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Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House houses the UK’s leading Opera and Ballet companies, and plays host to a wide range of visiting companies and artists.  Through its programme on the main stage, in the Linbury Studio, the Clore Studio and in spaces throughout the building it presents many forms of classical and contemporary opera and dance. Our funding is a contribution towards its core costs.

Funding awards

  • 2012-2013: £25,208,100
  • 2013-2014: £25,787,886
  • 2014-2015: £26,430,076

Video feed

Król Roger trailer (The Royal Opera)

Kasper Holten presents a new production of Szymanowski's sumptuously scored opera King Roger, a meditation on identity and desire. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk Polish composer Karol Szymanowski began to gather ideas for Król Roger (King Roger), his second and final opera, in 1918. He was in part inspired by Euripides' The Bacchae, in which King Pentheus attempts to suppress the hedonistic worship of Bacchus but ultimately succumbs to his temptation and is destroyed in a bloody frenzy. Szymanowski's cousin, the poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, provided the original libretto; but in Szymanowski's arduous six-year gestation of the piece he altered the third act. His King Roger instead becomes a Nietzschean hero, who resists his desire and emerges 'strong enough for freedom'. But the focus of the opera is Roger's agonizing indecision – and the glorious music of the Act II Bacchic dance leaves a profound impression of the power of sensual temptation. Szymanowski's music for the opera is opulently scored. The three short acts – commonly called the Byzantine, the Oriental and the Hellenic – brilliantly incorporate distinct musical styles. There are passages of exquisite lyricism, such as Roxana's soaring Act II aria, alongside thrilling writing for the chorus. Kasper Holten's new production (The Royal Opera's first) finds in Roger's indecision an expression of the struggle we all face – the struggle between intelligence and instinct in what is the innate duality of human nature. Music courtesy of Warner Music Inc: Available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/szymanowski-krol-roger/id693728331

Cubanía

Royal Ballet Guest Principal Dancer Carlos Acosta returns with his exciting mixed programme of dance inspired by his homeland. The show reunites him with Alexander Varona, Veronica Corveas – Principal Dancer of Ballet Nacional de Cuba – Miguel Altunaga, Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Zenaida Yanowsky, and the acclaimed Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, all of whom help create a diverse first half of modern dance. The evening finishes with the exuberant Tocororro Suite, which was reimagined for its performance at the Royal Opera House in summer 2014 and will once again feature live music from Carlos’s Cuban House Band. It will be an evening of dance to remember for all fans of Carlos Acosta. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/cubania-by-carlos-acosta

King Size Interview (The Royal Opera | Theater Basel)

An interview with King Size dramaturg Malte Ubenauf, and performer Michael von der Heide, about their upcoming production King Size. A somnolent couple in a huge hotel bedroom sing songs ranging from Purcell to pop, in Christoph Marthaler's acclaimed reimagining of the Liederabend (‘evening of song’). Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/king-size-by-christoph-marthaler A couple are trying to sleep in an unfamiliar room, but they feel lost in the huge bed. As their dreams take over they console themselves through songs from Purcell to The Jackson 5 via Schumann and Michel Polnareff. Swiss director and composer Christoph Marthaler has long been at the forefront of European theatre. In King Size, first performed in Basel in 2013, he presents a hugely original take on the Liederabend. In Mathaler's hands this traditional 'evening of song' becomes a witty, charming and profound meditation on love and the seduction of dreams. At the heart of Marthaler's vision is the musical phenomenon of enharmonics – two notes that have different names but sound the same. Mathaler uses this idea not only to unite songs from across lyrical history but to explore self and other, dream and reality. Bendix Dethleffsen creates the score.

Song of the Earth in rehearsal (The Royal Ballet)

Laura Morera, Nehemiah Kish and Edward Watson rehearse Kenneth MacMillan's Song of the Earth with Monica Mason and Grant Coyle. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/song-of-the-earth-by-kenneth-macmillan Kenneth MacMillan first heard Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in 1958. He immediately fell in love with Mahler's elegiac masterpiece and in 1959 asked if he could use the piece in a new commission for The Royal Ballet. But the ROH Board refused, concerned that such a major musical work was not suitable accompaniment for ballet. It wasn't until 1965 that MacMillan was able to create his Song of the Earth, for Stuttgart Ballet on the invitation of his friend John Cranko. The ballet was instantly acclaimed, recognized as MacMillan's arrival into full maturity as a choreographer. The Royal Ballet took the piece into their repertory only six months after its Stuttgart premiere. MacMillan introduced a narrative thread to the piece's six movements, drawing on imagery from Hans Bethge's free translation of the six T'ang-dynasty poems that Mahler used. Marcia Haydée created the role of the woman, a figure of loneliness isolated from the movements of the corps de ballet around her. The man was created by Ray Barra, and the Messenger of Death by Egon Madsen, then only 23 years old. In MacMillan's hands Death becomes not a figure of evil but a gentle, ever-present companion. Earthbound, non-classical movements morph seamlessly into modernist curves in a work of breathtaking beauty and power.

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Martin Yates introduces the music of Carlos Acosta's Don Quixote (The Royal Opera)

Conductor Martin Yates introduces the music of Don Quixote, the history of composer Ludwig Minkus and his score. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/Don Quixote Carlos Acosta, Principal Guest Artist of The Royal Ballet, created his first work for the Company in 2013. He chose one of his favourite ballets – Marius Petipa's Don Quixote, a joyful adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes's classic novel. Acosta's production has proved itself a firm audience favourite, acclaimed for its breathtakingly virtuoso dancing, eye-popping designs by Tim Hatley and the sheer energy and exuberance of the production as a whole. The adventures of the bumbling knight Don Quixote and his ever-faithful squire Sancho Panza have been the inspiration for countless ballets, of which Petipa's is one of the best loved. Acosta has danced the virtuoso role of Basilio many times, and brings that experience to his unique and vibrant vision of the story. Ludwig Minkus's score, created for Petipa, is full of Spanish flair and atmosphere. Don Quixote, with its famously bravura Act III pas de deux and infectious ebullience, is wonderfully entertaining.

Frederick Ashton's The Fred Step in slow motion (The Royal Ballet)

Francesca Hayward, Soloist of The Royal Ballet performs Frederick Ashtons signature move; 'the Fred step'. ‘Arabesque, fondu, coupé, petit developpé, pas de bourée, pas de chat’. This sequence is the Fred Step – one of the most famous motifs in ballet. It takes its nickname from The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer, Frederick Ashton, who included this enchaînement in almost all his ballets. Though it is known as his choreographic signature, Ashton himself often referred to the sequence as the ‘Pavlova’, acknowledging the prima ballerina from whom he borrowed it. Ashton had first seen Anna Pavlova perform in Peru - the land of his birth - when he was just 13, and later described how her performance inspired him: ‘She injected me with her poison and from the end of that evening I wanted to dance’. The Fred Step was originally part of a gavotte that Pavlova performed to ‘The Glow Worm’, part of an operetta by Paul Lincke. After Pavlova's death in 1931, Ashton – who thought of her ‘when I’m working all the time’ – came to regard it as his talisman. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/frederick-ashton-mixed-programme-dance-highlight-the-fred-step

La Traviata: Renée Fleming sings 'Sempre libera' (The Royal Opera)

Renée Fleming as Violetta Valéry sings Sempre Libera (Always Free) from Verdi's opera La traviata. Violeta debates whether she loves Alfredo (Joseph Calleja) - heard here offstage - but concludes she needs to be free. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/la-traviata-by-richard-eyre ‘A toast to the pleasures of life!’ – so sings Violetta, her new admirer Alfredo and her party guests in the opening scene of Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. But beneath the surface glamour of Violetta’s Parisian life run darker undercurrents: her doomed love for Alfredo and the tensions the lovers encounter when they break society’s conventions. La traviata, based on Alexandre Dumas fils’s play La Dame aux camélias, is one of Verdi’s most popular operas, combining drama, profound emotion and wonderful melodies. Richard Eyre’s classic production conveys the indulgent social whirl of 19th-century Paris. It provides a vivid setting for Verdi’s tuneful score, which includes such favourites as Violetta’s introspective ‘Ah fors’è lui’ and ecstatic ‘Sempre libera’; the duet ‘Pura siccome un angelo’ as Giorgio Germont begs Violetta to leave Alfredo; and ‘Parigi, o cara’, in which the lovers poignantly imagine a life that will never be theirs. The role of Violetta (the ‘fallen woman’ of the title) is one of Verdi’s most complex and enduring characters.

Iana Salenko and Steven McRae rehearse Swan Lake (The Royal Ballet)

Principal of The Royal Ballet, Steven McRae and Guest Artist, Iana Salenko rehearse Swan Lake. This film was shot and edited by First Soloist of The Royal Ballet, Andre Uspenski. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/swanlake http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/swan-lake-by-anthony-dowell Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendour of the royal palace. Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa for the ballet's revised 1895 version. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

Anthony Dowell and Darcey Bussell discuss Swan Lake (The Royal Ballet)

Former Director of The Royal Ballet Anthony Dowell and Former Principal dancer Darcey Bussell discuss Dowell's production of Swan Lake. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/swanlake Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendour of the royal palace. Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa for the ballet's revised 1895 version. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

Coaching the dancers of The Royal Ballet (The Royal Ballet)

A look at the role of a coach and how they prepare the dancers of The Royal Ballet to perform at the highest level. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/swanlake Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendour of the royal palace. Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa for the ballet's revised 1895 version. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

Natalia Osipova, Matthew Golding and the corps de ballet on Swan Lake (The Royal Ballet)

A look at the roles of the principal dancers and the corps de ballet in The Royal Ballet's Swan Lake. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/swanlake Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendour of the royal palace. Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa for the ballet's revised 1895 version. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

An introduction to the Youth Opera Company (The Royal Opera)

An insight into the Royal Opera House's youngest opera company. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/youthopera The Royal Opera House’s Youth Opera Company is a 50-strong group of diverse, talented children aged nine-to-13-years-old. Members come from across London and the South East and from a wide variety of backgrounds. What they have in common is real potential as singers and actors; potential that they discover and develop through being part of the Company.

La Fille mal gardée trailer (The Wayward Daughter) | The Royal Ballet

Frederick Ashton's joyful ballet contains some of his most brilliant choreography. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/fille Live in cinemas Tuesday 5 May 2015. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/showings/la-fille-mal-gardee-live-2015 Frederick Ashton's final full-length ballet is one of his most joyous creations, inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside. It is based on an 1828 French ballet and the music was adapted by John Lanchbery from Ferdinand Hérold's original score. La Fille mal gardée was a resounding success on its premiere in 1960 and has remained a firm favourite in The Royal Ballet's repertory. The title translates as 'The Wayward Daughter'. La Fille displays some of Ashton's most virtuoso choreography – the youthful passion of Lise and her lover, Colas, is expressed in a series of energetic pas de deux. The ballet is laced with good humour and a whirl of dancing chickens, grouchy guardians and a halfwit suitor take to the stage. Ashton affectionately incorporated elements of national folk dance into his choreography, from a Lancashire clog dance to a maypole dance, making La Fille mal gardée (despite its title) The Royal Ballet's most emphatically English work. Osbert Lancaster's colourful designs reinforce the bucolic wit of the production.

Angel Blue sings Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Youkali' (The Royal Opera)

Angel Blue sings Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Youkali', accompanied by pianist James Baillieu. The performance was part of an Insights event in which novelist and journalist Will Self discussed the themes of the opera and challenged the purpose of the art form. The event was live-streamed online. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-will-self-event-live-streamed-for-free-on-4-march-2015

Angel Blue sings Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Surabaya Johnny' (The Royal Opera)

Angel Blue sings Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Surabaya Johnny', accompanied by pianist James Baillieu. The performance was part of an Insights event in which novelist and journalist Will Self discussed the themes of the opera and challenged the purpose of the art form. The event was live-streamed online. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-will-self-event-live-streamed-for-free-on-4-march-2015

Angel Blue sings 'Alabama Song' from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (The Royal Opera)

Angel Blue sings Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's 'Alabama Song' from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, accompanied by pianist James Baillieu. The performance was part of an Insights event in which novelist and journalist Will Self discussed the themes of the opera and challenged the purpose of the art form. The event was live-streamed online. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-will-self-event-live-streamed-for-free-on-4-march-2015 The 'Alabama Song' has inspired covers by artists including David Bowie and The Doors. Find out more: http://www.roh.org.uk/news/oh-show-us-the-way-to-the-next-whisky-bar John Fulljames's new production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny opens on 10 March 2015. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/rise-and-fall-of-the-city-of-mahagonny-by-john-fulljames The three-year genesis of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) spanned the entire partnership between Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill – one of the most fruitful and shortest musical collaborations of the 20th century. The great success of their first work together, the Mahagonny Songspiel (1927), encouraged the two to adapt it into a full-length opera. But progress stalled as the two men discovered their theories were developing in deeply divergent directions: Brecht eager to pursue the disjointed effect of his theories of epic theatre, Weill looking for ways to unify very different styles of music. Concerns from first the publishers and then producers over the work's 'depravity' further increased the disruption. The riot at the opera's premiere on 9 March 1930 was the beginning of the end of Weill's career in Germany. The troubled development of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny only adds to the work's extraordinary power as one of the most unsettling and provocative of all operas. This is Weill at his most brilliant and inventive, incorporating popular song in the 'Alabama Song' and neoclassicism in the terrifying 'Hurricane fugue'. The Royal Opera's Associate Director of Opera John Fulljames directs The Royal Opera’s first production of the work in collaboration with designer Es Devlin (Don Giovanni, Les Troyens). They focus on Brecht and Weill's stinging critique of consumerism while finding new relevance in our insatiable depletion of the earth's resources.

Opera Shorts: Screen Grab, inspired by Mozart's Die Zauberflöte

Screen Grab, by Riena Shibahara, Annaliei Sayers and Matthew Brooks, is one of a series of animated films inspired by opera and produced in collaboration with Kingston University students, 2015. The animation uses the idea of social media and online presence as a platform for a personality shift and an outlet for rage. The animation reveals the Queen of the Night’s real feelings, which have been disguised under her mask, in the same way that online interaction can be very different from face-to-face communication. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/new-animations-offer-fresh-take-on-classic-operatic-moments Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for a suburban theatre in Vienna, the Theater auf der Wieden, and drew on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. As well as being a comedy, Die Zauberflöte is an expression of Mozart’s profound spiritual beliefs. Enlightenment concerns with the search for wisdom and virtue are at the heart of this enchanting tale. Die Zauberflöte was an instant success with audiences and Mozart’s supposed rival Salieri described it as an ‘operone’ – a great opera. David McVicar’s classic production embraces both the seriousness and comedy of Mozart’s work. The audience is transported to a fantastical world of dancing animals, flying machines and dazzlingly starry skies. The setting provides a wonderful backdrop for Mozart’s kaleidoscopic score, from the Queen of the Night’s coloratura fireworks to Tamino and Pamina’s lyrical love duets and Papageno’s hearty, folksong-like arias. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/die-zauberflote-by-david-mcvicar

Opera Shorts: Drivetime, inspired by Mozart's Die Zauberflöte

Drivetime with ROH FM, by Rachael Hare, Chester Holmes and Tommy Vad Flaaten, is one of a series of animated films inspired by opera and produced in collaboration with Kingston University students in 2015. A seemingly mundane argument can cause fierce emotions. In this animation, the dramatic Queen of the Night aria acts as a soundtrack for the parents’ power struggle in this comically theatrical short about a normal family’s car ride. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/news/new-animations-offer-fresh-take-on-classic-operatic-moments Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for a suburban theatre in Vienna, the Theater auf der Wieden, and drew on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. As well as being a comedy, Die Zauberflöte is an expression of Mozart’s profound spiritual beliefs. Enlightenment concerns with the search for wisdom and virtue are at the heart of this enchanting tale. Die Zauberflöte was an instant success with audiences and Mozart’s supposed rival Salieri described it as an ‘operone’ – a great opera. David McVicar’s classic production embraces both the seriousness and comedy of Mozart’s work. The audience is transported to a fantastical world of dancing animals, flying machines and dazzlingly starry skies. The setting provides a wonderful backdrop for Mozart’s kaleidoscopic score, from the Queen of the Night’s coloratura fireworks to Tamino and Pamina’s lyrical love duets and Papageno’s hearty, folksong-like arias. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/die-zauberflote-by-david-mcvicar

Opera Shorts: Surface, inspired by Mozart's Die Zauberflöte

Surface, by Seohye Lee, May Johananoff and Lucas Santi Pereira Winck, is one of a series of animated films inspired by opera and produced in collaboration with Kingston University students. Surface uses traditional drawn animation to examine identity. How do we feel when we look in the mirror? Do we see ourselves or are we a production of how others see us? This film ponders these questions in a revealing snapshot of life. Smile - you’re in the picture! http://www.roh.org.uk/news/new-animations-offer-fresh-take-on-classic-operatic-moments Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) for a suburban theatre in Vienna, the Theater auf der Wieden, and drew on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. As well as being a comedy, Die Zauberflöte is an expression of Mozart’s profound spiritual beliefs. Enlightenment concerns with the search for wisdom and virtue are at the heart of this enchanting tale. Die Zauberflöte was an instant success with audiences and Mozart’s supposed rival Salieri described it as an ‘operone’ – a great opera. David McVicar’s classic production embraces both the seriousness and comedy of Mozart’s work. The audience is transported to a fantastical world of dancing animals, flying machines and dazzlingly starry skies. The setting provides a wonderful backdrop for Mozart’s kaleidoscopic score, from the Queen of the Night’s coloratura fireworks to Tamino and Pamina’s lyrical love duets and Papageno’s hearty, folksong-like arias. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/die-zauberflote-by-david-mcvicar

Will Self - Contain Your Self

Can a production ever rupture opera's moneyed bourgeois complacency? Will Self argues that opera cannot be as subversive in the 21st century as it once was. This event was originally delivered as a live stream on 4 March 2015, focused around Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. In it the author and Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University argues that Mahagonny, as it stands, cannot hope to be as subversive now as its creators originally intended. The lecture sees Self in full flow, challenging the very purpose of opera and the organizations that create it. The clip also features internationally acclaimed soprano Angel Blue singing works from Weill and Brecht, including Mahagonny’s now iconic ‘Alabama Song’. In Self’s own words: ‘In the past operas provoked riots – I want my lecture about an opera to provoke one.’

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny trailer (The Royal Opera)

John Fulljames presents a new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's furiously impassioned operatic satire on consumerism. Find out more: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/rise-and-fall-of-the-city-of-mahagonny-by-john-fulljames Three criminals on the run find they can go no further and found a city – Mahagonny, city of gold. The destitute and the disenchanted flock to Mahagonny, among them the prostitute Jenny and the lumberjack Jim Mahoney with his three friends. The city swells with debauchery. Jim and Jenny try to escape, but find themselves still in Mahagonny. Jim is arrested and convicted of myriad crimes – chief among them a lack of money, punishable by death. He is executed and the city burns.

Les Vêpres siciliennes: 'Au sein des mers...' (The Royal Opera)

'Au sein des mers et battu par l’orage' from Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes sung by Lianna Haroutounian (Hélène). Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/les-vepres-siciliennes-by-stefan-herheim The French have occupied Sicily, and Hélène is held hostage by Montfort, the French governor, who has had her brother executed. She turns to the partisan Jean Procida and the rebellious patriot Henri in her bid for vengeance. Les Vêpres siciliennes is one of Verdi’s lesser-known mature operas, but was vital to his development as a composer. It was created for the Paris Opéra in 1855, providing Verdi with an opportunity to embrace the elaborate style and traditions of French grand opera. Stefan Herheim brings Verdi’s tale of revenge, family relations and patriotism to Covent Garden for the first time. His imaginative production draws parallels between the opera and the opera house for which it was written, including a spectacular re-creation of the Paris Opéra itself. Musically, the work contains impressive choruses, passionate duets and some wonderful showpiece arias for the principal singers. Particular highlights include Procida’s aria on returning to Sicily ‘Et toi, Palerme’, the Act IV duet ‘De courroux et d’effroi’ in which Hélène expresses her sympathy for Henri’s dilemma and Hélène’s brilliant Act V boléro, ‘Merci, jeunes amis’.

Andrea Chénier: 'Nemico della patria?' (The Royal Opera)

Željko Lučić plays Carlo Gérard in David McVicar's production of Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier, a drama of liberty and love in the French Revolution. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/andrea-chenier-by-david-mcvicar The poet Andrea Chénier and the servant Carlo Gérard both love the young aristocrat Maddalena. When Maddalena loses everything in the French Revolution, Chénier offers her protection, and so incites the envy of Gérard, now a powerful official. Chénier is arrested during the Terror. Gérard, spurred by his jealousy, condemns him. Maddalena makes a desperate appeal, and Gérard tries, too late, to defend Chénier. Gérard helps Maddalena to join Chénier in prison, and the lovers face the guillotine together. The premiere of Andrea Chénier at La Scala, Milan, on 28 March 1896 propelled the young Umberto Giordano to the front rank of the giovane scuola (an up-and-coming group of young Italian composers that included Puccini and Mascagni). The opera exemplifies the verismo style that dominated Italian opera of the period – nowhere more so than in Giordano's skilful interpolation of different musical styles to provide local colour, from the aristocratic Gavotte of Act I to the Marseillaise in Act IV. The libretto by Luigi Illica (Puccini’s collaborator for Manon Lescaut, La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly) was inspired by the real-life Romantic poet André Chénier, who was guillotined just three days before Robespierre's execution. Andrea Chénier has become celebrated for the lyrical music it offers the tenor who takes the leading role, with the off-the-cuff Improvviso of Act I and his final aria 'Come un bel dì di maggio' particular highlights. But there are thrilling moments for the whole cast, including Maddalena's ardent aria 'La mamma morta', Gérard’s 'Nemico della patria!’ and a host of dramatic duets and characterful ensembles. David McVicar (whose productions for The Royal Opera include Le nozze di Figaro, Faust and Die Zauberflöte) directs The Royal Opera's new production, moving from the opulence of pre-Revolutionary France to the horrors of the Reign of Terror.

King Size (The Royal Opera | Theater Basel)

A somnolent couple in a huge hotel bedroom sing songs ranging from Purcell to pop, in Christoph Marthaler's acclaimed reimagining of the Liederabend (‘evening of song’). Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/king-size-by-christoph-marthaler A couple are trying to sleep in an unfamiliar room, but they feel lost in the huge bed. As their dreams take over they console themselves through songs from Purcell to The Jackson 5 via Schumann and Michel Polnareff. Swiss director and composer Christoph Marthaler has long been at the forefront of European theatre. In King Size, first performed in Basel in 2013, he presents a hugely original take on the Liederabend. In Mathaler's hands this traditional 'evening of song' becomes a witty, charming and profound meditation on love and the seduction of dreams. At the heart of Marthaler's vision is the musical phenomenon of enharmonics – two notes that have different names but sound the same. Mathaler uses this idea not only to unite songs from across lyrical history but to explore self and other, dream and reality. Bendix Dethleffsen creates the score.

The Grand Inquisitor from Verdi's Don Carlo (The Royal Opera 2008)

'Nell'ispano suol mai l'eresia dominò' from Act IV of Nicholas Hytner's production of Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo with Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip and Eric Halfvarson as the Grand Inquisitor, The Royal Opera, 2008. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/doncarlo Politics and religion are dangerously entwined in Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. Based on a 1787 play by Friedrich Schiller, Don Carlo was first performed at the Paris Opéra in 1867. Verdi made extensive revisions to the opera over the following 20 years. This production by Nicholas Hytner follows the five-act 1882 version – Verdi’s final thoughts on the work. Don Carlo contains a host of vividly drawn characters, depicted through some of Verdi’s most complex music. The chilling Grand Inquisitor imposes his will in thunderous, dark-toned music, while the revolutionary Marquis of Posa sings a stirring duet with Don Carlos in praise of freedom. And in Eboli and Elizabeth, Verdi created two of his most sympathetic heroines. The Royal Opera’s staging provides a powerful backdrop, and conjures up the Renaissance splendour of 16th-century France and Spain.

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