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Ian Taylor was elected yesterday as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Opera House (ROH) succeeding Simon Robey.
Ian Taylor joined the Royal Opera House Board of Trustees in March 2012, becoming Chair of the Development Committee the following year. In particular, he and his wife have made a significant contribution to the hugely successful ROH schools’ matinee programme, along with other learning and participation initiatives.
In addition to his relationship with the ROH, Ian has supported a broad range of arts projects in Great Britain. Ian has also supported the Millbank Project at Tate Britain, including, in 2013, the creation of the Taylor Digital Studio, the Tate's first dedicated space that utilised digital technology for learning programmes.
Each year on 25 May, the internet celebrates Geek Pride Day - 24 hours of tribute to those who revel in the minutiae of a hobby or intellectual pursuit. During the 18th century, regular players of the glass harmonica reported tinnitus, disorientation and hysteria, leading it to be dubbed as the world’s most dangerous instrument. One early player, Marianne Kirchgessner, died at the untimely age of 39, with the instrument blamed for her demise. That all changed when Attilio Comelli became the Artist-in-Chief at the Royal Opera House during the 1890s and revolutionized in-house design – before him, designer wouldn't even be credited in the production. Early 20th century dancer Anna Pavlova was the world's first truly global ballet superstar and performed regularly at the Royal Opera House.
It's estimated that between 1910 and 1925, she gave more than 3,500 performances and notched up more than 300,000 miles on tour (that's further than the distance from the earth to the moon). This system — which works in a similar way to a child's sliding puzzle — means that sets weighing up to ten tonnes can be switched in just 40 seconds.
The world’s longest operatic work is Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Licht cycle, which lasts 29 hours. The longest single opera in The Royal Opera's repertory is Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg, which lasts for five and a half hours. Before you do that, please don’t forget that there are still five productions to come until the end of the current Season with some very exciting productions ahead before the summer break.
Also recommended is The Royal Opera's return to the BBC Proms with Boris Godunov starring Bryn Terfel and conducted by Antonio Pappano.
As we look towards the finale of the current Season, I also would like to take the opportunity to thank all our Friends for their support. With so many wonderful productions on offer in the upcoming Season from September, you may wish to consider upgrading your level of support.
BBC Radio 3 has announced that four Royal Opera productions will be broadcast over the coming months. In order to preserve the ailing Lammermoor fortune, Enrico wants his sister Lucia to marry advantageously. Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor is perhaps best-known for Lucia’s Act III 'mad scene', but the Act II sextet 'Chi mi frena in tal momento' is almost as well-known. Musician Heinrich Tannhauser leaves his home in the Wartburg to become the consort of the goddess Venus. Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser contains few arias, but the small number it has are all remarkable for their beauty. Oedipe’s parents plot his murder after they discover he is destined to murder his father and marry his mother.
The score calls for haunting saxophone solos, grand orchestral passages, and extreme, chromatic harmonies. In his sixth opera Verdi concentrates on the intense relationships between his leading characters, rather than grand dramatic effects.
Part of a playbill for Much ado about Nothing performed at Theatre Royal Covent Garden, 13 March 1832. Decades before the Royal Shakespeare Company was established — and centuries before the rebuilding of Shakespeare's Globe — the Theatre Royal, the first theatre on our Covent Garden site, opened its doors in 1732. Photograph of an invitation to a farewell dinner on the retirement of John Philip Kemble, 27 June 1817.
Playbill for Much ado about Nothing performed at Theatre Royal Covent Garden, 13 March 1832. John Philip Kemble had won fame through his performances at the nearby Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, ever since Kemble’s critically acclaimed debut as Hamlet in 1783. John’s brother Charles took over as manager on John’s retirement, and remained in the post until 1832. In regards The Royal Opera's Autumn Season, there are some notable debuts that I am particularly looking forward to in Il barbiere di Siviglia: Javier Camarena - one of the world's finest young tenors - singing the role of Count Almaviva, and Daniela Mack performing with us for the first time as Rosina.


The Season Guide and the Autumn issue of the magazine have now been sent and should be arriving on your doormat in the next few days.
Another change for the coming Season is the differentiation between the cost of Friends Rehearsals for ballet and opera. Finally, I would like to share with you all an exciting upcoming event for our Baton Associates next month. To celebrate the life of the Bard, the Royal Opera House will live-stream an event focused around opera and ballet adaptations of his work. Part of the BBC and British Council's Shakespeare Lives online festival, 'Ballet, opera and the Bard' will see rehearsals and performance from both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet. The event from the Royal Opera House is one of a number of activities from cultural organizations that make up a day-long Shakespeare Day live-stream. Find out more about the Shakespeare Lives festival, and join in using the hashtag #ShakespeareLives.
As in previous years the Front of House lights in the auditorium and the Paul Hamlyn Hall will be dimmed during the second interval of the evening performance, as will lights on the exterior of the building. Individuals, businesses and venues across the world will join together in a symbolic lights-out display to raise awareness about climate change and celebrate the environmental world.
This time of year is always a busy one at the Royal Opera House as we ready ourselves for our annual Season announcement. In The Royal Opera's rehearsal studios, Katie Mitchell is working on a much talked-about new production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
Fresh from their mid-Season break, The Royal Ballet's preparations for the return of The Winter's Tale continue, as do rehearsals for the world premiere of Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein. Work is continuing as part of our Open Up project which aims to enhance the experience of coming to the Royal Opera House for audiences, artists and guest companies. Do check the website before your visit in case there is any last minute change.
As ever, if you would like more information about any of the events above or enquire how to join the Patrons or any production syndicates, please contact don't hesitate to contact me via email.
The appointment concludes a recruitment process which began in early 2016 and was conducted by a panel of the Nominations Committee, chaired by Sir Anthony Salz, and which included fellow Board members Dame Vivien Duffield, Sir Nicholas Hytner, Julian Metherell, and Dame Heather Rabbatts. He is a member of the People and Organisation Committee and, along with his wife, Tina, is on the Board of Honorary Directors.
He is committed to making the Royal Opera House more accessible to young people of all backgrounds and from all areas of Britain.
He was a Board member of Rambert from 2009 to 2014, and was involved in fundraising for the organisation's new building on the South Bank.
He maintains strong connections with both the north-west of England, and with Scotland: he is a dedicated supporter of Manchester City Football Club, and was an active participant in the campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom. He began his business career with Shell in 1978, working in South America and South East Asia, before joining Vitol Group in 1985.  Since 1995, he has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Vitol Group, a leading energy trading company with 40 offices worldwide and around 1250 employees. The Royal Opera's first staging of George Enescu's Oedipe promises to be a treat for lovers of 20th century opera with its starry cast including Johan Reuter, John Tomlinson, Sarah Connolly and Sophie Bevan; while The Royal Ballet present a triple bill featuring a world premiere from Wayne McGregor — always a major event for ballet fans.
As well as wonderful music and a thrilling story, the cast is sure not to disappoint with tenor Gregory Kunde (sharing the role of Manrico) and conductor Gianandrea Noseda recently winning major prizes at the Opera Awards 2016 in the Best Male Singer and Best Conductor categories respectively. I know that many of you have supported us since the foundation of the Friends, and we are truly grateful to all who support the work of the Royal Opera House. Information about the benefits of upgrading your membership can be found on our Supporter pages. It was rapturously applauded at the opera’s premiere and went on to influence such composers as Verdi. Growing tired of her hedonistic realm, he decides to return to his old life and his beloved, Elisabeth. Best known perhaps is Wolfram’s Act III aria ‘O du, mein holder Abendstern’, his hymn to the Evening Star. The icing on the cake comes at the end of the opera, which according to conductor Leo Hussain is 'one of the most beautiful, moving and thrilling arias that exists'.
Highlights of the score include one of Verdi’s earliest great duets for soprano and baritone, where Lucrezia pleads with the Doge for her husband’s life in Act I, and the passionate finale that closes Act II.
It began life as a playhouse, staging a variety of entertainments including plays, pantomimes, dances and operas.
In fact, it was a performance of Macbeth that opened the second theatre on 18 September 1809, after the original Theatre Royal was destroyed by fire the previous year.
He was also a well-known Shakespearian actor, performing many times alongside his brother as well as appearing in Othello and Romeo and Juliet. But that early history as a Shakespeare theatre, and the legacy of the Kembles, is continued on through the many Shakespeare-inspired operas and ballets that are key parts of the ROH repertory today.


In The Royal Ballet's programme in the first quarter of the Season, I am looking forward to the return of Kenneth MacMillan's Anastasia. An online version is accessible by signing in via our website and clicking your name on the top of the page. We are also working with The Royal Ballet to ensure that principal casting will be available well in advance of each Friends booking day. We also increased some of the prices, however I am sure that you will agree that it is still a wonderful opportunity to see a show in its final stage of rehearsals. They will have the privilege of hearing members of the Jette Parker Young Artists programme being coached through select repertory pieces as part of a thrilling masterclass event. Last year’s event included 10.4 million UK participants joining forces with others from 172 countries and territories. In the years since the huge success of Written in Skin in 2013, she has been working extensively in France and Germany, to acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Truly one of the most important British directors of our time, Katie's work is meticulous and uses every possible detail to create a rounded story. Liam's adaptation of Shelley's classic Gothic novel sees the focus on the romantic elements of the tale.
At the same meeting Suzanne Heywood was appointed Deputy Chair and to succeed Sir Anthony Salz as Senior Independent Director. He has also provided counsel and assistance in regards to the ROH's fundraising and development.
He continues to support Studio Wayne McGregor, a major creative hub for modern British choreography. He is also the major shareholder in Harris Tweed, and was instrumental in saving the company from bankruptcy in 2005. At the present time we are unfortunately unable to offer upgrades to membership online, so please do telephone us on +44 (0) 20 7212 9268. Discovering the prophecy, he flees Corinth – only unwittingly to kill his true father and marry his mother. But the Doge, trapped by the machinations of a corrupt city, is forced to make a terrible decision. As we mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on 23 April 2016, ROH Collections has delved into the Royal Opera House archives to look at some of those early Shakespeare performances staged at Covent Garden. Sarah, the oldest of the Kemble siblings, was equally renowned, and was in fact the first of the family to perform at Covent Garden, playing Belvidera in Venice Preserved in February 1786. The ballet showcases MacMillan's dual influences of classical and expressionism and is one of the choreographer's most experimental (and in my opinion, must-see) works. As ever, casting will be confirmed via production pages and publicized via our website's News and Features section and social media. As always we will try and make as many tickets available as we can, especially nearer the date of the rehearsal. Details will be available on our website when booking opens. Other UK organisations and landmarks taking part this year include Buckingham Palace, the National Theatre, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. As ever, details of each Royal Ballet and Royal Opera production featured as part of the Season will be available via our website. I'm particularly excited to see Diana Damrau sing the title role as the German soprano recently stated how much she likes to work with innovative directors who encourage her to re-evaluate roles she's performed previously.
As well as an opportunity to see a brand new first full-length work from a great choreographic talent, the work will also feature a newly commissioned score from American composer Lowell Liebermann. If you choose to upgrade, you will be credited with the unexpired portion of your current membership. We know that Romeo and Juliet was performed on 1 March 1750, while the earliest playbill in the ROH Collections for a Shakespeare play is for Henry V, on 3 December 1755. It was for his performances as Macbeth that he became best known, the part he played in the 1809 re-opening of the theatre. John, Charles, Sarah and a third brother, Stephen, regularly performed together at Covent Garden, most notably in Henry VIII.
If you missed our recent live-streamed Insight event, I'd recommend watching it on-demand via our YouTube channel. If Liam's insights into the production are anything to go by, it's going to be an event not to miss.



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