New seasons always start with something spectacular, so high hopes for Gounod's Faust from 18th September. It's a co-production with the Met, directed by Des McAnuff. Is the Met discovering French rep? Anyway, for Toby Spence alone it will be worth going to.
The other big news is that the ENO's starting a partnership with the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. That's a truly top class house, with a taste for intelligent innovation. Like it or not, Germany is extremely important in artistic terms, so chances are that this will bring a genuinely international perspective,. Watch out for Simon Boccanegra next spring.
In October comes another new production, Handel's Radamisto directed by David Alden. This is a co-production with Santa Fe Opera. one of the livelier US houses: should be good. Although Faust will bring in the punters, Radamisto may bring in the core ENO audience, since it's Handel, one of ENO's mainstays. Christopher Alden (David's brother) is directing Benjamin Britten's A Midsummers Night's Dream next year. Fascinating, David and Christopher in each other's territory! Christopher's hit The Makropoulos Case comes first, though, in September, days after Faust. Two Faustian pacts in one week.
Paul Daniel makes a much welcome return to the Coliseum, conducting a new production of Lucrezia Borgia. Daniel's extremely good, as older ENO patrons will remember. I'll go to this for him. It's good to hear a range of different conductors. Edward Gardner's conducting Faust, Simon Boccanegra and The Damnation of Faust.
I'm more wary of the "new music" operas coming up. One's a new work by Nico Muhly, as yet unnamed. Muhly's wildly fashionable, a marketing manager's dream. Quite a bit of his music was heard in London recently, but even with Padmore singing, I was not at all impressed, even on multiple hearings. Very self-conscious music, aware of its market and the value of sounding like wannabe pop flavoured Benjamin Britten. A Dog's Heart by Alexander Raskatov might be interesting. Simon McBurney ( Russian specialist and brother of Gerard) directs.This is receiving its world premiere at the Holland Festival this year, where Martyn Brabbins will be conducting. The Holland Festival describes it thus "...part of the Russian absurdist tradition.......Raskatov presents an imaginatively emotional take on the absurd story of a surgeon who implants a human pituatory gland into the brain of a stray dog. the dog becomes a rude and immoral apparatchik for the soviet Department for Eliminating Vagrant Quadropeds". Rude is better than pretentious, at least it can be funny.
Next Easter, Parsifal - but no details as yet.
photo : Xavier de Jauréguiberry