Next Tuesday and Thursday, September 19 and 21, the Royal Opera presents relatively rare opera-in-concert performances at the Barbican Centre. On the bill is Hal_vy's La Juive, with Dennis O'Neill, Marina Poplavskaya, Nicole Cabell (the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World) and Alastair Miles. Daniel Oren conducts. A second pair of concert performances is on offer toward the end of the season: on June 27 and 29, Andrew Davis will conduct Massenet's ThaÇs with Ren_e Fleming and Thomas Hampson.
Among the new productions Covent Garden will present in the coming season is the company's first staging of Mozart's La finta giardiniera (September 21-October 6). John Eliot Gardiner conducts, and — following the angry departure of Christof Loy early in the rehearsal process — Annika Haller directs. The cast includes Genia K‹hmeier, Camilla Tilling, Sophie Koch, Patrizia Biccir, Kurt Streit, Christopher Maltman and Robert Murray.
Francesca Zambello directs two casts in a new production of Carmen, with 15 performances from December 8 to February 3. Music director Antonio Pappano conducts for the first part of the run, with Philippe Auguin taking over for the final five performances. Through January 8, Anna Caterina Antonacci sings Carmen, with Jonas Kaufmann as Don Jos_ (singing the role for the first time), Norah Amsellem as MicaêŠla and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Escamillo. From January 22 to February 3, Marina Domashenko takes on the title role, with Marco Berti as Don Jos_, Liping Zhang as MicaêŠla and Laurent Naouri as Escamillo.
A new staging of Donizetti's La fille du r_giment by Laurent Pelly, a co-production with the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, runs from January 11 to February 1. Natalie Dessay sings her first Marie, with Juan Diego Fl‹rez as Tonio and the beloved veteran Felicity Palmer as La Marquise de Berkenfeld.
Antonio Pappano will conduct a double bill of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and Ravel's L'Heure espagnole, in a new production directed by Richard Jones with sets by John Macfarlane and costumes by Nicky Gillibrand. Bryn Terfel sings the title role in the Puccini for the first time.
From October 19-28, the Linbury Studio, Covent Garden's smaller stage, will premiere Dominique Le Gendre's Bird of Night, a Royal Opera commission, which will be directed by Irina Brown. From April 23 to May 5, Britten's Owen Wingrave will be performed in a new chamber version by David Matthews.
Co-productions include Debussy's Pell_as et M_lisande, which opened in April at the Salzburg Easter Festival in Austria. Pappano will conduct Karita Mattila in the J‹rgen Flimm production of Beethoven's Fidelio, which has appeared at New York's Metropolitan Opera since 2000.
A revival of Puccini's La Bohme, running from October 23 to November 25, features Marcelo êlvarez and Katie van Kooten as Rodolfo and MimÐ, with William Dazeley and Nuccia Focile as Marcello and Musetta. For the final three performances, two Metropolitan Opera stalwarts, Frank Lopardo and Hei-Kyung Hong, take over the roles of Rodolfo and MimÐ.
Other notable revivals during the first part of the season include Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Eva-Maria Westbroek; Francesca Zambello's staging of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades, with Vladimir Galouzine as Hermann, Mlada Khudoley as Lisa and Larissa Diadkova singing the Countess for the first time; Verdi's Il trovatore with êlvarez, Catherine Naglestad, Stephanie Blythe and Anthony Michaels-Moore; Nicola Luisotti conducting Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Liping Zhang and Andrew Richards as Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton; and Charles Mackerras conducting Handel's Orlando with Bejun Mehta in the title role and Rosemary Joshua, Camilla Tilling, Anna Bonitatibus and Kyle Ketelsen.
Perhaps the most newsworthy revival of the season is of Thomas Ads's The Tempest, widely acclaimed at its 2004 world premiere at Covent Garden as well as in subsequent performances at Strasbourg and Copenhagen and in its US debut at Santa Fe Opera this past summer. The principals from the original Covent Garden run return: Simon Keenlyside as Prospero, Kate Royal as Miranda, Toby Spence as Ferdinand, Ian Bostridge as Caliban and Cyndia Sieden reprising her spectacular turn as Ariel.
For more information on the 2006-07 season at the Royal Opera House, visit www.royaloperahouse.org.