Covent Garden quietly drops two commissions

Covent Garden quietly drops two commissions


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2018

In a Guardian interview, the ROH director Oliver Mears admits he has rowed back on some of his predecessor’s more quackpot plans.

In 2013, (Kasper) Holten had announced to great fanfare four new commissions “inspired by the writings of philosopher Slavoj Žižek”. These new operas – by Kaija Saariaho, Jörg Widmann, Luca Francesconi and Mark-Anthony Turnage – were supposed to “challenge opera writers to write about their fears and hopes for the world now”, and the outgoing ROH chief executive Tony Hall said they would be staged by 2020. Oddly, they have never been heard of again, and there is no sign of them being programmed. I ask Mears what happened. “Two have fallen by the wayside for different reasons,” he says. “The other two – by Turnage and Saariaho – are still in our long-term schedules.”

And here we were queuing up, all ready with our pocket Zizeks.

Mears goes on to say the company cannot afford more than one new opera a year.



  • Alexander says:

    …. and you still read The Guardian 😉 …. I too ( every now and then )

  • Ga Kitada says:

    I thought there was going to be an Unsuk Chin commission as well…

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Zizek is peak-pseud. Worthy of Holten.

  • collin says:

    an opera based on the writings of an obscure philosopher

    Oh, let’s commission Phillip Glass to write music to the text of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. I’d love to hear Kant sung for 30 hours nonstop.

    Act I

    Scene 1

    “In whatever manner and by whatever means a mode of knowledge may relate to objects, intuition is that through which it is in immediate relation to them, and to which all thought as a means is directed…”

  • Robin Worth says:

    Kasper Holten

    What more needs to be said?

  • msc says:

    Curse you, Lebrecht. When I read “four new commissions “inspired by the writings of philosopher Slavoj Žižek”” I spewed my half-swallowed mouthful of coffee. And the ROH let him get away with even floating that idea?