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.
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.
Jonathan Kent’s new production of Manon Lescaut recorded at the Royal Opera House in 2014, includes a stellar cast, featuring Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann in the roles of the young lovers Manon Lescaut and the Chevalier des Grieux. Kent brings this 19th-century classic to a 2014 setting, non-naturalistic and theatrical. Supporting the action on stage is the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, with their venerable Music Director Antonio Pappano.
"From the moment Kaufmann and Opolais embark – with infinite delicacy – on their emotional journey, it becomes clear that this is a vocal marriage made in heaven. His warmly burnished sound is balanced by the exquisitely nuanced purity of hers, and they are supported by a performance in the pit, under Antonio Pappano, of rare refinement." – The Independent
Antonio Pappano takes an in-depth look at one of the most famous and dramatic of all operas - Puccini's Tosca. This documentary goes behind the scenes of the recent production of Tosca by the Royal Opera House conducted by Pappano and starring some of the hottest names on the opera stage today - Angela Gheorghiu, Bryn Terfel and Jonas Kaufmann. Pappano examines the drama and musical language of Tosca and explores Puccini's creative genius in producing one of the greatest of theatrical experiences.
To celebrate the bicentenary of Wagner's birth, Sir Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House, looks at the epic composition which changed opera and the theatre for ever - the Ring of the Nibelungen.