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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

Manon trailer (The Royal Ballet)

Kenneth MacMillan's acclaimed tragic ballet is a modern masterpiece. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/manon Kenneth MacMillan began work on Manon shortly after the birth of his only daughter. His source was the 18th-century French novel by Abbé Prévost, already adapted twice for opera by Massenet and Puccini. Renowned dance musician Leighton Lucas and his assistant Hilda Gaunt provided a score made from a patchwork of works by Massenet, including his famous yearning Elégie as the theme for the lovers. The premiere was given on 7 March 1974, the lead roles of Manon and Des Grieux danced by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell. The ballet quickly became a staple of The Royal Ballet's repertory. MacMillan found new sympathy with the capricious Manon, bringing his customary psychological insight and the memories of his own impoverished upbringing. He described his heroine as 'not so much afraid of being poor as ashamed of being poor'. Designs by MacMillan's friend Nicholas Georgiadis reflect this, depicting a world of lavish splendour polluted by miserable poverty. MacMillan's spectacular ensemble scenes for the whole Company create vivid, complex portraits of the distinct societies of Paris and New Orleans. But it is Manon and Des Grieux's impassioned pas de deux – recalling the intensity of MacMillan's earlier work, Romeo and Juliet – that drive this tragic story, and make Manon one of MacMillan's most heartbreaking dramas. Live in cinemas Thursday 16 October 2014. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/showings/manon-live-2014

Royal Opera House Culture Change Programme - why it matters

Attendees from our recent Culture Change event tell us why the programme is important to them. Culture Change is a business support programme for small and medium enterprises and microbusinesses within the creative and cultural industries based in the East of England. This is a new Royal Opera House programme supported by the European Regional Development Fund that provides free business support to cultural SMEs. Find out how you can get involved with the programme at http://www.roh.org.uk/about/culture-change

‘Oo Jimmy Choo’ from Anna Nicole (The Royal Opera)

Eva-Maria Westbroek and Alan Oke perform the aria ‘Oo Jimmy Choo’ from Anna Nicole http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/anna-nicole-by-richard-jones *** A small-town waitress decides to become a stripper, weds an octogenarian billionaire and becomes a Playboy model and celebrity. But as her fame grows, so does the exploitative behaviour of those close to her, the intrusiveness of the media and her own dependence on drink and pills. The flamboyant life and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith inspired Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, commissioned by The Royal Opera and first performed in 2011. The razor-sharp libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera. Richard Jones’s Olivier-nominated production mixes comedy and tragedy, and boldly confronts the nature of modern celebrity culture. The music fuses jazz, blues and music theatre with more traditional operatic language. Highlights include Anna’s wedding scene, in which she declares her intention to live the ‘American Dream’; a rowdy party, complete with jazz trio; an Expressionist interlude showing the decline of Anna’s fortunes; the long, hopeless list of pills sung by Anna's son Daniel; and Anna’s poignant final lament sung over Daniel's dead body.

Marguerite and Armand - Sergei Polunin and Tamara Rojo (The Royal Ballet)

Sergei Polunin and Tamara Rojo perform Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand at the Royal Opera House. The Royal Ballet 2013 http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/marguerite-and-armand-by-frederick-ashton *** Frederick Ashton created Marguerite and Armand for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in 1963 as a vehicle for their unique dance partnership. The narrative was drawn from the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils, which also inspired Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. Ashton concentrates the play’s tragic essence in choreography of great intensity – Fonteyn recalled that rehearsals for the work contained ‘a passion more real than life itself’. The ballet is set to Franz Liszt’s romantic Piano Sonata in B Minor and depicts the burgeoning love between Marguerite and Armand, which is movingly expressed through passionate lifts and increasingly free movements. However, the lovers’ happiness is threatened by social convention and the ‘gilded cage’ in which Marguerite lives – evoked by Cecil Beaton in his elegant stage designs. The moment at which Marguerite realizes that she must renounce Armand is one of devastating stillness. The final pas de deux, as Marguerite lies dying in Armand’s arms, is one of the most moving in all of ballet.

Show 21 more videos

Thaddeus Strassberger on I due Foscari (The Royal Opera)

Ahead of his Royal Opera House debut, Director Thaddeus Strassberger introduces his production of Giuseppe Verdi's I due Foscari. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/foscari I due Foscari, Verdi's sixth opera, is one of his darkest and saddest. At its heart is a father's realization that there is nothing he can do to protect his family against the world's cruelties. The 31-year-old composer may well have drawn on his own devastating experience of losing his wife and two infant children a few years earlier. But despite the opera's sombre soul, the music for I due Foscari contains exhilarating forerunners of Verdi's later style – particularly in the fiercely virtuosic writing for the heroine Lucrezia and her magnificent duets with the Doge in Act I and with her doomed husband in Act II. Thaddeus Strassberger depicts a Venice that is rotten to its core. Mattie Ullrich's opulent costume designs reference the opera’s 15th-century setting while suggesting the corruption lurking beneath. The spare sets of award-winning British designer Kevin Knight illustrate the Foscaris' isolation and the decay of the city, before flaring out into grand guignol for the opera's brilliant Act III carnival. Watch I due Foscari live in cinemas on Monday 27 October 2014. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/showings/i-due-foscari-live-2014

World Ballet Day LIVE, 1 October 2014

Five world-class ballet companies join in 24-hour live stream on 1 October 2014. www.roh.org.uk/worldballetday World Ballet Day, a global first, will feature The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet. Each will take the lead for a four-hour period, live streaming behind-the-scenes from their headquarters to offer a rarely seen glimpse backstage. Starting with morning class at each company, and moving on to rehearsals for forthcoming performances, the continuous live link will cross time zones from Melbourne to Moscow, to London, to Toronto, to San Franciso.

Animation: The ancient myth of Prometheus

An animation illustrating the ancient myth of Prometheus, created for Deloitte Ignite 2014. http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-ignite The animation was created by Mike Harvey and Sophie Standing, students on the Illustration and Animation course at Kingston University. Actor Damian Lewis provided the voiceover. *** Deloitte Ignite, a month-long festival, celebrates and explores the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focuses on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan.

Animation: the ancient myth of Leda and the Swan

Animation illustrating the ancient myth of Leda and the Swan, created for Deloitte Ignite 2014. http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-ignite The animation was created by Ellie Pritchard, Alice Stewart and Luisa Crosbie, students on the Illustration and Animation course at Kingston University. Actress Helen McCrory provided the voiceover. *** Deloitte Ignite, a month-long festival, celebrates and explores the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focuses on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan.

Ballet in super slow motion (The Royal Ballet)

Royal Ballet dancers and Aakash Odedra filmed at 1,500 frames-per-second. http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-ignite/sampling-the-myth Royal Ballet dancers Roberta Marquez, Melissa Hamilton and Federico Bonelli and contemporary dancer Aakash Odedra have been filmed with super slow-motion cameras in advance of their Sampling the Myth performances at Deloitte Ignite. Shot at 1,500 frames-per-second, the film shows the nuances of balletic technique in great detail. 'Filming the dancers in ultra slow motion really highlights the combination of athleticism and grace they have to master,' says director Tom Turner. 'Filming with Aakash was especially insightful as his style is so different to classical ballet. Seeing him slowed down though, you see the similarities between contemporary and classical dance, both of which are based on phenomenally precise movement.'

Damian Lewis recommends Deloitte Ignite 2014

Join us for a month of Myth with the award-winning Deloitte Ignite, the annual contemporary arts festival at the Royal Opera House. http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-ignite Curated by The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery’s Minna Moore Ede, this year's festival is a feast of dance and visual art. The month-long festival celebrates and explores the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focuses on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan.

Damian Lewis on the power of the Prometheus myth (Deloitte Ignite 2014)

Damian Lewis on the power of the Prometheus myth and why he's excited for Deloitte Ignite. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk Join us for a month of Myth with the award-winning Deloitte Ignite, the annual contemporary arts festival at the Royal Opera House. Curated by The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery’s Minna Moore Ede, this year's festival is a feast of dance and visual art. The month-long festival celebrates and explores the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focuses on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan. #MovedByMyth

Chris Ofili paints Royal Ballet dancers for Deloitte Ignite 2014

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili is to use Royal Ballet dancers as living canvases for a piece at Deloitte Ignite. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-chris-ofili-painting-royal-ballet-dancers-bodies-for-deloitte-ignite-2014 The piece is a collaboration with choreographer Aakash Odedra. Inspired by the myth of Prometheus, the work combines contemporary and classical Indian dance. It will have its premiere as part of Sampling the Myth at the Season-opening festival next month alongside extracts from Mikhail Fokine’s The Firebird and The Dying Swan, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake,George Balanchine’s Apollo and Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl; and the world premiere of a new dance piece by Rambert’s Miguel Altunaga. #MovedByMyth You can watch Sampling the Myth for free via The Royal Opera House website and YouTube Channel at 6.50pm BST on Saturday 6 September 2014. The event will be available to watch online anywhere in the world (with a small number of exceptions). Find out more: http://www.roh.org.uk/news/dance-performances-as-part-of-deloitte-ignite-to-be-live-streamed-on-6-september-2014

Royal Opera House Autumn 2014 - Life Reimagined promo

Find out what's on at http://www.roh.org.uk The Royal Ballet opens the Autumn Season with Kenneth MacMillan’s masterful Manon. Highlights for The Royal Opera include Plácido Domingo in Verdi’s dark political tragedy I due Foscari and - in a new collaboration with the Roundhouse - Monteverdi’s Orfeo. The Royal Opera, under the direction of Antonio Pappano, is one of the world’s leading opera companies. Based in the iconic Covent Garden theatre, it is renowned both for its outstanding performances of traditional opera and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers, such as Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Thomas Adès. The Royal Ballet, led by Director Kevin O'Hare, is Britain’s largest ballet company. The Company has a wide-ranging repertory showcasing the great classical ballets, heritage works from Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton and Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, as well as new works by the foremost choreographers of today.

Short film: Impressions of Dialogues des Carmélites (The Royal Opera)

A unique glimpse of Robert Carsen's award-winning production of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, shot and directed by film-maker Felipe Sanguinetti. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/dialogues-des-carmelites-by-robert-carsen The production assembled the largest cast ever seen on the Covent Garden stage: 14 principals, 60 Royal Opera Chorus, 26 actors and 67 volunteers from the community ensemble. Felipe shot the film over several days, filming backstage from the wings of the theatre, the flys, the orchestra pit and the auditorium. *** The terror and turbulence of the French Revolution provides the backdrop for Francis Poulenc’s powerful opera of faith, bravery and redemption. Poulenc created the libretto for Dialogues des Carmélites after a play of the same name by writer Georges Bernanos and the opera was given its premiere at La Scala, Milan, in 1957. It arrived at Covent Garden the following year, with a cast that featured Dame Joan Sutherland in the role of the courageous Mother Marie of the Incarnation. Director Robert Carsen – who staged Falstaff at the Royal Opera House in 2012 – brings his intense and daring production of Dialogues des Carmélites to The Royal Opera for the first time. The starkly beautiful staging combines modern designs and period costumes with stunning lighting effects. It throws into relief Poulenc’s radiant and exhilarating score, which draws on the resources of a large orchestra (including two harps, a piano and even a guillotine). Dialogues des Carmélites culminates in one of opera’s most devastating final scenes, as Blanche embraces death with her fellow nuns to a transcendent setting of the hymn Salve Regina hymn.

An extract of Frederick Ashton's Monotones II (The Royal Ballet)

Royal Ballet Principals Edward Watson, Marianela Nuñez and Nehemiah Kish perform Frederick Ashton's Monotones II. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/monotones-i-and-ii-by-frederick-ashton Frederick Ashton distilled the exquisite tranquility of Erik Satie’s pieces in Monotones I and II, which display some of his most modernist choreography. Monotones II was created first and given its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 1965, accompanied by Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies. Ashton created a second piece to Satie’s Trois Gnossiennes (Monotones I), and the two were presented together the following year. Satie’s Préludes d’Eginhard was played as an overture. Monotones I opens with a slow, serene pas de trois in a wonderful example of adagio classicism. The dancers remain on stage throughout the entire work, with their smooth lines of movement unbroken. Monotones II features another pas de trois that mirrors the controlled movements of the first. Satie’s delicate music, coupled with Ashton’s beautiful choreography, is wonderfully haunting. http://www.roh.org.uk/people/edward-watson http://www.roh.org.uk/people/marianela-nunez http://www.roh.org.uk/people/nehemiah-kish

Juan Diego Flórez - 'Ecco, ridente in cielo' (Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Royal Opera)

Juan Diego Flórez as Count Almaviva in Act I of Gioachino Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/barbiere The 23-year-old Gioachino Rossini completed his masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia incredibly quickly – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He drew on Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Seville – part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: qualities brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful production. Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and a young noble suitor. Skilfully plotting behind the scenes is Figaro – an irrepressible and inventive character in whom many have seen a resemblance to the young Rossini himself. The score fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices pile on top of each other. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been toured round the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. It has remained one of the most prominent and popular operas in the repertory.

'PARTAY!' from Anna Nicole (The Royal Opera)

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole and Gerald Finley as Stern from Act II of Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera Anna Nicole. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/annanicole A small-town waitress decides to become a stripper, weds an octogenarian billionaire and becomes a Playboy model and celebrity. But as her fame grows, so does the exploitative behaviour of those close to her, the intrusiveness of the media and her own dependence on drink and pills. The flamboyant life and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith inspired Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, commissioned by The Royal Opera and first performed in 2011. The razor-sharp libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera. Richard Jones’s Olivier-nominated production mixes comedy and tragedy, and boldly confronts the nature of modern celebrity culture. The music fuses jazz, blues and music theatre with more traditional operatic language. Highlights include Anna’s wedding scene, in which she declares her intention to live the ‘American Dream’; a rowdy party, complete with jazz trio; an Expressionist interlude showing the decline of Anna’s fortunes; the long, hopeless list of pills sung by Anna's son Daniel; and Anna’s poignant final lament sung over Daniel's dead body.

Act I finale of The Barber of Seville, starring Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez

Joyce DiDonato as Rosina, Juan Diego Flórez as Count Almaviva, Pietro Spagnoli as Figaro, Alessandro Corbelli as Doctor Bartolo, Ferruccio Furlanetto as Don Basilio, Jennifer Rhys-Davies as Berta and men of the Royal Opera Chorus in 'Mi par d'esser con la testa' from the Act I finale of Gioachino Rossini's opera Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/barbiere The 23-year-old Gioachino Rossini completed his masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia incredibly quickly – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He drew on Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Seville – part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: qualities brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful production. Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and a young noble suitor. Skilfully plotting behind the scenes is Figaro – an irrepressible and inventive character in whom many have seen a resemblance to the young Rossini himself. The score fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices pile on top of each other. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been toured round the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. It has remained one of the most prominent and popular operas in the repertory.

Royal Ballet dancers rehearse Deloitte Ignite dance film

Royal Ballet dancers Claire Calvert and Eric Underwood rehearse with Charlotte Edmonds for her Greek myth-inspired dance film for Deloitte Ignite 2014. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/about/deloitte-ignite The film will be shown as part of Sampling the Myth, and will be streamed live on the ROH website and YouTube channel on 6 September at 6.50pm BST. Join us for a month of Myth with the award-winning Deloitte Ignite, the annual contemporary arts festival at the Royal Opera House. Curated by The Royal Ballet and The National Gallery’s Minna Moore Ede, this year's festival is a feast of dance and visual art. Charlotte Edmond's dance film is based on W.B. Yeats's poetic take on the myth of Leda and the Swan. The month-long festival celebrates and explores the origin of myth and creation through dance, visual art, film, music and movement. The festival focusses on two archetypal myths: Prometheus, the Titan who creates man from clay and steals fire from the Gods, and Leda and the Swan, the mysterious conjunction of a mortal woman and the god Zeus, disguised as a swan. Deloitte Ignite 2014 begins with a weekend filled with free and ticketed events and continues over four weeks with performance, film, art installations, discussion and live-streaming, culminating in a free Deloitte Ignite Family Day offering a wide variety of family activities and workshops, as well as space to relax.

Drug Ballad from Anna Nicole (The Royal Opera)

Dominic Rowntree as Anna's son Daniel and Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role from Act II of Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera Anna Nicole. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/news/anna-nicole-musical-highlight-daniels-drug-ballad A small-town waitress decides to become a stripper, weds an octogenarian billionaire and becomes a Playboy model and celebrity. But as her fame grows, so does the exploitative behaviour of those close to her, the intrusiveness of the media and her own dependence on drink and pills. The flamboyant life and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith inspired Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera, commissioned by The Royal Opera and first performed in 2011. The razor-sharp libretto is by Richard Thomas, co-creator of Jerry Springer: the Opera. Richard Jones’s Olivier-nominated production mixes comedy and tragedy, and boldly confronts the nature of modern celebrity culture. The music fuses jazz, blues and music theatre with more traditional operatic language. Highlights include Anna’s wedding scene, in which she declares her intention to live the ‘American Dream’; a rowdy party, complete with jazz trio; an Expressionist interlude showing the decline of Anna’s fortunes; the long, hopeless list of pills sung by Anna's son Daniel; and Anna’s poignant final lament sung over Daniel's dead body.

Il barbiere di Siviglia trailer (The Royal Opera)

Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s production of Rossini’s sparkling comedy is full of wit and energy. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/barbiere The 23-year-old Gioachino Rossini completed his masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia incredibly quickly – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He drew on Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Seville – part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: qualities brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful production. Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and a young noble suitor. Skilfully plotting behind the scenes is Figaro – an irrepressible and inventive character in whom many have seen a resemblance to the young Rossini himself. The score fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices pile on top of each other. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been toured round the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. It has remained one of the most prominent and popular operas in the repertory.

Thaddeus Strassberger on Glare - ‘I’ve never done a robot opera before’ (The Royal Opera)

Director Thaddeus Strassberger on his new operatic thriller, Glare. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/glare Søren Nils Eichberg, winner of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition and Danish National Symphony Orchestra's first composer in residence, has won widespread acclaim for his orchestral and chamber music. These include his award-winning Qilaatersorneq (2001) and the symphonies 'Stürtzen wir uns ins Feuer' (2005) and 'Before Heaven, Before Earth' (2010). All his music is characterized by a powerful rhythmic drive and rich orchestral colour. Glare is Eichberg's much-anticipated Royal Opera debut. German poet Hannah Dügben provides an original libretto that explores a tense web of human relationships. Thaddeus Strassberger, director of The Royal Opera's production of I due Foscari, joins a creative team of his regular collaborators, designer Madeleine Boyd and lighting designer Matt Haskins (whose joint credits include Opera North's Don Giovanni).

Philip Glass on The Trial and the composing 'tricks' he uses when writing

Composer Philip Glass on his latest collaboration with Christopher Hampton and Music Theatre Wales, an opera adaptation of Franz Kafka's black comedy, The Trial. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-trial-by-michael-mccarthy The Trial is Philip Glass's second 'pocket' opera based on the writings of Franz Kafka, and his first work created specifically for Music Theatre Wales, in celebration of the company's 25th birthday. Glass has a long relationship with the company, describing them as 'wonderful to work with… they seem to like these "odd" pieces of mine, and they do them very well. I think of my pocket operas as neutron bombs – small, but packing a terrific punch'. Glass has won worldwide acclaim for his operas, which include Satyagraha and Einstein on the Beach. Music Theatre Wales gave a sell-out tour in 2010 of Glass's previous Kafka opera, In the Penal Colony, a work of blistering intensity and dark claustrophobia. Playwright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton (whose opera credits include Glass's Appomattox) collaborates with Glass on this adaptation of one of the great classics of 20th-century literature. Philip Glass is one of the most popular living composers. He has written prolifically for the stage, his vast catalogue of works including several ballets and more than twenty operas. The Linbury Studio Theatre has been the site of two UK premieres of Glass chamber operas, with The Royal Opera producing Orphée in 2005 and Music Theatre Wales In the Penal Colony in 2010. In the 2014/15 Season MTW gives the world premiere of Glass's chamber opera The Trial in the Linbury. Glass grew up in Baltimore and studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School, in Aspen with Darius Milhaud and in Europe with Nadia Boulanger and Ravi Shankar. In 1967 he formed the Philip Glass Ensemble in New York. He has since become one of the most prominent figures in contemporary music, renowned for developing a style of music based on immersive, repetitive structures. He presents lectures, workshops and solo keyboard performances around the world, continues to appear frequently with the Philip Glass Ensemble and has created collaborations with figures including David Bowie, Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen, Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma, Doris Lessing and Twyla Tharp. Glass's many large-scale operas include Satyagraha and Einstein on the Beach; he has created many soundtracks for film, including the influential Koyaanisqatsi and the award-winning The Hours; and additionally his works are widely popular in the concert hall and in theatre, dance and popular music.

Joyce DiDonato on performing with a broken leg in Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Royal Opera)

When Joyce DiDonato broke her leg performing Rosina on the opening night of Il barbiere di Siviglia in 2009, it didn't look likely she would be able to continue. However, she managed to perform the role in every performance from a wheelchair. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/il-barbiere-di-siviglia-by-moshe-leiser http://www.roh.org.uk/people/joyce-didonato *** The 23-year-old Gioachino Rossini completed his masterpiece Il barbiere di Siviglia incredibly quickly – legend has it in just 13 days – which Rossini attributed to ‘facility and lots of instinct’. He drew on Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais’ play Le Barbier de Seville – part of a dramatic trilogy that also inspired Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. The opera is characterized by youthful energy and bold wit: qualities brought to the fore in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s colourful production. Il barbiere di Siviglia has all the ingredients for comic chaos: an imprisoned young woman, her lecherous guardian and a young noble suitor. Skilfully plotting behind the scenes is Figaro – an irrepressible and inventive character in whom many have seen a resemblance to the young Rossini himself. The score fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices pile on top of each other. Within a few decades of its 1816 premiere, Il barbiere di Siviglia had been toured round the world, reaching opera houses in New York, Buenos Aires, Trinidad and Ecuador. It has remained one of the most prominent and popular operas in the repertory.

Plácido Domingo and Liudmyla Monastyrska - 'Donna, chi sei?' from Nabucco (The Royal Opera)

Plácido Domingo and Liudmyla Monastyrska perform 'Donna, chi sei?' from Verdi's Nabucco. The Royal Opera 2013. http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/nabucco-by-daniele-abbado Following the spectacular failure of his second opera, Un giorno di regno, Giuseppe Verdi vowed never to compose another. But he was lured back to the theatre by Bartolomeo Merelli, the impresario of La Scala, Milan, with the commission for Nabucco. The resulting opera was a triumph – first performed in 1842, it was revived the same year with a run of 57 shows. As Verdi wrote: ‘with this opera, it can truly be said that my artistic career began.’ Daniele Abbado’s production is set in the second half of the 20th century and makes imaginative use of large-scale video projections to accompany and reflect the action on stage. An enormous chorus lends weight to epic numbers such as ‘Immenso Jehova’ – the Hebrew Slaves’ triumphant hymn of thanksgiving – and their song of exile, ‘Va, pensiero’, which is considered by many to be Italy’s unofficial national anthem. There are wonderful bass and baritone roles in the figures of Nabucco, the Babylonian King (based on the biblical King Nebuchadnezzar), and Zaccaria, the Hebrew prophet. And in Abigaille, Verdi created a memorable anti-heroine, at once terrifying and pitiable. Throughout, the score blends rhythmic vitality and powerful drama, and is on a scale that does justice to the opera’s epic themes.

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