Photo: Mark Allan

The best UK classical and opera this May

Glyndebourne Festival returns, plus the ROH reopens with a new staging of Mozart
March 29, 2021

Kátá Kabanová, Glyndebourne Festival, 20th May to 19th June

The Glyndebourne Festival kicks off the summer opera season with a brand new production of Janácek’s tragic Kátá Kabanová. Inspired by the composer’s own infatuation with a married woman, its heroine stands alongside Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary as one of fiction’s most fascinating creations. Olivier Award-winning director Damiano Michieletto makes his festival debut with a staging that stars Kateina Knžíková in the title role, alongside veteran soprano Katarina Dalayman and British tenors David Butt Philip and Nicky Spence.

Das Lied von der Erde, Barbican, streaming 9th May

The LSO and Simon Rattle (above) return to the Barbican for the first time in over a year to perform what Bernstein called Mahler’s “greatest symphony.” Das Lied von der Erde is a monumental song-cycle of symphonic scope—a meditation on life and death that emerges directly out of the composer’s own illness and his fresh grief at the death of his daughter. Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and tenor Andrew Staples lead us from sunshine and birdsong to agony and desperate longing.

La Clemenza di Tito, Royal Opera House, May

The ROH reopens with a rare new staging of Mozart’s final opera La Clemenza di Tito. A classical setting and old-fashioned opera seria conventions give an illusion of cool formality to a work that teems with musical invention and emotional confrontation, tussling over the universal question: what makes a good man? Olivier Award-winner Richard Jones directs. The cast has yet to be revealed, but if the show’s anything like as good as Jones’ recent sell-out Katya for the company, you’d best grab a ticket soon.