The Royal Opera’s Music and Opera Directors, and its Chief Executive were full of enthusiasm and not lacking a little touch of pride when they announced the new season on Wednesday; both enthusiasm and pride were justified, with no fewer than eight new productions on the main stage, some notable revivals and further development of the Live cinema season. The general drift seems to be towards inclusiveness without dumbing down, an approach which our readers definitely support and which should lead to even better attendance figures than the present 96%.
The season opens with a rare outing for Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, with Juan Diego Flórez making his stage debut as Orpheus, and Lucy Crowe as Eurydice: if you’re a student & always meant to get to the ROH but have found it expensive, for this production’s opening the orchestra pit will be available to you for standing only at £10. Other notable new productions are a ‘Cav & Pag‘ starring the superb Aleksandrs Antonenko and conducted by Antonio Pappano, a Lucia di Lammermoor in which the leading role is shared between Diana Damrau and Alexsandra Kurzak, a Trovatore conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and a Boris Godunov in which Bryn Terfel sings the title part.
In addition to these, the Linbury Studio will be the venue for a performance of a new work by Luke Styles, formerly Glyndebourne’s Young Composer in Residence: the piece is based on Macbeth and will come to London in September after its Glyndebourne premiere. At the other end of the season in June, lovers of David Jones’ great, under-rated epic poem In Parenthesis will be treated to an opera based upon it, composed by Ian Bell and directed by David Pountney.
The season’s opera revivals are strong ones, particularly April’s Tannhäuser in Tim Albery’s searching production: Christian Gerhaher reprises his peerless Wolfram, so this one is sure to be in demand. There’s a final outing for the Francesca Zambello Carmen, with the lead tenor part shared between Brian Hymel, Jonas Kaufmann and Yonghoon Lee, and the 2004 Werther features a role debut from Joyce di Donato as Charlotte.
The ROH ‘Live cinema season’ goes from strength to strength, giving the lie to those who reject film as an acceptable way to enjoy opera: we take the view that those are the real snobs, and that seeing the best productions on screen is a great introduction to the world of opera – not to mention the fact that if you live four hundred miles away it’s your main route to seeing the work of the ROH without a long and expensive journey. The new season’s opera offerings are Figaro in October, Cav & Pag in December, Traviata in February, Boris Godunov in March, Lucia in April and finally Werther in June.
There were a few disappointments – no Handel, and no Janáček this time, although the promise of a full season of the latter coming up in 2018, to include a Katya directed by Ivo van Hove, went a long way to compensate. Overall it’s a clever balance between the ambitious and the cautious, and we expect to be in the Royal Opera House for many, if not all of the productions.
Full details of the 2015-16 season are here.