Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Opera on the BBC: BBC Four

Antonio Pappano: credit BBC/Sim Canetty-Clarke

Opera Italia

Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera, traces the history of Italian opera. He travels throughout Italy in a three-part series to explore the central role of opera in Italian history and culture.

Opera Italia features exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Antonio Pappano working in rehearsal with some of today's greatest singers, including soprano Renée Fleming, mezzosoprano Sarah Connolly, tenor Juan Diego Flórez and baritone Sir Thomas Allen, as well as performance footage, filmed in collaboration with the Royal Opera House and conducted by Pappano himself, including Rossini's The Barber Of Seville and Verdi's La Traviata.

Three Italian operas will be shown to accompany each of the programmes in the Opera Italia series. They are: David McVicar's recent Royal Opera House production of The Marriage Of Figaro, conducted by Antonio Pappano; a spectacular new production of Aida from the Bregenz floating stage; and the feature film of La Bohème, with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, first shown in December 2009.


Rick Stein: credit BBC/Arezoo Farahzad

Rick Stein's Taste Of Italian Opera

In a light-hearted programme, top chef Rick Stein traces the role that food played in the creation of Italian opera and looks at how music and food are intrinsically linked in Italy.

He draws parallels between cooking and composing, noting how both involve the skilful combination of ingredients and how they share the common purpose of bringing pleasure to many.

Rick also explains why he thinks the music of Verdi, Rossini and Puccini are linked to the food of the regions where they lived and worked.

Denham Productions


Stephen Fry: credit BBC

Stephen Fry On Wagner

Stephen Fry was 10 years old when he first heard Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture on his father's record player. A revelatory experience, it ignited a lifelong passion for Wagner's music.

In Stephen Fry On Wagner, Stephen confronts Wagner's troubled legacy and explores his fascination for this controversial composer against the backdrop of preparations for the Bayreuth Festival – the annual Wagner extravaganza held in a theatre purpose-built by the composer.

Immersing himself in preparations for the Festival, Stephen eavesdrops on rehearsals and discovers more about the music he loves.

He explores the labyrinthine backstage workings of the opera house, plays music on Wagner's own piano and meets the composer's great granddaughter, Eva Wagner-Pasquier who, with her sister, recently took control of the Festival.

Wavelength Films


Danielle de Niese in Diva Diaries: credit BBC/Wavelength Films

Diva Diaries

Diva Diaries follows soprano Danielle de Niese, who shot to fame in Britain with her portrayal of Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne in 2005, as she makes her debut in the major role of Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Diva Diaries gives a revealing personal perspective into the hectic life and art of an international opera singer.

With unlimited access to Danielle as she prepares for this important role, her personal highs and lows during the preparations and rehearsals are recorded on her own 'diva-diary' camera.


What Makes A Great Tenor?

In a personal film, acclaimed tenor Rolando Villazón explores the technical, physical and artistic demands of his craft, identifying the characteristics that have distinguished the good from the great through the centuries.

What Makes a Great Tenor? includes interviews with singers and experts as well as a selection of Rolando's own favourite performances, both on film and on disc.

Rolando discusses highlights from his own career, tries out early recording equipment, and reveals which great artists inspired him to forge a career in opera.


The Marriage Of Figaro

BBC Four presents the Royal Opera House's award-winning production of Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, conducted by Antonio Pappano and directed by David McVicar.

McVicar updates the action from late 18th century Spain to the 1830s and shows the breakdown of the relationship between Gerald Finley's suave, dashing but self-absorbed Count and Dorothea Röschmann's passionate yet dignified Countess. Antonio Pappano conducts and accompanies the recitatives on the harpsichord in a rich homage to Mozart's performance practice.


La Boheme

Another chance to see the Robert Dornhelm feature film version of Puccini's La Bohème on BBC Four.

First released in honour of the 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini's birth, Austrian director Robert Dornhelm has confected a screen revival of the 1896 opera La Bohème, starring Rolando Villazón as Rodolfo the struggling poet and Anna Netrebko as Mimi, the beautiful young woman for whom he conceives a great passion.


Don Giovanni

Glyndebourne welcomes back the winning team of director Jonathan Kent and designer Paul Brown to stage its first new production of Don Giovanni in ten years.

The great bass-baritone Gerald Finley takes the title role in Mozart's blackest of dark comedies, and is joined by Luca Pisaroni as his servant Leporello, Kate Royal as Donna Elvira, and the young Russian soprano Anna Samuil making her UK opera debut as Donna Anna.

The BBC will bring this important event and the magic of one of opera's most celebrated pieces to a wider audience. BBC Productions Katherine Solomon


Giuseppe Verdi's monumental opera Aida performed on the spectacular floating stage by the banks of Lake Constance at Bregenz, in a new production by acclaimed director Graham Vick for the 2009 and 2010 Bregenz Festivals.

Tatiana Serjan sings the title role, with Rubens Pelizzari as Radames. Verdi's Aida is the story of the tragic love between the Ethiopian princess Aida – once brought to the Nile as a slave – and the Egyptian commander Radames.

Since its premiere in Cairo in 1871, Aida has gone on to become one of the most popular and most performed works in the opera repertoire.

Director Graham Vick and designer Paul Brown were keen to make use of Lake Constance, not just as a grand backdrop but as an integral part of the production.

With ships and platforms, parts of the stage set and even some of the performers will emerge from under the water.

Audiences can go behind the scenes of this production, following Graham Vick and his cast through their rehearsal period, in Verdi: The Director's Cut on BBC Two.


Information for viewers

More content about Opera Italia will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page:

More content about Stephen Fry On Wagner will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page:

More content about Diva Diaries will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page:

More content about Opera on the BBC will be published, as transmission approaches, on this page:

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