Thursday, 10 January 2013

Anna is back! Royal Opera House 2013-2020

Announced 20 minutes ago,  plans for the Royal Opera House for 2013-2020. Run-in times for any production at a house like Covent Garden are long, so it's hardly surprisinmg that they have a good idea of what they're planning to do years in advance. Kaspar Holten is adamant. "New work is not and should not be at the periphery of our programme, but right at the core of what and who we are." as ever the case in opera  in the past.  Even classic staples were once "new". Those who want endless revivals of old productions will still get their fill, but ROH is doing its bit to keep the art alive with new work and new commissions.  Please see also my latests piece analysin g the situation more broadly HERE.

For really new work, the run-in time is even longer. For 2020, ROH plans to "challenge leading European composers Kaija Saariaho (Finland), Mark-Anthony Turnage (UK), Luca Francesconi (Italy) and Jörg Widmann (Germany) to create large scale new operas. The vision is for four distinct operas, each one in part inspired by the composer’s response to a set of questions developed in collaboration with the philosopher Slavoj Žižek: “What preoccupies us today? How do we represent ourselves on stage? What are the collective myths of our present and future?”

Scandal is nothing new to opera. Think of the extremely hostile reception of Carmen.  After the initial shock of Mark Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole wore off, the opera and production grew on me. I think I'll get a lot more out of next time round in 2014/15. (read what I wrote of the premiere and aftermath).

Music Theatre Wales is back with a new commission for Philip Glass based on Franz Kafka's The Trial, also 2014/15. This should be a major event if it's anywhere near asd good as Glass's In the Penal Colony (reviews here and here), whose success inspired Glass to work again with Music Theatre Wales, one of Britain's most innovative smaller companies. What a pity the Linbury Studio Theatre is so small and cramped. Hopefully, they'll do a longer run to compensate. If only there were a mid-size theatre at ROH! Could they not do a deal with somewhere else?

The Royal Operas House doesn't go out on a limb alone but works with other houses like Bregenz, Opera North., Houston and the wonderful Holland Festival. So we can look forward to Ben Frost’s adaptation of Iain Banks’s cult novel The Wasp Factory, and Luca Francesconi’s Quartett, (a new version directed by John Fulljames and co-produced with The London Sinfonietta and Opéra de Rouen after the piece's 2010 premiere at La Scala Milan).  A new opera from Luke Bedford, too, who is one of the most interesting of all youngerr British composers.  Read what I wroite about his Seven Angels here and here - another opera completely misunderstood by some, which also deserves to be heard again. Really good things need time to percolate past first impressions. Bedford's new opera is on the theme of Faust which shouldn't be too hard to take on board. A new Christmas opera from Julian Philips, whose The Yellow Sofa was a huge hit for Glyndebourne Touring. And we''ll get Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland hot on the heels of the WNO.

Lots more to read - HERE is the press release. .

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