Switzerland Geneva Grand Théâtre Season Preview
The Grand Théâtre de Genève held its annual press conference today to present the new season. This will be the last season in the Place Neuve building before two years of much needed renovations begin. The Theâtre has managed to acquire the temporary pavilion used by the Paris-based Comédie Française during their own rebuilding, and is feeling well equipped for this forthcoming challenge.
The Théâtre’s directors also mentioned the current audit. While fixed costs have indeed increased, there is a consensus on the importance of the arts in the Geneva canton which has agreed to increase public funding.
The Théatre was happy to report a successful season with the highest number of subscribers to date and various works completely sold out. Some of the tensions that existed between the Théâtre and the Swiss Romande Orchestra, which in the past had raised understandable concerns about the choice of conductors, seems to be a thing of the past. The future chief conductor is expected to conduct two productions and therefore be able to spend enough time with the Orchestra. So all in all, there was an understandable feeling of confidence at this conference.
Two productions staged by Robert Carsen will begin the season, although in both cases the Canadian producer will not come for the revivals. Rigoletto, co-produced with the Aix festival, will be the opening event in September. Alexander Joel will conduct with Franco Vassallo in the title role. Ekaterina Siurina and Sophie Gordeladze may join … and their seducer will be the Duke of Arnold Rutkowski.
This will be followed in October by Eugene Onegin, imported from the Met. Veteran Michail Jurowski, who did a splendid Love for Three Oranges a couple of years ago, will conduct. Michael Nagy, the current Wolfram in Bayreuth, will sing the title role, and Maija Kovaleska will be Tatiana. Veteran Raul Gimenez will be Monsieur Triquet; some may remember the scenes he stole as Basilio in this season’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
For the end of year celebrations, audiences should expect to smile as Laurent Pelly presents a new Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. Franck Villard will conduct and Ruxandra Donose will play the Grande-Duchesse, with Jean-Philippe Lafont as General Boum.
At the end of January 2015, Harmut Haenchen will conduct Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, staged by Lukas Hemleb with Geneva favorite Anna-Caterina Antonacci.
The New York Harlem Theater will present a long run of Porgy and Bess for which a number of seats will be offered to students and charitable organizations at discount prices to bring new audiences to the Théâtre.
In March Semyon Bychkov will conduct four performances of Verdi’s Requiem with C. Boross, V. Urmana, R. Massi and R. Scandiuzzi. This follows the Russian conductor’s successful performance of Mahler’s First Symphony with the Swiss Romande Orchestra, and his return is a positive event.
Christof Loy, with whom the Grand Théâtre’s artistic director, Tobias Richter, has often worked, will produce Cherubini’s Medea in April with Jennifer Larmore in the title role and Andrea Caré as Giasone.
The season will end in June with Fidelio under the baton of the former music director of the OST, Pinchas Steinberg. Mathias Hartmann will direct Elena Pankratova as Leonore, Christian Elsner as Florestan and Albert Dohmen as Rocco.
Contemporary works will be present as well: Michaël Levinas’s Le Petit Prince in Lausanne with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra; and Xavier Dayer’s operatic version of Kenji Mizoguchi’s masterpiece, Ugetsu Monogatari.
As always, the Théâtre will host many guest singers. There will be recitals by Bryn Terfel, Patricia Petibon, Natalie Dessay and Laurent Naouri; Michael Volle in Schubert’s Scwanengesang; and finally, Diana Damrau. Elina Garanca and Aleksandra Kurzak will give a concert performance of Bellini’s Capuletti and Montecchi, and barring any last-minute cancellation, Angela Gheorhiu will make her Geneva debut at a gala.
This is a balanced and not unambitious season. How many cities of the size of Geneva can boast such a program?