Opera + Classical Music Features

Preview: Opera In The UK 2007

Antonio Pappano in the pit and a high-octane cast including Eva Maria-Westbroek, Bryn Terfel and Placido Domingo gracing the boards, anticipation is sky high (from October 2).

The even better news is that the Royal Opera has not cut corners elsewhere indeed, picking highlights is something of an impossibility. Though the appearance of Dawn French in a non-singing role seems ominous, Laurent Pelly‘s new production of Donizetti’s La fille du regiment stars Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flrez, which is recommendation enough (from January 11). Charles Mackerras conducts Handel’s Orlando (from February 26), while an intriguing double bill of two comedies – Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi – boasts the talents of Bryn Terfel and the gorgeous Christine Rice (from March 30).

From May 11, Simon Rattle conducts a cast to die for in Pelleas et Melisande including Simon Keenlyside and Angelika Kirchschlager. And speaking of casts to die for, Don Giovanni has Anna Netrebko, Ana Maria Martinez and last year’s popular Figaro, Erwin Schrott, in Francesca Zambello‘s theatrical production (from June 11).

Two concert performances of Massenet’s Thas on June 27 and 29 star the popular American soprano Rene Fleming and are conducted by Andrew Davis, while Dorothea Rschmann (so wonderful on Claudio Abbado‘s Magic Flute recording) and Thomas Allen complete a highly exciting cast for Cos fan tutte, conducted by Colin Davis (from July 14). If this is not enough, how about Jos Cura in Stiffelio (April), Karita Mattila in Fidelio (May) or Violeta Urmana in Tosca (July)? There really is something for every taste.

The English National Opera are not to be outdone, however, and have provided an eclectic selection of productions. David McVicar‘s acclaimed Agrippina and a pleasingly cast La bohme (with Rodolfo sung by Peter Auty, who last season provided a superbly lyrical Duke of Mantua) run from February 5 and February 22 respectively.

The London premiere of Phillip Glass’s Satyagraha promises to be unmissable for reasons both political and musical, and is exactly the sort of vital production that ENO needs in order to recapture waning sections of the audience (from April 5). Likewise, the company’s first ever staging of Death in Venice should be urgently attended, not least for a cast that includes Ian Bostridge and the vastly talented young countertenor, Iestyn Davies. And if Emma Bell did not convince as Violetta at the beginning of the season, hear her in her natural repertoire from June 8, when David McVicar‘s La clemenza di Tito is revived. Alice Coote and Paul Nilon also star.

The Welsh National Opera have unveiled a diverse season that includes Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina and Bartk’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. Highlights for the less adventurous include Madama Butterfly with Amanda Roocroft (from February 3) and Il Trovatore with Dennis O’Neill (from November 13). The World Premiere tour of James MacMillan’s new work, The Sacrifice, should also be essential viewing, especially with a cast that includes the glorious Lisa Milne (from October 16).

Down South, Glyndebourne have a season to make the arduous journey to the place worthwhile. Tristan und Isolde promises to be unmissable, with a cast including Nina Stemme and, even more excitingly, Ren Pape (from August 1). However, this is not an isolated highlight. The season kicks off with a new production of Macbeth from Richard Jones (from May 19) and ends with The Turn of the Screw with Emma Bell (from August 11). There is even a daring dramatisation of the St Matthew Passion by Katie Mitchell in her Glyndebourne debut (from July 1). The company will tour with Macbeth, Albert Herring and L’elisir d’amore.

At the Royal Albert Hall, the ravishingly beautiful in-the-round staging of Madam Butterfly returns under the baton of Peter Robinson (from February 22), and the 2007 BBC Proms should bring the usual quota of operatic morsels (allegedly including Gtterdmmerung with Donald Runnicles and Christine Brewer). The Queen Elizabeth Hall has a couple of musts – those being Mark Elder conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Imelda de’ Lambertazzi (March 10) and an outing for Jonathan Miller‘s L’Orfeo with Mark Tucker in the title role (March 14).

Meanwhile at the Barbican there is much to please admirers of Handel – namely Ariodante on March 27, Giulio Cesare on April 19 and Amadigi di Gaula on May 18 while Jiří Bělohlávek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra and an amusingly foreign-looking cast in The Excursions of Mr Broucek on February 25. And the best is saved until last – Colin Davis tackles Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini with the London Symphony Orchestra and some fine singers (from June 26).

With London’s summer festivals still to confirm programme details and the Edinburgh Festival’s top secret programme having much to live up to under the direction of first-timer Jonathan Mills, who knows what other treats there will be? All in all, this looks to be a special year for opera in Britain.

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