The BBC unveils a Year of Song and Dance

James Jolly Wed 14th January 2015

Most of the BBC's networks come together to celebrate two of the most democratic of art-forms

(Right to left) Neil Brand, Kenneth Tharp, Darcey Bussell, Tony Hall, Kiri Te Kanawa, the Ballet Boyz

A team from the BBC, headed by the Director General Tony Hall, unveiled the Corporation's plans for a year-long focus on song and dance at an event at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. A programme exploring the real-life drama behind Verdi’s opera La traviata (BBC Two), the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, under the patronage of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (BBC Four/Radio 3), The Golden Age of Singing introduced by Sir Antonio Pappano (BBC Four) and Simon Russell Beale telling the story of the Monteverdi Vespers in the company of The Sixteen and Harry Christophers (BBC Two) are among the classical highlights of the BBC’s Year of Song and Dance 2015.  

Tom Service and Amanda Vickery explore the scandal that resulted from the 1856 London premiere of La traviata and the shock waves it sent through Victorian England as it tackled themes of male desire and female sexuality, public morality and private hypocrisy. The documentary features specially filmed excerpts with singers from Opera North. Sir Antonio Pappano examines the four major voice types and, joined by singers Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato and Bryn Terfel explores the nuts and bolts of great singing. 

BBC Four will spend eight days at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, the culmination of which will find conductors Thomas Søndergård and Martyn Brabbins supporting the finalists. BBC Radio 3 will supplement the Cardiff Singer of the World coverage with a focus on the human voice. 

Dance will bring David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, exploring the birth of ballet during the reign of Louis XIV, Wim Wenders’s film on the German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, a documentary about the dance company BalletBoyz, Strictly Modern Dance (the story of contemporary dance told in the company of a group of young dancers) and the inaugural BBC Young Dancer, hosted by Darcy Bussell with Kenneth Tharp, Chief Executive of the The Place, joining the jury for the final stages.

In May, Petula Clark explores the French chanson and this month Reginald D Hunter tells the story of 150 years of American popular song as he undertakes a journey from North Carolina to New Orleans. Starting this Friday (BBC Four), Neil Brand presents Sound of Song, a news series that explores the magic that makes certain songs classics. 

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