tue 23/07/2024

Royal Opera & Royal Ballet, 2011-12 Season | reviews, news & interviews

Royal Opera & Royal Ballet, 2011-12 Season

Royal Opera & Royal Ballet, 2011-12 Season

Thoughts of Olympic rings, competitions and cycles

The Royal Opera House's 2011-12 season takes place under the shadow of a 15 per cent cut in public funding and the looming London Olympics. There are 12 ballet bills and 18 opera nights, including one new opera and two new short ballets.

Tony Hall, ROH chief executive, said there would be no open session for the attendees to ask questions. He said, “Much of our conversation has been about the Arts Council and cuts, and of course we’ve taken our fair share of the pain.” He said the frontloading of the cuts would reduce the next season but the main effect would be delayed until after the Olympics and impact on 2012-13.

“In 2012 the eyes will be very much on London - we want to be part of that," said Hall. "We hope people looking at London in the Olympics will see that our fantastic arts and culture of this country are also reflected." The Olympics had inspired the planning of a summer collaboration between ballet and the National Gallery, with contemporary choreographers working on themes of Titian paintings, Puccini and Mozart opera cycles and the start of a new Wagner Ring cycle.

Monica Mason, the retiring Royal Ballet director, said that her final season would be her “director’s choice” of works she particularly loved, including six each of Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan’s works, and an inclination for ballet to vocal music. Only two new works would be created, by Liam Scarlett (whose last work Asphodel Meadows will be revived as well) and resident choreographer Wayne McGregor. The revival of MacMillan’s The Prince of the Pagodas next summer, with new elisions made with the approval of the Britten Estate to the score, would be her penultimate offering, attempting to restore a problematical but major work to the repertoire. The last piece performed under her directorship would be Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces.

Antonio Pappano, music director, said that the Olympics had inspired him to thoughts of cycles and rings - hence opening the season with a very rare staging of Puccini’s operatic triptych, the three Mozart Da Ponte operas, and the return in September 2012 of the Ring cycle. “I got inspired by the vision of the Olympic rings,” he said. He added that it was unusual for a major opera house to start a season with a new production which needed preparation and rehearsal over the August holiday months, but “I felt it was necessary to fight for a new production. The House will be turned upside down for this - I’m very happy about it.” Other Olympic-themed endeavours would be the return of Wagner’s Der Meistersinger - about a singing competition - and a staging of Berlioz’s massive Les Troyens.

Royal Opera

  • 2-4 September: DeLoitte Ignite Festival (ROH2). An annual mash-up of performance arts commissioned from an “outsider” - this time film director and musician Mike Figgis is the curator, on the theme of “telling the truth”.
  • 12 September: Il Trittico (Puccini, 1918), NEW PRODUCTION. The Royal Opera’s first complete production since 1965 of his daring trio of contrasting one-act operas: Il Tabarro (The Cloak, a thriller), Suor Angelica (a nun’s tragedy) and Gianni Schicchi (a family comedy). Directed by Richard Jones, designed by three different designers, and conducted by Pappano, with a cast including Anja Harteros, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Lucio Gallo and Aleksandrs Antonenko.
  • 18 September: Faust (Gounod). Revival with Angela Gheorghiu or Malin Byström as Marguerite, Vittorio Grigolo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Zheng Zhong Zhou and René Pape.
  • 30 September: La Traviata (Verdi). Revival of Richard Eyre’s production in three runs, headed by Marina Poplavskaya, James Valenti and Leo Nucci (September), Ailyn Pérez, Piotr Beczala and Simon Keenlyside (25 November), and Ermonela Jaho or Anna Netrebko, Stephen Costello or Vittorio Grigolo, and Paolo Gavanelli (2 January, 2012)
  • 18 October: Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner). Revival of Tim Albery’s production conducted by Jeffrey Tate, with Anja Kampe, Endrik Wottrich, Falk Struckmann and Stephen Milling in leading roles.
  • 2 November: La sonnambula (Bellini). Revival starring Eglise Gutiérrez and Royal Opera debutant Celso Albelo.
  • November: Heart of Darkness, (ROH2) WORLD PREMIERE. Co-production with Opera East, the first opera of British composer Tarik O’Regan, librettist Tom Phillips, based on Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novella.
  • November: Yes (ROH2 Exposure season). World premiere of an opera by Errollyn Wallen and writer Bonnie Greer, based on Greer’s experience on BBC Question Time with Nick Griffin.
  • 19 December: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner). Revival of Graham Vick’s production conducted by Pappano, with Wolfgang Koch in his Royal Opera debut as Hans Sachs and Simon O’Neill, Peter Coleman-Wright, Emma Bell, Toby Spence and John Tomlinson.
  • 21 January, 2012: Don Giovanni (Mozart). Revival of Francesca Zambello’s production conducted by Constantinos Carydis, with Gerald Finley and Erwin Schrott alternating as the fatally libidinous Don.
  • 27 January, 2012: Cosi fan tutte (Mozart). Revival of Jonathan Miller’s production conducted by Sir Colin Davis, with Malin Byström, Charles Castronovo, Rosemary Joshua, Nikolay Borchev and Thomas Allen in the cast.
  • 11 February, 2012: Le nozze de Figaro (Mozart). Revival of David McVicar’s production conducted by Pappano, with Simon Keenlyside, Aleksandra Kurzak, Kate Royal and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo in main roles.
  • 27 February, 2012: Rusalka (Dvorak, 1901), NEW PRODUCTION. First full staging at the ROH of the lyrical folk tale of a doomed water nymph who desires to become human and experience love. Production comes from Salzburg Festival 2008, directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Marabito, starring Camilla Nylund. Yannick Nézet-Séguin makes his ROH debut conducting.
  • March 2012: The Lion’s Face (ROH2). Revival of a 2010 opera shown at the Linbury Studio last year, Elena Langer and Glyn Maxwell’s work about Alzheimer’s disease, production by John Fulljames.
  • 12 March, 2012: Miss Fortune (Judith Weir, 2011), NEW PRODUCTION. UK premiere of a new opera by Weir, co-commissioned by the ROH and Bregenz Festival, where it premieres in July 2011. This is a setting of a Sicilian folk tale about the daughter of aristocrats, whose loss of family fortune takes her into hardship, suffering and a pivotal meeting with Fate. Directed by Shi-Zheng Chen, who staged Damon Albarn’s Monkey at Covent Garden in 2008. Emma Bell and Jacques Imbrailo head the cast, ENO music director Paul Daniel conducts.
  • 30 March, 2012: Rigoletto (Verdi). Revival conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, with Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias in his ROH debut as the jester, Ekaterina Siurina and Vittorio Grigolo.
  • April: Opera Shots (ROH2). The experimental area for non-classical composers to try creating opera: this year Scott Walker, Graham Fitkin and Neil Hannon are commissioned to create half-hour operas.
  • 19 April, 2012: La fille du régiment (Donizetti). Revival with with Patrizia Ciofi and Colin Lee in the vocally testing leading roles.
  • 28 April, 2012: La bohème (Puccini). Revival conducted by Semyon Bychkov, with Anja Harteros/Joseph Calleja at Mimi/Rodolfo in one cast, and Barbara Frittoli/Roberto Alagna in the other.
  • May 2012: Sum (ROH2 World premiere). A new chamber opera by Max Richter, directed by Wayne McGregor, based on a book by an American neuroscientist, David Eagleman, using film, music and performance.
  • 15 May, 2012: Falstaff (Verdi), NEW PRODUCTION. Daniele Gatti conducts, Robert Carsen directs an international production lead by seasoned Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri.
  • 31 May, 2012: Salome (Richard Strauss). Revival conducted by Andris Nelsons, starring Angela Denoke, Egils Silins, Stig Andersen and Rosalind Plowright
  • 25 June, 2012: Les Troyens (Berlioz, 1858), NEW PRODUCTION. First complete staging at the ROH since 1972, directed by David McVicar, conducted by Pappano. Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Caterina Antonacci and Eva-Maria Westbroek lead the cast.
  • 12 July, 2012: Otello (Verdi). Revival of Elijah Moshinsky’s production conducted by Pappano, with Aleksandrs Antonenko, Anja Harteros and Lucio Gallo in the principal roles.

Royal Ballet

  • 20 September: Jewels (Balanchine/Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky). A ballet in three acts inspired by jewels - Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds - and created by Balanchine in homage to French, American and Russian styles of classical ballet.
  • One performance to be shared with the Royal Opera in an unusual double bill of the Rubies/Stravinsky ballet with Puccini’s comic Gianni Schicchi.
  • 8 October: Triple bill: Limen, Marguerite and Armand, Requiem. Wayne McGregor’s 2009 work set to Kaija Saariaho’s cello concerto and a ravishing LED lightscape, Ashton’s tragic romance for Fonteyn and Nureyev, now with the lip-smacking cast of Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin, or Zenaida Yanowsky and Federico Bonelli; and MacMillan’s Requiem, a lyrically beautiful lament for John Cranko to Fauré’s Requiem.
  • 22 October-21 December: The Sleeping Beauty (Petipa, Sergeyev, De Valois). Revival of the 2005 production by Monica Mason with Peter Farmer augmenting historic Forties designs by Oliver Messel. Performances 22, 24, 28, 31 Oct, 11, 12, 14, 21, 22, 25 Nov, 1, 8, 10, 15 mat & eve, 17, 21 mat & eve Dec.
  • 3 -26 November: Manon (MacMillan/Massenet). Revival for nine performances of the striking 1974 MacMillan/Nicholas Georgiadis production. The score in its new freshened 2011 version by Martin Yates. Role debuts for Lauren Cuthbertson and Sergei Polunin, other Manons Sarah Lamb, Marianela Nuñez and Roberta Marquez. Performances 3, 5, 8, 9 mat & eve, 15, 17, 26 mat & eve.
  • 19-30 November: Triple bill - Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria. Double Poulenc, sandwiching Elgar, and a theme of lament for war. Liam Scarlett’s superb 2010 ensemble and MacMillan’s First World War elegy bookend Ashton’s portrayal of Elgar and his friends. Performances 19 mat & eve, 23, 24, 29 & 30.
  • 2 December-18 January: The Nutcracker (Petipa, Ivanov, Wright). The familiar RB production designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman. Performances on 3 Dec, 5, 7, 11 mat, 13, 18 mat, 20 mat, 23 mat & eve, 24 mat, 28 mat & eve, 29, 30, 31 mat & eve, 2 Jan mat, 3 mat & eve, 7 mat & eve, 11, 14 mat & eve, 18.
  • 9-31 December: The Magical Night (Weill, 1922), NEW PRODUCTION (ROH2). A lost ballet-pantomime by German composer Kurt Weill, Zaubernacht, a fairytale for children, has its first staging. Aletta Collins  creates new choreography for the music, pieced together from piano and other relevant scores, though the original was lost after Weill's death in 1950. Performances 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31
  • 10 January-31 March: Romeo and Juliet (MacMillan/Prokofiev). This emotionally wrenching 1965 landmark is justifiably the most popular ballet treatment worldwide of Shakespeare's lovers. Performance casts Rojo/Acosta (10, 19 Jan), Lamb/Bonelli (12, 16 Jan), Nunez/Soares (13 Jan), Cojocaru/Kobborg (3 mat, 7 March), Marquez/McRae (8, 21 March), Hamilton (debut)/Pennefather (10 mat March), Cuthbertson/Polunin (10 eve, 22 March), Benjamin/Watson (24, 31 March)
  • 1 February-5 March: Double bill - The Dream, Song of the Earth. A peerless combination of two balletic miracles: Ashton’s deliciously witty take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to Mendelssohn, and MacMillan’s masterpiece to Mahler’s song cycle meditating on life and death. Performances 1, 2, 6, 8, 9 Feb, 5 Mar, with Cojocaru, Rojo, Benjamin, Watson, Acosta and Polunin all to be looked for.
  • 17 March-16 April: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Wheeldon, Joby Talbot). Revival of 2011’s big event for 10 performances, the lavish family staging of Lewis Carroll’s classic book, designed by Bob Crowley. The Alices are Lauren Cuthbertson, Sarah Lamb and Marianela Nuñez, the Jacks of Hearts are Sergei Polunin, Federico Bonelli and Rupert Pennefather. Performances 17, 19, 24 (mat), 26, 27, 29 March, 3, 9 (mat), 13, 16 Apr
  • 5-23 April: Triple bill - NEW Liam Scarlett, Polyphonia, NEW Wayne McGregor. The one night of the year for new work, with world premieres from the rising Scarlett, a Neo-Classicist, and the established Modernist McGregor. In the middle, Christopher Wheeldon’s superb Ligeti ballet Polyphonia sets the bar very high. Performances 5, 10, 12, 14, 18, 23 Apr.
  • 20 April-16 May: La fille mal gardée (Ashton/Hérold, Lanchbery). The greatest comedy ballet of all, the 1960 beauty about a naughty girl who won't marry the idiot her mother intends for her. Performance casts Nunez/Acosta 20, 26 Apr, Cojocaru/Kobborg 24, 28 Apr, Morera/Cervera 28 Apr, 2 May, Choe/Polunin 4, 9 May, Marquez/McRae 11, 16 May
  • 21 May, 2012: Double bill - Ballo della Regina & La Sylphide. Balanchine’s short Verdi romp for brilliant female dancing precedes Bournonville’s capricious and lightly tragic two-acter about the Sylphide who steps fatally out of her fairy kingdom to destroy a young man’s marriage. Produced by the Royal Ballet’s Johan Kobborg.
  • 2 June, 2012: The Prince of the Pagodas (MacMillan/Britten). Eight performances for this Nicholas Georgiadis-designed fairytale about a Princess’s love for a salamander, with the luscious Indonesian-influenced score in a new tighter edition.
  • 30 June, 2012: Triple bill - Birthday Offering, A Month in the Country, Les noces. Ashton’s celebration of seven ballerinas marks the Royal Ballet’s 80th anniversary, contrasting with his tender ballet-drama to Turgenev’s short story about a lady who falls in love with her children’s tutor. Nijinska’s Les noces is a setting of a Russian peasant wedding using Stravinsky’s extraordinary score for soloists, chorus, four pianos and percussions.
  • 14 July, 2012: Metamorphosis: Titian 2012. Seven choreographers collaborate with artists Conrad Shawcross, Mark Wallinger and Chris Ofili in a National Gallery project to spotlight Titian’s great paintings, Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon and Diana and Callisto. “It’s a huge adventure to see what happens when you combine brilliantly talented people. I’ve no idea what will happen that night. I’m looking forward to an absolute blast to finish with,” commented Monica Mason.


A new Ring Cycle? I thought the 2012 Ring was to be a revival of Keith Warner's recent production, but from this article it sounds like the launch of completely new cycle. Perhaps I've misunderstood- although I hope not.

It is, alas, a revival of the Warner Ring cycle, as I can confirm from a conversation at the Royal Opera tonight. Though the good news is that Susan Bullock is booked as Brunnhilde for all sets, as she should have been first time around.

Thanks for the clarification- I suppose ANY Ring is better than no Ring at all.... Despite being a Friend of Covent Garden, I only managed to get tickets for Rheingold and Walkure in their initial stagings last time around, before the complete cycle was staged later on, by which time I believe the production had been considerably "tweaked". Hopefully I'll see the whole thing next year. (I'd better start saving up now!!) Did you hear any other casting rumours?

Not so much rumours as official press release of all the casts - which I got last night - confirming the best news of all: the house has got Anja Harteros back after missing out for several seasons. Her Suor Angelica will get the season off to a good start, to put it mildly. She'll also be singing Desdemona. Eva Maria Westbroek is also rightly highly favoured.

I hope they put up Alice in wonderland on TV again, so then i can record, i'm really peeved that's there's nothing anywhere, apart from iplayer, and it's going tomorrow.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters