First stop for many ticket buyers will be Jonas Kaufmann's Winterreise on 6 April. Not the most obvious choice of repertoire, either for Kaufmann or for the venue, but any Jonas is better than none. Tickets are likely to go quickly.
Top of the operatic must-sees is Claus Guth's secondhand production of Die Frau ohne Schatten (14 March–2 April 2014), conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Its 2012 La Scala debut was well received. The singers, mostly inherited from that first run, are a mixed bunch. At least the recent streaming of the Munich production suggests Johan Botha may have finally learned to act.
Simon Rattle makes a rare and welcome return to Covent Garden with Dialogues des Carmélites (29 May–11 June). Although most people wouldn't immediately connect him with opera, it's long been the most consistent element of his repertoire. Robert Carsen's classic 1997 production has been seen just about everywhere except the ROH and should ruffle few feathers. An excellent cast includes Sally Matthews, Anna Prohaska, Emma Bell and Sophie Koch.
Could this be the last outing for Laurent Pelly's once fresh and funny La Fille du régiment (3–18 March, already on sale)? Juan Diego Flórez is of course worth the price of admission on his own, and there's the bonus of rare appearances from Ewa Podles and Dame Kiri (as the Duchess). However Patrizia Ciofi proved a pallid successor to Natalie Dessay in the last run, and the jokes have now been told several times too often.
David McVicar's uneven Faust, last exposed in 2011, makes a surprisingly swift return to Covent Garden (4 – 25 April). The only reason to see it is the starriest of casts - Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, Simon Keenlyside, and Bryn Terfel as a cross-dressing Méphistophélès.
The ROH have commissioned a couple of new operas to complement the show. Supersize your Faust experience in the Linbury Studio in April with Through His Teeth by the talented Luke Bedford and The Crackle by Matthew Herbert, an electronic composer.
Richard Eyre's eternally watchable La traviata returns for its now-annual double run from 19 April – 20 May. The first cast features Diana Damrau, Francesco Demuro (who you may remember from Gianni Schicchi) and Dmitri Hvorostovky. Following them are the husband-and-wife team of Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello together with Simon Keenlyside. Hard to pick the winner. Dan Ettinger conducts.
Jonathan Kent's Tosca is another double-cast warhorse from the stable of indifferent but seemingly ineradicable productions (10 May–26 June). Oleg Caetani conducts Oksana Dyka, Roberto Alagna and Thomas Hampson. The baton is then handed to Plácido Domingo, who conducts Sondra Radvanovky and the less familiar names of Riccardo Massi and Sebastian Catana.
Finally, don't be misled by BabyO and SensoryO , in the Linbury Studio from 3–7 March. Although they sound like the latest treats from the Ann Summers catalogue, they are in fact "Scottish Opera’s hugely popular musical adventures for babies and toddlers".