London-based summer festival company Opera Holland Park has announced an all-Italian programme for summer 2011. It includes a rare outing for Catalani's rarely-performed La Wally, continuing the company's series of verismo rarities which has included Francesca da Rimini and L'amore dei tre Re in recent years.
The season opens on 7 June with a production of Donizetti's Don Pasquale. One of the composer's most popular works, the opera offers a cast including international stars Colin Lee and Majella Cullagh alongside veteran Donald Maxwell. The legendary bel canto conductor Richard Bonynge returns to conduct what promises to be a highlight of the summer opera calendar.
It's followed on 10 June by another rarity, Mascagni's L'amico Fritz. Recently recorded by Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, the opera has been best known in recent years for the 'Cherry Duet'. Here, the cast is led by rising soprano Anna Leese.
The beginning of July sees the return of Le nozze di Figaro to the park, with a cast headed by Elizabeth Llewellyn (recently seen in ENO's Boheme) as the Countess. Then on 5 July, Puccini's bittersweet comedy La rondine features Kate Ladner and Sean Ruane.
To end the season, the company offers two strong productions. On 26 July, a new production of Verdi's Rigoletto unites baritone Robert Poulton and popular director Lindsay Posner. Three days later, La Wally provides a fitting climax to the season with an attractive cast including Gweneth-Ann Jeffers, Stephen Gadd, Sarah Redgwick and Heather Shipp, all under the baton of Peter Robinson.
In all, it's fascinating to see the company focusing on the repertoire for which it's probably best known, in what seems like an especially strong line-up. Online booking opens on 7 April.
Photo: Richard Bonynge, who will conduct Don Pasquale
More information is available at www.operahollandpark.com.
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