Thomas Søndergård & RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Photo: © SALLY JUBB/

The best classical and opera in the UK this summer

July 12, 2021
Rigoletto, Royal Opera House, 13th September to 12th March 2022

Five years after his appointment as artistic director of opera, Oliver Mears stages his first production for the company—and it’s a big one. Mears joins music director Antonio Pappano to open the season with the Royal Opera’s first new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto for 20 years. This tragedy of first love and final goodbyes stars American soprano Lisette Oropesa as Gilda, who returns to the Royal Opera hot on the heels of some major awards. Veteran baritone Carlos Álvarez takes the title role.

Thomas Søndergård & Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Edinburgh Academy Junior School, 11th August

The teenage Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture is a precocious piece of musical magic. But the Overture is only the beginning of a complete score of incidental music for Shakespeare’s play. This year’s Edinburgh International Festival gives you a rare chance to hear the whole lot. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and their music director Thomas Søndergård are joined by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus to help conjure the story’s fairies, rustics and lovers.

At the Boar’s Head & Savitri, Leeds Opera Festival, 27th to 31st August

You’d be forgiven for thinking that English opera was silent between Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten. Filling in some of the gaps is the Leeds Opera Festival, which has put the spotlight on Gustav Holst. No fewer than three of the 20th-century composer’s operas will feature. New productions of Falstaff-inspired comedy At the Boar’s Head and the evocative, east-meets-west Savitri are joined by a revival of The Wandering Scholar.