Tony Hall, currently the Director-General of the BBC but previously the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House from 2001 until 2013, is bringing his opera experience to broadcasting in a bold new collaborative project.
Across the season, which starts on 30 September, the BBC will work with 12 UK partners, including major cultural organisations and leading opera companies, with the shared vision to shine a spotlight on opera and engage the widest possible audience for the art form.
I want to see a new, bolder approach to partnerships in the arts: to amplify the UK’s creative voice globally and to collaborate, commission and create content in new ways. The opera season does just that. It’s creatively ambitious; it’s not without risk… that’s what makes it really exciting.
The season is part of a collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum’s blockbuster exhibition: Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, in partnership with the Royal Opera House.
Some of the biggest names in opera, including Jonas Kaufmann, Antonio Pappano, Danielle de Niese and Felicity Palmer are joined by opera lovers such as Game of Thrones star Isaac Hempstead Wright, David Threlfall, Julian Barnes, Lucy Worsley and Katie Derham, in a major BBC season which will see opera placed centre stage at the BBC across TV, Radio and Digital platforms.
#OperaPassion will showcase of the best of opera in the UK today and aims to establish a nationwide opera network to encourage further partnerships, new collaborations and future audiences.
One of the most challenging elements of #OperaPassion will be the day of live streaming on 19 October, taking audiences behind the scenes of the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, English Touring Opera, Northern Ireland Opera, Glyndebourne and the V&A.
Alex Beard, CEO of The Royal Opera House, said,
We enjoy a strong relationship with the BBC and it’s fantastic to see them shining a spotlight on opera this autumn. Having Tony Pappano, our Music Director, featured in Lucy Worsley’s Nights at the Opera documentary, and the broadcast of our Otello, one of the highlights of last season, starring Jonas Kaufmann, is great for audiences and complements the extraordinary opera exhibition opening imminently at the V&A.
Here are some of the #OperaPassion highlights:
♦ BBC Arts Digital, in collaboration with Tomorrow’s World, will bring together science and opera in a series of experiments as part of the BBC Opera Season. Streamed live from Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry the experiments will reveal whether a tenor can shatter glass, the biological secrets behind their tremendous vocal power and how the body reacts to an operatic aria.
♦ BBC Radio 3 to run an ‘Opera Vote’, allowing listeners to choose one of four operas they’d like to hear broadcast in full that night.
♦ A collaboration between BBC Arts Digital and Garsington Opera uses the latest technology to give audiences an 360° immersive experience of their acclaimed People’s opera Silver Birch, written by Roxanna Panufnik and Jessica Duchen.
♦ BBC Arts Digital will present a performance stream of Garsington’s Semele.
♦ In a Radio 3 Music Matters special, the future of opera is discussed with Dame Felicity Palmer.
♦ BBC Two’s Lucy Worsley’s Nights At The Opera, is a two-part series featuring Sir Antonio Pappano, which will explore the history and music of key opera cities.
♦ Award-winning filmmaker John Bridcut will give unprecedented access to one of opera’s greatest living opera stars in BBC Four’s Jonas Kaufmann: Tenor for the Ages.
♦ BBC Four will broadcast performances of the Royal Opera House’s Otello and Brett Dean’s Hamlet from Glyndebourne.
♦ BBC Radio 3, the regular home of opera at the BBC, will present an enriched opera offering with special programmes alongside its weekly opera offering.
- All seven, operatic works featured in the V&A’s exhibition broadcast in Radio 3’s Opera on 3 and Afternoon Concert.
- The station’s flagship drive time show In Tune will broadcast live from the V&A on #OperaPassion day.
- Familiar faces including David Threlfall, Julian Barnes, Garth Greenwell, Patricia Dunker and Rachel Cooke will discuss how they fell in love with opera in a special edition of The Essay.
- Cultural historian Dr Alexandra Wilson will present new research into the 1920s operatic scene in London whilst Sir John Tusa re-traces his journey through opera in two Sunday Features.
Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, commented,
We are thrilled to be collaborating with the V&A, ROH, major cultural institutions and leading opera companies from across the UK, to place opera centre stage at the BBC this autumn.
Audiences will have the opportunity to experience and explore one of the most exhilarating and irresistible of all art forms across BBC Radio, TV and digital platforms, and together with our partners we will look to create a nationwide moment for opera, engaging ever larger audiences and inspiring the next generation of opera lovers.
Opera: Passion, Power and Politics
The Sainsbury Gallery, V&A Museum | 30 September 2017 – 25 February 2018
This autumn the Victoria and Albert Museum, in collaboration with the Royal Opera House, will create a vivid and immersive journey through nearly 400 years of opera, exploring its passion, power and politics.
The only exhibition ever to explore opera on a grand scale, it will immerse visitors in some key moments of the history of European opera, from its roots in Renaissance Italy to its present-day form, by focusing on seven operatic premieres in seven cities.
It will reveal how opera brings together multiple art forms to create a multi-sensory work of art, and show how social, political, artistic and economic factors interact with great moments in the history of opera to tell a story of Europe over hundreds of years.
The V&A is now the world-leader in innovative performance exhibitions — said Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A — and after David Bowie and Pink Floyd, we are celebrating the classical world with Opera: Passion, Power and Politics.
Together with the Royal Opera House, the V&A is telling the story of European history through its most dramatic, beautiful, and romantic art form. We know that our stunning exhibition — in the museum’s new Sainsbury Gallery — combined with the BBC’s fascinating and varied programming will bring opera to life to both aficionados and new audiences in the UK and around the world.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.