The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in the London district of Covent Garden. The large building is often referred to as simply “Covent Garden”, after a previous use of the site of the opera house’s original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later Handel’s first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.
Future performances and events at the Royal Opera House:-
Adriana Lecouvreur (Thursday, 18 November 2010 – Friday, 10 December 2010)
A stellar cast under the baton of Mark Elder, a new production by David McVicar, and an opera not seen at the Royal Opera House since 1906: Adriana Lecouvreur is one of the major highlights of the Royal Opera Season. Anyone who loves Puccini will find this opera by Francesco Cilea, a contemporary and fellow Italian, just as rich, melodious and romantic. Its title role has long been associated with star sopranos, and is shared here by Angela Gheorghiu and Angeles Blancas Gulín, who sing opposite Jonas Kaufmann as Maurizio.
The story of jealous rivalry in love is set between the worlds of the theatre and the aristocracy, and this production brings the 18th-century atmosphere to life in rich historical detail. Against this backdrop, the fictional version of the life of the real and famous actress Adrienne Lecouvreur is played out to its final and deadly conclusion. With the combination of a wonderful score, world-leading cast and exciting production team, this is an unmissable event indeed.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Wednesday, 2 March 2011 – Tuesday, 15 March 2011)
The world premiere of a new full-length ballet created by Christopher Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet is a major highlight of the entire Season. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will bring a famous story and its equally famous characters to the ballet stage.
The Victorian childhood of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and her encounters with extraordinary people, strange creatures and unusual events gives The Royal Ballet an entire new world to create, and also gives a great chance to see the whole Company on stage in new guises. The music – the first new, full-length ballet score for The Royal Ballet for 20 years- is by Joby Talbot and will be conducted by Barry Wordsworth, Music Director of The Royal Ballet. With a scenario by Nicholas Wright (his adaptations have included His Dark Materials at the NT), and designs by the internationally acclaimed Bob Crowley, this is a compelling creative team indeed. Not surprisingly, the production will draw upon the full resources of the Company and the Royal Opera House in what is a major addition to the ballet repertory and a must-see event of the year.
Anna Nicole (Thursday, 17 February 2011 – Friday, 4 March 2011)
A young Playboy model, an octogenarian billionaire husband, intrusive media fascination and a tragically early death. This is a roller-coaster of a real contemporary life for a blockbuster of a contemporary opera by the acclaimed opera composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (Greek and The Silver Tassie) and librettist Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: the Opera). The story of Anna Nicole Smith is under the brilliant and idiosyncratic direction of Richard Jones and the baton of Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, to make this a major event of the Royal Opera Season.
Sex, extreme language and drug abuse are part of the opera – after all, they were ingredients in a life that went from the dubious glamour of the sex symbol, through long and vicious legal struggles to a fatal overdose. How Anna Nicole was treated and how she was viewed is as much a reflection of the society that hounded her as of her own feelings and ambitions – Eva-Maria Westbroek creates what is a challenging and complex central role. This new opera is provocative in its themes, exciting in its bravura style and thrilling with its sheer contemporary nerve. Anna Nicole Smith’s life made the news – you can bet this world premiere will too.
Cinderella (Saturday, 20 November 2010 – Wednesday, 29 December 2010)
The combination of story, music and dance in The Royal Ballet’s Cinderella is hard to beat. All the elements of the story are there: the spiteful Step-sisters, the fairy godmother, the ball, the striking clock. And at the centre is Cinderella whose rags-to-riches journey unites her with her handsome prince.
Frederick Ashton created a ballet that is both demanding of its principals and full of great charm – the perfect way to enjoy some of the world’s greatest dancers bringing ballet to life. There are magical moments, as when Cinderella makes her entrance to the ball and her pas de deux with the Prince. But there is also humour and character with the Step-sisters, tussling with each other as well as failing to charm anyone else.
Prokofiev’s music is one of the great 20th-century ballet scores, so rich in atmosphere and full of orchestral colour, a perfect complement.
Die Zauberflote (Tuesday, 1 February 2011 – Saturday, 26 February 2011)
The Royal Opera’s Die Zauberflote has quickly established itself as a clear and classic staging of Mozart’s great late work. David McVicar’s interpretation portrays beautifully both the story and the wealth of Enlightenment themes of this favourite masterpiece: the search for wisdom and virtue has seldom had so beguiling a presentation.
From such detail as the extraordinary flying machine of the three boys to the panoramic night – which finally gives way to blazing sun – this is a production of impressive imagery. It brings alive the contrasts of darkness and light, the comic and the impassioned, the down-to-earth and the mystic. With this revival Colin Davis and David Syrus share the conducting for a score rich in well-known music. There is the memorable directness of Papagenos songs and the virtuoso coloratura of the Queen of the Night, while the lyrical arias of Tamino and Pamina complement the stately music of Sarastro and the temple. A fine cast of singers both new and returning to the production will make this an especially good revival of one of opera’s greatest works.
Giselle (Tuesday, 11 January 2011 – Saturday, 19 February 2011)
Of all Romantic ballets Giselle is the one to see and know. It is a dramatic story of betrayal, nights filled with supernatural spirits (the classic moonlit White Act) and love that transcends even death. Adolphe Adam’s music, conducted by Music Director of The Royal Ballet Barry Wordsworth and by Koen Kessels, Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, is perfect to conjure up the atmosphere of the forest, the strong emotions of the characters and the ghostly world of the Wilis.
The title role is a major challenge for any ballerina, both technically and dramatically, from Giselle’s early love to her poignant descent into madness and her final act of protecting forgiveness from beyond the grave. It has a wealth of ensembles to bring the full company of The Royal Ballet to the stage, and solo roles of pure dance and expressive mime. Peter Wright’s beautiful production retains all the important elements of Giselle’s great classical heritage. It is no surprise then that this is not just a regular favourite of ballet aficionados but also a wonderful work through which anyone can discover the enduring appeal of classical ballet.
Hansel und Gretel (Thursday, 23 December 2010 – Friday, 7 January 2011)
What better Christmas treat for everyone than one of the most famous of all fairytales and one of the most richly tuneful of all operas.
The Royal Opera brings back to the stage the beautiful and delightful production by the favourite directing team of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. Charles Mackerras and Rory Macdonald conduct a score that is packed with delights – the instantly memorable songs of the children, the atmospheric forest sounds, and the wonderful lilting waltz when Hansel and Gretel discover the gingerbread house. And then there’s the wicked witch, with a kitchen that’s maybe a bit scary for some of the youngest family members – after all, she does bake children into biscuits! But the ending is happy and the music triumphant, especially when sung by a charismatic cast to bring all the fun of the characters to life.
Hansel and Gretel is a great way for everyone to enjoy the special thrill and charm of opera in live performance – whether for a seasonal family outing or the discovery of a classic work that has so much contemporary appeal.
Il barbiere di Siviglia (Tuesday, 18 January 2011 – Tuesday, 8 February 2011)
Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and her young noble suitor. And there is Figaro- irrepressible and inventive as he schemes to get the right couple together and the wrong man well away from his ward. This revival by The Royal Opera brings together a wonderful cast in a production that is full of action, bright with colour and high on humour. The directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier are famous for matching perceptive wit to subtle interpretation, and in this famous opera they have not just a funny story and great characters, but ever-popular music too. Rossini’s verve, lyricism and virtuoso brilliance are at their most exciting, whether in the arias or the great ensembles.
This has long been a bel canto classic and one of the great operas to know, and this revival is the perfect way to indulge in a familiar favourite or discover the delight of opera for the first time.
Les Patineurs Beatrix Potter (Monday, 20 December 2010 – Monday, 10 January 2011)
Les Patineurs brings Frederick Ashton’s characteristic sense of fun to the elegance and virtuosity of The Royal Ballet. Astonishingly popular from its very first appearance, it interprets the effortless actions of skaters as they sway, glide, turn – and even fall over! The delightful Tales of Beatrix Potter danced by The Royal Ballet. Brilliant characterizations with detailed designs and costumes bring to life such lovable figures as Jemima Puddle-Duck, the dapper frog Jeremy Fisher, and the irrepressible Peter Rabbit. It is a perfect end to a wonderful festive programme for the whole family.
Peter and the Wolf /Tales of Beatrix Potter (Tuesday, 14 December 2010 – Saturday, 18 December 2010)Family fun, beautiful dance and generous helpings of colour, wit and charm. Matthew Hart’s wonderfully inventive version of Peter and the Wolf, choreographed for The Royal Ballet School, has an energy all its own as it portrays the scenes of young Peter and his naively valiant attempts at hunting. Peter’s Grandfather, a cat, a duck – even the forest trees and greenery – act out the events that leave Peter triumphant and the wolf his captive.
The delightful Tales of Beatrix Potter is danced by The Royal Ballet. Brilliant characterizations with detailed designs and costumes bring to life such lovable figures as Jemima Puddle-Duck, the dapper frog Jeremy Fisher, and the irrepressible Peter Rabbit. It is a perfect end to a wonderful festive programme for the whole family.
Swan Lake (22 January 2011 – Friday, 8 April 2011)
With the instantly recognizable music of Tchaikovsky virtually a signature of classical ballet and the wonderfully dark story of good set against evil, Swan Lake is one of the most famous and loved of all works in the repertory. It is impossible to imagine the ballet world without it. The production by Anthony Dowell for The Royal Ballet is an especially appealing and popular one, using beautiful designs inspired by the intricacy and brilliance of Fabergé. The glamour of the palace ballroom is evocative of the Russian Imperial world in which the ballet was created, while the haunting moonlit lakeside is perfect for the tragic conflict of the human and spirit worlds. The central role of Odette/Odile is one of the most testing for any ballerina especially in portraying both the vulnerability of Odette the white swan and the predatory duplicity of Odile the black swan.
Not surprisingly, the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III are anticipated highlights of every performance. Without question, this is one of the finest works of all ballet and one of the most loved and appreciated in the entire Royal Ballet repertory.
Sylvia (3 November 2010 – Wednesday, 1 December 2010)
Only restored in its entirety in 2004, Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia at once showed itself a fine combination of all the ingredients of the best of classical ballet.
The story, from Greek myth, has Sylvia at the centre of dramatic events that have a statue come to life, Sylvia’s abduction by the evil hunter Orion, and her dead lover Aminta restored to life through the intervention of the god Eros.
The title role – created for Margot Fonteyn – requires a technical skill and classical elegance to challenge any ballerina to the full. But the accompanying host of characters and ensembles also allow the Company the chance to draw on its full range of dance and dramatic experience.
The music by Delibes, who is maybe better known today for Coppelia, is considered one of the finest of 19th-century ballet scores. It was much admired in its own day, and rightly so for its sheer variety and melodious appeal.
Rich classical designs for this production were inspired by the art of Lorrain, Poussin and others to create a beautiful setting for the story. Lovely to look at and delightful to hear, Sylvia is a complete experience of classical ballet at its best.
Tannhauser (11 December 2010 – Sunday, 2 January 2011)
Wagner’s great battle of the sensual and the spiritual returns to The Royal Opera. A new production by Tim Albery puts Tannhauser back in the repertory after an absence of more than twenty years and with a fine international cast under Semyon Bychkov. Johan Botha – one of the most acclaimed Wagner tenors in the world today- sings the lead role of the artist struggling to reconcile contrasting aspects of his art.
Two great performers, Michaela Schuster as Venus and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Elisabeth, embody Tannhauser’s choice: the seductive feeding of the senses or the rich nourishing of the soul. The production combines striking imagery of the two worlds set apart, from the indulgence and abandon of the Venusberg to the privation and sincerity of the Wartburg. And the music of course is full of wonderful melody and powerful drama – a rich vehicle for the world-class Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. A new production from a production team of proven perception along with an especially fine cast make this a welcome return indeed.