For Gerhaher, ‘The really interesting thing to me is I don’t believe that Tannhauser ever loved Elisabeth. The production is given with generous philanthropic support from Dr and Mrs Michael West, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Maggie Copus, Peter and Fiona Espenhahn, Malcolm Herring, the Tannhauser Production Syndicate and the Wagner Circle. Vocal coach Paul Farrington shared these secrets and more at a coaching session with Korean tenor and Jette Parker Young Artist David Junghoon Kim, as part of a recent Insights event celebrating the opening of the Wellcome Collection's This is a Voice exhibition. Working with the aria ‘Recondita armonia’ from Act I of Puccini's Tosca, Paul explores the 'passaggio', the transition area between the vocal registers, which he refers to as ‘the gear box of the voice'. During the session, Paul demonstrates how specific vocal techniques and movements can support a singer's passaggio. The Wellcome Collection's This is a Voice exhibition takes visitors on an acoustic journey, focusing on the meaning and emotion conveyed through rhythm, stress and intonation of the voice.
In collaboration with the ROH, the exhibition also includes an interactive sound installation created by electronic musician Matthew Herbert. Chorus asks visitors to sing a note which is automatically added to an ever evolving chorus of voices, including performers and staff from the ROH. The soprano Elsie Morison (1924–2016) was a leading soprano in the early days of the Covent Garden Opera Company, later The Royal Opera. Morison made her debut with CGOC in 1954, in the Rex Whistler-designed Fidelio singing Marzelline under conductor Clemens Krauss. Morison followed this with wonderful performances as Marenka in a new production of The Bartered Bride under Rafael Kubelik, the newly appointed Musical Director of CGOC – and Morison’s future husband. Morison had a tremendous success as Marenka alongside a stellar cast that included Jess Walters, Peter Pears and Otakar Kraus. Morison sang Blanche in the UK premiere of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites in 1958 under Kubelik, with Joan Sutherland as Madame Lidoine. Morison married Kubelik in 1963, and decided to retire from performing at the height of her career. Emma Bell's performance in #ROHTannhauser suggests she could be on her way to becoming the next big British Wagnerian. The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Dr and Mrs Michael West, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Maggie Copus, Peter and Fiona Espenhahn, Malcolm Herring, the Tannhauser Production Syndicate and the Wagner Circle. Oedipe’s parents’ happiness at his birth is destroyed when the prophet Tiresias announces that the child will kill his father Laios and marry his mother Jocaste. Romanian composer George Enescu’s only opera, with a libretto by Edmond Fleg, was inspired by the Greek myth of Oedipus. This production by Alex Olle and Valentina Carrasco explores the nature of time, showing that our notion of temporality is limited. The production was originally made for La Monnaie, Brussels, and is given with generous support from the Monument Trust, Richard and Ginny Salter, the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Friends of Covent Garden.
In a message to her London fans Anna Netrebko has said: 'As I have begun to prepare the role, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion my voice has evolved in a different direction.
Kasper Holten, Director of Opera added, 'We are working hard on finding a new leading soprano to join Tony Pappano, Joseph Calleja, Sonia Ganassi and Brindley Sherratt in the rehearsal room later this summer. Antonio Pappano, Music Director added, 'I am of course saddened not to be doing this iconic opera with Anna.
Katie Mitchell’s Royal Opera production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor was relayed live to cinemas around the world on 25 April 2016. During the interval audiences saw several short films featuring interviews with the cast and creative team as well as footage of the opera in rehearsal.
Mitchell is joined by the cast of her latest production to introduce the story of Lucia – an aristocratic woman who is forced to marry a wealthy landowner after she falls in love with her brother’s enemy.
This new production is a feminist take on Donizetti’s opera and focuses the audience’s attention on the central female character. The glass harmonica is the unusual instrument used to create the eerie sound of the ‘mad scene’ – the moment Lucia realizes that she can never be reunited with her lover Enrico.


Glass harmonica player, Philipp Marguerre, shows how the instrument makes its haunting effect. The instrument also known as a ‘bowl organ’ or a ‘hydrocrystalophone’ can play a huge range of notes from a C1 to an E Flat which allows the player to follow melodies or more polyphonic music. The German composer spent 27 years composing the Licht cycle of operas, completing the work in 2003. The piece was performed in seven acts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1973 and listed by the Guinness World Records as the longest single opera ever performed. A cycle of four music dramas inspired by Norse mythology, Wagner's masterpiece took 26 years to write. Wagner's only comedy, Meistersinger explores the relationship of art and artists with society. Kasper Holten makes his farewell as Director of The Royal Opera with a new production of Wagner’s comic opera in Spring 2017. Richard Wagner described Tristan und Isolde as ‘the most audacious and original work of my life’.
Handel wrote many of his works for the first theatre on the Royal Opera House’s Covent Garden site.
Based on two German legends,Tannhauser centres on an epic struggle between sacred and profane love.
One of Richard Strauss' best-known works, Der Rosenkavalier is at first glimpse a comic opera, but look closer and deeper themes emerge. Based on the 1787 dramatic poem by Friedrich Schiller, Verdi’s Don Carlo dangerously intertwines politics and religion and love in 16th century Spain. Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed Royal Opera production returns to the Covent Garden in Spring 2017. Oedipe has been a ‘neglected masterpiece’, says conductor Leo Hussain ahead of The Royal Opera’s first-ever production of George Enescu’s only opera.
After its premiere in Paris in 1936, the opera has received only sporadic performances and has been seen rarely outside the Romanian composer’s home country, something that puzzles Hussain.
But when such challenges are eclipsed, as will be the case next month in Covent Garden, Hussain is certain that many in their seats will also soon be baffled by how long it’s taken them to discover Oedipe’s ‘extraordinary’ music.
The score calls for saxophone solos that sound ‘plaintive and haunting’, orchestral passages that resemble the ‘slightly faded grandeur of early Hollywood epics’, and ‘quite extreme, quite chromatic’ harmonies that lend a ‘very eerie, very strange colour’.
Enescu’s musical genius apart, Hussain believes that Oedipe’s exquisite melodic phrasing and rich orchestral writing were also the results of the long gestation period of the opera.
Moreover, Hussain believes that Enescu spent 22 years writing the opera because, quite simply, he was a ‘very, very busy man’ who also had to juggle a demanding schedule of concert tours all over the world.
It is a co-production with La Monnaie, Brussels and is generously supported by the Monument Trust, Richard and Ginny Salter, The Romanian Cultural Institute and The Friends of Covent Garden. For instance, he introduces David to what he calls a 'minor and a major Shirley', recognisable diva-like movements associated with the singer Shirley Bassey. Rather than the traditional understanding of the voice through linguistics, this exhibition explores its psychological and physiological origins, illustrated through paintings, manuscripts, illustrations and objects. The installation can be heard in the exhibition space, on the Wellcome Collection website and via a listening post at the ROH's Stage Door on floral street. She came to London from Australia after World War II and concentrated throughout her distinguished career on such roles as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Marenka (The Bartered Bride) and Pamina (Die Zauberflote). Later that year Morison sang Antonia in Gunther Rennert’s new production of The Tales of Hoffmann under Edward Downes, and in 1955 was a thrilling Mimi in La boheme under Reginald Goodall. Her winning the role had not been easy: Morison’s original audition had not gone well, and David Webster, General Manager of Covent Garden, pushed for her to be heard again.
She was a charming Pamina in Christopher West’s new production of The Magic Flute, and her beautifully sung Susanna in the 1956 performances of The Marriage of Figaro under John Pritchard was well matched by Geraint Evans’s Figaro. Morison made her final Covent Garden appearances in 1961, first singing Euridice in Frederick Ashton’s production of Orpheus under Louis de Froment.
He began to make sketches for it in 1910 after he saw a production of Oedipus Tyrannus; he completed the opera some twenty years later in 1931.


He makes expressive use of folk music in Act I, and in the Shepherd’s pipe music in Act II. Oedipe is an ‘eternal’ figure who exists outside traditional concepts of time, and who correspondingly moves through different epochs as his life progresses – from the antiquity of the first scene to the contemporary inflections of the opera’s conclusion. This is something I could not have anticipated when Maestro Pappano and I planned this project four years ago, as we singers have to make decisions about roles and projects several years in advance. We are, of course, very frustrated that Anna has felt it necessary to cancel a major role debut with us for the second time.
We had planned this project around her ambition to take it on some time ago but we all have to accept that things sometimes change. Mineral water doesn’t really work.’ The best tone and dynamic is produced with cold water,’ says Marguerre. Long distance runners often claim that feats of stamina are transformative events, something that will resonate with opera fans who relish the power of the repertory's lengthier works. Taking place over five hours, in its recent staging at the Barbican, audiences were allowed to enter and exit when they pleased during the performance. He believes that the piece has not only been forgotten for too long, but that it quite rightly deserves to become part of the operatic repertory: ‘I find it very difficult to find any artistic reason for its neglect', he says. The icing on the cake comes at the end of the opera, which features a piece of music that according to Hussain is ‘one of the most beautiful, moving and thrilling arias that exists. The composer made his first sketches of the piece in 1910 but it was only in 1932 that the opera was finished, partly on account of its creator's obsession with detail. His instructions on how to play notes, for example, don’t simply employ the customary range of six dynamics, from pianissimo to fortissimo. He wasn’t only the composer who created ‘a national music of Romania’; he was also a ‘real virtuoso’ at the violin, an ‘extraordinary’ conductor, a proficient pianist and a music writer – in short, ‘one of the most complete musicians of the 20th century’.
She returned later that year as Marzelline in the iconic Otto Klemperer production with Klemperer conducting; the famous cast also included Sena Jurinac, Hans Hotter and Jon Vickers. However, a shepherd rescues him and he is reared in ignorance of his origins by King Polybos and Queen Merope of Corinth, as their son.
Oedipe’s premiere in 1936 was a success, but World War II halted its progress as a repertory work.
There are eerie orchestral effects for the riddles scene and the Sphinx’s death – including the use of a musical saw. Throughout the production, red clay – symbolizing not only the myth of man’s creation from clay, and classical statuary, but ecological disasters such as the chemical spill in Hungary in 2010 – plays a major role in the designs and staging. For Enescu that wasn't enough - he also wants the music to be heard ben [quite] piano, ben forte or poco [little] forte. Enescu may indeed have struggled to find the time to write another opera, but Hussain is pleased that Oedipe is the one he did.
Kubelik was enchanted and immediately sent a telegram to Sir David with the news that ‘We have our Marenka’. The principal sources for Acts III and IV were Sophocles’ great tragedies Oedipus Tyrannus (Oedipus the King), which was adapted by many great playwrights as well as by Stravinsky in his Oedipus Rex, and Oedipus at Colonus, a lesser known work that shows Oedipe making peace with Fate and the gods, then dying serenely. Oedipe began to be more regularly performed in Romania from the 1950s; performances in Western Europe are growing in number. Finally, there is radiant music for the closing scene, in which Oedipe realizes that he has come to terms with Fate. Whilst we regret that her withdrawal has come at such a late stage, we do respect her decision and understand how difficult this is for her as well.
We have a superb creative team led by Alex Olle and a fantastic line up of world class singers and we will announce our new Norma shortly.



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