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Wednesday 13 March 2013

Royal Opera House's 2013-14 Season

What an exceptionally exciting season! Best for a long while in my opinion - so much to savour. Aside from the inevitable Tosca/Bohemes there's almost nothing I don't want to see.

See it in full here.

Turandot (Sep then Feb/Mar)
Haven't seen the ROH's Turandot but it's an opera I find it very difficult to get on with, but I'll still go for the casts. UPDATE: after recent Tosca experience, I don't think I can face it, unless someone pays me to go.

Le nozze di Figaro (Sep/Oct then May)
McVicar's production is one of the best things he's ever done, and the casts are good. The first run is conducted by Gardiner, and then for complete contrast the second run will be Colin Davis (yay!). Keen to see Sally Matthews' Countess again, and Gerald Finley as Count also is great news.

Elektra (Sep/Oct)
This season is the 150th anniversary of Strauss' birth so he's appearing three times this season. Adrianne Pieczonka as Chrysothemis is very good news, and Christine Goerke I've never heard before but is a good voice on the evidence of youtube clips (though is it big enough?)

Les Vêpres siciliennes (Oct/Nov)
A new production by Stephan Herheim, his first at the ROH. Seriously exciting. I haven't talked much about him on this blog as I've never seen one of his productions live, but he is obviously the big name in opera directing at the moment so this is a major occasion. Cast is not greatly exciting, though I am one of the people who do like Brian Hymel. Maybe Poplavskaya will continue to improve? Will be good to see Schrott in a large role I guess too.

Wozzeck (Oct/Nov)
with Simon Keenlyside, Karita Mattila, John Tomlinson. Enough said.

Parsifal (Nov/Dec)
Stephen Langridge's Minotaur production this season was quite wonderful, but Parsifal is a very different piece. Still exciting to have a new production though cast is VERY mixed: Gurnemanz - René Pape, Amfortas - Gerald Finley (so far, so excellent), Parsifal - Simon O’Neill (what? Really?) Kundry - Angela Denoke (FFS).

Carmen (Dec/Jan)
Garanca and Rice are both great singers and I will definitely want to see both in this role. It's not my favourite production and the rest of the cast doesn't excite me that much however. Alagna may be good.

Manon (Jan/Feb)
I very much like Massenet's suavity and Manon may be his most consistently beautiful score. In theory a great opera, but so rarely sung satisfactorily. Ailyn Pérez gets just two performances as Manon and is potentially more interesting than Ermonela Jaho, but again I want to see both.

Don Giovanni (Feb)
Kasper Holten attempts the most oft ill directed of Mozart's operas. The current production is frankly awful and has lasted bizarrely long so it's not at all bad news that it's being replaced. After this season's quite poor Eugene Onegin most, including me, will be wary, but I'm eternally hopeful. Haven't seen his recent Don Giovanni film, but I imagine many Londoner's will be looking to view it quite soon. Cast not particularly enticing, but Véronique Gens will be interesting.

La fille du régiment (Mar)
Ciofi was surprisingly good as Marie last season, but the big news is Florez is back as Tonio. Ewa Podles is strangely cast in a role that will reveal very few of her qualities (Can we please get her as Ulrica?!!?!) and Kiri Te Kanawa makes an appearance as La Duchess de Crackentorp - no doubt we'll get an ill advised little song from her. This is about the best production you could imagine of this slight work, so I don't mind seeing it again.

King Priam and Paul Bunyan
ETO in two not often heard works - both extremely welcome, particularly the Tippett which is an odd gem.

Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Mar/Apr)
Will be good to see this very difficult to stage Strauss work presented here with a very decent cast and an excellent conductor. It's a work about which I have very mixed feelings - some parts are magnificent, some are dross, and it doesn't sit comfortably in Strauss' output. Emily Magee is quite an exciting prospect as the Empress and Johan will no doubt make a vocally splendid but physically limited Emperor.

Jonas Kaufmann Main Stage recital (Apr 19)
Oh Yes.

Faust (Apr)
Another spectacular cast: Netrebko, Terfel, Keenleyside, Calleja. Not my favourite score, but the cast makes it unmissable.

La traviata (Apr/May)
Two intriguing casts: Damrau/Demuro/Hvorostovsky and Pérez/Costello/Keenleyside. I can't really imagine Damrau as a Violetta past the first act, but I'm still keen to see it! Most reports suggest that Hvorostovsky may be past his prime, but this should still suit him perfectly. The other cast includes a very good young husband and wife team as the lovers, and Keenleyside was quite brilliant as Germont in Munich last summer.

Tosca (May/Jun)
Double cast Dyka/Alagna/Hampson and Radvanovsky/Massi/Catana. Not that interesting for me.

Les Dialogues des Carmelites (May/Jun)
New production for ROH by Carsen makes it very appealing, but this is one of the most overrated of all operas among the opera Cognescenti (my thoughts are here). I'd much rather see Tiresias' Tits.

Manon Lescaut (Jun/Jul)
My favourite Puccini opera in a new production with a stellar cast: Kristine Opolais/Jonas Kaufmann/Christopher Maltman with Pappano at the reigns. Very good news.

Ariadne auf Naxos (Jun/Jul)
This is one of my favourite operas. Karita Mattila as Ariadne is an interesting prospect, though I fear it might be a decade too late based on recent performances. Ruxandra Donose is also an intriguing choice as the composer. Jane Archibald is a decent though not outstanding Zerbinetta (I saw her in the Fleming Ariadnes last year in Baden Baden. Fleming is rumoured to be singing Ariadne at ROH with Thielemann in 2014/15).

Maria Stuarda (Jul)
Joyce DiDonato has been making the rounds with this role at the moment and I am very curious to see her in it. It's not my favourite voice and has split critical opinion in this role. This year's Rossini will be a good indicator of how it will go.

La bohème (Jul)
Double cast, three dates with Gheorghiu. Yawn.

Moses und Aron (Jul)
Two performances from the Welsh National Opera of Schoenberg's great unfinished opera. Can't imagine this will appear again for a long time, so again probably unmissable. I think it is very good news to see the UK's opera companies pulling together in this way and forging connections.

Gloria – a pigtale (Jul)
Just noticed this amongst other things which still seem hazy or are on at the Linbury (e.g. the Turnage - is it mainstage?). Very few details, but H.K. Gruber one of my very favourite contemporary composers. Another sure highlight.


  1. Agree with pretty much all of that (respecting both operas and singers commentary). Annoyed that Poplovskaya keeps popping up and ruining things I want to see. Really want come to London to see a thing (or 4... or 5 I miss London) but not sure exactly what. Certainly one of the Mattila things though you're right hat earlier would have been better. The Perez stuff and Faust...on the one hand would never travel for the opera and have heard all of the principles (including 2 in their respective roles) on the other the combination of the 3....Will probably pass on the Parsifal. Pape pretty much unmissable but I've seen him a bunch of times including 3 in the current Met run, Finely should be interesting but... O'Neil and Denoke??!!

  2. If there were 5 I would say: Les Vêpres, Wozzeck, FrOSch, Manon Lescaut, and then either Ariadne or Elektra. Maybe an early season London visit for Wozzeck/Vêpres and then late season for Lescaut/Ariadne? Mid season visit for Faust/ FrOSch/Kaufmann optional. :)

    Cannot wait for Papé - will be my first time seeing him live.

  3. I was going to figure out the logistics of various combinations but I appreciate the help, Cap.;-) Yeah, all 3 of those look really good (though, oddly enough, the ML is somewhat less compelling than the others - for purposes of travel - but in combination with the Ariadne....). Then, of course, there are the Carmelites, the new Don G, Manon and/or Traviata, I'm not sure I'd mind seeing the Figaro ... oh &#%^ it!

    About Hvorostovsky and Pape. Just heard the former in Don Carlos and there were clear and fairly serious issues with coarseness of tone and intonation ... in spots. At his best (Act IV) it was pretty vintage but to catch him at his best you should probably hurry. If you haven't seen Pape live by all means get to it! In Parsifal in particular (with all that singing) its easily worth not only the price of the ticket but even having to put up with some of the less than entirely appealing contributions from the others and I can't imagine Finely not being a huge plus here (though can't imagine he'd match Mattei).