA ANNOUNCES ITS 2017/18 SEASON

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                                    Website – www.eno.org

  • ENO’s 2017/18 season features four new productions and five revivals at the London Coliseum, supported by a number of projects in other venues
  • Daniel Kramer directs his first opera as ENO Artistic Director, a new production of La traviata starring Claudia Boyle in her role debut as Violetta
  • Martyn Brabbins begins his first full season as ENO Music Director, conducting performances of Marnie and The Marriage of Figaro
  • ENO presents the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s latest opera, Marnie, directed by Michael Mayer and conducted by Martyn Brabbins
  • A new production of Verdi’s Aida opens the 17/18 season, conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson. After sell-out performances of his Olivier Award-winning Akhnaten, Phelim McDermott returns to direct
  • Cal McCrystal directs a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, starring ENO Harewood Artist Samantha Price in the title role alongside ENO favourites Andrew Shore and Yvonne Howard
  • Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and ENO present a new production of The Turn of the Screw, directed by multiple Olivier Award-winner and Artistic Director of the Open Air Theatre, Timothy Sheader. ENO Mackerras Fellow Toby Purser conducts
  • Revivals of audience favourites include Jonathan Miller’s The Barber of Seville, Richard Jones’s Rodelinda, Phelim McDermott’s Satyagraha, Robert Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fiona Shaw’s The Marriage of Figaro
  • A raft of exciting British conductors new to ENO includes Leo McFall, Alexander Soddy and Hilary Griffiths. Keri-Lynn Wilson and Karen Kamensek return after acclaimed debuts in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons respectively
  • Over 93% of cast and conductors in the 2017/18 season are British born, trained or resident. Rodelinda, Iolanthe and Satyagraha all feature casts that are entirely British born, trained or resident
  • More than 15 principal roles across the 17/18 season will be taken by current or former ENO Harewood Artists.
  • Over 39,500 tickets are available for £20 or less across the 17/18 season (500 for every performance)

Read more

NEW! 2017 BBC Proms from Friday 14 July – Saturday 9 September

21/04/2017

FOR BBC PROMS 2017 REVIEWS CLICK HERE.

Proms BBC Proms 2017 – Friday 14 July – Saturday 9 September 2017: the world’s largest classical music festival reaches new audiences with a Relaxed Prom, ‘Water Music’ in Hull and an array of young artists

2017 Proms Film

122 years since it was founded and 90 years since the BBC took over the running, financing and broadcasting of the world’s largest classical music festival, the BBC Proms today announces its 2017 season. Presenting over eight weeks of events and more than 90 concerts the festival continues its founder-conductor Henry Wood’s aim of bringing the best classical music to the widest audience. Read more

NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season

07/04/2017

Season 2017/18 at the Royal Opera House

ROHThe Royal Opera House’s annual announcement of its coming season brought presentations from all the Garden’s big guns. This was the first time a presentation had been given by Oliver Mears, the new Director of Opera (although given the long planning involved in these things, he was reticent to give a date at which his own stamp will be evident). Chief Executive Alex Beard was there, as was Sir Antonio Pappano, Deborah MacMillan (widow of Kenneth MacMillan), Kevin O’Hare (Director of The Royal Ballet) and Sarah Crabtree (senior producer).

The 2017/18 season is an exciting one, ranging from the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence (on the back of the success of Written on Skin and again with Martin Crimp as writer and Katie Mitchell as director; May 2018) through new productions of Lohengrin and Semiramide – and Carmen and Bohème – to the exciting announcement of a staging of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead.

The season opens with that new Bohème, Pappano in the driving seat and Richard Jones directing. The cast includes Nicole Car as Mimì and Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo (September/October 2017; and in June 2018 with Nicola Luisotti conducting and Matthew Polenzani as Rodolfo). Pappano also conducts Rossini’s Semiramide. That’s an exciting prospect given the success of the Proms performance in the not too distant past: here it will be directed by David Alden and with such powerhouse names as Joyce DiDonato and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo. (November/December 2017). Pappano also leads Verdi’s Macbeth in March/April 2018. The director will be Phyllida Lloyd and, if she shows, Lady Macbeth will be taken by Anna Netrebko. This superstar’s propensity for cancelling was tackled in the questions from the assembled press following her recent cancellation in Norma here at the Garden; her voice is “in transition” apparently. D’Arcangelo also stars (Banquo) with the man himself being sung by Željko Lučić. More Pappano still: Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, directed by Richard Jones and starring Eva-Maria Westbroek as Katerina Ismailova. John Tomlinson appears as Boris Ismailov.

Perhaps the Verdi Les vêpres siciliennes was glossed over a little in the exposition, especially given that it is conducted by the massively experienced man-of-the-pit, Maurizio Benini. The cast includes Malin Byström, Bryan Hymel and Michael Volle; the director is Stefan Herheim (October/November 2017).

It is that From the House of the Dead (March 2018) that has my pulse racing. The cast includes Willard W. White; the conductor is Teodor Currentzis and the director is Krysztof Warikoeski. Even more exciting is that this inaugurates a six-year Janáček cycle.

The new Carmen (February/March 2018), excitingly, is conducted by Jakub Hrůša in a fresh, “highly physical” production by Barrie Kosky. The cast includes Anna Goryachova and Kostas Smorginas (Escamilio) with Francesco Meli and Andrea Carè sharing the role of Don José. Complementing this is the work of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at Wilton Music Hall, with La Tragédie de Carmen (Southbank Sinfonia, November 2017).

A new Lohengrin will satisfy Wagnerians to an extent. It will be conducted by Andris Nelsons with Klaus Florian Vogt as Lohengrin, Kristine Opolais as Elsa and Christine Goeke as Ortrud. Producer David Alden returns after a break. But wait … on the horizon (September and November 2018) comes a Ring cycle conducted by Pappano. The cast includes Nina Stemme, Emily Magee and Ain Anger. Full details to be announced, one assumes.

And there’s to be a world premiere of some Donizetti. A mere 178 years after it was completed, Mark Elder gives the first performance, in a concert rendition, of L’Ange de Nisida with Joyce El-Khoury as Sylvia and David Junghoon Kim as Leone de Casaldi. (July 2018.)

Old friends are here as well: the McVicar Zauberflöte (September/October 2017, cast including Roderick Williams as Papageno); a more recent friend in the revival of Katie Mitchell’s Donizetti Lucia (Lisette Oropesa as Lucia, October/November 2017). There will be Cav and Pag conducted by Daniel Oren with the exciting announcement that Santuzza will be taken in December by Elina Garanča. Nedda in Pag will be Carmen Giannattasio, with Simon Keenlyside as Tonio. Another McVicar production, Rigoletto, straddles the turn of the year with Hvorostovsky in the title role. Gilda will be shared between Sofia Fomina and Lucy Crowe; more McVicar still with Salome (Swedish soprano Malin Byström in the title role, January 2018).

That perennial success, Jonathan Kent’s Tosca, returns in January/February 2018 with quite a trio of high-flyers: Adrienne Pieczonka, Angela Gheorghiu and Martina Serafin in the title role. The Cavaradossis are Joseph Calleja, Riccardo Massi and Massimo Giordano; intriguingly, Gerald Finley will be Scarpia.   Another crowd-puller is Don Giovanni, here conducted by Minkowski, directed by Kasper Holten and with Mariusz Kwiecień as the Don. Nocola Luisotti conducts Falstaff directed by Robert Carsen with Bryn Terfel as Sir John, Anna Prohaska as Nannetta, Ana María Martínez as Alice and Simon Keenlyside as Ford.

Off-ROH activities seem very healthy, with the another world premiere: Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Coraline (Barbican Theatre, libretto after Neil Gaiman conducted by Sian Edwards). Il ritorno d’Ulysse in patria is at the Roundhouse (January 2018). Another world premiere features a new work, Mamzer Bastard, by Na’ama Zisser, Guildhall School of Music & Drama/Royal Opera Doctoral Composer in Residence. At Printworks, London there is the world premiere of a new work by Tansy Davies and Nick Drake (June 2018). While Tansy Davies’ work may as yet have no name, Philip Venables’ work, while it has a name (4.48 Psychosis), currently has no home. Though this will not be a world premiere – it was done in Hammersmith in May 2016 – the presence of Sound Intermedia, who recently worked on the RFH film showing of Under the Skin, implies something special afoot.

Kevin O’Hare announced the Royal Ballet’s plans. There are five world premieres: Swan Lake (Petipa/Ivanov with additional choreography by Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett); a one-act ballet by Twyla Tharp (The Illustrated Farewell, set to Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, “Farewell”); a one-act ballet by Arthur Pita to a commissioned score by Frank Moon (on Dorothy Scarborough’s novel and silent film The Wind); a one-act ballet by Wayne McGregor (designs by noted ceramist Edmund de Waal); and a one-acter by Christopher Wheeldon, The Winter’s Tale, with designs by fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.

A celebration of Kenneth MacMillan on the 25th anniversary of his death finds five ballet companies coming together on the Royal Opera stage for the first time (Royal Balled, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet). MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles will be staged (inspired by Hamlet) alongside Jeux and a revival of Manon. The Leonard Bernstein Centenary will be celebrated via a triple-bill of one-act ballets by all three Royal Ballet associated choreographers while a triple bill Obsidian Tear/Marguerite and Armand/Elite Syncopations has music by Esa-Pekka Salonen in Obsidian Tear.

Revivals and repertory includes Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable, Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Ashton’s Sylvia and Peter Wright’s Nutcracker and Giselle. In addition, in September The Royal Ballet celebrates Hull’s contribution to ballet with a day of Swan Lake-inspired activities.

The Royal Opera remains a beacon of light, presenting a season with a brilliant mix of the new, the very new (the world premieres) and the well-loved.

Colin Clarke

NEW! In 2017 The Three Choirs Festival is from 22 to 29 July

04/04/2017

The Three Choirs Festival 2017: A Preview

3 choirs festivalThe Three Choirs Festival, which was first held in 1715 is probably the oldest music festival in the world; is there another festival that has been in existence for over 300 years? The Festival is held in turn in one of the three cathedral cities of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester. This year, by rotation, the Festival, which takes place between 22 and 29 July, will be hosted by the city of Worcester, The Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral, Peter Nardone, is Artistic Director of the Festival and he’s devised a wide-ranging programme of events. All the performances mentioned in this preview will take place in Worcester Cathedral unless otherwise stated. Read more

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