The Royal Opera House's winter season opens for general booking soon, and it's a bit more interesting than the dismal fare on offer in the autumn.
There are three new productions, the first of which is David McVicar's Adriana Lecouvreur. This opens on 18 November and will, we are promised, be set in period (late 18th century). The production has been built around Angela Gheorghiu in the title role, though the form book suggests you're more likely to see Ángeles Blancas Gulín, who also headlines the last few dates. Angela joins her co-star Jonas Kaufmann for a couple of concert performances in Berlin before hitting Covent Garden. Will they warm her up or tire her out? Who knows. They're joined by a solid-looking supporting cast, which includes Michaela Schuster, Olga Borodina and Alessandro Corbelli. Mark Elder conducts.
After last year's disappointing Dutchman, Tim Albery gets another crack at Wagner, this time with a new Tannhäuser, opening on 11 December. Semyon Bychkov conducts Johan Botha as Tannhäuser, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Elisabeth, Michaela Schuster as Venus, Christof Fischesser as Herrmann and Christian Gerhaher in his ROH debut as Wolfram. Gerhaher trained as a doctor before he took up singing, so Angela Gheorghiu won't have too far to go for her sick note.
Photos of set designs for Adriana Lecouvreur and Tannhäuser may be found at this link (page 37).
Leiser and Caurier's Il barbiere di Siviglia is revived from 18 January 2011. The cast is less starry than last time round, but Aleksandra Kurzak as Rosina, Levente Molnár as Figaro, and John Osborn and Luciano Botelho sharing the role of Count Almaviva should make it worth seeing.
Oddly, David McVicar's name is missing from the credits on the ROH website, but it's his Die Zauberflöte which is showing from 1 February. The main reason to revisit has to be the conductor - Sir Colin Davis. The cast includes Joseph Kaiser, Kate Royal, and Christopher Maltman, with Marina Rebeka (recently a highly-praised fill-in for la Gheorghiu) as Queen of the Night.
The final new production of the winter season, the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole, opens on 17 February. Eva-Maria Westbroek's physical resemblance to Anna Nicole Smith is so uncanny it's almost a bonus that she's such one of the world's greatest sopranos too. A supporting cast which includes Alan Oke, Gerald Finley, Susan Bickley and Lore Lixenberg isn't bad news either. Pappano conducts, Richard Jones directs, and the ROH keenly draw attention to "extreme language, drug abuse and sexual content". It's priced to sell: £75 tops, with many seats under £30. Will Turnage dig further into the oeuvre of Beyonce Knowles for inspiration? Wait and see.