In the first complete season since 2019, The Royal Opera has announced its early plans for its 2021-2022 season.
Detailed information will be announced on 1 June. The Live Cinema season and digital programming will be announced later this summer, together with further details of the Linbury Theatre season.
The season includes five world premieres from The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera in the first full ROH Season for 18 months.
The Royal Opera Season will open with a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto, directed by Oliver Mears, which will be his first production since becoming The Royal Opera's Director of Opera in 2017. The new production will receive its premiere in September 2021, with Music Director Antonio Pappano conducting. Carlos Álvarez performs in the title role, alongside Lisette Oropesa and Liparit Avetisyan.
In 2022 the ROH will celebrate Antonio Pappano's twenty-year career at the Royal Opera House. Pappano is the ROH's longest-serving Music Director, and during his tenure he has conducted extensive repertory including Wagner's Ring cycle, Turnage's Anna Nicole and in 2019 Beethoven's Fidelio.
Katie Mitchell will direct a new production of Handel's oratorio Theodora in January 2022 – a work not seen on the stage at Covent Garden since 1750. The cast includes American soprano Julia Bullock in the title role and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Irene, alongside British tenor Ed Lyon, Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński and Hungarian-Romanian baritone Gyula Orendt. Harry Bicket will conduct and “the female-led creative team” includes choreographer Shelley Maxwell. The production of Handel's late work continues The Royal Opera's celebration of the operas and oratorios Handel wrote for Covent Garden.
The long-awaited premiere of Claus Guth's production of Janáček's Jenůfa will be on stage with Henrik Nánási conducting Asmik Grigorian in the title role, Nicky Spence as her jealous suitor Laca, Karita Mattila as the Kostelnička and Andrew Staples as Števa.
A new production of Peter Grimes, in collaboration with Teatro Real, Madrid has Deborah Warner directing and Mark Elder conducting a cast that includes Allan Clayton, Bryn Terfel and John Tomlinson. The production will have its premiere in Madrid in April 2021, before coming to the Royal Opera House in March 2022.
Richard Jones directs a new production of Saint-Saëns's Samson et Dalila with Antonio Pappano conducting Nicky Spence and Elīna Garanča in the title roles, leading a cast that includes Polish bass-baritone Lukasz Golinski.
In January 2022 the company celebrates the 75th anniversary of The Royal Opera company, which first came together at its Covent Garden home on 14 January 1947 in a performance of Carmen. Details of the anniversary celebrations will be announced shortly.
For The Royal Opera's Season in the Linbury, Little Bulb Theatre returns to the Royal Opera House for the world premiere of their magical new Christmas show for family audiences. The Linbury Season also sees the world premiere of a new opera, The Blue Woman, by composer Laura Bowler and librettist Laura Lomas. A co-commission with Britten Pears Arts, directed by Katie Mitchell, this new commission explores violence against women. Bajazet, co-produced with Irish National Opera and directed by Adele Thomas, will see the ROH's first opera by Vivaldi presented on the Linbury stage.
Revivals include Anna Netrebko in Nabucco, Angela Gheorghiu in Tosca, Sonya Yoncheva in Madama Butterflyand Simon Keenlyside in Macbeth. The 2021/2022 season also sees the return of La traviata “with no fewer than six sopranos singing the role of Violetta” (though presumeably not at the same time) in Richard Eyre's production: Lisette Oropesa, Ekaterina Bakanova, Anush Hovhannisyan, Pretty Yende, Angel Blue and Hrachuhí Bassénz.
Keith Warner's production of Otello returns in the summer of 2022 with American tenor Russell Thomas in the title role. Daniele Rustoni will conduct a cast including Hrachuhí Bassénz as Desdemona and Christopher Maltmann as Iago. Jonas Kaufmann takes the lead roles in Damiano Michieletto's double production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci, alongside Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho and Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili.
Oliver Mears, Director of Opera said:
After a turbulent year we are thrilled to announce a line-up of productions for everyone to enjoy in our first full Season since 2019. The opera company and all staff and artists in the building are itching to create and stage work and we are excited to welcome back international and British artists, and of course our magnificent Chorus and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Since first closing our doors a year ago, we have been proud to present a wealth of digital work to audiences around the globe, however, nothing can replace the live theatre so missed by us all in the last 12 months. We look forward to opening our doors in the autumn and presenting a truly remarkable new Season of work.
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.