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Royal Opera House - Winter-Spring Season 2006

Preview by Jack Foley

THE 2006 Royal Opera House season runs until July. We bring you a preview of what’s on offer in the fantastic line-up as well as the chance to buy tickets…

Giselle (pictured)
Like La Sylphide, presented earlier in the Season, Giselle is one of the most influential of Romantic ballets, describing the power of a woman’s love in the face of betrayal. Peter Wright’s sensitive staging, with atmospheric designs by John F Macfarlane, heightens the contrast between the human and supernatural worlds, while its title role provides one of the classical repertory’s most technically demanding roles.
Dates: 10 Jan – 11 Feb
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Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)
To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Royal Opera mounts a new production of his setting of the second of Beaumarchais’ domestic but politically charged Figaro comedies, as adapted by librettist Lorenzo da Ponte.
David McVicar, known for the clarity and intelligence of his operatic interpretations, is the director for what is sure to become a classic production, while a musically striking start is promised with Antonio Pappano conducting a stunning cast. Gerald Finley and Dorothea Röschmann sing the Count and Countess, with Erwin Schrott as the valet of the title. Miah Persson (Susanna) and Rinat Shaham (Cherubino) make their Company debuts, while an experienced list of familiar names completes the cast.
A second set of performances later in the Season under renowned Mozart conductor Colin Davis sees Kyle Ketelsen (Figaro) in his second major role here this Season, with Soile Isokoski as the Countess and Michael Voile and Gerald Finley as the Count. Isabel Bayrakdarian makes her Company debut as Susanna and Sophie Koch sings Cherubino at The Royal Opera for the first time.
Dates: 31 Jan – 25 Feb & 19 Jun – 9 Jul
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Macbeth
Verdi’s lifelong love affair with Shakespeare first took wing with Macbeth in 1847. The composer thought the play ‘one of the greatest creations of man’ and, along with his librettist Piave, set out to make of it ‘something out of the ordinary’ on the operatic stage. Thomas Hampson and Violeta Urmana play the Scottish nobleman and his villainously ambitious wife, who spurs her husband to murder for the sake of his career. American bass-baritone John Relyea takes the role of Banquo, murder victim and symbol of conscience, while The Royal Opera is fortunate to have as conductor Yakov Kreizberg, making one of his few operatic appearances and his debut with the Company.
Dates: 18 Feb – 19 Mar
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Wozzeck
Keith Warner’s new production of Wozzeck proved a major highlight of the 2002/3 Season, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. Daniel Harding conducts this revival. Stefanos Lazaridis’s settings and a stark but intense visual symbolism frame the harsh world the composer Alban Berg created from Georg Büchner’s play. Johan Reuter makes his Royal Opera debut in the powerful title role, a disturbed man used for experimentation, taunted for his failures, then driven to violent action. Susan Bullock also makes her Company debut, as Marie, the mother of Wozzeck’s illegitimate child, whose seduction by the Drum Major, played by Jorma Silvasti, prompts her guilt and Wozzeck’s fatal jealousy.
Dates: 27 Feb – 13 Mar
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Eugene Onegin
Last presented by The Royal Opera in 1993, it returns now in a new production staged by the exciting partnership of Steven Pimlott, in his first production for the Company, and designer Antony McDonald. Philippe Jordan returns to conduct, while the fine cast includes many familiar names. Eugene Onegin (Dmitri Hvorostovsky) is unimpressed with naive Tatiana (Amanda Roocroft) when they first meet, and her impetuous letter of love to him prompts a cruelly dismissive response. But the tables are turned when they meet again after she has become the sophisticated and beautiful wife of Prince Gremin (Eric Halfvarson); Onegin’s attempts to gain her love are now rejected. And though the future happiness of Lensky (Rolando Villazón) and Olga (Nino Surguladze) at first seems certain, Onegin’s intervention leads only to a duel and death.
Dates: 16 Mar – 8 Apr
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The Ring – Götterdämmerung
Wagner’s epic cycle reaches its powerful conclusion in Keith Warner’s new production, as the influence of the gods, corrupted by Wotan, is finally purged from the world by fire and water. Vast in musical and dramatic scope, the opera’s philosophical themes are matched by intense scenes of revelation, triumph, menace and the ultimate sacrifice. Bringing his distinctive richness and clarity again to Wagner’s intricately woven score is The Royal Opera’s Music Director Antonio Pappano, while John Treleaven and Lisa Gasteen return as Siegfried and Brünnhilde, the agents through whom the purging of the ring’s curse is finally made possible. The plotting half-brothers Gunther and Hagen are sung by Peter Coleman-Wright and John Tomlinson, while Emily Magee as Gutrune wins Siegfried away from Brünnhilde through duplicity.
Dates: 17 Apr – 6 May
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Cyrano de Bergerac
Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac receives its premiere at The Royal Opera in a traditional staging by director Francesca Zambello and designers Peter J. Davison and Anita Yavich.The opera shares the lyric heritage of Alfano’s friend Puccini (whose Turandot he completed) but also looks forward to the more direct styles of the 20th century, as befits a work that had its premiere in 1936.The score is extremely inventive, but it needs to be; it takes a broad palette to portray Edmund Rostand’s famous creation – the expert swordsman with a huge nose who composes poems while duelling, yet as a point of honour to his friend Christian only reveals his true feelings to his beloved Roxane too late.
Dates: 8 – 27 May
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