Entertainment & Arts

Royal Opera House announces contemporary projects

The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Image caption Thomas Ades' next big production will take place on the main stage

London's Royal Opera House (ROH) has announced a new commitment to contemporary opera until 2020.

It will present more than 15 new operas, including an adaptation of Iain Banks' cult novel, The Wasp Factory.

There will also be an opera by Philip Glass, based on Franz Kafka's The Trial, part of ROH's focus on making new work "the core of what we are".

New material will be performed alongside the traditional repertoire from the likes of Mozart and Puccini.

The plans for productions from 2013-2020 were announced under the directorship of the House's outgoing chairman, Tony Hall, who is leaving to take up the post of director general of the BBC.

Kasper Holten, director of opera, said he hoped audiences would "share our curiosity and come with us with open minds along this journey".

Pioneering projects

"There is not - and should not be - a guarantee of success for every single piece, only for innovation and risk-taking.

"But we can guarantee that we will put all the forces of The Royal Opera behind them all, whatever the scale, and whether the new work is aimed at adults or young people," he said.

As part of the programme of events, South Korean composer Unsuk Chin will adapt Alice Through the Looking Glass, based on Lewis Carrol's fantastical story with librettist David Henry Hwang.

Later this year, Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Ernest will have its UK stage premiere, following on from its concert performance at the Barbican last year.

Events will be presented on both the main stage and in the House's smaller auditorium, the Linbury Studio Theatre, with several new productions created especially for the Linbury.

They include a new opera for families from Julian Philips composed to a libretto by Edward Kemp, to be staged at Christmas 2013, while electronic music pioneer, Matthew Herbert will create a new piece inspired by the Faust story the following year.

'Cutting-edge technology'

The ROH said the production will "integrate cutting-edge technology into the fabric of the musical score".

On the main stage, Thomas Ades' next large-scale opera will be based on Luis Brunel's film, The Exterminating Angel, about at an upper-class dinner party from which the guests are unable to leave. It will involve several international organisations, including the Salzburg Festival and will be performed in spring 2017.

Ades previously had success with The Tempest, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York last year.

Meanwhile, for the year 2020, the Royal Opera has challenged four leading composers from different countries in Europe to each create a new opera, addressing people's fears and hopes for the present and the future.

Artistic director Antonio Pappano said: "We are an opera house, we cannot afford to perform in a bubble. You cannot go forward without taking that into consideration.

"We have worked hard to find the composers we feel have a real flair and passion for opera and we are very excited about being able to roll out our vision for new work on all scales," he added.

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