Arena: Luciano Pavarotti - The Last Tenor
BBC TWO, 29 May
Arena looks at the life and career of Luciano Pavarotti, one of opera's
modern icons, whose thrilling voice and unique personality have touched
countless people throughout the world.
A household name for most of his extraordinary career, Pavarotti was
the first ever classical musician to reach the top of the UK pop charts
and his performance of Nessun Dorma during the 1990 World Cup was watched
For 40 years, Pavarotti has been hailed as one of the greatest tenors
of all time, an artist fit to rank alongside the great Enrico Caruso.
Never before has he granted a television crew such intimate access
to his private life and his globe-trotting personal schedule.
In Los Angeles, The Last Tenor follows Pavarotti backstage as he greets
celebrity admirers including Michael Caine, Dustin Hoffman and Lionel
In Bath, the cameras slip behind the scenes as he is reunited with
the Three Tenors, the most successful grouping of classical performers
In Modena, his hometown in Italy, the Maestro pulls together a horde
of international names including Bono, Queen, Eric Clapton, Ricky Martin
and Andrea Bocelli for his Pavarotti & Friends concert to aid the children
The film is also an exploration of Pavarotti's Italian background and
Luciano was inspired from an early age by his father's tenor voice
and both of them were members of Modena's Corale Rossini which won the
1955 Eisteddfod in Llangollen.
After initial successful performances in Italy and Sicily, he made
his international breakthrough at Covent Garden in 1963 as understudy
to his idol Giuseppe di Stefano.
The film traces his rise to international stardom through a sequence
of classic archive performances.
Despite his fame, Pavarotti has always remained grounded in his native
Italy, both in Modena and at his seaside home in Pesaro.
He allowed access to some of his most intimate family moments, including
his wedding to Nicoletta Mantovani last December and the christening
of their new baby Alice in the cathedral in Modena.
The Last Tenor is a unique portrait of a legendary singer and a family
man who has remained close to his roots.
I Want To Be Pavarotti
BBC FOUR, 29 May
This is the fascinating story of music teacher Robert Alderson and
Alderson is a singing teacher at the Royal Northern College of Music
whose ability to identify a singing voice with potential has made him
both successful and controversial.
He can spot new talent merely by hearing a child shout in a playground.
Under Robert's tuition his students rise from the ranks of those with
seemingly ordinary vocal ability to being able to attain an operatic
sound by fully utilising their voice.
This programme focuses on three of Robert's newest students as their
voices, dress and attitudes are dramatically transformed.
Mario Chalilopoulos isn't an obvious candidate for the world of opera.
Having sung The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round on Pop Idol, Pete
Waterman told Mario he'd heard 'frogs with more talent'. Suffice it
to say, he never made it past the first round.
But Robert Alderson watched that episode of Pop Idol and heard in Mario
the makings of a fantastic tenor.
We follow their journey as Mario travels from Middlesborough to meet
Robert and is transformed from a 20-year-old drifter to a singer with
real talent and ambition.
After only 10 lessons, Mario bravely takes to the stage to sing a recital
in front of his friends, family and peers with amazing results.
Thirty four year old Mike Bracegirdle was a Finance Director earning
more than £150,000 a year, with a beautiful wife, a Mercedes and a seven
But he decided to give up the job to follow his lifelong dream of becoming
a great tenor, going to study with Robert as a postgraduate at the Royal
Northern College of Music in Manchester.
After just six weeks at the college, Mike gets the lead part in the
end of year opera - an amazing feat considering that everyone else going
for the part has been singing for years.
Viewers follow Mike as he prepares for the part of Tom Rakewell in
The Rake's Progress and as he discovers the huge personal sacrifices
he's going to have to make if he's to follow his dreams.
David Shaw is a 17-year-old from Oldham. His parents, Roy (a cab driver)
and Christine (a schoolteacher), do everything they can to send David
for lessons with Robert.
David even has a job icing cakes in a supermarket to supplement the
Viewers go with him to the audition that will decide whether or not
he gets a place at the Royal Northern College of Music as an undergraduate,
and wait nervously with Roy and Christine as the letter arrives that
they hope will tell them David's dream has become a reality.
Barbara Bonney Masterclass from the Wigmore
BBC FOUR, 29 May
This is another chance to see the leading international soprano Barbara
Bonney in her series of amateur master classes.
Barbara has had great success presenting master classes in London,
Bath, Amsterdam and Paris.
These master classes appeal to a wide range of people at the Wigmore
Hall and the Assembly Rooms in Bath. For example, participants included
a Korean engineering student, a retired bank manager and a yoga teacher.
Members of the audience are invited to participate by preparing a piece
of music and bringing along the score.
All names are placed in a hat and eight lucky names pulled are invited
on stage for individual impromptu tuition.
The ensuing programme will be infused with the tension and drama of
the occasion as the audience at home share the nervous anticipation
of those in the hall.
Barbara's enthusiasm and passion for amateur music making is evident
in her judicious use of criticism and enthusiasm as she takes these
amateur singers through their paces and passes on her tips for improvement.
Turn of the Screw
BBC TWO, 5 June
Shown just before the documentary Britten's Children, this version
of the opera Turn of the Screw has been filmed specially for BBC television
and shot on location in an 18th century house.
Based on the story by Henry James, Britten's opera tells of a governess
who takes charge of two children at a distant country house.
She begins to see the ghosts of the dead former governess and her valet
lover. As the ghosts begin to have an increasing effect on the young
children the governess realises she must either leave or confront the
Eventually she is able to exorcise the supernatural visitors, but not
without tragic consequences.
The Turn of the Screw is directed by Katie Mitchell, the highly acclaimed
opera and theatre director whose television debut was the very successful
BBC Wales production The Stepdaughter (based on the first act of Janaceck's
The production designer was Alison Chitty (renowned for her work in
opera, theatre and on Mike Leigh's films) and the piece was conducted
by Richard Hickox (acclaimed for his recording of Benjamin Britten's
Peter Quint is played by Mark Padmore, The Governess by Lisa Milne,
Miss Jessell by Catrin Wyn Davies, Mrs Grose by Diana Montague, Miles
by Nicholas Kirby Johnson and Flora by Caroline Wise.
BBC TWO, 5 June
No composer has ever written so much music for and about children as
Benjamin Britten - a fascinating subject explored in this psychological
Benjamin Britten wrote two operas specifically for children to perform
and there are plenty of concert works for children to sing.
Many of his operas deal with the loss of innocence in the young and
their corruption by adults. And he often seems to regress to his own
childhood, an idyllic period when he, as the youngest of the family,
was the golden boy and apple of his mother's eye.
The film, directed by John Bridcut, explores Britten - the man and
the music - through the prism of his work with young people.
Maria Callas: Living and Dying
for Art and Love
BBC TWO, 12 June
Director Steve Cole takes a new look at the story of Maria Callas,
one of the most loved and admired divas to ever grace the opera stage.
This documentary explores the parallels between Callas' life story
and that of Puccini's Tosca, the character she became synonymous with
following her performance in 1964 at Covent Garden.
Put together in just six months, Franco Zeffirelli's production of
Tosca at Covent Garden is still hailed by most critics as unsurpassed
- Callas gave a moving and deeply memorable performance that defied
her ill health and broken heart.
Sadly, although one of Maria's most famous performances, it was to
be one of her last.
The Callas story encapsulates glorious highs and tragic lows, a tale
of unrequited love and personal tragedy within the glamorous heights
of fame and fortune.
Maria Callas - Living and Dying for Art and Love tells the story of
the staging of Zeffirelli's Tosca and brings to life the most tragic
and dramatic role of the most tragic and dramatic of divas.
It features rare footage never before seen in the UK including: a
colour section of Act I filmed from the wings; over a hundred stills
from Act III, shot from a single position as if frames from a movie
camera; Tito Gobbi, the singer playing opposite Callas as the character
Scarpia, in interview about the Callas performance plus a wealth of
supporting documents and stills.
In addition to this, the programme includes a rare pirated audio of
Callas' final opera performance taken from 1965 when she returned to
Covent Garden to sing as Tosca one last time.
Great names talk on camera about Callas for the first time. Touched
by her talent and charisma they include: actress Judi Dench, whose visits
to the Tosca rehearsals she describes as 'life-changing'; opera singer
Grace Bumbry, who knew Callas and herself later played Tosca in the
same production; legendary tenor Placido Domingo; and Antonio Pappano,
Musical Director of the Royal Opera House.
They tell viewers of Maria's magic and charm, and also recall the tragic
story of heartache brought on by her uncertain relationship with Aristotle
Onassis, leaving Maria broken voiced and broken hearted and ending the
career and spark of one of opera's greatest legends.
BBC TWO, 13 June
Peter Brook's stunning production of Mozart's Don Giovanni from Aix-en-Provence
is brought to BBC TWO this summer.
The international cast is led by Peter Mattei as the feckless Don Giovanni,
who loves women as much as wine and can relinquish neither.
Peter Brook's vision brings out the energy, grace, humour, tenderness
and seriousness of the opera, conducted by rising star Daniel Harding.
Faust - live from the Royal Opera House
BBC TWO, 19 June
BBC TWO presents a live performance of Gounod's opera Faust with its
popular tale of magic, menace, sex and religion.
Broadcast live from London's Royal Opera House, David McVicar's new
production boasts a stellar cast including Welsh bass-baritone Bryn
Terfel as the devilish Mephistopheles and Roberto Alagna as the ambitious
Faust, who barters his soul with the Devil in exchange for sensual pleasures.
Since its first performance in Paris in 1863, Gounod's Faust has been
one of the most popular of French operas and a worldwide favourite.
Famous for such musical showpieces as the Soldier's Chorus and the
sparkling Jewel Song, its Romantic indulgence in magic and menace, sex
and religion still have a compelling charm.
This Faust is one of at least 16 operas based on the Faust Legend.
It is also one of the most successful operas ever written - performed
more than 2,000 times in Paris alone by 1934.
Die Walkure, Act 3
BBC TWO, 27 June
English National Opera (ENO) will make history this summer with the
first opera performance at the Glastonbury Festival.
ENO will join headlining acts Sir Paul McCartney, Oasis and Muse on
the main Pyramid stage, performing to a huge crowd.
Paul Daniel, ENO's Music Director, will conduct the full Orchestra
of ENO and principal singers in a concert performance of Act 3 of Wagner's
Act 3 includes the Ride of the Valkyries which few festival goers will
fail to recognise as the theme music to the film Apocalypse Now.
BBC FOUR, 4 July
Welsh National Opera's acclaimed new production of the most successful
of Tchaikovsky's ten operas is a romantic tragedy of desperate lost
love, in which Eugene Onegin realises too late that he has rejected
the woman he loves, Tatyana.
Based on Pushkin's classic poem about Onegin, the opera is full of
passion, power, drama and excitement.
BBC FOUR, 11 July
An exciting double bill broadcast live from the beautiful grounds of
Glyndebourne this year offers two operas: Puccini's popular comedy Gianni
Schicchi with a rarity - Rachmaninov's The Miserly Knight.
Puccini's only comedy features the loveable rascal Gianni Schicchi
who can remedy any situation, down to impersonating a notary and dictating
a new will.
Rachmaninov's dramatic tragedy with an all-male cast is based on a
Pushkin poem and features duels, denouncements and death.
Both operas are directed by Annabelle Arden.
The operas will be shown on BBC TWO later in the year.