Operas planned from Saariaho, Turnage, Adès, Glass and Chin
A commitment to new opera: that's the message being expressed by the Royal Opera House, London. Outlining plans for commissions up to and including 2020, music director Antonio Pappano and director of opera Kasper Holten talked yesteday at an event at the venue about 15 new works to be presented either on the main Covent Garden stage or in the Linbury Studio Theatre.
The year 2020 will see four new operas, each distinct works, but taking as their starting point the same set of questions: ‘What preoccupies us today? How can we today stage ourselves? What are the collective myths of our present and future?’. The four composers initially invited to address the themes are Kaija Saariaho, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Luca Francesconi and Jörg Widmann, from, respectively, Finland, Britain, Italy and Germany.
Encapsulating Covent Garden’s approach to new work, Kasper Holten said: ‘New work is not and should not be at the periphery of our programme, but right at the core of what and who we are. And this is something we do, not because we must, but because it is something that we are passionate about. We hope that opera audiences will share our curiosity and come with us with open minds along this journey.
‘There is not and should not be a guarantee of success for every single piece, only for innovation and risk-taking. But we can guarantee that we will put all the forces of The Royal Opera behind them all, whatever the scale, and whether the new work is aimed at adults or young people.’
Covent Garden was also keen to stress that despite the recent closure of ROH2, smaller scale work and the Linbury Theatre will remain a core part of the commissioning strategy.
As, indeed, do co-commissions with other organisations abroad: such an approach to sharing resources will lie behind commissions from Australian composer Ben Frost of Iain Banks’s novel The Wasp Factory (for the Linbury Studio in 2013/14), from Philip Glass of an opera based on Kafka’s The Trial (again in the Linbury, in 2014/15), from Georg Friedrich Haas of a work based on Jon Fosse’s novel Morgon og Kveld (Morning and Evening) for the main stage in 2015, and also the next large-scale opera from Thomas Adès, to be based on Buñuel’s film The Exterminating Angel and set for a main stage premiere in 2017. 2018/19 meanwhile will see a new work from Unsuk Chin, who is adapting Alice Through the Looking Glass. Other collaborations include with Aldeburgh Music and Opera North to commission first operas from composers.