Royal Opera House opera highlights 2008-2009



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There's a rich selection of classics and new works in the ROH's 2008-2009 opera season, and a season of great Italian operas to look forward to next summer

  • Royal Opera House opera highlights 2008-2009

    Sally Matthews as Calisto in 'La Calisto' © Wilfried Hösl

  • See highlights of the Royal Opera House's 2008-2009 ballet season

    La Calisto

    When he was alive, baroque composer Francesco Cavalli had more influence than any of his peers on public opera as it developed in seventeenth-century Venice. However, this new production of ‘La Calisto’, directed by David Alden and conducted by Ivor Bolton – and already a great hit in Munich – marks the first appearance of his work at the ROH. This classic baroque opera takes its inspiration from the myth told in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, of the huntress pursued by Jupiter, who is transformed by his jealous wife Juno into a bear. Sep 23–Oct 10.

    Hänsel und Gretel

    The best-loved opera of the nineteenth-century German composer Engelbert Humperdinck is performed at the ROH for the first time since 1937. This production brings with it two directors – the popular duo Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, who have now been working together for 25 years. In their wake come two casts, and the two conductors, Colin Davis and Robin Ticciati. Ideal Christmas family fare.Dec 9–Jan 1 2009.

    Die Töte Stadt

    Korngold’s opera was a huge hit on the continent when it first appeared in 1920. However, it never reached England, and was banned by the Nazis because of Korngold’s Jewish ancestry. Recent years have seen a resurgence in its popularity, and now German director Willy Decker brings it to Covent Garden. Hotly anticipated.
    Jan 27–Feb 17 2009.

    Der Fliegende Holländer

    Much-loved Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel returns to the ROH to star in Wagner’s first opera. This infamous tale of the ship’s captain – condemned by the devil to sail the seas until Judgement Day, unless he finds a woman to love him – is conducted by the German Marc Albrecht, and directed by Tim Albery. Feb 23–Mar 10 2009.

    Dido and Aeneas/Acis and Galatea

    To celebrate Purcell’s and Handel’s anniversaries, the ROH and the Royal Ballet have joined forces on two of baroque’s most popular operas. Visionary baroque specialist Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, while Wayne McGregor directs both productions.
    Mar 31–Apr 20 2009.


    Swedish soprano Agneta Eichenholz makes her Royal Opera House debut in this operatic version of Wedekind’s Lulu. Now at Covent Garden the much-fêted German director Christof Loy tackles Berg’s depiction of a woman whose devotion to sensuality ends with her death at the hands of Jack the Ripper. It will be conducted by Antonio Pappano.Jun 4–Jun 20 2009.

    Summer season of great Italian operas revived

    For those who missed them the first time around, Donizetti’s ‘L’Elisir d’Amore’ and Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ are being revived for the end of the season. Soprano, Diana Damrau, and Italian tenor, Giuseppe Filianoti, head the cast for the former, while baritone Simon Keenlyside, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and tenor Juan Diego Florez star in the latter. Other return visits include Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’, (with Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, and Joseph Calleja), and ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’, (with Ramon Vargas and Carlos Alvarez). Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ also returns with the help of Deborah Voigt, Marcello Giordani, and Bryn Terfel. Season runs from May 12–Jul 18 2009.

    Linbury Studio Theatre

    Varjak Paw

    A Mesopotamian blue cat – straight from the pages of FS Said’s popular books – is now taking it upon himself to introduce children (aged eight and upwards) to opera. The music for his story is composed by Julian Philips, and the libretto by Kit Hesketh-Harvey. This has been developed through the ROH’s long-term project for developing contemporary opera, OperaGenesis.Sept 25–28.

    For You

    Michael Berkeley brings his latest opera, ‘For You’ – a torrid story of sexual jealousy in the household of an ageing composer – for its London premiere. Libretto by Ian McEwan.Oct 28–Nov 1.

    The Beggar’s Opera

    Dynamic young Australian director Justin Way directs Benjamin Britten’s 1948 version. Richard Hickox conducts the City of London Sinfonia. Jan 20–Jan 31 2009.

    Into the Little Hill/Down by the Greenwood Side

    Composer George Benjamin collaborated with playwright Martin Crimp to produce this elegant, lightly politicised interpretation of the Pied Piper fable, with John Fulljames directing its London premiere. It’s part of a double-bill with ‘Down by the Greenwood Side’, Harrison Birtwistle’s opera with libretto by Michael Nyman. Both will be conducted by Benjamin. Feb 2009, check website for further details


    James MacMillan’s fascinating opera, with a libretto by Michael Symmons Roberts, plants its roots in this modern-day virgin-birth story, and receives its first full staging here. Director Katie Mitchell will bring her distinctive style to proceedings. June 2009, check website for further details

    For times and prices, visit Opera House, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD (020 7304 4000/ Covent Garden tube.

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