The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet present:
4/4 and New Dark Age – two brand-new opera productions
Current, Rising – world’s first new opera in hyper-reality
Meet the Young Artists Week
The Royal Ballet: Live
Concert performances of Ariodante and Falstaff
The Royal Ballet: Back on Stage
The Nutcracker and The Royal Opera in concert this Christmas
The Royal Opera House has announced “an exciting, wide-ranging new line-up” for its autumn programme. For the first time, performances will be accessible online for a global audience through live streams and for socially distanced audiences at Covent Garden. In a “global first” there will be a new opera in hyper-reality, alongside repertory favourites from both artistic companies.
THE ROYAL OPERA
Two newly programmed, progressive opera productions will welcome audiences on Saturday 17 and 24 October. The stagings will feature celebrated directors from the world of opera and theatre, paired with composers, conductors, singers and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in works that would never normally be seen on the main stage of the Royal Opera House.
The first of these, 4/4, will be performed live on Saturday 17 October. Directed by Olivier Award nominee Adele Thomas, renowned baroque specialist Christian Curnyn will conduct Alexandra Lowe and Jonathan McGovern in Handel’s Apollo and Daphne. Gruber’s wild and irreverent Frankenstein!! features Allan Clayton, directed by Richard Jones, and conducted by former Jette Parker Young Artist (JPYA) Ed Whitehead. Current JPYA soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha will sing Barber’s Knoxville Summer 1915, directed by Antony McDonald and conducted by Patrick Milne. And finally, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice will perform Britten’s final work Phaedra, directed by Deborah Warner.
New Dark Age will follow on Saturday 24 October. The evening will open with The Knife of Dawn, a one-person chamber opera by one of Britain’s most exciting young composers, Hannah Kendall. The new production will be directed by Ola Ince, conducted by Natalie Murray Beale with baritone Peter Brathwaite. Katie Mitchell will present a brand-new music drama piece showcasing works by female composers: Missy Mazzoli, Anna Meredith and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. The Royal Opera House’s commitment to promoting the newest talent continues, as emerging stage directors who have taken part in the ROH opera training programme, led by Katie Mitchell, assist on both programmes. Tickets for the online livestreams of 4/4 and New Dark Age are available online, and ticketing for live audiences will open soon.
Director of Opera, Oliver Mears said,
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 staged 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.
Then there’s “the world’s first original opera in hyper-reality”. Current, Rising is an artistic experiment bringing together historic stagecraft and modern technology, developed by a female-led creative team. The opera will be directed by Netia Jones, designed by Joanna Scotcher, and composed by Samantha Fernando, and 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.
Current, Rising has been produced as part of the Royal Opera House’s innovation programme, Audience Labs, and is ideal for those who are new to opera. It will take place in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre from 28 November 2020 and will strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Through the Jette Parker Young Artist programme for young singers, conductors, repetiteurs and directors, the Meet the Young Artists Week returns from 26-31 October with a virtual and live schedule. Power is placed in the hands of the digital audience as the week kicks off with Juke Box, a streamed event where each artist sings an aria or song in a bid to make it to the final live concert on Friday 30 October.
Complementing the main stage short operas, across the week three Female Monodramas will be broadcast featuring Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, Stephanie Wake-Edwards and Alexandra Lowe. They will be paired with directors from the Royal Opera House’s LockDown/SkillUp training programme under the tutelage of Katie Mitchell. The three short films have been shot on location in the Royal Opera House in the much-missed corridors and backstage areas. Rounding off the week, live audiences will be treated to recitals in the Linbury Theatre on Thursday 29 October featuring Blaise Malaba, Andrés Presno and April Koyejo-Audiger, and the full collective will join to sing in an Ensemble concert on Wednesday 28 October.
Ariodante 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. This autumn, the opera makes a welcome return. Performed in concert on Friday 20 and Sunday 22 November, the operas stars Paula Murrihy, Chen Reiss, Gerald Finley and Sophie Bevan, conducted by Christian Curnyn. A concert performance of Verdi’s Falstaff will follow on Friday 27 and Sunday 29 November, with Bryn Terfel resuming the titular role alongside Simon Keenlyside with Antonio Pappano conducting.
In December, The Royal Opera will perform several Christmas Concerts with the combined forces of the Royal Opera Chorus, Jette Parker Young Artists and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
THE ROYAL BALLET
In November, The Royal Ballet: Live will see the company back on its home stage with dancers from all ranks performing a selection of excerpts from traditional and contemporary classics, and each evening will close with a one-act ballet. Programme A features Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations and Programme B includes Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour.
A reworked, Covid-safe version of The Nutcracker will also open before Christmas, adapting Peter Wright’s 1984 production of The Royal Ballet festive classic.
On Friday 9 October, The Royal Ballet returns for a special live-streamed performance, The Royal Ballet: Back on Stage. After an absence of seven months the whole company will be reunited on their home stage with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a collection of highlights from its wide-ranging repertory. A specially invited small audience, including students and health workers, will be the first spectators since the beginning of lockdown.
The Insights series also continues via the ROH YouTube Channel, offering the opportunity to discover more about the work being created by the companies and creators working on stage and behind the scenes. The first will provide behind-the-scenes footage of Hannah Kendall’s The Knife of Dawn, offering rehearsal footage and interviews with the cast and creative team.
Royal Ballet dancers will host a dedicated Insight to celebrate Black History Month, this event will take a personal approach, discussing dancers’ experiences and influences, exploring heritage and culture and how these shared and individual experiences have shaped their lives and their careers in the UK and beyond.
Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, Alex Beard, said,
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 art forms safely back to our stages. This programme of new work, shorts, a world-first hyperreality opera and live broadcasts are all underpinned by our efforts to reach new and existing audiences online, showcasing the very best of our art forms in new and unexpected ways.
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.