The Royal Opera House (ROH) has announced details of its 2022-23 season, which includes 11 new productions alongside a huge range of revivals.
Among the highlights of the season are two UK premieres. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s unmissable new opera Innocence makes its long-awaited UK debut after premiering at Festival D’Aix-en-Provence in 2022.
The original Finnish libretto was written by Sofi Oksanen, based on her novel. In modern-day Finland, an oddly subdued wedding is underway. When the Waitress is taken ill, memories stir of a school tragedy from 10 years ago, forcing everyone to confront the trauma of the past.
Staged by acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone, Innocence opens on 17 April 2023. Finnish-Swedish mezzo-soprano Jenny Carlstedt sings the pivotal role of the Waitress.
January 2023 sees the UK premiere of Irish National Opera’s Least Like the Other (2019). This explosive and thought-provoking work by composer Brian Irvine and director Netia Jones traces events in the life of Rosemary, eldest daughter of Joe and Rose Kennedy, and sister of JFK. Using heavily redacted materials, it recounts events in Rosemary’s difficult life leading up to her disastrous lobotomy at the age of 23.
The Royal Opera’s season comprises nine further new productions. Antonio Pappano, the ROH’s longest-serving music director, will conduct Robert Carsen’s new version of Verdi’s Aida (1871). Opening in September, the production stars Russian soprano Elena Stikhina and, in the second run, American soprano Angel Blue in the title role.
Acclaimed director Adele Thomas’s new production of Verdi’s Il trovatore (The Troubadour, 1853) opens in June 2023. Her innovative staging sets the opera in a Hieronymus Bosch-inspired universe of medieval superstition.
Passions run high as Manrico and the Count di Luna compete for the affections of Leonora. But Manrico’s mother Azucena has been keeping a terrible secret for decades, and soon a curse from the past will rise up from the ashes with devastating implications for them all.
Pappano conducts a cast that includes American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Leonora, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov as Manrico and French baritone Ludovic Tézier as the Count.
Pappano will also conduct a new production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (1925) in May 2023. This new staging by award-winning director Deborah Warner stars German baritone Christian Gerhaher in the title role. Taunted and exploited by his superiors, Wozzeck is driven to madness and revenge when he learns of his mistress’s infidelity.
Also new for the season is a production of Rusalka (1901), with Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian performing the title role. She is joined by British artists Sarah Connolly, David Butt Philip, Matthew Rose and Emma Bell in a contemporary re-imagining of Dvořák’s lyric fairytale, co-created by Natalie Abrahami and Ann Yee, conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
The company’s exploration of Handel’s Covent Garden works continues this season with a new staging of Alcina (1735), directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Baroque specialist Christian Curnyn, and starring acclaimed soprano Lisette Oropesa and mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo. Additionally, Arminio, not seen in Covent Garden since 1737, will be brought to life by a dazzling cast and creative team of Jette Parker Artists.
The Royal Opera continues its Britten cycle with a new production of The Rape of Lucretia (1946). The opera will be staged by director of the Royal Opera Oliver Mears and performed by talent drawn from the Jette Parker Artists Programme and Britten Pears Young Artists Programme.
The ROH’s Linbury Theatre continues to showcase innovative new works and talent. Matt Copson and Anna Morrissey co-direct the premiere of Last Days. Composed by ROH/Guildhall School Composer-in-Residence Oliver Leith and adapted from Gus Van Sant’s cult 2005 film of the same name, it is loosely based on the final days of Kurt Cobain.
Woman at Point Zero, inspired by Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi’s seminal novel, opens in June as part of Shubbak Festival 2023, while History of the Present – Maria Fusco’s semi-autobiographical, ground-breaking new film-opera marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement – opens in July. Both are also part of the Engender Festival.
There is also a full roster of revivals of well-known operas, featuring some of the artform’s biggest names. This includes Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen in Tannhäuser (Wagner, 1845) opposite German tenor Stefan Vinke, and in Don Carlo (Verdi, 1867) with American tenor Brian Jagde; Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in The Barber of Seville (Rossini, 1816); Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi, American tenor Russell Thomas and Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho in Turandot (Puccini, 1926); and Swedish soprano Malin Byström in Salome (Strauss, 1905) and in Tosca (Puccini, 1900), opposite Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones.
Later in the Tosca run, Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso reprises his acclaimed performance as Cavaradossi, joining Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw and Uruguayan bass-baritone Erwin Schrott. In late autumn, Richard Jones’s production of Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896) is sung by three spectacular casts that include Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez and Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese; and German tenor Jonas Kaufmann performs the title role in Werther opposite former Jette Parker Young Artist Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina.
Public booking for all productions opens on 27 July.
The Royal Opera’s 2022-23 season includes the long-awaited UK premiere of Innocence by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (Jean Louis Fernandez).