Verdi's brilliant final masterpiece Falstaff, in its first new Met production in 50 years – and conducted by Met Music Director James Levine in his first new production since his return to his podium at the Met. When it comes to theatrical flair, captivating costumes, stage antics and imagination, there are not many shows on Broadway to rival the Met s new Falstaff. “Ambrogio Maestri is made for the title role, with the apt physique, nimble acting and superb vocal presence that make him the leading Falstaff of the day. There is no weak link in a finely balanced, comically-attuned cast (the women are especially impressive) and Levine’s conducting is pitch-perfect. The show fizzles from start to finish and is tremendous fun” (Classical Music).
Coproduced with Siberia's Novosibirsk Opera, this new Macbeth uses cutting-edge multimedia technology to give the viewer a fresh perspective on the work. Google Earth satellite images plunge us into the heart of the action: a gloomy square surrounded by soulless buildings, and the interior of an aristocratic residence. Witches are no more a part of Tcherniakov's Macbeth that the duel was of Onegin, but once again the atmosphere is one of brooding claustrophobia. Tcherniakov has chosen a great cast, beginning with the marvellous Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana as Lady Macbeth. Greek baritone Dimitris Tiliakos is a powerful presence as Macbeth, while the Italians Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass) and Stefano Secco (tenor) are sumptuous as, respectively, Banquo and Macduff. In this, his second production at the Paris Opera, Teodor Currentzis, music director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre conducts with verve and a splendid theatrical sense.
Dvorak’s enchanting fairytale of the water-nymph Rusalka has been a signature role for Renée Fleming for the past 25 years. The Gramophone Classical Music Guide writes: “Renée Fleming's tender and heartwarming account of Rusalka's Song to the Moon reflects the fact that the role of the lovelorn water nymph, taken by her in a highly successful production at the MET in New York, has become one of her favourites”.
Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles, set in Sri Lanka, is known above all for its unforgettable duet for tenor and baritone, but it its score is full of delightful and dramatic music. When recently staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York it proved a major success, both for the production by Penny Woolcock and the musical performance, conducted by Paolo Noseda, with (once again) Diana Damrau as the priestess Leïla and, as the two men competing for love, the tenor Matthew Polenzani (Nadir) and the baritone Mariusz Kwiecien (Zurga). Woolcock’s concept brought the production up to date, with photographic and video references to the 2004 tsunami, and offered a superb ‘aquatic’ spectacle during the overture: the whole stage appeared to be beneath the Indian Ocean and acrobatic divers ‘swam’ down from the surface (located in the flies of the theatre).
Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein is the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s new full-length ballet. A story of betrayal, curiosity, life, death and, above all, love, exploring the very depths of human nature. Laura Morera takes the role of Elizabeth, Federico Bonelli is Victor, and Steven McRae is the creature. Koen Kessels conducts Lowell Liebermann’s newly commissioned score in this collaboration between The Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet.
Verdi's late masterpiece is presented in Elijah Mashinsky's Met production with sumptuous sets and period costumes. Semyon Bychkov conducts an all-star cast led by South African Heldentenor Johan Botha in the title role with a voice of "impressive size and bronze color" (New York Times). Renee Fleming's Desdemona enshrines one of her signature roles in a definitive performance "she knows exactly how to spin the gentle lines of the "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" so that they softly fill the hall" (New York Times). A strong supporting cast includes the superb Falk Struckmann as Iago and star tenor Michael Fabiano as Cassio.
When Written on Skin had its premiere at the 2012 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, conducted by George Benjamin himself, it received a standing ovation. The opera's arrival at Covent Garden in 2013 was eagerly anticipated, and provided audiences with the opportunity to experience the work of two of Britain's greatest living artists. Benjamin previously collaborated with playwright Martin Crimp on Into the Little Hill, a magical retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale, and for this new work they joined forces with acclaimed stage director Katie Mitchell. For all three, the production marked their main-stage debut at the Royal Opera House. The tale, inspired by a medieval legend, tells of an ill-fated troubadour, drawn into a liaison with an innocent maiden. But they are observed by the jealous eye of her protector, who wreaks a shocking revenge on the young couple.
Kasper Holten’s production (The Royal Opera’s first) of Król Roger (King Roger) brought the opera back to the London stage after an absence of almost 40 years. Karol Szymanowski’s masterpiece powerfully presents the dilemmas of culture versus nature and man versus beast, and movingly depicts King Roger’s inner struggles as he moves from an impossible life of repressed desires to the other extreme, giving in to his own demons. Meanwhile, Roger’s people, seduced by the promises of the mysterious Shepherd, are drawn towards totalitarianism and repression. Antonio Pappano conducts Szymanowksi’s opulent and beautiful score, with a cast including Mariusz Kwiecień as Roger (one of the greatest interpreters of the role today), Saimir Pirgu as the Shepherd, and Georgia Jarman in her Royal Opera debut as Roger’s loving queen Roxana.
Edward Watson takes the role of Crown Prince Rudolf in Kenneth MacMillan's compelling ballet, which lives out the final eight years of Rudolf's life and its relentless downward spiral of political intrigue, drugs and murder. The ballet culminates with a suicide pact at a hunting lodge between Rudolf and his 17-year-old mistress, Mary Vetsera. “…while Mara Galeazzi as Mary Vetsera nearly stole the show with her natural conviction, exuberance and authoritative technique, the evening belonged to Watson as Rudolf, one of the most challenging male roles ever created.” Sunday Express