Lessons in Love and Violence
Royal Opera House, 10th to 26th May
The prospect of a new opera from composer George Benjamin and playwright Martin Crimp is dangerously exciting. Following their magnificent 2012 Written on Skin, the composer and his librettist have set the bar high and expectations are accordingly lofty. Assembling the same team that brought Skin to the stage, including director Katie Mitchell and designer Vicki Mortimer, Benjamin conducts his own work inspired by Elizabethan drama. The story centres around a king, compelled to choose between love and political hard-headedness. His decisions provoke a civil war and set his own wife and son against him. The multinational cast includes French baritone Stéphane Degout, Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan and British tenors Peter Hoare and Samuel Boden. I doubt there will be a more hotly anticipated world premiere this year.
Glyndebourne Festival, 19th May to 18th July
Glorious Glyndebourne kicks off this year’s season with the festival debut of Puccini’s evergreen Madama Butterfly (below). Annilese Miskimmon’s skilful and inventive 2016 touring production updates the action to the 1950s allowing elements of post-war America to enhance the work with a political contemporaneity that seems appropriate.
Opera Holland Park, 29th May to 23rd June
Verdi’s only opera on a contemporary subject receives a brand new production—its first in a decade—from the increasingly assured Opera Holland Park. Rising soprano Lauren Fagan takes the role of Violetta while Italian tenor Matteo Desole makes his OHP debut as Alfredo. Supported by the City of London Sinfonia and the lively OHP Chorus, it is likely to prove another jewel in the crown of this confident company.