You can’t please everyone, and as usual the new season announcement brought its mixture of pleasure and pain; the former came from the retention of Antonio Pappano, who in the 2018-19 season will become the longest serving Music Director in the history of the Royal Opera, from the impressive array of new productions of standard works and from the many starry names including Bryn Terfel, Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Netrebko and Renée Fleming. Pain might well be the reaction from those who feel that a season without any Janáček, Britten or Handel (save for a performance of Oreste at Wilton’s Music Hall by members of the Jette Parker Young Artists) is the poorer thereby.
The season begins with a new production of Norma, (1st night 12 September) remarkable in that it features Anna Netrebko’s role debut in the title part, and Joseph Calleja’s first Pollione: it’s directed by members of the Catalan group La Fura dels Baus, known for an emphasis on redrawing the boundaries between performers and audiences. Our hearts sink, but who knows? The season’s second new production also goes for the ‘thought-provoking’ in that the director of Così fan tutte (1st night 22 September) is Jan Philipp Gloger, who has an ‘interesting’ history in terms of staging.
A new production of Shostakovich’s The Nose (1st night 20 October) is directed by Barrie Kosky, sure to make the event a big draw for those who were thrilled with Glyndebourne’s Saul; it’s to be sung in English in a new translation by David Pountney. The final new production of 2016 will be Der Rosenkavalier (17 December) in a collaboration between the ROH and the Metropolitan Opera, New York and Teatro Regio, Turin, and it’s set to be a major draw not only because it’s directed by Robert Carsen, but because it boasts a ‘dream team’ of a cast – Fleming as the Marschallin, Alice Coote as Octavian, Matthew Rose as Ochs, and Sophie Bevan as Sophie. That’s set to be a Christmas present worth waiting for.
2017’s new offerings are Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (11 March), Otello (21 June) and, new to the ROH, Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel (24 April). The first of these promises to be another big draw, with Bryn Terfel as Sachs and Johannes Martin Kränzle as Beckmesser, and it’s conducted by Pappano with Kasper Holten in charge of the production. The Otello will be carrying the season’s highest expectations, since it features the title role debut of Jonas Kaufmann; it’s conducted by Pappano and directed by Keith Warner. Adès returns to the house to conduct his new opera in a co-production with the Salzburg Festival, the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Danish Opera – there’s a large and enticing cast including Iestyn Davies, Ed Lyon, Anne Sofie von Otter and Christine Rice for this intriguing piece based on Buñuel’s 1962 film El angel exterminador.
Revivals will include Madama Butterfly in which the main attraction will be Ermonela Jaho’s first Cio-Cio-San for the Royal Opera, Manon Lescaut with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role and Adriana Lecouvreur with Angela Georghiu and Alessandro Corbelli reprising their classic interpretations of the roles of Adriana and Michonnet respectively. Handel gets a look in, or perhaps a squeak in, with a performance of Oreste at Wilton’s Music Hall, eight of the season’s productions will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3, and six will be screened in the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season.