Celebrating the work of Italy's greatest musical dramatist, this set of 12 operas includes definitive performances from some of the finest Verdi singers of our age, in productions which reflect the contemporary richness of our perspective of the composer as both a man of his time, inspired to reflect the familial tensions and revolutionary fervor of his homeland, and also a man of theatrical genius as timeless as his adored Shakespeare, whose anti-heroes Macbeth and Falstaff stand as the poles of tragedy and comedy in this survey of modern stagings.
Coproduced with Siberia's Novosibirsk Opera, this new Macbeth uses cutting-edge multimedia technology to give the viewer a fresh perspective on the work. Google Earth satellite images plunge us into the heart of the action: a gloomy square surrounded by soulless buildings, and the interior of an aristocratic residence. Witches are no more a part of Tcherniakov's Macbeth that the duel was of Onegin, but once again the atmosphere is one of brooding claustrophobia. Tcherniakov has chosen a great cast, beginning with the marvellous Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana as Lady Macbeth. Greek baritone Dimitris Tiliakos is a powerful presence as Macbeth, while the Italians Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass) and Stefano Secco (tenor) are sumptuous as, respectively, Banquo and Macduff. In this, his second production at the Paris Opera, Teodor Currentzis, music director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre conducts with verve and a splendid theatrical sense.
Kasper Holten’s production (The Royal Opera’s first) of Król Roger (King Roger) brought the opera back to the London stage after an absence of almost 40 years. Karol Szymanowski’s masterpiece powerfully presents the dilemmas of culture versus nature and man versus beast, and movingly depicts King Roger’s inner struggles as he moves from an impossible life of repressed desires to the other extreme, giving in to his own demons. Meanwhile, Roger’s people, seduced by the promises of the mysterious Shepherd, are drawn towards totalitarianism and repression. Antonio Pappano conducts Szymanowksi’s opulent and beautiful score, with a cast including Mariusz Kwiecień as Roger (one of the greatest interpreters of the role today), Saimir Pirgu as the Shepherd, and Georgia Jarman in her Royal Opera debut as Roger’s loving queen Roxana.
Les Troyens is a tour de force that ranges from fiery military marches to intense choruses, passionate soliloquies and the lyrical love duets of Dido and Aeneas. For Hector Berlioz, librettist and composer, the opera became the work of decades and the passion of a lifetime, the culmination of his literary love affair with Virgil's Aeneid and with two tragic heroines, Cassandra and Dido. David McVicar's staging is on an enormous scale, assembling one of the largest casts ever seen at Covent Garden. The sweeping theme of the rise and fall of empires runs throughout Les Troyens, along with moving meditations on love and honour.
This program includes some of the least known masterpieces from Ernest Bloch’s nearly 30 works for orchestra. Macbeth: Two Symphonic Interludes is an intoxicating and passionate distillation of Shakespeare’s powerful drama. In Memoriam is a brief elegy dedicated to the pianist Ada Clement, while the Three Jewish Poems were written when Bloch was mourning the death of his father. Originally conceived as a third concerto grosso, Bloch’s last Symphony, in E flat major, is at times emotionally turbulent and deeply spiritual work containing passages of harmonic acerbity.
First seen at the Royal Opera House in 2013, this staging of Verdi's rarely-performed opera Les Vêpres siciliennes – directed by Stefan Herheim and conducted by The Royal Opera’s Music Director, Verdi specialist Sir Antonio Pappano – went on to win the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. The Sunday Times hailed it 'the best the Verdi year in Britain has to offer,' praising the standout event of the Verdi bicentenary celebrations. 'The Royal Opera has done its favourite composer proud.'
Andrea Chénier presents a fictionalized account of the last years of the French poet André Chénier, guillotined during the Reign of Terror in 1794. It is the greatest of Giordano’s operas and shows why Puccini sometimes feared Giordano as a rival. Taking the starring role of Chénier, with its three marvellous arias, is Jonas Kaufmann. Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the role of Chénier’s beloved Maddalena and baritone Željko Lučić stars as Carlo Gérard – the servant-turned-revolutionary who is Chénier’s rival for the love of Maddalena. David McVicar brings Giordano’s thrilling historical drama back to the Royal Opera House for the first time since 1985 in a stunning new production.