The operatic season just ending has given us a welcome return to some kind of normality following the horrors of the previous season. There were cancellations, of course, not to mention the millions of lives that continue to be lost or permanently blighted to the virus. As we move to the next stage of the global pandemic, which sadly continues to rage and shows no sign of abating, our thoughts turn to what the next operatic season has in store.
There remain considerable challenges for the industry – ticket sales continue to prove challenging in a number of venues, with audiences, understandably, nervous to return, particularly where mask mandates have been lifted. Fortunately, any fears one might have had of a renewed conservatism in the repertoire have, by and large, not materialized and the season ahead contains much that is interesting and stimulating.
And, without any further hesitation, here are my top operatic tips for the season ahead.
Les Troyens, Oper Köln, Cologne. September – October 2022.
As always, performances of Les Troyens are an event and an opportunity to show the depth of talent available within a house’s ensemble. With specialist in French music and performance practice, Francois-Xavier Roth, conducting Johannes Erath’s staging this promises much. The superb Sicilian tenor, Enea Scala, will be making his debut in the demanding role of Énée, sharing the run with Mirko Roschkowski. Isabelle Druet takes on Cassandre, Choi Insik, Chorèbe, while over in Carthage Veronica Simeoni will be Didon and Nicolas Cavallier, Narbal. The performances will take place in the Oper Köln’s continuing temporary home, the Staatenhaus.
Anna Bolena, Palau de les Arts, València. October 2022.
Visiting the Palau de les Arts is always a pleasure, the superlative house chorus and orchestra are among the very best in the world. For this new production of Anna Bolena, the house has engaged Eleonora Buratto in the title role. Buratto is a singer of great polish and an impeccable technique, the heiress to the great Italian tradition. Joining her is an exciting cast – Alex Esposito as Enrico VIII, Valencian mezzo Silvia Tro Santafé making a welcome return home to sing Giovanna Seymour, while Ismael Jordi takes on Percy. Experienced specialist Maurizio Benini conducts Jetske Mijnssen’s staging.
Alceste, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Rome. October 2022.
For this run of Alceste, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma has imported Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s staging from Munich. When I saw it a few years ago, I found it visually impressive, however it was let down by foggy diction in the title role. This should most certainly not be a concern this time around as the house has assigned the title role to Marina Viotti, one of the most exciting mezzos before the public today and a superb francophone singer with exemplary diction. With Juan Francisco Gatell as Admète, Patrik Reiter as Evandre and Luca Tittoto the Grand Prêtre, Cherkaoui’s own Eastman Dance Company will be providing additional visual insight. Gianluca Capuano conducts.
Adriana Lecouvreur, Teatro Giuseppe Verdi, Salerno. October 2022.
For its new Adriana Lecouvreur the Teatro Verdi in Salerno has engaged a magnificent cast – and for only two performances. The remarkable Ermonela Jaho in the title role, will be joined by the thrilling Charles Castronovo as Maurizio. Ekaterina Semenchuk takes on the Principessa di Bouillon. House Music Director Daniel Oren will conduct Renzo Giacchieri’s staging. Given the magic that happens when Jaho and Castronovo are on the same stage, this will be a must-see.
Armide, Opéra Comique, Paris. November 2022.
The combination of the great Véronique Gens and Gluck’s music is always an unmissable one. Here she will be led by a frequent collaborator, Christophe Rousset conducting his Talens Lyriques. Gens will be joined by Ian Bostridge as Renaud and Jean-Sébastien Bou as Hidraot. In a cast that also features some excellent francophone singers, we also have Anaïk Morel as La Haine and Florie Valiquette in a number of roles. The staging will be the work of Swiss actor and director, Lilo Baur, here making her operatic debut.
Un ballo in Maschera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. November 2022.
I saw Johannes Erath’s staging of Ballo a few years ago when it was new, and my main recollection of it was that it was rather bizarre. That said, the Bayerische Staatsoper has prepared for us an absolutely terrific cast that will make this revival unmissable. Charles Castronovo will be making his prise de rôle as Riccardo, while house favourite Anja Harteros will be returning to sing Amelia. George Petean takes on Renato, while fresh from her triumph on this stage as Cassandre, the magnificent Marie-Nicole Lemieux will be singing Ulrica. At the helm of the ever-dependable Bayerisches Staatsorchester will be Ivan Repušić.
Giulio Cesare, De Nationale Opera, Amsterdam. January – February 2023.
Making a relatively rare foray into Händel is the great Catalan stage director, Calixto Bieito. Around him, the Nationale Opera has invited a fascinating cast, including the exciting French soprano, Julie Fuchs, as Cleopatra, with Christophe Dumaux in the title role. Rounding off the cast are Teresa Iervolino as Cornelia, Emily d’Angelo as Sesto, and Cameron Shahbazi as Tolomeo. Emmanuelle Haïm will be bringing her Concert d’Astrée to support from the pit.
Dido and Aeneas / Erwartung. Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. January – February 2023.
This should certainly be a highly stimulating evening in the theatre. Making a return to the Nationaltheater is Krzysztof Warlikowski, a frequent visitor to this stage, with this double bill of works by Purcell and Schoenberg. Taking on both the Queen of Carthage and the abandoned woman, is Aušrinė Stundytė, one of the most extraordinary singing-actors before the public today. Joining her will be the equally striking Günter Papendell as Aeneas, with Louisana countertenor Key’mon Murrah making his house debut as the Sorceress and Spirit. What will be equally interesting is the presence of Andrew Manze in the pit, a noted conductor of early music, it will be fascinating to hear what he brings to the Schoenberg.
Macbeth, Gran Teatre de Liceu, Barcelona. February – March 2023.
As so often at the Liceu, this run of the noted Catalan sculptor and visual artist Jaume Plensa’s ‘creation’ of Verdi’s Macbeth has been double-cast. Making her European debut in the role of Lady Macbeth is the great Sondra Radvanovsky, one of the finest Verdi sopranos before the public today. She’s the owner of a soprano of impressive agility, but even more striking amplitude, able to fill a house with ease. She will be joined by Luca Salsi in the title role, Erwin Schrott as Banco, and Francesco Pio Galasso as Macduff. In the alternate cast, Ekaterina Semenchuk joins Carlos Álvarez, Simón Orfila, and Celso Albelo in their respective roles. House Music Director, Josep Pons, leads his forces.
Alcina, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona and touring. February 2023.
This Alcina, which will tour to a number of venues including Bordeaux and Paris, France, as well as València, in addition to the Liceu, has certainly been luxuriously cast. Magdalena Kožená takes on the title role, one that should be a good fit for her bright, soprano-ish mezzo. The great Anna Bonitatibus, Händelian par excellence, takes on Ruggiero, while Erin Morley sings Morgana. With a cast also including Elizabeth DeShong and the impressive young bass Alex Rosen, all led by Marc Minkowski and his Musiciens du Louvre, this will certainly be a hot ticket for the winter. The Barcelona date offers a great opportunity to combine Alcina with the aforementioned Macbeth for a weekend in the Catalan capital.
Serse, Opéra de Rouen, Rouen. March 2023.
The Opéra de Rouen is known as a theatre with judicious casting, with a focus particularly on giving younger singers the opportunity to make prises de rôle on its stage. The welcome in the house is cordial, seats comfortable, and ticket prices affordable. This Serse offers us a particularly mouth-watering cast of singers who are already Händelians of distinction. With Mari Eriksmoen, Jake Arditti, Jakub Józef Orliński, Sophie Junker, Cecilia Molinari in an enticing cast, led by David Bates, we are promised a feast of stylishness. The staging will be confided to Clarac & Deloeuil, aka Le Lab.
Norma, Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa. May 2023.
For lovers of bel canto, the Teatro Carlo Felice is giving us a serious treat with this new production of Norma. In the title role, the house has cast two very contrasting artists, both superb bel canto stylists. In one cast we have Marina Rebeka, who has over the past few years proved herself one of the leading exponents of this role today. In the other, making her role debut, is the thrilling mezzo, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya. What also makes this production particularly interesting, is the presence of Riccardo Minasi in the pit, given that he has prepared his own critical edition of this score. Sharing the role of Adalgisa are Anna Dowsley with Rebeka, and Carmela Remigio with Berzhanskaya. Stefan Pop sings Pollione for Rebeka, while the alternative Pollione has yet to be announced. The staging has been entrusted to Stefania Bonfadelli.
Venere e Adone, Staatsoper Hamburg, Hamburg. May – June 2023.
Salvatore Sciarrino is one of the most notable living Italian composers and next spring, the Staatsoper Hamburg will be hosting the premiere of his latest stage work, Venere e Adone. Under the direction of Music Director, Kent Nagano, and staged by the house Intendant, Georges Delnon, the house has engaged a cast of striking singing-actors with a strong track record in interpreting the music of today. Layla Clare and Jake Arditti take on the title roles, while Matthias Klink, Gidon Saks, Kady Evanyshyn and Evan Hughes round out the cast.
Orgia, Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao. June 2023.
Based on the work by Pasolini, this world première reunites stage director Calixto Bieito, with his Catalan compatriot, composer Hèctor Parra, for their latest collaboration. The chamber opera is a co-commission with the Liceu and Festival Castell Peralada. To perform the work, the house has engaged the remarkable Aušrinė Stundytė, to perform alongside contemporary opera specialist Leigh Melrose and Jone Martínez. The Ensemble Intercontemporain will be travelling to the Basque metropolis to provide the support from the pit, under the direction of Pierre Bleuse.
Turandot, Opernhaus Zürich, Zurich. June – July 2023.
This new production of Turandot is notable for two stage debuts – Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role and Piotr Beczała as Calaf. Radvanovsky already sang the role in concert earlier this year in Rome, Italy, for an upcoming album release. The opportunity to hear a voice as full, round and resonant as hers in this role, in an intimate house such as this will be unmissable – particularly with the delightful Rosa Feola as Liù. Marc Albrecht will be conducting Sebastian Baumgartner’s new staging.
So, there you have my top operatic tips for the season ahead. What are you looking forward to?
Thanks for this terrific roundup.
I haven’t been to Europe since January 2019 and still not sure when I will next be able to visit.
This post makes me so keen to get back there. Guess I will have to live vicariously through your posts in the meantime!
Veronique Gens has never sung Armide.
I was absolutely certain that I had heard a broadcast of her singing it on the YouTube but now I can’t find it. I had a look through operabase and there’s no recorded mention of it there in the last 20 years. So it may well be a role debut. For that reason I have amended the text accordingly and thank you, Monsieur, for bringing it to our attention.