Royal Opera House: Autumn Season

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Antonio Pappano is now firmly in charge of the Royal Opera and his programming certainly lives up to his philosophy of offering Covent Garden audiences "the old, the new, the familiar and the surprising."

There will be 20 different productions including the Royal Opera's very first Chamber Opera, taking advantage of the Linbury Studio Theatre. This will be Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia sung by Vilar Young Artists with the Royal Opera Houses orchestra. Other new operas include the World Premiere of Thomas Ades' The Tempest which the composer will conduct with a cast including Simon Keenlyside, Philip Langridge and Ian Bostridge. Another new production will be of Handel's Orlando, which opens on 6 October, for which the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will occupy the pit conducted by Harry Bicket; the singers are lead by Alice Coote and Barbara Bonney with Jonathan Lemalu singing Zoroastro in his debut with the Royal Opera.

I must admit to being surprised that Covent Garden has not yet staged Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and I do have some apprehension knowing that the producer is to be Richard Jones. The rarity of this work should surely command a more or less traditional setting and Richard Jones is a producer whose imagination is anything but traditional. On the credit side are the Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman in the title role and John Tomlinson as Boris Ismailov. There will be 6 stagings between 1 and 20 April next year.

The surprise is Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, starring Thomas Allen in the title role and Felicity Palmer as the culinary Mrs Lovett.

Pappano is opening the Season on 12 September with the first revival of Francesca Zambello's 2002 production of Don Giovanni, the first Mozart opera he will conduct at Covent Garden. Gerald Finley sings the title role with Erwin Schrott as Leporello, Alexandra von der Weth as Donna Anna, Nuccia Focile as Donna Elvira, Ian Bostridge as Don Ottavio, Robert Lloyd as the Commendatore and the former Vilar Young Artist Darren Jeffery as Masetto. Welsh singers Rosemary Joshua and Rebecca Evans share the role of Zerlina. There will be nine performances at Covent Garden and the cast will give a concert performance in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw on 21 September.

On 13 September another first revival is Puccini's Madama Butterfly in Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser's delicious production first seen in March this year. There are two casts the first being conducted by Kirill Petrenko, the music director at Berlin's Komische Oper making his Royal Opera debut. The second cast is conducted by the present Music Director of the Nuremberg Opera, Philippe Auguin, who is already known to Covent Garden opera lovers. The title role is shared between the Chinese soprano Li-Ping Zhang and Amanda Roocroft, singing the role for the first time. …