Covent Garden can afford five new productions

Covent Garden can afford five new productions


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2018

The 2018/19 season:

Christof Loy will direct Verdi’s La forza del destino with Anna Netrebko and Liudmyla Monastyrska alternating as Leonora, and Jonas Kaufmann and Yusif Eyvazov as Don Alvaro.

Stefan Herheim directs Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades  with Aleksandrs Antonenko and Eva-Maria Westbroek.

Richard Jones’ Katya Kabanova will star Amanda Majeski while Deborah Warner’s Billy Budd features Jacques Imbrailo and Toby Spence.

There is also a new Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel.



  • John Rook says:

    Deborah Warner’s Billy Budd features Jacques Imbrailo and Toby Spence.

    Not a new production, apparently. It’s coming from Madrid.

  • John Rook says:

    Actually, only two are new and will be in-house creations. The other three are coproductions.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      True, but all of these houses bill their co-productions as “new” regardless of how many years they have been around before they finally reach the house. While not exactly inaccurate, home audiences generally don’t pay attention and believe that they are seeing a new production premiere, not a house premiere. Nothing wrong with any of this, as long as the recreation is well-done. It is a shame, however, that there no longer is anything like a “house style” (or flog me for saying, a national style). Decades ago, it was very interesting to see how companies in different countries approached design and interpretation, if not vocal technique. Nowadays, everything is a mishmash international style, often profferred by inexperienced and desperate directors from other mediums.

      • Robin Worth says:

        You are quite right about “house/national style” becoming extinct

        50 years ago La Scala had house productions and, almost exclusively, Italian directors. Of course, we had Visconti, Zeffirelli and so on. But the real reason was language : the upper classes spoke French and, sometimes a bit of English and everyone else spoke Italian and only Italian So there was little imported talent except as star soloist ( Birgit Nilsson sang Salome and Glossop Rigoletto)

        Nowadays everyone speaks English, so you have Catalans directing (disastrously) at the ROH and Kosky (less disastrously) in Berlin

        PS No disrespect to Kosky : I have heard him talk in fluent,if ungrammatical, German. My point is that anyone can work anywhere and we shall never see a house style again

  • Nik says:

    A weak season. Not much to make pulses race.

  • Tone row says:

    Warner’s Ring was expensive, over-the-top and a bit rubbish and no one would have missed it. The cost of reviving it is a poor excuse for an otherwise dull season. Especially as tickets have been sold for the whole cycles only, confirming that there are approx 6,000 certifiable ring-nuts in reach of SE England. But this is at the cost of putting on 2-3 interesting productions, 20th-21st century works, or new commissions which, with at least 6 performances each, would have reached so many more people!

    • erich says:

      Another hangover from the unfortunate artistic liaison between Pappano and Keith Warner…I’m still recovering from that mediocre Othello…

    • LEWES BIRD says:

      There’s plenty more Ring-nuts than that, but most aren’t Ring-nutty enough to want to hear the Keith Warner Ring for a *third* time — the first time was enough. Plenty of Rings going on in Europe at the moment to satisfy Ring-nuttiness.

  • Bylle Binder says:

    Eyvazov and Kaufmann alternating is a kind of a joke, isn’t it? I’m actually no big fan of Kaufmann anymore, but even with all his voice trouble he’s just another class as Eyvazov. If he wouldn’t have become Mr Netrebko, he’d probably sing in Krasnojarsk oder at the Sommerbuehne in Bad Kleinkotzingen!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, well. Russian money.

    • SUGGERITORE says:

      I am getting so tired of the endless comparisons on double-casting. Unless you are going to go and see both casts, then such things are wholly irrelevant, surely? I saw the Otello at the ROH last summer with the “2nd cast” of Gregory Kunde and Dorothea Röschmann, both of whom were of the highest level, and one of whom I have worked with. I can’t say if I would have enjoyed the evening more or less with Kaufmann and Agresta. And Opera, or indeed any theatre, is not a sport, nor is the final result a competition. It is always a pity if a performance disappoints, for whatever reason, but to pre-judge the quality of a performance in advance is plainly silly, IMHO. And people who can sing Alvaro in Forza well go not grow on trees! It is like when an announcement is made to say that “sadly Mr/Ms X is sick tonight, but Mr/Ms Y has galantly agreed to jump-in at the last minute”. Groans of disappointment and often demands for refunds. This is a live art-form, sung by people who get sick from time to time. We had just such a drama in Berlin the other day for Tristan. Andreas Scharger had bronchitis, and the obvuous 3-4 top Tristans were either also sick or not available. We had a house singer from another main German house come and save the day (rehearsing for 12 hours the day before the performance to get into the very demanding cinematic production, I might add). He was different, but equally sensational. Everyone from Mr Barenboim downwards was totally thrilled with what he acheived. Had this singer been cast in advance to sing this one performance, we would have undoubtedly had the same comparision as here with Kaufmann/Eyvazov. Opera isn’t Barcelona vs Real Madrid!

  • Frederick West says:

    Hansel und Gretel. It might be his one-hit wonder but it’s worth it. I went with some trepidation to the Opera North production and was swept up with the entire production, superb.

    • Sixtus says:

      H&G is, by a wide margin, the greatest German opera between Parsifal and Salome. I do wish, however, that companies would refrain from casting a tenor in drag as the witch. Or if drag is the order of the day, let it be a mezzo in male drag. That might make the story even more creepy.

      • martain smith says:

        It’s a masterpiece, without question – but there have been (and still are) fantastic male witches!

      • David Hilton says:

        That’s a pretty limited time-span — only 22 years — between Parsifal and Salome, but I’d still put D’Albert’s Tiefland on an equal par among German operas of the period with H&G, if not higher. Or perhaps you view it as a British opera?

    • Nik says:

      He had another hit called “Release Me”.

  • Kristiaan Helsen says:

    I don’t go to the ROH or other opera houses for the ‘production’ ; I only care about the music/singing – sometimes semi-staged operas (as the LSO or Berliner sometimes perform) are much more rewarding than most of these ‘new’ productions.

    • Maria says:

      I generally agree. I tire of weird “relevant” productions.

      A concert or semi-staged production can be excellent value for those who cannot afford to go to an opera house on a regular basis and keep their eyes closed.