Fall 2013 Highlights

Inspired by the excellent French blog Il Tenero momento’s recent post of ‘Opéra: 15 spectacles à ne pas manquer en 2013/2014’, I decided to write a little post on what my highlights of fall 2013 are going to be.  Part of the reason I decided to write this is because for August 2013 I am fasting – no live music of any kind until the Royal Opera House’s Turandot on September 9th.  Partly also because 2013-14 promises to be one of the best seasons for opera yet as far as the shows on offer are.  Unfortunately, there is no way that I can see absolutely everything that I would like to – the Béatrice et Bénédict in Glasgow and Evelyn Herlitzius’ Turandot in Rome are certainly two I’m going to regret missing. Nevertheless, there are so many shows that I am looking forward to that choosing 10 potential highlights was extremely difficult.  So here are my – very personal – top picks for the fall:

1.   Yevgeny Onegin, Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Having planned to see this way back when the Met’s season was announced, events in Russia made actually booking it very difficult.  There isn’t even space here for me to go into detail on my thoughts on the subject but the main reason I’m going to see this show is Mariusz Kwiecien’s Onegin.  Following his outstanding Posa for the Royal Opera and his stunning King Roger in Bilbao (one of the most amazing evenings I’ve had in 20 years of opera going) the fact that I was going to be in Montreal around the same time meant that a side-trip to New York was inevitable.  I’ll admit that I have never been one of Miss Netrebko’s biggest fans but I’m looking forward to seeing her live in the theatre to make my own mind up.  I still have mixed feelings about paying money to support in Maestro Gergiev an artist who has done much to sustain the awful regime in Russia but the truth is that I am not going for them.  I’m going to see an artist I admire greatly who gives me a great deal of pleasure.

2.   Fidelio, English National Opera, London

This marks Calixto Bieito’s return to London after his triumphant Carmen at the Coliseum.  I’ve gone on record and will go on record again to say that I am convinced that Bieito is the finest opera stage director out there today and I am really looking forward to seeing his take on Fidelio.  Having Stuart Skelton as Florestan is certainly an added bonus

3.   Armide, De Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam

Karina.  Seeing Karina Gauvin, one of the finest sopranos of today singing in a staged production was enough to make this one of the hot tickets of the fall.  That and a fantastic cast including Andrew Foster-Williams, Diana Montague and Henk Neven make it a must-see.  Not convinced about Barrie Kosky’s work that I have seen so far – I wish they’d imported Bieito’s production from the Komische Oper – but I am intrigued about what he will do with the piece.

4.   Le Nozze di Figaro, Salle Pleyel, Paris

René Jacobs recording of the work, made a decade ago, is one of the finest records I have ever heard and if trapped on a desert island with only one recording for comfort is probably the one I would choose.  Figaro has everything from sadness to joy and having the opportunity to hear Jacob’s interpretation live with a phenomenal cast including Rosemary Joshua and Sophie Karthäuser is a really exciting prospect.

5.   Don Carlo, Deutsche Oper, Berlin

This past May I saw greatness on the stage of the Royal Opera House.  One of those evenings where one sees artists at the peak of their powers producing something very special.  For me the strongest performances in an incredible cast came from Anja Harteros as Elisabetta and Mariusz Kwiecien as Posa.  Having the opportunity to see Harteros as Elisabetta again alongside the great Violeta Urmana as Eboli was not one I was going to turn down. Add to that the extremely promising tenor of Russell Thomas as Carlo and this will surely be a very special evening.

6.   Britten Film Scores & Bach B Minor Mass, Queen Elizabeth Hall/King’s Place, London

The Aurora Orchestra is one of the finest chamber orchestras around today.  I had the opportunity to hear them play Beethoven’s 7th Symphony under Nicholas Collon at the start of July and it was quite frankly the best performance of that life-enhancing work I have ever heard.  Their programming is always innovative and exciting and the standard of playing second to none.  Their two concerts of Britten Film scores and the Bach B Minor Mass promise much and I have no doubt they will deliver. Having the Clare College Choir in the B Minor Mass also makes this one of the hot tickets of 2013.

7.   La Fille du Régiment, Staatstheater Karlsruhe

Back in January – how far it seems now – I had the pleasure of seeing one of the finest stagings of Les Troyens I have ever seen.  The Iopas in that production was the extremely promising young Mexican tenor Eleazar Rodríguez, a singer with an incredible sense of line, awareness of text and excellent technique.  In Fall 2013 he will be singing Tonio at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe a role that surely fits him like a glove and I am very much looking forward to seeing him sing it.  For those who’ve never been the Staatstheater Karlsruhe is a superb house with affordable ticket prices, innovative programming and a terrific ensemble.  Well worth a visit.

8.   Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Norske Opera, Oslo

Bieito and the fantastic architecture of the new Oslo opera house.  What more could there be? Well added to that an excellent cast including Alex Esposito as the villains made this another must-see. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Bieito does with the work.

9.   Dialogues des Carmélites, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris.

The cast list for this production is enough to make anyone run to the ticket office: Sophie Koch, Patricia Petibon, Véronique Gens, Sandrine Piau, Rosalind Plowright with Olivier Py as stage director and Jérémie Rhorer in the pit.  I have a feeling this could well be an overwhelming evening.  At the very least having those ladies together on the same stage promises so much.

10. Elektra, Royal Opera House, London and Opéra de Paris, Paris.

I saw the most incredible Elektra I have ever seen in Evelyn Herlitzius last month at the Aix-en-Provence festival.  Things always come in threes though and this fall offers the opportunity to hear two more exceptional sopranos in the role Christine Goerke and Irene Théroin.  I’ve yet to hear either live but I have no doubt that both will be outstanding.

So there you have it.  So many things I haven’t mentioned.  I’ve tended to tweet more about shows that I have seen rather than blog about them but there are certainly more things to look forward to on top of these – Johan Reuter’s Nabucco in Berlin, Violeta Urmana’s Isolde in Vienna, Karina’s Armida in Rinaldo also in Vienna, not forgetting having the opportunity to see Les Vêpres siciliennes at the Royal Opera House and seeing Simon Keenlyside’s Wozzeck with Karita Mattila’s Marie.  The forthcoming season definitely promises so much.

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