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Subject: "Royal Opera 2004/5 Season..." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruceadmin

08-04-04, 12:31 PM (GMT - BST)
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"Royal Opera 2004/5 Season..."
 
  
A couple of people have mentioned they can't read about the Royal Opera 2004/5 season - they perhaps don't have the right version of Adobe software for the release at:
http://info.royaloperahouse.org/Document/DocumentDownload.cfm?DType=DocumentItem&Document=0405TheRoyalOperaFull.pdf

So here you are in plain HTML...


THE ROYAL OPERA
2004/5 SEASON

Telephone, personal and on-line booking on http://www.royaloperahouse.orgopens 14 July 2004.

Supported by Arts Council England

Antonio Pappano Introduction

An Introduction

A very warm welcome to our 2004/5 Season! I am very pleased to present to you some of its highlights. After two concert performances of Ponchielli's La Gioconda conducted by myself and featuring Violeta Urmana and Marcello Giordani, we open the Season with David Pountney's Olivier Award-winning production of Martinù's The Greek Passion, which I am thrilled to see making its return to The Royal Opera's repertoire. The outstanding team of Pountney, designer Stefanos Lazaridis and Sir Charles Mackerras leads a cast featuring Willard W. White, Christopher Ventris and Marie McLaughlin.

A labour of love for me is Massenet's Werther. It is a musical world all its own, at once lyrical, pastoral and dramatic. Marcelo Alvarez will sing the title role and Ruxandra Donose the role of Charlotte. Ruxandra is a very sensitive and intimate performer while Marcelo is lyrical and explosive – perfect for the role of the forlorn Werther. Film director Benoit Jacquot (who worked with me on the recent Tosca DVD) will create this stylish production with designer Charles Edwards.

I am extremely excited that Maestro Riccardo Muti is returning to the Royal Opera House after a 20 year absence to conduct Hugo de Ana's grand-scale production from La Scala, Milan of Verdi's La forza del destino. Conductors of Muti's stature in this repertoire are very rare and the piece itself is seldom performed. The impressive cast includes Violeta Urmana, Salvatore Licitra and Ferruccio Furlanetto - not to be missed.

This Season we will be embarking on our new Ring project, opening of course with Das Rheingold and continuing with Die Walküre, a momentous journey for us all. We have a terrific cast lined up in a new production by Keith Warner and Stefanos Lazaridis, the team which did such a remarkable Wozzeck in the 2002/3 Season. We have tried to combine very experienced Ring singers such as Günther von Kannen as Alberich, Jane Henschel as Erda and Philip Langridge as Loge with newcomers Lisa Gasteen as Brünnhilde and Bryn Terfel singing Wotan for the first time. This combination is, I think, ideal. We have added some extra performances of Die Walküre towards the end of the Season with Plácido Domingo and Waltraud Meier as Siegmund and Sieglinde.

Puccini's La rondine (a personal favourite) will be returning this Season. It's a piece full of gorgeously intoxicating music with Angela Gheorghiu as Magda and Jonas Kaufmann as Ruggero. At last bel canto! We have not done Donizetti's Don Pasquale since 1992 – a witty, biting comedy for which we have assembled a lovely cast featuring Juan Diego Flórez as Ernesto, Tatiana Lisnic as Norina and with Alessandro Corbelli as Malatesta and Simone Alaimo in the title role. Bruno Campanella conducts a Jonathan Miller production from Florence.

One of my favourite Verdi operas is Un ballo in maschera which we will be doing in a new production by Italian director Mario Martone. It's one of those pieces that perhaps to the greatest degree in Verdi combine light with dark. There are so many elements of what was to come later in Falstaff and yet all the visceral dramatic music you could wish for is there. Karita Mattila, Marcelo Alvarez and Thomas Hampson (all three making their role debuts!) join me in this production.

This Season's new opera is Lorin Maazel's 1984 based on the extraordinary and disturbing novel by George Orwell in a staging by Robert Lepage. I have encountered Maazel's symphonic music on several occasions and I greatly admire his sound-world. The cast is lead by Simon Keenlyside, Nancy Gustafson and Richard Margison.

Finally, Cecilia Bartoli returns to the Royal Opera House as Fiorilla in Rossini's Il turco in Italia - this role was made for her. She will be joined by Thomas Allen, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Alessandro Corbelli in a new production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier (who gave us our delightful La Cenerentola), conducted by Adam Fischer.

In the Linbury Studio Theatre we will present the British premiere of Philip Glass's Orphée, based on the cult Jean Cocteau movie from 1950. Francisco Negrin will direct and Rory Macdonald from the Vilar Young Artists Programme conducts.

Terry Edwards retires as Chorus Director in July after an illustrious twelve years and we thank him for his enormous contribution to musical life at Covent Garden. We welcome our new Chorus Director Renato Balsadonna who will begin his tenure in the 2004/5 Season.


The Royal Opera 2004/5 Repertory

LA GIOCONDA – in concert
Amilcare Ponchielli 6, 9 September at 7.30pm Music Director Antonio Pappano opens his third Season at the Royal Opera House conducting two concert performances of Ponchielli's La Gioconda. The opera was first heard at Covent Garden in 1883 and was last seen at the Royal Opera House in 1929 with Rosa Ponselle as La Gioconda.

The title role will be sung by Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmana, a role she has previously recorded for EMI with Marcello Viotti. She made her debut with The Royal Opera singing Princesse Eboli in Don Carlos at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998 and made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 2001 singing Kundry (Parsifal). She returns later in the 2004/5 Season to sing the role of Leonora in La forza del destino.

Sicilian tenor Marcello Giordani returns to the Royal Opera House to sing the role of Enzo. He makes his debut in the role in April 2004 with the Opera Orchestra of New York. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in June 1995 as Alfredo (La traviata) and sang the role of Adorno (Simon Boccanegra) in 1997 under Solti. His first solo recording of operatic arias will be released by Naxos in May 2004.

Romanian-born baritone Alexandru Agache makes his role debut as Barnaba. He first appeared with The Royal Opera in 1988 as Anckarstroem (Un ballo in maschera) and his other roles with the Company have included Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), the title roles in Rigoletto and Nabucco, Amonasro (Aida), Gusmano (Alzira), Germont (La traviata) and Iago (Otello). He most recently returned to Covent Garden in March 2004 to the title role in Simon Boccanegra, which he first sang at the Royal Opera House in 1991.

Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Mariana Pentcheva makes her debut with The Royal Opera as Laura. She first sang Laura in 1997 at La Scala, Milan and has also sung the role in Zürich during the 2002/3 Season. She will return to the role once again when she makes her debut at Barcelona's Liceu in 2005. Her operatic repertoire encompasses a wide range of the major mezzo-soprano roles from Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera) and Azucena (Il trovatore) to lesser known works such as La Vestale (Spontini) and Saffo (Pacini). She has previously worked with Pappano singing Mistress Quickly (Falstaff) at La Monnaie during the 2000/1 Season.

American bass Eric Halfvarson sings the role of Alvise Badoero, a role he has sung previously with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as Florida Grand Opera. He made his debut at Covent Garden as Claggart in Billy Budd in 2000 and his other roles with The Royal Opera include Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Moser (I masnadieri) and most recently the Doctor in Wozzeck in 2002. He returns later in the Season to the role of Sparafucile in Rigoletto and to sing the role of Hunding (Die Walküre) in July 2005.

American mezzo-soprano Jill Grove makes both her Royal Opera debut and role debut singing La Cieca, Gioconda's mother. She made her European debut in 1998 with Welsh National Opera as Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera) and her London debut as Marfa in Khovanshchina with English National Opera in 2003. Recent roles include her role debut as Erda (Siegfried) in Chicago, Jenny Reefer in Virgil Thompson's The Mother of Us All in San Francisco and Magdalena (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Company Principal Graeme Broadbent sings the role of Zuane and Vilar Young Artist Matthew Rose sings the role of Un Barnabotto.

THE GREEK PASSION
Bohuslav Martinù 15, 21, 23, 25 September at 7.30pm / 19 September at 3pm / 1 October at 7.30pm

This production has been generously sponsored (2002) by Alberto Vilar

David Pountney's production of Martinù's The Greek Passion opened at Bregenz Festival in July 1999 and was performed for the first time at Covent Garden in April 2000. The production subsequently won the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Opera production. Set designs are by Stefanos Lazaridis with costumes by Marie-Jeanne Lecca and lighting by Davy Cunningham.

Martinù's last opera The Greek Passion is based on the novel Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis and it takes the form of a play within a play. The villagers chosen to act out the Passion story gradually grow into their roles, leading to a clash between a group of dispossessed refugees and the Greek villagers.

Charles Mackerras, a major interpreter of Czech music, returns to conduct the production, as he did in 2000. He made his Royal Opera debut conducting Katerina Ismailova in 1964, having first conducted the Ballet Company in 1951. Most recently he has conducted Die Entführung aus dem Serail, The Bartered Bride, Don Giovanni and Der Rosenkavalier (April 2004) for The Royal Opera.

Several of the cast return to the roles they sang in the original production. British tenor Christopher Ventris sings Manolios, the role he performed at the Bregenz Festival and recorded on Koch Schwann. Since his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1989 as the Major Domo (Der Rosenkavalier), he has returned to sing Kudrjáš (Kát'a Kabanová), Jack (The Midsummer Marriage), Jeník (The Bartered Bride) and several roles in Arianna. His most recent role with The Royal Opera is Sergey in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (April 2004). Scottish soprano Marie McLaughlin returns to the role of Katerina, which she sang in 2000 at Covent Garden. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1980 singing Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro and her roles with the Company have included Adina (L'elisir d'amore), Zdenka (Arabella), Micaëla (Carmen), Marzelline (Fidelio), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Musetta (La bohème) and Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow). She was last seen at the Royal Opera House in 2003 as Meg Page in Falstaff.

Making his role debut as Grigoris, the priest, is baritone Peter Sidhom. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Schaunard (La bohème) in 1993 and his other roles for The Royal Opera include Donner (Das Rheingold), Scarpia (Tosca) and most recently Paolo (Simon Boccanegra).

Also returning to his role from the 2000 production is Timothy Robinson, who sings Yannakos (Peter). A former Company Principal, his association with The Royal Opera goes back to the 1994/5 Season in which he sang Federico di Frengel in Stiffelio. Subsequent performances with The Royal Opera have included Froh (Das Rheingold), Jupiter (Semele), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Kudrjáš (Kát'a Kabanová), Vašek (The Bartered Bride), Novice (Billy Budd), Pong (Turandot) and Scaramuccio (Ariadne auf Naxos).

Making her debut at the Royal Opera House is Columbian soprano Juanita Lascarro singing the role of Lenio. She made her British debut at Garsington in the title role of Daphne in 1995 and her roles at Welsh National Opera have included Liù (Turandot), Mimì (La bohème) and The Cunning Little Vixen. Recent roles include Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Manon, Lulu and Juliette (Romeo et Juliette) for Frankfurt Opera.

Jamaican bass-baritone Willard W. White, who recently celebrated his 25th anniversary with The Royal Opera, makes his role debut as Priest Fotis. He made his debut as Don Diègo (L'Africaine) in 1978 and his numerous roles with The Royal Opera include Duke Bluebeard (Duke Bluebeard's Castle), Timur (Turandot), Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlos), Orest (Elektra), Ferrando (Il trovatore), Fafner (Das Rheingold, Siegfried), Don Pizarro (Fidelio), Klingsor (Parsifal) and Four Villains (Les Contes d'Hoffmann).

Also returning to the role of Panait (Judas) which he sang in Bregenz is American tenor Douglas Nasrawi, who makes his debut at the Royal Opera House. Recent roles include Don José (Carmen) in Dresden, Peter Grimes in Berlin and Lancelot (Le Roi Arthus) in Brussels. Other cast members returning to their original roles include Company Principal Jeremy White (Archon), Richard Angas (Aga), Alasdair Elliott (Andonis) and Elizabeth Sikora (Old Woman).

New to their roles are Francis Egerton as the Schoolmaster, Adrian Clarke as Kostandis and Robert Lloyd as the Old Man in the first of a number of smaller roles this Season. Also new to their roles are Vilar Young Artists Andrew Kennedy (Michelis), Victoria Nava (Despinio) and James Edwards (Nikolio).

WERTHER - New Production
Jules Massenet 20, 24, 27, 29 September, 5 October at 7.30pm / 2 October at 7pm Sponsored (2004) by The Friends of Covent Garden

The first new production of the Season, Massenet's Werther, will be conducted by Music Director Antonio Pappano. Werther was last seen at Covent Garden in 1983 and was a joint production between English National Opera and the Royal Opera House – first shown at English National Opera in 1977 and at the Royal Opera House in 1979, with revivals at Covent Garden in 1980 and 1983.

French director Benoit Jacquot, whose recent films include Sade and The School of Flesh, makes his debut at the Royal Opera House. He first worked with Antonio Pappano on the cinematic version of Tosca in 2001. Set designs and lighting for Werther are by Charles Edwards with costume designs by Christian Gasc.

The title role will be sung by Argentinian tenor Marcelo Alvarez, a role he performed for the first time in 1997 in Genoa and has subsequently sung in Trieste, Toulouse and in concert at La Monnaie, Brussels. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Alfredo at the Royal Albert Hall in 1998 and repeated the role for The Royal Opera in Baden-Baden in the same year. Subsequent roles with the Company are the title role in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), Rodolfo (Luisa Miller) and most recently as Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor).

He will return later this Season as Gustavus in Un ballo in maschera. Following her appearance as Nicklausse (Les Contes d'Hoffmann) in January 2004, Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose returns to sing the role of Charlotte. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1997 as Sesto (Giulio Cesare) and returned in 2000 as Annio (La clemenza di Tito). She has sung Charlotte with the Pittsburgh Opera as well as Deutsche Oper, Berlin.

French baritone Ludovic Tézier will make his Royal Opera debut as Albert. He made his British debut as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory at Glyndebourne in 1997 and his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Escamillo (Carmen) in 2002. His repertoire includes Don Giovanni, Marcello (La bohème), Demetrius (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Count Almaviva (Le nozze de Figaro), Chorèbe (Les Troyens) and Wolfram (Tannhaüser).

The role of Le Bailli will be sung by Jonathan Veira. His previous roles with The Royal Opera include Baron Zeta (The Merry Widow), the Foreman (Jenùfa), Harašta (The Cunning Little Vixen), Bonze (Madama Butterfly) and Judge Turpin (Sweeney Todd).

With a repertoire which spans from Rameau's Platée and Lully's Armide to Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and the Painter (Lulu), French tenor Gilles Ragon will make his role and house debut as Schmidt.

Former Vilar Young Artist Darren Jeffery sings the role of Johann. He finished his two-year contract with the Vilar Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House in July 2003, during which time he performed Masetto (Don Giovanni), Bonze (Madama Butterfly), Monterone (Rigoletto), Sprecher (Die Zauberflöte), Bartender (Sophie's Choice), Rambaldo (La rondine) and Sciarrone (Tosca). Recent roles include Donner (Das Rheingold) for English National Opera and Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) for the Savoy Opera Company.

Another former Vilar Young Artist, Sally Matthews makes her role debut as Sophie. Her roles at the Royal Opera House have included Nannetta (Falstaff), a Flowermaiden (Parsifal), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Iris (Semele) and a Wood Nymph (Rusalka). She recently sang the role of Pamina at the Deutsche Staatsoper and sings the role of Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) at Glyndebourne in July 2004.

COSÌ FAN TUTTE
Wolfang Amadeus Mozart 25 September at 12.30pm / 28, 30 September, 6, 14, 20, 23 October at 7pm / 9 October at 6.30pm Originally a co-production with the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, this production opened at the Royal Opera House in January 1995. Jonathan Miller's contemporary staging of Mozart's double-edged comedy returns for its fourth revival at the Royal Opera House.

Stéphane Denève conducts for the first time at the Royal Opera House. He began his career as Sir Georg Solti's assistant for Duke Bluebeard's Castle with the Orchestre de Paris in 1995 and has since conducted both operatic and orchestra works across the world from the Sydney Symphony and the St Petersburg Philharmonic to Salzburg and regular engagements at the Opèra National de Paris. He has previously conducted Così fan tutte at the Opèra National de Paris in 2000.

American soprano Catherine Naglestad sings the role of Fiordiligi. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 2000 as Musetta (La bohème) and returned the following Season to perform Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail). She has previously performed Fiordiligi at the Salzburg Festival and in Frankfurt.

American mezzo-soprano Kristine Jepson makes her Royal Opera debut as Dorabella, a role she has previously performed in Miami and with Opera Pacific, Costa Mesa. Her recent roles include the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos) at the Metropolitan Opera, Sister Helen (Dead Man Walking) in Detroit, Santa Fe and Pittsburgh, Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier) in Munich and Idamante (Idomeneo) in Antwerp.

Returning to the role of Despina, which she sang at the last revival at Covent Garden in 2001, is Italian soprano Nuccia Focile. She made her Royal Opera debut in 1997 as Liù in Turandot. Her other roles for The Royal Opera include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Nedda (Pagliacci) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni). She has also sung the role of Despina in Paris, Monte Carlo and Philadelphia.

British baritone Christopher Maltman sings the role of Guglielmo. He made his debut at Covent Garden in the July 1997 Farewell Gala as Ned Keene (Peter Grimes) and returned as Sebastian in the world premiere of The Tempest in February 2004. He has previously appeared as Guglielmo with English National Opera. Recent operatic roles include Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) with English National Opera, Laurent (Thérèse Raquin) with San Diego Opera and Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) at Glyndebourne.

The young American tenor Charles Castronovo makes his Royal Opera debut as Ferrando, a role he has previously sung with L'Opéra de Monte Carlo, in Portland and in Santa Fe. He joined the Metropolitan Opera's Lindermann Young Artists Development Program and made his debut there in 1999 as Beppe (Pagliacci). Recent roles include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) in Vienna and Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore) in Berlin. He will return later in the Season to sing Alfredo in La traviata.

Thomas Allen reprises his performance of the wordly-wise Don Alfonso, the role he created in the original production in 1995. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in December 1971 as Donald (Billy Budd) and has subsequently sung over forty roles with the Company. His more recent roles include Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Morone (Palestrina), Beckmesser (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), the Music Master (Ariadne auf Naxos), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) and the title role in Sweeney Todd. He returns later in the Season to sing Poeta (Il turco in Italia).

FAUST
Charles Gounod 4, 7, 11, 15, 19, 21, 25, 28 October at 6.30pm Co-production with L' Opéra de Monte Carlo Sponsored (2004) by Coutts & Co

David McVicar's 2004 production of Gounod's Faust is given its first revival and will be directed by Lee Blakeley. Set designs are by Charles Edwards with costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, whose first work for The Royal Opera was Elektra in March 2003. Lighting is by Paule Constable and choreography by Michael Keegan Dolan.

Maurizio Benini returns to conduct this production. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in two concert performances of Un giorno di regno at the Royal Festival Hall in 1999. He has also conducted La sonnambula, Rigoletto, Luisa Miller and concert performances of Roberto Devereux at the Royal Opera House.

Making his debut in the role of Faust is Polish tenor Piotr Beczala. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House as the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier in April 2004. Recent roles include Rodolfo (La bohème) in Amsterdam, Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) in Hamburg and Lensky (Eugene Onegin) in both Paris and Zürich.

Marguerite will be sung by the Greek soprano Elena Kelessidi, making her debut in the role. Her previous roles with The Royal Opera include Violetta (La traviata), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), the Queen of Shemakha (The Golden Cockerel), Mimì (La bohème), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Amina (La sonnambula), Liù (Turandot) and Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann).

British bass John Tomlinson will sing Méphistophélès, a role he has performed in Santiago de Chile, with Opera North, English National Opera and most recently in Munich in 2000. He made his debut at Covent Garden in 1977 and has sung regularly with The Royal Opera for over 25 years. His more recent roles with the Company include Wotan (The Ring), The Green Knight (Gawain), Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Gurnemanz (Parsifal), Borromeo (Palestrina), Orest (Elektra), the title role in Boris Godunov and Boris Ismailov (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk).

Slovak baritone Dalibor Jenis will sing Valentin, a role he previously sang at the Opéra National de Paris in 2003. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 2000 as Marcello (La bohème) and returned in 2001 as Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and 2003 as Sharpless (Madama Butterfly).

Welsh mezzo-soprano Della Jones returns to the role of Marthe, the role she creates for the new production in June 2004. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1983 and her roles with the Company have included Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Marquise Metibea (Il viaggio a Reims), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro) and Ludmila (The Bartered Bride).

Making her third appearance with The Royal Opera, Swedish mezzo-soprano Katija Dragojevic sings the role of Siebel for the first time. She made her debut at Covent Garden in April 2003 as Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) and returned to the role in September 2003. Recent roles include Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) for Scottish Opera and Annio (La clemenza di Tito) for Welsh National Opera. Vilar Young Artist Matthew Rose returns to the role of Wagner.

LA FORZA DEL DESTINO – Production new to the Royal Opera House
Guiseppe Verdi Sponsored (2004) by The Jean Sainsbury Royal Opera House Fund 16 October, 6 November at 6pm / 18, 26, 29 October, 1, 3 November at 6.30pm

This production was conceived by Argentinian director and designer Hugo de Ana for Teatro alla Scala, Milan in February 1999. Having conducted the performances at La Scala, Riccardo Muti makes a welcome return to conduct this production at Covent Garden. He has previously conducted Aïda (1977), Macbeth (1981) and I Capuleti e i Montecchi (1984) at the Royal Opera House

After opening the Season in the title role of La Gioconda, Violeta Urmana now returns as Leonora. She first sang in La forza del destino in the mezzo-soprano role of of Preziosilla in 1996 at the Chorègies d'Orange, she now makes her debut in the role of Leonora. She will return to the role of Leonora in Munich in the 2005/6 season.

Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra makes his Royal Opera debut as Don Alvaro. He made his debut as Don Alvaro at La Scala Milan in this production and also sang the role on tour in Japan with La Scala. In addition, he has performed the role in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. His recent roles include Cavaradossi (Tosca) in Milan and Vienna, Manrico (Il trovatore) in Paris and Naples, and Radames (Aida) in Verona.

Don Carlos di Vargas will be sung by Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri, a newcomer to the Royal Opera House stage. He previously sang the role with La Scala in Japan in 2000 and also with the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 2001. He has also sung the role of Fra Melitone in La forza del destino at the Arena di Verona. Recent engagements have included the title roles of Nabucco in Verona, Simon Boccanegra in Turin, Rigoletto in Berlin and Falstaff in Munich.

Padre Guardiano will be performed by Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto who has previously sung the role in Vienna and Nice. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1995 as Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and has since sung the title role in Don Giovanni, Philip II (Don Carlos) at the Edinburgh Festival and most recently Count Walter (Luisa Miller) in 2003 for The Royal Opera.

Italian mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino returns to the role of Preziosilla which she created in the original production in 1999 and which she repeated on tour with La Scala in Japan. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 1994 in the role of Amneris (Aïda).

Italian baritone Roberto de Candia makes his Royal Opera debut singing the role of Fra Melitone. He has performed the role at La Scala and also on tour in Japan. Recent roles include Ping (Turandot) and Taddeo (L'italiana in Algeri) with La Scala and at the Metropolitan Opera, Belcore (L'elisir d'amore) and Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia) in Bologna, Marcello (La bohème) at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin.

British bass Brindley Sherratt sings the role of Marchese di Calatrava. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2001 as Plutone (L'anima del filosofo), returned in 2002 as Publio in La clemenza di Tito and most recently sang the role of Nikitich (Boris Godunov).

Peter Bronder sings the role of Mastro Trabuco. His recent roles with The Royal Opera include Pedrillo (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Shabby Peasant (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) and Innkeeper (Der Rosenkavalier).

Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Liora Grodnikaite, new to the Vilar Young Artists Programme, makes her Royal Opera House debut as Curra. British bass-baritone Jonathan May sings the role of Alcalde. La forza del destino was first performed at Covent Garden in 1931 and the last revival from the 1962 production was heard in 1975.

LA RONDINE
Giacomo Puccini 12, 15, 18, 20, 23, 26 November at 7.30pm Generously sponsored (2002) by Alberto Vilar

First presented by The Royal Opera at the Royal Albert Hall in concert in 1998, this will be the first revival of the 2002 Covent Garden production. Nicolas Joël directs this co-production with Toulouse, with sets by Ezio Frigerio and costumes by Franca Squarciapino.

Following his debut with The Royal Opera conducting Les Contes d'Hoffmann in 2000, French conductor Emmanuel Villaume returns to conduct all performances

Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returns to the role of Magda which she created in the original production. She also sang the role in 1998 for The Royal Opera in concert and has recorded the role with EMI. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1992 as Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and was most recently heard in the 2003/4 Season at Covent Garden as Amelia (Simon Boccanegra) and as Marguerite in the new production of Faust. Her many roles with the Company have included Mimì (La bohème), Liù (Turandot), Nina (Chérubin), Violetta (La traviata), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Adina (L'elisir d'amore) and Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann). She returns later in the Season to the role of Mimì (La bohème). She shares the role with American soprano Katie van Kooten, one of the Vilar Young Artists, who sings the role on 23 November.

German tenor Jonas Kaufmann makes his Royal Opera House and role debut as Ruggero. Recent roles have included Faust (La Damnation de Faust) in Geneva, Alfredo (La traviata) in Chicago, Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) in Salzburg and Cassio (Otello) in Paris. He has been heard in this country in recital at the Wigmore Hall and at the Edinburgh Festival.

Lisette is performed by Italian soprano Annamaria Dell'Oste, who is making her Royal Opera debut. Recent roles include Olympia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann) in Zürich, Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) in Rome, Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) in Barcelona and Geneva, and Adina (L'elisir d'amore) in Rome, Vienna and Bologna.

Prunier will be sung by Kurt Streit, a role debut for this American tenor. His previous roles for The Royal Opera include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Cassio (Otello), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Johnny Inkslinger (Paul Bunyan) and most recently Jupiter (Semele) in the 2002/3 Season.

Jacqueline Miura returns to the role of Bianca, which she sang in the original production in 2002, with Eirian James also returning to the role of Suzy.

Robert Lloyd sings the role of Rambaldo and Jonathan May sings the role of Périchaud. Vilar Young Artists James Edwards, Jared Holt and Victoria Nava sing the roles of Gobin, Crébillon and Yvette/Soprano Solo respectively.

DON PASQUALE – Production new to the Royal Opera House
Gaetano Donizetti 27 November, 11 December at 7pm / 30 November, 7, 9, 14, 17 December at 7.30pm / 4 December at 1pm

Donizetti's last comedy Don Pasquale returns to the Royal Opera House in a production by Jonathan Miller which first seen at the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 2001. Designs are by Isabella Bywater and lighting by Ivan Morandi. Having previously conducted both the 1990 and 1992 productions of Don Pasquale at Covent Garden, Bruno Campanella now returns to conduct this new production. He last conducted The Royal Opera in 2001 in I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

The role of Don Pasquale is sung by Sicilian bass-baritone Simone Alaimo. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1988 as Mustafa in L'italiana in Algeri and subsequent roles include Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Faraone (Mosè in Egitto) and Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola). He has previously sung the role of Don Pasquale in Los Angeles, Marseilles and most recently Baltimore.

Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez returns to Covent Garden to sing Ernesto, a role he has previously sung at the Wexford Festival in 1996. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1997 as Potoski in a concert performance of Donizetti's Elisabetta at the Royal Festival Hall. Subsequent roles for The Royal Opera include Elvino (La sonnambula), Rodrigo (Rossini's Otello) and Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola).

Moldavian soprano Tatiana Lisnic makes her debut with The Royal Opera in the role of Norina. She previously sang the role in Florence in 2001 and will also return to the role in 2005, when she makes her debut at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. In 2003 she became a guest with the Vienna State Opera, where her roles have included Adina (L'elisir d'amore), Suzanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi). Recent roles include Mimì (La bohème) in Brussels and Violetta (La traviata) in Strasbourg.

The role of Doctor Malatesta is sung by Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli, who returns to the role he created in the original production in Florence. He has also sung the role in Venice, Paris and Turin where he recorded the role with Bruno Campanella. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1989 as Taddeo in L'italiana in Algeri and returned to the role in 1993. Other roles for The Royal Opera include Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Dandini (La Cenerentola) and Michele (Elisabetta ) in concert.

DAS RHEINGOLD – New Production
Richard Wagner 18 December at 7pm / 21 December, 4, 7, 10 January at 7.30pm

Ring Cycle Production Sponsor (2004) The Dalriada Trust with additional support from the Ring Circle

A new Ring cycle will be heard for the first time in the new house, when the first two parts Das Rheingold and Die Walküre are staged this Season. Siegfried and Götterdämmerung will follow in the subsequent Season, culminating in the complete cycle being staged in October 2007.

British stage director Keith Warner will direct Der Ring des Nibelungen. His Royal Opera House debut was in 2002 when he directed Wozzeck, which won a Laurence Olivier Award for the Best New Opera Production. He is currently directing a Ring cycle at the New National Theatre, Tokyo. Other Wagnerian assignments which he has successfully staged include Lohengrin (Bayreuth Festival) Der fliegende Höllander (De Vlaamse Opera and Portland), Tannhäuser (New Sussex Opera) and Tristan und Isolde (Opera North and Bochum).

Born in Ethiopia of Greek parentage, Stefanos Lazaridis, who collaborated with Keith Warner on Wozzeck in 2002, designs the Ring Cycle. His previous designs for The Royal Opera include Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Idomeneo, and for The Royal Ballet El amor brujo and Knight Errant. He has worked with Keith Warner on a number of projects, including Lohengrin at Bayreuth. Romanian designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca will design the costumes. She previously worked with Keith Warner and Stefanos Lazaridis on Wozzeck and again with Stefanos Lazaridis on The Greek Passion. Recent projects include West Side Story (Bregenz) and Guillaume Tell (Paris).

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel makes his highly anticipated role debut as Wotan. He made his stage debut at Covent Garden in 1992 in Don Giovanni singing Masetto. Subsequent roles with The Royal Opera include Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Jokanaan (Salome), Balstrode (Peter Grimes) and the titles roles in Don Giovanni and Falstaff. He sings Méphistophélès in Faust, another role debut for him, in June 2004. Other Wagnerian roles in his repertoire include Wolfram in Tannhäuser and Donner in Das Rheingold. He has recorded a Wagner recital for Deutsche Grammophon.

Loge will be performed by British tenor Philip Langridge, a role he sang in the last production at the Royal Opera House in 1996 and in concert in 1998. He has also sung the role of Loge recently at the Metropolitan Opera and in Munich. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1983 as the Fisherman in Le Rossignol and returned later that year as Prince Shuisky (Boris Godunov) and Teapot (L'Enfant et les sortilèges). His roles at Covent Garden have included Laça (Jenùfa), the title roles in Peter Grimes, Idomeneo and Palestrina, Gustav von Aschenbach (Death in Venice), Jupiter (Semele) and most recently The King of Naples in the world premiere of The Tempest.

German bass-baritone Günter von Kannen sings Alberich, the role with which he made his international breakthrough in 1988 when he performed at the Bayreuth Festival under Barenboim. He returned to Bayreuth for their 'Millennium-Ring' in 2000 and also in 2001. He has also sung this role in Zürich, the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, Washington, Hamburg and Amsterdam. This is his Royal Opera House debut.

Mime will be sung by Gerhard Siegel. Since 1999, he has been a member of Nürnberg Opera where his many roles have included Mime, Walther von Stolzing (Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg), Mefistofele in Busoni's Faust, Florestan (Fidelio) and the title roles in Parsifal and Siegfried. He has recently performed Mime in Cologne and the New National Theatre, Tokyo. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, also in the role of Mime. This marks his Royal Opera House debut.

Rosalind Plowright, who made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 1980 as Ortlinde in the Ring, returns to sing the role of Fricka. Her soprano roles with The Royal Opera have included Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Leonora (Il trovatore), Desdemona (Otello), Senta (Der fliegende Holländer) and the title role in Médée. She returned recently to sing the role of the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd.

American mezzo-soprano Jane Henschel sings the role of Erda. She has previously sung the role in Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Bordeaux and in concert in Geneva and Mannheim. Her Royal Opera debut was in 1992 as the Nurse in Die Fräu ohne Schatten and she has subsequently returned as Madame Arvidson (Un ballo in maschera), Fricka (Die Walküre), Waltraute (Götterdämmerung), Klytemnestra (Elektra), Mrs. Grose (The Turn of the Screw), and most recently Gaea (Daphne) in concert in May 2002.

Froh will be sung by German tenor Will Hartmann, making his debut in the role. He made his Royal Opera debut as Da-Ud in Die ägyptische Helena in concert in 1998 and was seen in the title role in the 2000 production of Gawain. He subsequently moved into the tenor fach, and his current repertoire includes Alfredo (La traviata) and Rodolfo (La bohème). Recent roles at Covent Garden include Macduff (Macbeth) and Tamino (Die Zauberflöte).

German bass Franz-Josef Selig will sing Fasolt, a role he has previously sung in Essen. He made his Royal Opera House debut in 1991 in the role of Fafner (Das Rheingold and Siegfried). Other roles with The Royal Opera include Pope Pius IV in Palestrina on tour to New York in 1997 and Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte). His Wagnerian repertoire includes King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) in Florence and Dresden, Pogner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in Brussels, Gurnemanz (Parsifal) in Vienna and Berlin, Daland (Der fliegende Holländer) and Hermann (Tannhäuser) in Paris.

Fafner will be sung by Canadian bass Phillip Ens. He has previously sung the role in Stuttgart in 1999. He made his debut at Covent Garden in April 2003 as Wurm in Luisa Miller. Other Wagnerian roles in his repertory include Hunding (Die Walküre) in Stuttgart in 1999, Metropolitan Opera 2001, Chicago 2002 and Madrid 2003 and King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) in Stuttgart.

Donner, god of Thunder, will be sung by British bass-baritone James Rutherford. He previously sang the role of Kothner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in 2003 for The Royal Opera, following his debut in concert performances of Daphne in May 2002 as the First Shepherd. He will make his stage role debut as Donner in October 2004 with his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

American soprano Emily Magee sings the role of Freia. She made her debut in the role in 1997 at Bayreuth and has since sung the role in Berlin in 2002 and in Munich in January 2004. She made her Covent Garden debut performing the title role in Jenùfa in 2001. She came to international attention following her German debut as Elsa (Lohengrin) in Berlin. Her other Wagnerian roles include Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in Bayreuth, Vienna, Munich and Brussels, Gutrune (Götterdämmerung) in La Scala, Berlin and Munich.

The Rhinemaidens, Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde, are sung by Sarah Fox, Heather Shipp and Sarah Castle respectively. Sarah Fox made her debut at Covent Garden in the role of Frantik (The Cunning Little Vixen) in 2003. Recent roles include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. This will be Heather Shipp's debut at the Royal Opera House. Recent roles include Carmen for English Touring Opera and Nancy (Albert Herring) for Opera North and Tisbe (La Cenerentola) with Opera Zuid and Eleanor in Roxanna Panufnik's chamber opera The Music Programme (Linbury Theatre). Sarah Castle made her debut at the Royal Opera House as Tisbe (La Cenerentola) in 2001. Recent roles include Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) in Wellington, Oberto (Alcina) in San Francisco and Olga (Eugene Onegin) in Brussels. She will also sing the role of Flosshilde in Bayreuth in 2004.

Der Ring des Nibelungen was last performed at the Royal Opera House in 1996, directed by Richard Jones with designs by Nigel Lowery and conducted by Bernard Haitink. Further concert performances were given at the Royal Albert Hall and Symphony Hall, Birmingham in 1998, also conducted by Bernard Haitink.

TURANDOT
Giacomo Puccini 15, 22 January, 5 February at 7pm / 17, 20, 26 January, 1, 7 February at 7.30pm / 12 February at 12.30pm

Andrei Serban's performance of Puccini's Turandot, with designs by Sally Jacobs and lighting by F. Mitchell Dana, has remained one of the most popular in The Royal Opera repertory since its first staging in 1984.

Mark Elder will conduct all performances. He made his debut with The Royal Opera conducting Rigoletto in 1976 and has since conducted the Company in La bohème, Lohengrin, Arabella, Nabucco, Alzira, La Cenerentola, Attila and Simon Boccanegra.

The role of Turandot will be shared between American sopranos Andrea Gruber and Audrey Stottler. The first time Andrea Gruber performed the title role of Turandot was at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002 followed by her debut at the Opèra National de Paris in the same role. She also gave the Italian premiere of the Berio finale to Turandot in Genoa and has sung the role recently in La Scala. This is her first time back at the Royal Opera House since her debut as Aïda in 1996.

Audrey Stottler makes her Royal Opera House debut in the role of Turandot, a role that has become her signature role. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, in 2002 in the same role and has sung it throughout the world including in San Francisco, Santiago, Frankfurt, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tulsa Opera, a Maggio Musicale production under Metha in Japan, Naples, Vienna, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Florence and Seville.

Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine and Chinese tenor Yu Qiang Dai share the role of Calaf. Vladimir Galouzine made his Royal Opera debut in the 2001 Season as Cavaradossi (Tosca) and returned later that year to sing Gherman (The Queen of Spades). He was most recently heard at Covent Garden singing the role of Grigory Otrepiev (Boris Godunov) for one performance. He has previously performed the role of Calaf with the Metropolitan Opera and also in Paris, Houston, Madrid and Marseille. Yu Qiang Dai made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Cavaradossi (Tosca) in July 2004. He made his professional debut in 1990 at the National Opera House in China as Calaf and has also sung the role in Portland in 2003.

The role of Liù is sung by Korean soprano Hei-Kyung Hong making her Covent Garden debut. She has performed Liù at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala Milan, Paris, Verona, Rome and Los Angeles.

British bass Peter Rose sings the role of Timur, a role he has previously sung in Berlin in 2001. He made his debut at Covent Garden as Lord Rochefort (Anna Bolena) in 1988, and his many roles with The Royal Opera include Cadmus/Somnus (Semele), Ramfis (Aïda), Fasolt (Das Rheingold), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Crespel (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Colline (La bohème) and Commendatore (Don Giovanni). His most recent performance at the Royal Opera House was King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) in 2000.

Quentin Hayes returns to the role of Ping, which he sang in 2001 and 2002. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 2000 in the role of Agravain (Gawain) and his recent roles for the Company include Hermann (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Prince Yamadori (Madama Butterfly), Schaunard (La bohème) and Larry Landau (Sophie's Choice).

Pang is sung by Andrew Kennedy in his debut in the role. His roles for The Royal Opera during his first year on the Vilar Young Artist Programme include Normanno (Lucia di Lammermoor) and Nathanaël (Les Contes d'Hoffmann). The role of Pong is sung by another Vilar Young Artist, James Edwards, again making his debut in the role. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 2002 as an Apprentice (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)

Francis Egerton returns to the role of Emperor Altoum, which he last sang at the Royal Opera House in 2002. He has sung with The Royal Opera for over 30 consecutive Seasons. His many roles include Nick (La fanciulla del West), four tenor roles (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Pong (Turandot), Bardolfo (Falstaff) and Sam Sharkey (Paul Bunyan).

Eddie Wade returns to the role of Mandarin, the role with which he made his Royal Opera House debut 2002.

LA TRAVIATA
Giuseppe Verdi 29 January at 6.30pm / 31 January, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15 February at 7pm / 19 February at 1pm / 19 February at 7.30pm

Verdi's La traviata returns to the Royal Opera House in Richard Eyre's acclaimed production which opened in 1994. Designs are by Bob Crowley with lighting by Jean Kalman. Jane Gibson is the Director of Movement.

Maurizio Benini will make his second visit of the Season to conduct this opera, the first being Faust in November 2004. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in two concert performances of Un giorno di regno at the Royal Festival Hall in 1999. He has also conducted La sonnambula, Rigoletto, Luisa Miller and concert performances of Roberto Devereux at the Royal Opera House.

German soprano Alexandra von der Weth makes a welcome return to the Royal Opera House stage to share the role of Violetta with French soprano Norah Amsellem. Alexandra von der Weth made her debut with The Royal Opera as Manon Lescaut in Henze's Boulevard Solitude in 2001 and returned in 2002 in concert performances of Strauss' Daphne. She has previously sung the role of Violetta in Düsseldorf and in Chicago. Norah Amsellem makes her Royal Opera debut as Violetta. A former member of the Metropolitan Young Artist Development Program,

Norah Amsellem has previously sung the role of Violetta in Madrid and Berlin. She made her UK debut at Glyndebourne in 1997 as the Countess (Le nozze di Figaro). Recent roles include include Mimì (La bohème) and Manon in Naples, Juliette (Roméo et Juliette) in Vienna and Micaëla (Carmen) at the Chorègies d'Orange.

The role of Alfredo Germont will be shared by Charles Castronovo and Joseph Calleja. This is Charles Castronovo's second role of the Season following his debut at the Royal Opera House as Ferrando in Così fan tutte. He has sung Alfredo for Minnesota Opera and in Athens. He is scheduled to sing the role in Berlin in 2005 and will make his Italian debut in the role in Genova. Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja returns to the role of Alfredo, which he sang at the Royal Opera House in 2003. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in October 2002 as the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto). He has also sung the role of Alfredo in Malta and Strasbourg.

Giorgio Germont will be shared between Canadian baritone Gerald Finley and British baritone Anthony Michaels-Moore. Gerald Finley makes his role debut as Giorgio Germont. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1989 as a Flemish Deputy (Don Carlo) and his roles with the Company have included Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Achilla (Guilio Cesare), Pilgrim (The Pilgrim's Progress), Creonte (L'anima del filosofo), Gamekeeper (The Cunning Little Vixen) and the title role of Don Giovanni. Anthony Michaels-Moore has previously performed Germont with Opera North, the Metropolitan Opera and in Japan. He made his Royal Opera debut in 1987 and recent roles with the Company include Ezio (Attila), Scarpia (Tosca), the title role in Macbeth, Ford (Falstaff) and most recently Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor).

Former Vilar Young Artist Darren Jeffrey returns to the role of Baron Douphol, which he performed for The Royal Opera in 2002. He shares the role with Eddie Wade who sings three performances.

Also returning to their roles are Company Principal Graeme Broadbent, who sang the role of Doctor Grenvil in the last three revivals and whose recent roles with the Company include Timur (Turandot), Count Ceprano (Rigoletto), King Marke (Tristan und Isolde) and Nightwatchman (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Company Principal Jeremy White, who last sang the role of Marquis D'Obigny in 2001 and Gillian Knight, who sang the role of Annina in the original 1994 production and in subsequent revivals.

Vilar Young Artist Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Liora Grodnikaite takes her second role of the Season as Flora Bervoix. The role of Gastone de Letorières is shared between Vilar Young Artists Robert Murray in his Royal Opera House debut and James Edwards.

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 14, 16, 21, 23, 28 February, 3, 4 March at 7.30pm / 26 February at 7pm Supported (2003) by The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund

David McVicar's 2003 production of Die Zauberflöte returns for its second revival. Designs are by John Macfarlane, lighting by Paule Constable and choreography by Leah Hausmann. Charles Mackerras will conduct this opera for his second visit of the Season (the first being The Greek Passion).

Will Hartmann returns for his second role of the Season, that of Tamino which he created in the original production in January 2003. He has sung the role of Tamino several times with Hanover State Opera and also in Vienna. His first role of the Season is Froh (Das Rheingold).

Making her role debut as Pamina is Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1997 in a concert performance of The Pilgrim's Progress at the Barbican Hall and returned as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) in 1998. Her other roles for The Royal Opera include Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Nannetta (Falstaff) and most recently Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

British baritone Simon Keenlyside will reprise the role of Papageno for which he received a Laurence Olivier nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera in 2003. He has previously sung the role at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, in Paris, Vienna and Salzburg. He made his debut at Covent Garden as Silvio in Pagliacci in 1989. His subsequent roles for The Royal Opera include the title roles in Don Giovanni and Billy Budd, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Ping (Turandot), Marcello (La bohème), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and the title role in Hamlet. He was seen most recently in the world premiere of The Tempest, creating the character of Prospero and also in the new production of Faust, when he sang Valentin.

The formidable role of Queen of the Night is double cast. Finnish soprano Anna-Kristiina Kaappola makes her debut at the Royal Opera House in the role. She has been a soloist with the Finnish National Opera since 1997 where her roles have included Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Gilda (Rigoletto), Adèle (Die Fledermaus) and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette). She has previously sung Queen of the Night in Savonlinna, Frankfurt and in Latvia. Returning to the role is German soprano Diana Damrau who made her Covent Garden debut in the role in 2002. She has been a member of the Nationaltheater Mannheim since 1998 where she has sung numerous lyric and coloratura roles, including the Queen of the Night, a role she has now sung over 20 times including in Salzburg.

German-born bass Jan-Hendrik Rootering sings Sarastro, the role in which he made his Royal Opera debut in 1985 and repeated the following Season. He last performed at Covent Garden as Hans Sachs (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in 2002. He has previously sung the role of Sarastro in Munich.

American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen makes his debut at the Royal Opera House in the role of Sprecher. He will also sing this role for Washington Opera in April 2005. Recent and current roles include Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) for New York City Opera, Escamillo (Carmen) in St Louis and Washington and Masetto (Don Giovanni) in Chicago.

Gillian Webster returns to the role of First Lady, which she sang in the original production. She has also sung the role in Bordeaux, Geneva, Aix-en-Provence, at the Chorègies d'Orange and at the Opéra Bastille, Paris. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1988 and recent roles include Wellgunde (Das Rheingold/Götterdämmerung) and Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro). Clarissa Meek returns to the role of Second Lady, having sung the role in the first revival in June 2003. She made her Royal Opera House debut in 2001 as Second Esquire in Parsifal. Also returning to her role from the original production is Yvonne Howard, who sings Third Lady. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1991 as Mercédès (Carmen) and subsequent roles have included Ludmila (The Bartered Bride), Berta (Il barbiere di siviglia) and Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro).

The role of Monostatos is shared between John Graham-Hall and Adrian Thompson who returns to the role from the original production. John Graham-Hall was most recently heard at the Royal Opera House in the role of Dancing Master (Ariadne auf Naxos) in 2002 and has previously sung the role of Monostatos at English National Opera.

The two priests are sung by Vilar Young Artists Matthew Rose and Robert Murray

Alan Oke returns to the role of First Man in Armour. He made his Covent Garden debut singing the role of the Jester in Maxwell Davies's Taverner in 1983. Graeme Broadbent and Graeme Danby share the role of Second Armoured Man.

DIE WALKÜRE – New Production
Richard Wagner 5, 12, 28 March at 4pm / 9, 15, 19, 22 March at 5pm Ring Cycle Production Sponsor (2004) The Dalriada Trust with additional support from the Ring Circle

The second part of the Ring Cycle Die Walküre is heard in the same Season as Das Rheingold. Returning to their roles are Bryn Terfel as Wotan and Rosalind Plowright as Fricka. Bryn Terfel made his stage debut at Covent Garden in 1992 in Don Giovanni singing Masetto. Subsequent roles with The Royal Opera include Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Jokanaan (Salome), Balstrode (Peter Grimes), the titles roles in Don Giovanni and Falstaff and Méphistophélès in Faust. Rosalind Plowright made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 1980 as Ortlinde in the Ring. Her soprano roles with The Royal Opera have included Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Leonora (Il trovatore), Desdemona (Otello), Senta (Der fliegende Holländer) and the title role in Médée. She returned recently to sing the role of the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd.

The role of Brünnhilde will be sung by Australian soprano Lisa Gasteen. After making her debut at Covent Garden singing Isolde (Tristan und Isolde) in 2002, she returned to sing the title role in Elektra in 2003. She made her role debut as Brünnhilde in Siegfried in Stuttgart and sang her first complete Ring cycle in 2001 in Meiningen. She sings the role of Sieglinde (Die Walküre) at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in April/May 2004.

Katarina Dalayman will sing Sieglinde. The Swedish soprano made her debut at Covent Garden as Judith in Duke Bluebeard's Castle in March 2002 and returned as Marie in Wozzeck later that year. Her Wagner repertoire includes Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde) in New York, Kundry (Parsifal) in Paris, Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) in Munich and she will sing the complete role of Brünnhilde in the new Ring to be produced in Stockholm in 2006. She is also scheduled to sing the role of Sieglinde with the Metropolitan Opera, New York and also in Dresden.

Siegmund will be sung by Finnish tenor Jorma Silvasti. He made his Royal Opera debut in 1998 as Jeník in The Bartered Bride and subsequently sang Manolios in The Greek Passion, Laca in Jenùfa and Rudolph Franz Höss in the world premeire of Sophie's Choice in 2002. He has sung Siegmund (Die Walküre) in concert in 2004 at Lyon. His Wagnerian repertoire includes Loge (Das Rheingold) in Berlin, Helsinki and Bayreuth, Erik (Der fliegende Holländer) and Walther von Stolzing (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in Toulouse.

Danish bass Stephen Milling makes his Royal Opera debut in the role of Hunding. A member of the Royal Danish Opera, he has previously sung the role in Seattle and Copenhagen and will sing the role at the Metropolitan Opera in September 2005.

The rest of the Valkyries are cast as follows: Gerhilde is sung by Geraldine McGreery, who made her Royal Opera debut as a Flowermaiden (Parsifal) in 2001. Waltraute is sung by Claire Powell who made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1980. More recent roles with the Company have included Auntie (Peter Grimes) and Margret (Wozzeck). Clare Shearer sings Grimgerde. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 1994 as Siegrune (Die Walküre), a role she repeated in 1996. Sarah Castle sings Siegrune, having sung Flosshilde in Das Rheingold earlier in the Season. Elizabeth Sikora sings Rossweisse. Her many roles with The Royal Opera include Yetta Zimmerman (Sophie's Choice), Giovanna (Rigoletto) and Masha (The Queen of Spades).

New to the Royal Opera House are Rebecca de Pont Davies (Schwertleite), Elaine McKrill (Ortlinde) and Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin (Helmwige). British mezzo-soprano Rebecca de Pont Davies made her debut at English National Opera in 1998 as Emilia (Otello) and her many roles there have included Flosshilde (Das Rheingold) and Ofglen (The Handmaid's Tale). She has previously sung the role of Schwertleite at the BBC Proms under Donald Runnicles. Elaine McKrill was heard recently as Gutrune (Götterdämmerung) for Scottish Opera. Iréne Theorin has previously sung the role of Helmwige at Bayreuth in 2003 and recently sang the role of Sieglinde (Die Walküre) in Copenhagen.

MADAMA BUTTERFLY
Giacomo Puccini 21, 24, 29, 31 March, 4, 8, 11, 14, 26, 29 April, 2 May at 7.30pm / 23 April at 7pm Sponsored (2003) by The Dalriada Trust Co-production with Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona (2003/4)

Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, originally seen in March 2003, returns for its second revival with two casts. Israeli conductor and current Orchestra Director of Verona Daniel Oren conducts the first cast performances. He has previously conducted La bohème and Tosca at the Royal Opera House. French conductor Philippe Auguin, who previously conducted Madama Butterfly in September 2003, conducts the second cast performances. He has also conducted La traviata, Un ballo in maschera, Tosca and La bohème at Covent Garden. He is currently Music Director of Nuremberg Opera.

Chilean soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domas reprises the role of Cio-Cio San which she sang in the new production of Madama Butterfly in March 2003 and for which she received a Laurence Oliver Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. She made her debut in the role at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile in 1990 and has since sung the role at the Teatro Comunale, Bologna and the Los Angeles Opera. She made her debut with The Royal Opera as Liù in Turandot in 2001 and returned to sing Mimì (La bohème).

Sharing the title role with Cristina Gallardo-Domas is Russian soprano Marina Mescheriakova. She has previously sung Cio-Cio San with the Canadian Opera, Dresden Semperoper and the Vienna Staatsoper. She made her Royal Opera debut in 1999 as the soprano soloist in Britten's War Requiem performed at the Barbican Hall and Le Théâtre du Chatélèt, Paris.

Italian tenor Marco Berti returns to the Royal Opera House as Pinkerton, a role he sang in the original production as well as the first revival. He made his professional debut in Cosenza as Pinkerton and also sang Pinkerton at the Metropolitan Opera last Season as well as in Vienna and Florence. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Adorno in Simon Boccanegra in 2002 and was seen most recently as Manrico in Il trovatore.

Suzuki will be sung by Christine Rice. She made her Royal Opera debut in 1998 as Flora (La traviata) at the Royal Albert Hall and returned for concert performances of La rondine where she sang Susi/Lolette. In 2003 she sang the Second Lady in the new production of Die Zauberflöte. In 2004 she sang Miranda (The Tempest), Sonyetka (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), the title role in The Rape of Lucretia and Dryad (Ariadne auf Naxos). She will return later this Season as Emilia in Otello.

Also singing Suzuki is American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Novacek in her Royal Opera debut She first performed Suzuki with the Houston Grand Opera while she was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. She is noted for her performances in contemporary opera as Jo in Mark Adamo's Little Women and she also created the role of Maria Callas in Michael Daugherty's Jackie O. Recent roles include Anne in Virgil Thomson's Mother of Us All in San Francisco and Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea in Toronto. She made her film debut in 2001 as Dinah in the BBC Wales production of Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.

Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic will be making his Royal Opera debut as Sharpless. He has previously sung the role in Dresden and in Frankfurt, where he has been a regular member of the company for the past three seasons. Recent roles include Count di Luna (Il trovatore) in Paris, Germont (La traviata) in Luxembourg, Marcello (La bohème) with De Nederlandse Opera and Ernesto (Il Pirata) with De Vlaamse Opera.

Thomas Allen will also be performing Sharpless, a role he sang with the Company in last Season's revival and previous to that in 1989. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1971 and his more recent roles with the Company include Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Morone (Palestrina), Beckmesser (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) and Music Master (Ariadne auf Naxos). In addition to Sharpless last Season, he also performed the title role in Sweeney Todd. This is his second appearance this Season, earlier assuming the role of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and later he will be seen in Il turco in Italia.

The role of Goro will be shared between Alasdair Elliott and Martyn Hill. Alasdair Elliott made his Royal Opera debut as Ruodi (Guillaume Tell) in 1990. Recent roles with the Company include Andonis (The Greek Passion), Emperor Altoum (Turandot), Andres (Wozzeck) and Vogelgesang (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). Martyn Hill made his Covent Garden debut as Pong (Turandot) in 2002 and returned to sing Moser (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg).

The role of Bonze is shared between Company Principal Jeremy White and former Vilar Young Artist Darren Jeffery who sang the role in 2003. Jeremy White made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1991 and has appeared every Season since that date. His many roles have included Sacristan (Tosca), Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos), Mícha and Kecal (The Bartered Bride) and Surin (The Queen of Spades).

The role of Kate Pinkerton will be shared between Vilar Young Artists Katie Van Kooten and Liora Grodnikaite.

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA – New Production
Giuseppe Verdi 12, 15, 18, 21, 25 April at 7pm / 30 April at 6.30pm Sponsored (2005) by Lehman Brothers

Music Director Antonio Pappano conducts his fourth staging of the Season, a new production by Italian theatre and film director Mario Martone working at Covent Garden for the first time. He has been director of the Teatro di Rome since 1999 and his film work includes Lulu, Death of a Neopolitan Mathematician, L'amore molesto and Theatro di guerra. Sergio Tramonti designs the sets and Bruno Schwengl the costumes.

In his second appearance of the Season, Argentinian tenor Marcelo Alvarez makes his role debut as Gustavus III. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Alfredo at the Royal Albert Hall in 1998 and repeated the role for The Royal Opera in Baden-Baden in the same year. He has since sung the title role in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), Rodolfo (Luisa Miller), Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor). His first role of the Season was the title role in Werther.

Finnish soprano Karita Mattila makes her role debut as Amelia. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1986 as Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte) and subsequent roles with the Company have included Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Elisabeth de Valois (Don Carlos), Elsa (Lohengrin), Chrysothemis (Elektra), Lisa (The Queen of Spades) and the title roles in Jenùfa and Arabella.

American baritone Thomas Hampson will make his role debut as Anckarstroem. His association with the Royal Opera House began in 1993 when he made his debut here as Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), returning for Marcello (La bohème), Rodrigo (Don Carlos), the German Soldier in concert performances of Britten's War Requiem, Amfortas (Parsifal) and Mandryka in Arabella. (June 2004).

Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling will sing the role of Oscar for the first time. Her debut at Covent Garden was as Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) in 2000 and she returned in 2003 for Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Dorinda (Orlando). Recent roles include Mélisande (Pelleas et Mélisande) in Gothenburg and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in Stockholm.

Verdi has featured prominently in the career of Italian mezzo soprano Elisabetta Fiorillo with her repertoire encompassing Eboli (Don Carlos), Amneris (Aida), Fenena (Nabucco), Preziosilla (La forza del destino) and Azucena (Il trovatore). She makes her Royal Opera debut as Madame Arvidson, a role which has taken her to the Bregenz Festival, Lisbon, Barcelona, Hamburg, Munich, Parma and Turin.

Italian bass Giovan Battista Parodi sings Count Ribbing. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 2001 as Count Monterone (Rigoletto). The rest of the cast includes Vilar Young Artists Matthew Rose as Count Horn, Jared Holt as Christian and Andrew Kennedy as Minister of Justice.

Un ballo in maschera was last heard at the Royal Opera House in 1995 in the 1974 Otto Schenk production with designs by Jürgen Rose.

1984 – World Premiere
Lorin Maazel 3, 6, 11, 16, 19 May at 7.30pm / 14 May at 7pm

Paris-born, American conductor Lorin Maazel, current Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducts the world premiere of his first opera, based on George Orwell's book 1984. He previously conducted Luisa Miller for The Royal Opera in 1978.

The libretto is by J. D. McClatchy and Thomas Meehan. J. D. McClatchy has previously written four opera libretti, most recently Emmeline, commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera. Thomas Meehan's many awards include the 2003 Tony Award for Hairspray and the 2001 Tony Award for co-writing the book for The Producers.

Canadian theatre and film director Robert Lepage makes his Royal Opera House debut directing 1984. His many award-winning productions and films include Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung (Edinburgh), Needles and Opium, Confessional, and Possible Worlds. Set designs are by Carl Fillion.

British baritone Simon Keenlyside creates the role of Winston, his second premiere at Covent Garden in as many years, having created the role of Prospero for the world premiere of The Tempest. He performed earlier this Season as Papageno (Die Zauberflöte). He made his debut at Covent Garden as Silvio (Pagliacci) in 1989. Subsequent roles for the Company include the title roles in Don Giovanni and Billy Budd, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Ping (Turandot), Marcello (La bohème), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and the title role in Hamlet.

American soprano Nancy Gustafson sings Julia. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1988 as Freia (Das Rheingold) and subsequent roles have included Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Musetta (La bohème), the title roles in Kát'a Kabanová and Jenùfa and Arabella (May 2004).

Canadian tenor Richard Margison creates the role of O'Brien. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1992 as Cavaradossi (Tosca). Subsequent roles for The Royal Opera have included Don Jose (Carmen), Calaf (Turandot), Méphistophélès (Faust) in concert and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in 2004.

Making his Royal Opera House debut as Symes is the young American tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Recent roles include Lindoro (I'italiana in Algeri) at La Scala, Ernesto (Don Pasquale) in Seattle, Belfiore (Il viaggio a Reims) in Genoa, the title role in Le Comte Ory in Bologna, Tonio (La Fille du régiment) in Cincinnati and Atar (Axur, ré d'Ormus) in Zürich.

German soprano Diana Damrau takes two roles as Gym Teacher and Old Hag. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House as Queen of the Night in the 2003 production of Die Zauberflöte. She sang in two productions during the 2003/4 Season – first Fiakermilli (Arabella) and later Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos). She created the role of Die kleine Frau in the 2002 premiere of Friedrich Cerha's Der Riese von Steinfeld at the Vienna Staatsoper.

Jeremy White takes the role of Parsons. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1991 and has appeared every Season since that date. His many roles have included Sacristan (Tosca), Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos), Mícha and Kecal (The Bartered Bride) and Surin (The Queen of Spades). He appears earlier in the Season as Bonze (Madama Butterfly).

Graeme Danby takes the role of Charrington. He made his Royal Opera House debut in 2001 as Marquis d'Obigny (La traviata) and returned to the role in the 2003/3 Season. Mary Lloyd Davies sings the Washerwoman.

Il TURCO IN ITALIA – New Production
Gioachino Rossini 23 28 May, 11 June at 7pm / 31 May, 3, 6, 9, 15 June at 7.30pm

For the first time in the Royal Opera House's history, Il turco in Italia will come to the stage. Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser return to the Royal Opera House to direct this new production. Set designs are by Christian Fenouillat, costume designs by Agostino Cavalca and lighting by Christophe Forey. Other productions which this team have directed for Covent Garden include La Cenerentola, Hamlet and Madama Butterfly.

Hungarian conductor Adam Fischer, currently Music Director of Mannheim Opera, returns to conduct this Royal Opera premiere. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1989 conducting Die Fledermaus. He has worked previously with Cecilia Bartoli in La Cenerentola in Zürich and Munich.

Following her Royal Opera debut in 2001 as Euridice/Genio in Haydn's L'anima del filosofo, Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli returns to the Royal Opera House to sing Fiorilla. She has previously performed the role at the Zürich Opera House and recorded the role under Chailly for Decca.

Making his role debut as Selim the Turk is Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D'Arcangelo. He made his debut at The Royal Opera in 1996 as Colline in La bohème and returned in 2002 as Leporello in Don Giovanni. Recent roles include Leporello (Don Giovanni) and Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) in Vienna and Dulcamara (L'elisir d'amore) in Genoa.

Don Geronio will be sung by Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli, his second role of the Season, following Dottore Malatesta in Don Pasquale. He has performed the role at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and Geneva and has recorded the role with Cecilia Bartoli on Decca. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1989 as Taddeo in L'italiana in Algeri and returned in the same role in 1993. Other roles for The Royal Opera include Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Dandini (La Cenerentola) and Michele (Elisabetta) in concert.

In his third performance of the Season, Thomas Allen assumes the role of Prosdocimo, a debut in the role at the Royal Opera House. He has previously sung the role with English National Opera. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in December 1971 as Donald (Billy Budd) and has subsequently sung over forty roles with the Company. His more recent roles include Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Morone (Palestrina), Beckmesser (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), the Music Master (Ariadne auf Naxos), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) and the title role in Sweeney Todd.

Barry Banks sings the role of Don Narciso. His most recent role at the Royal Opera House was Brighella (Ariadne auf Naxos). Heather Shipp returns for her second role of the Season as Zaida, having sung Wellgunde in Das Rheingold. Vilar Young Artist James Edwards sings the role of Albazar.

RIGOLETTO
Giuseppe Verdi 10, 13, 16, 21, 23 June, 6, 9, 13 July at 7.30pm / 18 June at 12.30pm / 25 June at 7pm Sponsored (2001) by The Jean Sainsbury Royal Opera House Fund and The Friends of Covent Garden

David McVicar's production of Rigoletto, which opened in September 2001, returns for ten performances with two casts. Set designs are by Michael Vale, costume designs by Tanya McCallin, lighting by Paule Constable and choreography by Leah Hausman. Renowned Verdi conductor Edward Downes returns to Covent Garden. He has conducted at Covent Garden for over 50 years and most recently conducted Il trovatore and I masnadieri for The Royal Opera.

Italian baritone Paolo Gavanelli returns to the Royal Opera House to the title role he created in the original production in 2001. He made his debut in 1997 as Iago in Otello and has returned to sing the title role in Simon Boccanegra, Giorgio Germont (La traviata), and the title role in Falstaff. He has previously sung the role for the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna Staatsoper well as in San Francisco and Verona.

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky will share the role of Rigoletto. He has previously sung the role in Moscow, Savonlinna and Houston. He made his debut at Covent Garden in 1992 as Riccardo in I puritani and has since sung Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Eugene Onegin, Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Prince Yeletsky (The Queen of Spades) as well as Count di Luna (Il trovatore), Francesco (I masnadieri) and Silvio (Pagliacci).

The role of Rigoletto's daughter Gilda will be shared by two Russian sopranos: Anna Netrebko and Ekaterina Siurina. Anna Netrebko made her debut with The Royal Opera as Servilia (La clemenza di Tito) in September 2002 and her debut at Covent Garden with the Kirov Opera as Natasha in War and Peace in July 2000. She last performed with the Company as Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) in 2003. She has previously sung Gilda with Washington Opera.

Ekaterina Siurina made her debut at the Royal Opera House as Olympia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann) in 2004. She has been a soloist with Novaja Opera since 2000, and has previously sung the role of Gilda with Novaja Opera at the Savonlinna Festival (together with Dmitri Hvorostovsky).

Polish tenor Piotr Beczala will sing the role of the Duke of Mantua in the June performances. He has performed this role on several occasions, including the Hamburg State Opera, Zurich Opera House, Deutsche Oper Berlin and in Budapest. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 2004 as the Italian Tenor (Der Rosenkavalier) and sang the title role of Faust earlier in the Season.

After his highly successful debut last Season in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón now returns to sing the Duke of Mantua for the three July performances. He has performed the role in two performances in Mexico in 1999. He made his European debut in Genoa in 1999 as Des Grieux (Manon) and sang the role of Rodolfo (La bohème) at La Monnaie in 2002, conducted by Antonio Pappano. He made his debut in the UK in 2003 as Rodolfo (La bohème) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Alfredo (La traviata), also in 2003.

American bass Eric Halfvarson will return to sing the role of Sparafucile which he has performed in both the previous Rigoletto revivals. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Claggart in Billy Budd in 2000 and his other roles for the Company include Moser (I masnadieri) and Doctor (Wozzeck). He was seen at the beginning of the Season in La Gioconda and he returns to sing the role of Hunding (Die Walküre) in July 2005.

Making her Royal Opera debut in the role of Maddalena is Russian mezzo-soprano Marina Domashenko. She has also performed this role at the Metropolitan Opera. Since making her European debut in 1998 in Prague as Olga (Eugene Onegin), her roles have included Fenena 25 (Nabucco) at the Metropolitan Opera, Carmen in San Diego and Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and Pauline (The Queen of Spades) in Paris.

Hungarian mezzo-soprano Viktoria Vizin will sing Maddalena for three performances. She has previously performed the role at the Arena di Verona and in Budapest. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 2000 as Flora in La traviata and returned in 2001 for Paulina in The Queen of Spades.

Also returning to their roles are Company Principal Graeme Broadbent who sings Count Ceprano, Elizabeth Sikora as Giovanna and sharing the role of Monterone, former Vilar Young Artist Darren Jeffery and Giovan Battista Parodi.

Vilar Artist Robert Murray sings the role of Borsa and Vilar Artist Jared Holt sings the role of Marullo.

LA BOHÈME
Giacomo Puccini 17, 20, 24, 27, 30 June at 7.30pm / 2 July at 7pm Sponsored (1974) by The Linbury Trust and The Friends of Covent Garden

John Copley's classic 1974 production of Puccini's much-loved opera La bohème, with designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and lighting by John Charlton (after William Bundy), returns to Covent Garden for a run of six performances.

Mark Elder, currently Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra, returns to Covent Garden to conduct all performances. He made his debut with The Royal Opera conducting Rigoletto in the 1976 and has since conducted La bohème, Lohengrin, Arabella, Nabucco, Alzira, La Cenerentola, Attila and Simon Boccanegra. He conducted performances of Turandot earlier in the Season.

After her performances earlier in the Season as Magda in La rondine, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu returns to sing Mimì, a role she sang in 1992, her debut Season. She has sung the role many times, including at the Metropolitan Opera, in Berlin and Paris. Her many other roles with The Royal Opera include Liù (Turandot), Nina (Chérubin), Violetta (La traviata), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Adina (L'elisir d'amore), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), Amelia (Simon Boccanegra) and Marguerite (Faust.)

Sharing the role of Mimì is Chinese soprano Li Ping Zhang. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House as Liù (Turandot) in 2002 and returned in 2003 to sing Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly) and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor). She has previously sung the role of Mimì for New York City Opera, for Norwegian Opera and also in Hong Kong.

Following his debut at the Royal Opera House as Cavaradossi in Tosca in 2004, Chinese tenor Yu Qiang Dai now sings Rodolfo. He has previously sung this role at the National Opera House in China. This is his second appearance this Season, his first being Calaf in Turandot. The role of Marcello is sung by Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, making his Royal Opera debut. He has sung the role previously for the Metropolitan Opera, for his debut at San Francisco Opera, for Michigan Opera, and De Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and Ghent. Recent roles include Silvio (Pagliacci), Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) at Glyndebourne and in Florence, Malatesta (Don Pasquale) in Seattle and the title role in Don Giovanni in Warsaw.

Musetta will be sung by the Italian-American soprano Angela Maria Blasi. She made her debut with The Royal Opera as Pamina in 1985 and returned in the same role in 1987. She has sung Musetta with the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna Staatsoper and the Metropolitan Opera and has recorded the role on Erato under James Conlon.

Australian baritone Grant Doyle, a former Vilar Young Artist, returns to Covent Garden to sing Schaunard. He was recently heard in the role of Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) for The Royal Opera. His roles with The Royal Opera whilst on the Vilar Young Artist Programme included the Steersman (Tristan und Isolde), Crèbillon (La rondine), Marullo (Rigoletto), Rolla (I masnadieri), Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) and Huntsman (Rusalka in concert). He was recently heard as Marcello (La bohème) at the Royal Albert Hall directed by Francesca Zambello and sings Schaunard (La bohème) for Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Autumn 2004.

New Zealand born Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu sings Colline. He made his professional operatic debut in this role for the National Opera of Wellington, New Zealand. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Zoroastro in Orlando in 2003. Recent roles include Don Basilio (The Barber of Seville) at English National Opera, Leporello (Don Giovanni) with Opera Australia, Neptune (Idomeneo) at Glyndebourne and the Ghost of Samuel (Saul) in Munich. He returns to Glyndebourne in 2004 to sing Papageno (Die Zauberflöte)

Company Principal Jeremy White sings the role of Benôit which he last sang with The Royal Opera in 1993. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 1991 and has appeared every Season since that date. His many roles have included Sacristan (Tosca), Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos), Mícha and Kecal (The Bartered Bride) and Surin (The Queen of Spades). He appears earlier in the Season as Bonze (Madama Butterfly) and Parsons (1984).

Ryland Davies also returns to the role of Alcindoro which he last sang in 2002 and in 2000. He made his debut at Covent Garden 35 years ago in Les Troyens.

OTELLO
Giuseppe Verdi 28 June, 1, 4 7 July at 7.30pm / 10 July at 3pm / 16 July at 7pm Supported by Mr and Mrs Jean Peters (Benefactors' Circle (2005)

Antonio Pappano conducts Otello for the first time at Covent Garden in Elijah Moshinsky's 1987 production. The production has been revived ten times since its original performances. Set Designs are by Timothy O'Brien with Costume Designs by Peter J. Hall and lighting by Robert Bryan. Choreography is by Eleanor Fazan and the Fight Director is William Hobbs.

Otello will be sung by Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, the first time Covent Garden audiences will hear him in the role. He first performed Otello in concert with the Munich Philharmonic under James Levine and in staged performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2001. He made his debut at Covent Garden in 1990 as Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg and subsequently returned in the title role in Peter Grimes in 1995 and July 2004.

American soprano Renée Fleming sings the role of Desdemona for the first time outside the United States. In 1989 she made her Royal Opera debut as Dirce (Médée) and she has since returned to sing the Comtesse de Folleville (Il viaggio a Reims), Amelia (Simon Boccanegra), the Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) and most recently the title role in Rusalka in concert performances 27 in 2003. She has previously sung the role of Desdemona at the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Italian baritone Lucio Gallo sings Iago, a role he first sang at the Lyric Opera of Chicago opposite Ben Heppner in 2001 and later in Berlin (Staatsoper Unter den Linden). He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1992 as Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and he has returned as Leporello (Don Giovanni), Dandini (La Cenerentola) and Sharpless (Madama Butterfly).

British tenor Paul Charles Clarke will sing Cassio, a role he has previously performed with the Metropolitan Opera. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Froh in Das Rheingold in 1994 and subsequent roles include Tybalt (Roméo and Juliette), Alfredo (La traviata) and Cassio (Otello) in 1995. His most recent performance with the Company was as Jeník in The Bartered Bride in 2001.

Christine Rice sings the role of Emilia. She made her Royal Opera debut in 1998 as Flora (La traviata) at the Royal Albert Hall and returned for concert performances of La rondine where she sang Susi/Lolette. In 2003 she sang the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte and in 2004 she sang Miranda (The Tempest), Sonyetka (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), the title role in The Rape of Lucretia and Dryad (Ariadne auf Naxos).

Robert Lloyd returns to the role of Ludovico, which he last sang at the Royal Opera House during the opening run of this production in 1987. Vilar Young Artists Andrew Kennedy and Matthew Rose sing the roles of Roderigo and Montano respectively.

MITRIDATE, RE DI PONTO
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 5, 11, 14 July at 7pm / 9 July at 12.30pm / 17 July at 2.30pm

Revival sponsored (2004) by The Friends of Covent Garden This production, directed by Graham Vick with designs by Paul Brown, was first performed at Covent Garden in December 1991 for the bicentenary of Mozart's death and was revived in 1993.

Richard Hickox will conduct all performances of this second revival. He has conducted several operas at the Royal Opera House, including Paul Bunyan, Billy Budd, Les Contes d'Hoffmann and Orfeo ed Euridice. He was recently appointed Music Director of Opera Australia, a position he takes up in January 2005.

American tenor Bruce Ford will sing the title role which he performed in this production in both 1991 and 1993. He made his Covent Garden debut in 1991 as Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and other roles with The Royal Opera include Lindoro (L'italiana in Algeri), Osiride (Mosè in Egitto), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Rossini's Otello and most recently Tito (La clemenza di Tito). In addition to the Royal Opera House, he has sung Mitridate at the Salzburg Festival and in Amsterdam.

Having performed the role of Violetta (La traviata) earlier in the Season, German soprano Alexandra von der Weth returns to make her role debut as Aspasia. Her repertoire includes many Mozart roles such as Sandrina (La finta giardiniera), Alcina and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) for the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf and Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. She made her Covent Garden debut as Manon in Henze's Boulevard Solitude in 2001.

American counter-tenor David Daniels sings the role of Farnace. He made his debut with The Royal Opera in 1997 as Sesto in Giulio Cesare at the Barbican and his Covent Garden debut in concert performances of Orfeo ed Euridice in which he sang Orfeo. This is his role debut and also marks his first stage performance at Covent Garden.

Sifare will be performed by Hungarian soprano Andrea Rost. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1995 as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and returned for Violetta (La traviata), the Enchantress (Elisabetta) in concert and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor).

Ismene will be sung by Susan Gritton who makes her debut in the role. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1997 as Clarine/Thalie (Platée) in Edinburgh and at the Barbican. She has also sung Tiny in Paul Bunyan, several roles in The Pilgrim's Progress, Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice), Maøenka (The Bartered Bride) and a Flowermaiden (Parsifal).

The role of Marzio is sung by Colin Lee and Vilar Young Artist Katie Van Kooten sings the role of Arbate.

DIE WALKÜRE – New Production
Richard Wagner 8, 12, 15 July at 5pm Ring Cycle Production Sponsor (2004) The Dalriada Trust with additional support from the Ring Circle

The Season ends with a second chance to see Die Walküre, once again conducted by Antonio Pappano. Most of the cast remain the same as the March performances with Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Lisa Gasteen as Brünnhilde and Rosalind Plowright as Fricka, but with some notable exceptions: Plácido Domingo sings the role of Siegmund, Waltraud Meier Sieglinde and Erik Halfvarson Hunding.

Plácido Domingo returns to the role of Siegmund, a role he has now sung over 60 times. He previously sang the role of Siegmund at the Royal Opera House in 1996, when he celebrated 25 years performing with The Royal Opera. He made his debut in the role in Vienna in 1992 and has since sung the role in Madrid, Vienna, Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Berlin, Munich, St. Petersburg, Washington and Bayreuth. Since his debut at Covent Garden in1971 as Cavaradossi (Tosca) he has sung over 20 roles with the Company. In addition to staged performances with The Royal Opera, he has also taken to the conductor's podium to conduct several productions. Most recently he sang the role of Canio (Pagliacci) in 2003 and also conducted three performances of the production.

German mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier has performed Sieglinde on numerous occasions. She has sung the role with Domingo in Vienna, Berlin, La Scala Milan, Munich and for the Millennium Ring at Bayreuth in 2000. She made her debut with The Royal Opera in 1985 as Princess Eboli (Don Carlo) and returned as Ortrud (Lohengrin) in 2003.

American bass Eric Halfvarson returns for the third time this Season. He made his debut in the role of Hunding in 1986 and has previously sung the role in Barcelona, New York, Dallas, Berlin, Miami and in concert in Paris and Hamburg. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Claggart (Billy Budd) in 2000, and his subsequent roles have included Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Moser (I masnadieri) and the Doctor (Wozzeck).


THE ROYAL OPERA IN THE LINBURY

BABETTE'S FEAST John Browne March 2005 The Royal Opera brings John Browne's engrossing opera for children (8+) and adults back to the Linbury Studio Theatre. Originally commissioned in 2003 by ROH Education, it re-tells a 19th century Norwegian tale with resonances for every age, using the Linbury Studio Theatre in an exciting configuration devised by the production team of Tim Supple and Tom Piper to bring action close to the audience.

ORPHÉE
Philip Glass May 2005 Orphée is the first trilogy of music theatre pieces that Philip Glass wrote in the 1990s based on films by Jean Cocteau. Orphée – Orpheus transformed into a trendy French poet – goes on his journey into the afterlife, accompanied by Philip Glass's mesmeric music. The exciting producer/designer team of Francisco Negrin and Es Devlin create the British premiere production, with a cast of young singers and members of The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Vilar Young Artist Rory Macdonald.


2004/5 Vilar Young Artists Programme

Six people will join the Vilar Young Artists Programme in September 2004: American soprano Katie Van Kooten, Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Liora Grodnikaite and British tenor Robert Murray, conductor Rory Macdonald and répétiteur Susanna Stranders. Following an exceptional audition, British répétiteur Oliver Gooch joins the Programme for a period of one year as Assistant Répétiteur, a position created especially for him.

The five singers and director who joined the Programme in September 2003 remain on the Programme for a further year: British/Italian soprano Victoria Nava, British tenors James Edwards and Andrew Kennedy, New Zealand baritone Jared Holt, British bass Matthew Rose and Brazilian director André Heller-Lopes.

Five singers will leave the Vilar Young Artists Programme following a main stage concert on 14 July 2004, having completed their two-year contract with the VYAP. Each has a variety of forthcoming engagements, including: for soprano Ha Young Lee Oscar Un ballo in maschera (Scottish Opera), for soprano Ailish Tynan Valencienne Die Lustige Witwe (WNO) and Zerlina Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), for mezzo-soprano Tove Dahlberg Mélisande Pelléas et Mélisande (GTO), for mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova Adalgisa Norma (Theater Saint Gallen) and Brangäne Tristan und Isolde (Opéra National de Paris) and for tenor Hubert Francis, cover Drum Major Wozzeck (WNO).

In addition to singing some 30 roles during the 2004/5 Season, the Vilar Young Artists will cover 20 roles, including Ernesto Don Pasquale (James Edwards), Flosshilde Das Rheingold (Liora Grodnikaite), Valentin Faust (Jared Holt), Goro Madama Butterfly (Andrew Kennedy), Tamino Die Zauberflöte (Robert Murray) and Liù Turandot (Victoria Nava).

Two events have become annual fixtures for the Vilars: Meet the Vilars in the Linbury Studio Theatre and the Summer Concert on main stage with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. This Season, Meet the Vilars runs from 8 – 13 November. The week will include a number of recitals and a staging by VYAP director André Heller-Lopes of Janáèek's Diary of One Who Disappeared, in Czech, with Andrew Kennedy, Liora Grodnikaite and David Gowland. The Summer Concert will be on Sunday 17 July. All of the singers can also be heard in recital throughout the 2004/5 Season in the Monday Lunchtime series in the LST, accompanied by VYAP Director of Musical Preparation David Gowland.

Engagements for those singers who formed the 2001 Intake to the Programme and who have now left the VYAP include: for soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers a seven-concert residency at the Perth Festival and Leonora Il trovatore (WNO), for soprano Sally Matthews Pamina Die Zauberflöte (Deutsche Staatsoper), Lauretta Gianni Schicchi (GFO) and Mahler Symphony No. 8 (Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin), for tenor Alfred Boe, Lysander A Midsummer Night's Dream (ENO), for tenor Edgaras Montvidas Des Grieux Manon, Belmonte Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Oper Frankfurt), Ferrando Così fan tutte (Garsington) and Lensky Eugene Onegin (St. Gallen), for baritone Grant Doyle Marcello La bohème (Gubbay/RAH), Tarquinius The Rape of Lucretia and Harlekin Ariadne auf Naxos (RO) and for bass-baritone Darren Jeffery Pistol Falstaff (LSO), Donner The Rhinegold (ENO) and Figaro The Marriage of Figaro (Savoy Opera Company).

Contact staff for the Vilar Young Artists: Director of Musical Preparation– David Gowland, Director of Administration– Tisi Dutton, Co-ordinator– Siri Fischer Hansen.


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