Boris Godunov and Frankenstein stand out among Covent Garden’s showings for 2015 and 2016.

Amidst the plethora of overseas arts events becoming increasingly available to Australian audiences (London’s National Theatre Live, the Met in HD and the latest to join the fray: English National Opera Screenings) it’s beginning to look like home-grown companies will need to have a think about how to compete with all this first-class global product. Not only is it an opportunity to see international singers and actors unlikey to tread the boards down under, it’s available at convenient weekend showings at a fraction of the price of many live events.

One of the earliest companies to enter the fray, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden announced yesterday the new productions due to be screened live worldwide as part of their new season from September 2015 until June 2016. So popular has the live format proven, and so important is it to the worldwide brand, that it now merits its own press launch to which Limelight was invited to send a reporter yesterday.

The impressive ROH 2015-2016 season will include a remarkable eight new commissions including the premiere of a new work by Georg Friedrich Haas entitled Morgen und Abend and among an impressive 11 new productions there are some tasty rarities such as Chabrier’s deliciously zany L’Étoile and Enescu’s powerful Oedipe, both works new to Covent Garden. It’s a little disappointing perhaps that none of these are slated to appear on Australian cinema screens in the year ahead, but their are nevertheless some distictly tempting offerings in store.

The season features six operas and six ballets with the most exciting of the former probably Bryn Terfel’s role debut as the tortured Tsar in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Terfel will be joined John Graham-Hall as the duplicitous Prince Shuisky and the veteran Sir John Tomlinson as the drunken Varlaam. Antonio Pappano conducts. The dance programme is most likely led by the world premiere of Frankenstein, Liam Scarlett’s new full-length ballet, inspired by Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece with music by American composer Lowell Liebermann.


The other opera new productions include what should be an intriguing take: Katie Mitchell directing a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau, Charles Castronovo and Ludovic Tézier as well as Antonio Pappano conducting Damiano Michieletto’s Cav and Pag with Eva-Maria Westbroek and Aleksandrs Antonenko. A revival of Benoît Jacquot’s production of Massenet’s Werther looks notable for the role debut of Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte.

Otherwise there are some old operatic chestnuts, such as Erwin Schrott in David McVicar’s Marriage of Figaro – a fine production, but one that’s been around for many years now. It will be interesting to compare with his new Figaro for Opera Australia later this year. Richard Eyre’s Traviata also makes a return.

Heading the list of ballets, Carlos Acosta’s new work based on Bizet’s Carmen looks interesting as part a mixed programme, with works by Liam Scarlett, Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine (Viscera, Afternoon of a Faun and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux). The usual vagaries of ballet casting mean that names are seldom available this far in advance for the dance programme, but we are promised revivals of MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, an Ashton double bill of Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons, Peter Wright’s Giselle.

Click here for ROH cinema details but note Australian dates will be available at a later date.