Fresh from the success of its seventy-fifth birthday celebrations, Glyndebourne Festival Opera has announced next summer's season, which is scarcely less exciting.
Two new productions and four revivals form the skeleton of the festival in 2010, which is notable for the company's first-ever production of Britten's Billy Budd and the operatic debut of Michael Grandage, one of Britain's leading theatre directors.
Also of importance is a new production of Don Giovanni starring Gerald Finley, a revival of Cosi fan tutte with Sir Charles Mackerras and the return of the 1975 classic production of The Rake's Progress.
The Britten gets the Festival off to a strong start on 20 May. Sir Mark Elder conducts Grandage's new production, which stars John Mark Ainsley as Captain Vere. Former Jette Parker Young Artist of the Royal Opera House Jacques Imbrailo is Billy Budd, and is joined by two other former Young Artists, Matthew Rose and Darren Jeffery, as Flint and Ratcliff, respectively. Phillip Ens is Claggart, while Alasdair Elliott and Jeremy White round off the cast.
Mozart takes to the stage next with a revival of the 2006 production of Cosi fan tutte by Nicholas Hytner, whose production of Don Carlo opens tomorrow at Covent Garden. Again, it's striking that The Royal Opera's Young Artists Programme is supplying two of the key principals: Sally Matthews as Fiordiligi and Robert Gleadow as Guglielmo. Tuva Semmingsen's Dorabella and Allan Clayton's Ferrando complete the quartet of lovers, while Pietro Spagnoli is Alfonso to Anna Maria Panzarella's Despina. Nonetheless, the production's main attraction is the return of Charles Mackerras to conduct the Orchestra of the Age Enlightenment.
I'm afraid I was no fan of Richard Jones' production of Verdi's Macbeth, first seen in 2007, but it's back this year. Andrzej Dobber will play the title role again, while Erika Sunnegardh is Lady Macbeth and Yonghoon Lee is Macduff. Vasily Petrenko, currently riding on the crest of a wave at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, will conduct this revival.
The festival's second new production is Don Giovanni, continuing a Glyndebourne tradition of constantly revisiting the mature Mozart operas. Twenty-four years after originally joining the company's chorus, Gerald Finley will play the title role, and is joined by an equally stellar cast: Kate Royal's Elvira, Anna Samuil's Anna, William Burden's Ottavio and Luca Pisaroni's Leporello. Music Director Vladimir Jurowski will conduct the OAE.
Two revivals end the season on a high note. First, Laurent Pelly's Hansel and Gretel returns, with Alice Coote as Hansel, Lydia Teuscher as Gretel, Irmgard Vilsmaier as Mother and William Dazeley as Father. Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke will play the Witch, while Robin Ticciati conducts.
Finally, the 1975 production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress returns under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski. John Cox's direction and David Hockney's reliable designs form the backdrop to the exciting cast, which includes Miah Persson's Anne Trulove, Clive Bayley's Father Trulove, Topi Lehtipuu's Tom Rakewell and Matthew Rose's Nick Shadow. Jurowski conducts the revival, which closes the Festival on 29 August 2010.
With a mixture of the familiar and the new, and evident care in the casting of the six productions, there's much to engage audiences in the 2010 festival, which will include reduced-price tickets for children for the first time ever.
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