Opera: Rigoletto at Covent Garden Theatre

Verdi’s Rigoletto is justly one of the best-known of all great chorus operas, and The Royal Opera’s revival brings it back with a wonderful international cast under a renowned conductor of Italian opera, Daniel Oren.

In David McVicar’s powerful and perceptive staging, the cruel and the beautiful collide in a corrupt society, at whose head is the womanizing and carefree young Duke of Mantua. Rigoletto, the deformed court jester at the Duke’s court, has to play a hard game to survive.

Ensnared in the web of court affairs, a curse placed on Rigoletto starts to exert its power when his own daughter is abducted for sexual pleasure by his master. Revenge seems to be the jester’s only solution, but through the unwitting actions of his trusting daughter fate turns a dark tale even darker by the tragic fall of the curtain.

The score is much loved for such tuneful and famous numbers as ‘La donna e mobile’ sung by the carefree Duke, the beautiful and virtuosic ‘Caro nome’ from the innocent Gilda, and a wonderful quartet that winds the voices together just as the strands of the plot pointedly entangle.

Throughout, Verdi’s vision brings out the full range of the characters’ emotions, from elation to despair. No wonder, then, that Rigoletto’s combination of music and engrossing action continues to thrill each time it returns to the Covent Garden stage. This production contains nudity.

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Niobe, Regina Di Tebe Tickets on sale at The Royal Opera House

This is a rare and exciting chance to experience a work by a forgotten master. Its Italian composer Steffani (1654-1728) was widely acclaimed in his own day and admired by such composers as Handel for his musicality and originality.

First performed in Munich in 1688, Niobe remained neglected until 2008, when it was staged at the Schwetzingen Festival. A triumphant achievement by conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and director Lukas Hemleb, that atmospheric production is now restaged by The Royal Opera with a great specialist cast of musicians.

Véronique Gens plays the title role of the Queen of Thebes who angers the gods and is punished with the death of all her children, while the male soprano Jacek Laszczkowski, as her husband Anfione, makes his debut with the Company.

The Balthasar Neumann Ensemble will be the specialist orchestra for what is an unmissable event for all lovers of early opera and anyone keen to discover more about opera’s perpetually enjoyable marriage of music and drama.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

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Cosi Fan Tutte Opera at Royal Opera House

The new Royal Opera Season begins with a great audience favourite -Cosi Fan Tutte.

This great comedy with an edge brings a classic score by Mozart to a witty story of deception and trust tested to its limit. Can two apparently faithful couples have their affections altered by some apparently harmless deception?

Jonathan Miller’s ever-popular production updates the 18th-century to today – while fashions and technology may have changed since Mozart’s time, human behaviour remains as fickle and manipulative as ever.

Royal Opera favourite Thomas Allen returns in a strong cast of singers under acclaimed German conductor Thomas Hengelbrock. In this most sophisticated of operas with the most sublime of scores, no-one escapes unscathed.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

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