Above: (L-R) Roderick Williams as Ulysses and Catherine Carby as Minerva in The Royal Opera and Roundhouse co-production of The Return of Ulysses Credit: Stephen Cummisky
The WFMT Radio Network is proud to work in partnership with the European Broadcasting Union and the BBC in bringing seven opera productions from three of the United Kingdom’s pre-eminent companies to this year’s opera series. Throughout the summer, selections from The Royal Opera, Roundhouse, Scottish Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne will be offered, including the May 2018 world premiere performance of George Benjamin’s third opera, Lessons in Love and Violence. From the same creative team that brought the celebrated second opera by George Benjamin, Written on Skin, to the stage in 2012, this much-anticipated production tells the story of a king caught between love and politics, and features Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, French baritone Stéphane Degout, as well as British soprano Jennifer France, Icelandic bass-baritone Andri Björn Róbertsson and Hungarian-Canadian mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabó – the last three making their Covent Garden debuts.
The line-up continues with The Royal Opera production of Verdi’s Macbeth, featuring Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth, and The Royal Opera-Roundhouse co-production of Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses, featuring Roderick Williams in the title role, and conducted by early music specialist Christian Curnyn. More tales of love and loss to follow in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin from the Scottish Opera and Verdi’s vendetta-filled Un Ballo in Maschera from Opera North. In Eugene Onegin, listeners will be treated to one of the newest names excelling in the Russian repertoire – Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw, in the role of Tatyana.
Returning to The Royal Opera, next up is Wagner’s Lohengrin. A production that is led by no less than conductor Andris Nelsons and features a cast including Grammy-winning American soprano Christine Goerke, Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais and much sought after Wagnerian tenor Klaus Florian Vogt, who has made Lohengrin his signature role.
Rounding out the BBC Opera schedule is Debussy’s lush and beautiful Pelléas et Mélisande, which comes to us from one of Britain’s finest summer festivals, Glyndebourne. Nestled in a country estate in East Sussex, Glyndebourne has long prided itself on the ethos of one of its founders, John Christie – “Not just the best we can do but the best that can be done anywhere”. Listeners will be given an opportunity, for the first time in the festival’s eighty-four year history, to hear a world-class performance, fresh from the Glyndebourne’s summer stage.
This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in May and lasts until November.