THE Royal Opera House today announces its 2022/23 Season, unveiling a rich range of new work, world premieres and beloved revivals. Over 40 productions, performed by an incredible roster of international stars and created in collaboration with global companies, will be accompanied by more than 200 events and activities in our stunning Covent Garden Home, and outreach programmes reaching more than 27,000 children across the UK.
This Season, The Royal Ballet offers a diverse range of classic and contemporary choreography, showcasing the artistry and virtuosity of its acclaimed dancers and emerging talent. Eight world premieres – including a new work by Olivier Award-winning choreographer Crystal Pite; a piece by New York-based choreographer Pam Tanowitz, set to music by Grammy-nominated composer Anna Clyne; a new production by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, featuring designs by the late Carmen Herrera; and his Dark Crystal: Odyssey – join beloved works from the Company’s heritage. Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling is revived at the start of the Season, marking the 30th anniversary of the choreographer’s death. And the genius of Royal Ballet founding choreographer Frederick Ashton is celebrated with a new production of Cinderella, 75 years after its premiere with Moira Shearer and Michael Somes, now completely redesigned by a world-class creative team that includes set designer Tom Pye, Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne and lighting designer David Finn.
In November, to mark 60 years of the Friends of the Royal Opera House, a stunning roster of Principals perform in The Royal Ballet: A Diamond Celebration – an evening that comprises three world premieres, George Balanchine’s Diamonds, and the Company’s first performance of For Four by Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon. Other revivals across the Season include Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty, Peter Wright’s enduringly popular The Nutcracker, and Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works, for which he was awarded the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography and an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.
In December, Ben Duke’s Lost Dog present a world premiere in the Linbury Theatre, co-produced by The Royal Ballet and designed as an alternative for the Christmas Season. Three major UK dance companies, working at the choreographic cutting-edge, showcase work there too. Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black bring Black Sun and Say It Loud; Carlos Acosta’s acclaimed Acosta Danza share six, short works encompassing classical, contemporary and Cuban influences; and Northern Ballet perform a family-friendly fairytale, Ugly Duckling, and a triple bill by three contemporary choreographers: Dickson Mbi, Stina Quagebeur, and Olivier Award-winner Mthuthuzeli November. In his second year as Royal Ballet Emerging Choreographer, Joseph Toonga creates his first new Main Stage work for the Company, and up-and-coming talent shine in both International Draft Works and Next Generation Festival.
From The Royal Opera come 11 brand-new productions and an astonishing range of revivals. This includes two headliners: Kaija Saariaho’s unmissable new opera Innocence – based on Sofi Oksanen’s novel and staged by acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone – which makes its long-awaited UK premiere after opening at Festival D’Aix-en-Provence last summer; and a new production of Rusalka, with Asmik Grigorian returning to perform the title role, joining British artists Sarah Connolly, David Butt Philip, Matthew Rose and Emma Bell in a contemporary re-imagining of Dvořák’s lyric fairy tale, co-created by Natalie Abrahami and Ann Yee, conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
In his 20th year as Music Director of The Royal Opera, Antonio Pappano conducts two spectacular new Verdi productions. Robert Carsen’s Aida opens in September, starring Elena Stikhina and, in the second run, Angel Blue in the title role; Il trovatore opens in June 2023, bringing acclaimed director Adele Thomas back to Covent Garden following the success of Bajazet (2022) and Berenice (2019). Pappano, the Royal Opera House’s longest serving Music Director, will also conduct a new production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck in May 2023 – an opera he conducted during his first Season at ROH in 2002, which this year stars Christian Gerhaher in the title role, and sees director Deborah Warner return to Covent Garden following the extraordinary critical success of Peter Grimes.
This Season, the Company continues its exploration of Handel’s Covent Garden works with two productions: Arminio, not seen in Covent Garden since 1737 and brought to life by a dazzling cast and creative team of Jette Parker Artists; and a new production of Alcina, directed by Richard Jones, conducted by Baroque specialist Christian Curnyn, starring acclaimed soprano Lisette Oropesa and mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo. It continues its Benjamin Britten cycle with a shattering new production of The Rape of Lucretia – staged by Director of The Royal Opera Oliver Mears and performed by talent drawn from the Jette Parker Artists Programme and Britten Pears Young Artists Programme.
The Linbury Theatre continues to showcase trailblazing works by the brightest talents. Matt Copson and Anna Morrissey co-direct Last Days, composed by ROH/Guildhall School Composer-in-Residence Oliver Leith and adapted from Gus Van Sant’s cult 2005 film, loosely based on the final days of Kurt Cobain. January sees the UK premiere of Irish National Opera’s Least Like the Other – a searing portrait of Rosemary Kennedy, a hidden member of the American political dynasty, directed by Netia Jones, with Fergus Sheil conducting Brian Irvine’s explosive score. Woman at Point Zero, inspired by Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi’s seminal novel, opens in June as part of Shubbak Festival 2023; and History of the Present – Maria Fusco’s semi-autobiographical, groundbreaking new film-opera marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement – opens in July. Both are also part of the Engender Festival.
International and British talent perform in revivals of beloved operas: Lise Davidsen in Tannhäuser opposite Stefan Vinke, and in Don Carlo with Brian Jagde, conducted by Daniele Rustioni; Bryn Terfel in The Barber of Seville, conducted by Rafael Payare; Anna Pirozzi, Russell Thomas, and Ermonela Jaho in Turandot; Malin Byström in Salome and in Tosca, opposite Gwyn Hughes Jones. Later in the Tosca run, Freddie De Tommaso reprises his acclaimed performances as Cavaradossi, joining Natalya Romaniw and Erwin Schrott; in late autumn, Richard Jones’ production of Puccini’s La bohème is sung by three spectacular casts that include Juan Diego Flórez and Danielle de Niese, conducted by, among others, Kevin John Edusei, making his ROH debut; and Jonas Kaufmann performs the title role in Werther opposite former Jette Parker Young Artist Aigul Akhmetshina.
This Season sees us celebrate the many outstanding performers gracing our stage, and the huge breadth of talent across creative teams. In particular, we welcome many extraordinary female conductors and composers. Keri-Lynn Wilson conducts La traviata, and Corinna Niemeyer, Susanna Mälkki and Joana Mallwitz make their House conducting debuts with The Rape of Lucretia, Innocence and The Marriage of Figaro respectively. In the Linbury Theatre, Woman at Point Zero brings together composer Bushra El-Turk, librettist Stacy Hardy, and conductor Kanako Abe. On the Main Stage, Wayne McGregor’s world premiere features music by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, one of the most in-demand composers today, and Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern sees the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Zoi Tsokanou for the very first time.
And it also makes clear our belief that working in collaboration with international companies and creatives makes our art forms richer. Four Royal Ballet productions are co-productions: Cinderella with The National Ballet of Canada, Ben Duke’s world premiere with Lost Dog, Crystal Pite’s new work with The Norwegian National Ballet, and Wayne McGregor’s The Dark Crystal: Odyssey with Studio Wayne McGregor in association with The Jim Henson Company. Five Main Stage operas are too: Aida with Lyric Opera of Chicago; Alcina with the Metropolitan Opera, New York; Il trovatore with Opernhaus Zürich; Don Carlo with the Metropolitan Opera and Norwegian National Opera and Ballet; and Innocence with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Dutch National Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Two productions slated for the Linbury Theatre involve major UK partners: Oliver Mears’ The Rape of Lucretia is a co-production with Britten Pears Arts, and Last Days is a co-commission with Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Woman at Point Zero brings together LOD muziektheater, All Arias Festival (deSingel Antwerpen, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, Concertgebouw Brugge and Muziektheater Transparant Antwerp), Shubbak Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg and Britten Pears Arts. Each team brings a wide range of experiences, diverse perspectives, and different talents.
Across the Season, a number of these productions will be broadcast LIVE to UK and international cinemas. Our cinema programme has brought world-class productions to audiences across the globe since 2008. It continues this year to expand our reach and contribute to the vital recovery of cinema worldwide. Full details will be announced in the coming months, alongside information regarding our online streaming offer.
Offstage, our Learning and Participation programmes will reach more schools than ever before, developing deeper partnerships with communities in the West Midlands, North-East and elsewhere across the country. The Royal Opera House’s partnership with Cast and Doncaster Council will continue, commencing with the postponed Royal Ballet gala in the borough on 23 and 24 September – which includes a curtain raiser performance with 300 primary school children and five Royal Ballet dancers. Our Create and Learn series will introduce ballet, opera and theatrecraft into the classroom, inspiring students from Key Stage 1 onwards. We will work with over 40 schools in Thurrock, boost access to the arts across the East of England through ROH Bridge, and nurture young talent through Chance to Dance and Youth Opera Company.
In house, over 20,000 young people from across the UK will attend one of six Schools’ Matinees, with dedicated schools’ pricing at a reduced cost. 200 events will take place in Covent Garden, with 14,000 families welcomed for Family Sundays; 22 Insights, offering a unique behind-the-scenes look at our resident companies, will be broadcast online for free. Our year-long #ThankYouNHS programme, which has welcomed 10,000 NHS workers so far, will culminate with a Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat performance of The Nutcracker for nurses, and our free-to-join Young ROH scheme will continue, offering over 10,000 subsidised tickets and access to an exclusive performance of Woolf Works.
Join us in-person, watch in cinemas, or experience our work through programmes country wide. Tickets are from £4 across the Season.
Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said:
‘We’re delighted to be bringing the world’s leading artists to Covent Garden, sharing an extraordinarily diverse and ambitious range of productions that celebrate the remarkable talents of The Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. With tickets starting from just £4, it is not just a Season to remember, but also one for everyone to enjoy – here in London, in cinemas across the UK, or through radio broadcasts, TV programmes and online content available across the world.’