The Royal Opera House’s (ROH) summer season is now open. The programme features revivals of some of opera’s greatest hits: Massenet’s Werther (1892), Verdi’s La traviata (The Fallen Woman, 1853) and Don Carlo (1867), and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786).
It also features the UK premiere of Woman at Point Zero (2020) by London-born Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk and librettist Stacy Hardy. The season closes with a special summer performance by ROH’s Jette Parker Artists.
The season opens with the return of Werther to the ROH’s main stage. Massenet’s tragic opera is based on Goethe’s 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. It tells the tale of Charlotte and the young poet Werther.
It was Charlotte’s mother’s dying wish that her daughter marry Albert. However, when she meets the poet Werther they both fall desperately in love. Torn between duty and passion, will Charlotte remain faithful to her husband or give in to desire?
This revival of Benoît Jacquot’s period-perfect production is conducted by Royal Opera music director Antonio Pappano. It stars German tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the title role, with Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina as Charlotte. Canadian bass-baritone Gordon Bintner sings Albert and British soprano Sarah Gilford is Charlotte’s younger sister Sophie. The part of their father is sung by British bass Alastair Miles.
The production opens on 20 June, running to 4 July.
UK premiere Woman at Point Zero is inspired by Egyptian writer and feminist Nawal El Saadawi’s seminal 1975 novel of the same name. Fatma is an activist imprisoned for manslaughter and Sama is an ambitious documentary filmmaker. Over the course of a day together they share their memories, experiences and secrets.
A universal story of abuse and emancipation, the all-female creative team of composer Bushra El-Turk, director Laila Soliman, writer Stacy Hardy and scenographer and film designer Bissane Al Charif create a multimedia opera. Conducted by Kanako Abe, the music blends Western and Eastern traditions, performed on a unique mix of ancient folk instruments by musicians from all over the world. The opera marks the end of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival.
It features Syrian soprano Dima Orsho as Fatma and Italian mezzo-soprano Carla Nahadi Babelegoto as Sama. The production opens on 28 June in ROH’s Linbury Theatre. Further performances take place on 29 and 30 June.
An ROH Insight into Woman at Point Zero takes place on 30 June. The event takes a more detailed look into the themes and inspirations behind this multimedia opera.
Next, Nicholas Hytner’s production of Verdi’s epic historical opera Don Carlo returns to ROH’s main stage. It’s 1560 and the union of Don Carlos and Elizabeth of Valois has the power to bring about a new era of peace between Spain and France. But when Carlos’s father, Philip II, decides to marry Elizabeth himself, it triggers a crisis that engulfs the whole of Europe, pitting nation against nation and father against son.
American tenor Brian Jagde and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen play the young lovers, with Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea as the king. Bertrand de Billy conducts the ROH orchestra. The production opens on 30 June and runs to 15 July.
David McVicar’s five-star production of The Marriage of Figaro is also to be revived this summer. The production draws out the revolutionary elements of Mozart’s comic opera of intrigue, misunderstanding and forgiveness.
Servants Figaro and Susanna are filled with excitement on their wedding day, but there’s a hitch: their employer, Count Almaviva, has dishonourable intentions of his own towards the bride.
Italian baritone Mattia Olivieri is the eponymous hero, with Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg as his wife-to-be. French baritone Stéphane Degout is the count and German-Armenian soprano Hrachuhi Bassenz is his heartbroken countess. Joana Mallwitz conducts.
The production opens on ROH’s main stage on 8 July, with further performances to 22 July.
Richard Eyre’s classic production of Verdi’s La traviata also returns. The courtesan Violetta lives and breathes the glamour of Parisian high society, but she has never known true love – until she meets Alfredo.
Abandoning her hedonistic existence for a new life in the country, Violetta receives a surprise visit from Alfredo’s father, who exposes the cruelty of society’s double standards – and accelerates her tragic demise.
Conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson, the production stars Russian soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan as Violetta, Armenian tenor Liparit Avetisyan as Alfredo and Spanish baritone Juan Jesús Rodríguez and German baritone Christoph Pohl sharing the role of Giorgio Germont. The production runs from 10-23 July.
Finally, a highlight of the season is the Jette Parker Artists Summer Performance. Some of the opera world’s upcoming talent perform an uplifting array of opera excerpts on the main stage, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
Soprano Sarah Dufresne, tenor Michael Gibson, mezzo-soprano Gabrielė Kupšytė and baritone Josef Jeongmeen Ahn perform scenes and arias from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers (1863), Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (1816), Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues, 1830) and Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz (Friend Fritz, 1891). André Callegaro, Edo Frenkel and Edward Reeve conduct the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
The show takes place on 22 July, on ROH’s main stage.
Tickets for all productions are on sale on 13 April. Further information is available from the Royal Opera House.
A revival of Benoît Jacquot’s 2019 production of Massenet’s Werther opens the Royal Opera House’s summer season for 2023 (Catherine Ashmore).