The corruption of innocence is at the heart of Verdi’s potent tragedy in David McVicar’s production for The Royal Opera. Rigoletto, court jester to the libertine Duke of Mantua, is cursed by the father of one of the Duke’s victims for his irreverent laughter. When the Duke seduces Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda, it seems the curse is taking effect... David McVicar’s production highlights the cruelty at the heart of the court of Mantua. Richly dressed courtiers engage in orgies and revelries to Verdi’s heady, spirited dances. The opera’s many musical highlights include the ebullient ‘La donna è mobile’, in which the Duke boasts of his disregard for women; Gilda’s exquisite, plangent duets with Rigoletto and the Duke; and the gorgeous Act III quartet that beautifully weaves the voices together as the story quickens to its shattering conclusion. Giuseppe Verdi wrote in 1855 that Rigoletto was his ‘best opera’. He had had to overcome state censorship to stage it – the censors objected to its depiction of an immoral ruler – but he was vindicated by the premiere’s huge success in 1851. Rigoletto was performed 250 times in the next 10 years and has remained one of the most popular of all operas.
Starring: Dimitri Platanias, Lucy Crowe, Michael Fabiano Genres: Opera Running Time: 165 mins Book Now > 16th January 2018 7:15PM
Tosca is one of the great evenings of opera, and from its strident opening chords conjures up a world of political instability and menace. Jonathan Kent’s production for The Royal Opera captures the dangerous political turbulence of Rome in 1800. The Chief of Police, Scarpia – one of the most malevolent villains in opera – ruthlessly pursues and tortures enemies of the state. His dark, demonic music contrasts with the expansive melodies of the idealistic lovers, Tosca and Cavaradossi, who express their passion in sublime arias, including ‘Vissi d’arte’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle’. Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic work was a hit with audiences on its 1900 premiere and it remains one of the most performed of all operas – with its gripping plot and glorious music, it’s easy to see why. A candle-lit church, Scarpia’s gloomy study with its hidden torture chamber and the false optimism of a Roman dawn: this handsome production throws into relief the ruthlessly taut drama, as the tension is wound up towards a fateful conclusion. Puccini’s meticulously researched score is infused with the same authentic detail, from distant cannon fire during the Act I Te Deum to tolling church bells and the sounds of a firing squad.
Starring: Adrianne Oieczonka, Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley Genres: Opera Running Time: 200 mins Book Now > 7th February 2018 7:15PM
Carmen is the best-known work by French composer Georges Bizet, and one of the most famous operas in the entire art form – numbers such as the Habanera and the Toreador Song have permeated the popular consciousness as little else has. The opera’s heady combination of passion, sensuality and violence initially proved too much for the stage, and it was a critical failure on its 1875 premiere. Bizet died shortly after, and never learned of the spectacular success his Carmen would achieve: the opera has been performed more than five hundred times at Covent Garden alone.This ever-popular opera is given a fresh point of view in Barrie Kosky’s highly physical production, originally created for Frankfurt Opera. The Australian director is one of the world’s most sought-after opera directors, whose Royal Opera debut with Shostakovich’s The Nose in 2016 was greeted with delight. For Carmen he has devised a far-from-traditional version, incorporating music written by Bizet for the score but not usually heard, and giving a new voice to the opera’s endlessly fascinating central character.
Starring: Anna Goryachova, Francesco Meli, Anett Fritsch, Kostas Smoriginas Genres: Opera Running Time: 200 mins Book Now > 6th March 2018 6:45PM
Verdi’s life-long love affair with Shakespeare’s works began with Macbeth, a play he considered to be ‘one of the greatest creations of man’. With his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, Verdi set out to create ‘something out of the ordinary’. Their success is borne out in every bar of a score that sees Verdi at his most theatrical: it bristles with demonic energy.The warrior Macbeth fights on the side of the King of Scotland – but when a coven of witches prophesy that he shall become king himself, a ruthless ambition drives Macbeth and his wife to horrific acts. Murder makes Macbeth king, and intrigue and butchery are the hallmarks of his brief, doomed reign. The witches make another prediction, which also comes true: Macbeth and his lady lose their lives, and justice is restored. Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 production for The Royal Opera is richly hued, shot through with black, red and gold. The witches – imagined by designer Anthony Ward as strange, scarlet-turbaned creatures – are ever-present agents of fate. Lloyd depicts the Macbeths’ childlessness as the dark sadness lurking behind their terrible deeds. The Royal Opera’s production uses Verdi’s 1865 Paris revision of the opera, which includes Lady Macbeth’s riveting aria ‘La luce langue.’
Starring: Zeljko Lucic, Anna Netrebko, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo Genres: Opera Running Time: 200 mins Book Now > 4th April 2018 7:15PM