The Royal Opera House (ROH) will host a season of new works and much-loved classics to be performed this autumn, as the venue welcomes back the public to its auditorium. For the first time ever, performances will also be accessible online for a global audience.
The first shows to take place in front of a live audience since the opera house was forced to close its doors in March will be on 17 and 24 October, respectively. The first of these is 4/4, which will be directed by Olivier Award nominee Adele Thomas. It will see four short operas take to the stage.
Renowned baroque specialist Christian Curnyn will conduct Alexandra Lowe and Jonathan McGovern in Handel’s cantata Apollo and Daphne (1710). HK Gruber’s wild and irreverent Frankenstein!! (1978) will see one of the most exciting and sought-after singers of his generation, Allan Clayton, take to the stage, directed by multi-Olivier Award-winning director Richard Jones and conducted by former Jette Parker Young Artist (JPYA) Ed Whitehead.
Soprano and Jette Parker Young Artist Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha will sing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1948), directed by Antony McDonald and conducted by Patrick Milne. And finally, leading British mezzo-soprano Christine Rice will perform Britten’s final masterpiece Phaedra (1976), directed by theatre and opera specialist Deborah Warner.
New Dark Age will open with The Knife of Dawn (2016), a one-person chamber opera by one of Britain’s most exciting young composers, Hannah Kendall. The new production will be directed by critically acclaimed director Ola Ince, conducted by Natalie Murray Beale and will feature baritone Peter Brathwaite. In A New Dark Age, Katie Mitchell will present a brand-new music drama showcasing works by female composers including Missy Mazzoli, Anna Meredith and Anna Thorvaldsdottir.
“I was first introduced to Hannah’s music at the Proms and was amazed by her sound world and language,” Jonathon Heyward, conductor for The Knife of Dawn, said. “We started working together about two years ago, so it’s a privilege to be conducting The Knife of Dawn. It is music that needs to be heard, and the work is so timely. It’s a great story with a beautiful narrative and compelling drama.”
Described as the world’s first hyper-reality opera, Current, Rising is an artistic experiment bringing together historic stagecraft and cutting-edge technology, developed by a female-led creative team.
The opera, directed by Netia Jones, designed by Joanna Scotcher and composed by Samantha Fernando, is inspired by the liberation of Ariel at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It places audiences at the centre of an immersive, dream-like virtual world, taking them on a journey through imaginary landscapes of the night, from twilight to dawn. It will take place in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre from 28 November.
Chief Executive Alex Beard commented: “We are delighted to present this bold, wide-ranging autumn programme highlighting the creativity and innovation that can come from adversity. It is vital for theatres across the UK and for our community of diverse artists that we begin to bring our artforms safely back to our stages.
“This programme of new work, shorts, a world-first hyper-reality opera and live broadcasts is all underpinned by our efforts to reach new and existing audiences online, showcasing the very best of our artforms in new and unexpected ways.”
The programme also includes Meet the Young Artists Week, offering the public the chance to meet the new set of talented young singers, conductors, repetiteurs and directors from across the globe joining the Jette Parker Young Artist programme.
Concert performances of Ariodante and Falstaff will take place in November. The former was the first opera written by Handel for the first theatre on the current Royal Opera House site in 1735 and has not been performed at Covent Garden since. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House will play alongside Paula Murrihy, Chen Reiss, Gerald Finley and Sophie Bevan, conducted by Christian Curnyn. Verdi’s Falstaff (1893) will feature celebrated bass-baritone Bryn Terfel resuming the titular role, conducted by Antonio Pappano.
Director of Opera Oliver Mears added: “The Royal Opera returns, determined to embrace the constraints of our new world while seeing this as a moment of artistic opportunity, offering a breadth of work from the beginning of our story.
“Concerts of Ariodante – one of the great Handel operas first staged at Covent Garden – through to Verdi, conducted by Antonio Pappano, and finally to bold new stagings of contemporary work and pieces that have never been seen at Covent Garden. Working alongside a world-class assembly of singers, directors and conductors, we can’t wait to be back, presenting these exhilarating projects to both live and digital global audiences.”
For full details of the season, visit the Royal Opera House’s website.
Composer Hannah Kendall’s The Knife of Dawn is based on the story of Guyanese political activist and poet Martin Carter (Kiran Ridley).