Sexual intrigue, jealousy, wit, anger… and retribution! The new Royal Opera Season begins with Mozart’s engaging masterpiece, which follows Don Giovanni, the women he serially seduces, and the vengeance that finally catches up with him. The opera is renowned for its ever-shifting portrayals of complex characters, fast-moving action and mix of the comic and the heartfelt. A cast of international singers – both familiar and making Royal Opera debuts – under conductor Hartmut Haenchen perform the glorious arias and ensembles of this opera favourite.
Royal Opera favourite Bryn Terfel heads the cast for this new production of Donizetti’s comedy of domestic drama across two generations. The witty story of a middle-aged man whose supposed young wife runs rings around him – with her own ulterior romantic purpose in mind – has long delighted and surprised audiences, not least as presented with the sparkle of its music and the virtuoso skill of its performers. Damiano Michieletto’s exhilarating production shows how contemporary the characters still are and how
immediate and touching the story remains.
From The Royal Ballet’s classical origins in the works of arius Petipa, to the home-grown choreographers who put British ballet on the world stage, this mixed programme highlights the versatility of the Company. Petipa’s Raymonda Act III is Russian classical ballet summarized in one act, full of parkle and precise technique, while Ashton’s Enigma Variations is quintessentially British in every way – from its score by Elgar and period designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, to Ashton’s ignature style, the essence of British ballet. Concerto, MacMillan’s fusion of classical technique with a contemporary mind, completes a programme that shows the breadth of The Royal Ballet’s heritage.
A classic returns to The Royal Ballet repertory with Ninette de Valois’ charming and funny Coppélia – a story of love, mischief and mechanical dolls. The intricate choreography is set to Delibes’ delightful score and shows off the technical precision and comedic timing of the whole Company. Osbert Lancaster’s designs bring a colourful storybook world to life in this Christmas treat for the whole family.
The Royal Ballet's glorious production of The Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1984, is the production par excellence of an all-time ballet favourite. It is Christmas Eve and Herr Drosselmeyer the magician sweeps young Clara away on a fantasy adventure in which time is suspended, the family living-room becomes a great battlefield, and a magical journey takes them through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets. Tchaikovsky's glittering score, the gorgeous festive stage designs, and The Royal Ballet's captivating dancing including an exquisite pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince, make this Nutcracker the quintessential Christmas experience.
This production of The Sleeping Beauty has been delighting audiences in Covent Garden since 1946. A classic of Russian ballet, it established The Royal Ballet both in its new home after World War II and as a world-class company. Sixty years later, in 2006, the original staging was revived, returning Oliver Messel’s wonderful designs and glittering costumes to the stage. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score and Marius Petipa’s original choreography beautifully combine with sections created for The Royal Ballet by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon. This ballet is sure to cast its spell over anyone who sees it.
Puccini’s opera of young love in 19th-century Paris is packed with beautiful music, including lyrical arias, celebratory choruses for Act II’s evocation of Christmas Eve in the Latin Quarter and a poignant final scene over which the composer himself wept. Richard Jones’s character-led production perfectly capturesLa bohème’s mixture of comedy, romance and tragedy, with striking designs by Stewart Laing. The cast features some of the greatest interpreters of Puccini’s bohemian lovers performing today, as well as former members of The Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.
Choreographer Cathy Marston is previously an Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House and Director of Bern Ballett, and much in demand internationally. The inspiration for her first work for The Royal Ballet Main Stage is the momentous life and career of the cellist Jacqueline du Pré. A new work by Liam Scarlett, The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence, provides the second part of the programme.
Beethoven’s only opera is a masterpiece, an uplifting story of risk and triumph. In this new production, conducted by Antonio Pappano, Jonas Kaufmann plays the political prisoner Florestan, and Lise Davidsen his wife Leonore (disguised as ‘Fidelio’) who daringly sets out to rescue him. Set in strong counterpoint are the ingredients of domestic intrigue, determined love and the cruelty of an oppressive regime. The music is transcendent throughout and includes the famous Act I Quartet, the Prisoners’ Chorus and Florestan’s impassioned Act II cry in the darkness and vision of hope. Tobias Kratzer’s new staging brings together the dark reality of the French Revolutionary ‘Terror’ and our own time to illuminate Fidelio’s inspiring message of shared humanity.
Liam Scarlett’s glorious production of Swan Lake, new in 2018, returns for its first revival. While remaining faithful to the Marius Petipa/Lev Ivanov text, Scarlett’s additional choreography and John Macfarlane’s magnificent designs breathe new life into what is arguably the best-known and most-loved classical ballet. The entire Company shines in this eternal tale of doomed love, a masterpiece filled with iconic moments. Tchaikovsky’s first score for ballet soars with its symphonic sweep and combines perfectly with exquisite choreography from the grand pas de deux of Prince Siegfried and Odile to the swans at the lakeside. An intoxicating mix of spectacle and intimate passion, the overall effect is irresistible.
Two opera classics are drawn together in this wonderfully observed re-creation of life in a south Italian village as a travelling theatre visits and emotions erupt. The award-winning production by Damiano Michieletto presents vividly the fast-moving, shocking events brought about by secret love and uncontrollable jealousy. The music is full of Italianate melody in the great choruses that bring the villagers together in celebration and revelry, alongside the solo arias and tense confrontations that provoke violence and tragedy. With thrilling singing and intense drama, ‘Cav and Pag’ distils into one wonderful night out, the enduring appeal of Italian opera in its most familiar form.
Dante’s Divine Comedy is an epic journey through the afterlife: it encompasses the horrifying drama of Inferno and its damned, the lyrical mysticism of pilgrims on mount Purgatorio and the dazzling spheres of Paradiso with their endless configurations of light. The poem was inspired by the agony of Dante’s own exile, and traces his path from crisis to revelation guided by his literary hero Virgil and his lost love Beatrice. In this new work, The Royal Ballet’s trailblazing Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor collaborates with an award-winning team – contemporary composer Thomas Adès, artist Tacita Dean, lighting designer Lucy Carter and dramaturg Uzma Hameed – to bring us closer to Dante and his extraordinary vision.
Strauss’s thrilling and audacious adaptation of Greek tragedy receives a new staging by the award- winning director Christof Loy. This uncompromising opera, about a daughter intent on bloody revenge and a mother driven to madness, has provoked critics to lively debate and both shocked and excited audiences since its 1909 premiere.
Antonio Pappano conducts music that combines violence with moments of exquisite tenderness in his first Strauss interpretation for The Royal Opera since 2002. The outstanding cast includes Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde in last Season’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) in the title role, and Karita Mattila in her role debut as the haunted queen Klytämnestra.