While other opera houses have turned timid in the face of financial uncertainties, the modestly-funded La Monnaie continues to maintain Brussels' reputation for boldness and innovation in the 2014-15 season.
Keeping the flag flying for contemporary opera, two of the nine staged productions are world premieres, and there's one modern classic, all by living composers. That's one third of the schedule. What other opera house can boast that?
And how do they manage it? One of the secrets is that few precious pennies have been expended on big international star singers - however casting is intelligent and appropriate
Here's what they announced today:
- Daphne (Lothar Koenigs/Joosten Guy). Iain Paterson and Sally Matthews wave the British flag at the head of an international cast in this Strauss rarity.
- Shell Shock (Koen Kessels/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui). The world premiere of a new opera by Belgian composer Nicholas Lens, with words from Nick Cave, is directed by the noted choreographer.
- Don Giovanni (Ludovic Morlot/Krzysztof Warlikowski). A new Warlikowski production is always something to look forward to; this one features Jean-Sébastien Bou in the title role, with Barbara Hannigan as Donna Anna and Rinat Shaham as Donna Elvira.
- Alcina (Christophe Rousset/Pierre Audi). Only three dates for this new production featuring the distinguished Handelians Sandrine Piau and Maité Beaumont.
- Tamerlano (Christophe Rousset/Pierre Audi). Coming straight after Alcina, another three-date show stars Christophe Dumaux and Jeremy Ovenden.
- Jakob Lenz (Franck Ollu/Andrea Breth). Wolfgang Rihm's modern classic.
- Penthesilea (Ludovic Morlot/Katie Mitchell). A world premiere for Pascal Dusapin's new opera.
- Un Ballo in maschera (Carlo Rizzi/Alex Ollé). It may be Verdi, but re-visioned by Ollé of La Fura del Baus, it won't be Verdi as you know it. With Stefano Secco, George Petean, Tamar Iveri, Kathleen Kim and Marie-Nicole Lemieux.
- 'Troika' (Mikhail Tatarnikov/Kirsten Dehlholm). A triptych of short operas by Rachmaninov - Aleko, Skupoj Rytsar and Francesca da Rimini - features a mostly Russian cast. This will be the first project outside La Monnaie while the theatre is being renovated. The venue is the Art Deco Marivaux cinema.
As well as the staged operas, a number of concert performances are scheduled. These include rarities like Fierrabras and Frank Martin's Le vin herbé as well as the more familiar Die Entführung and Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
And theatre fans shouldn't miss a Romeo Castellucci-staged recital of Schwanengesang (soprano Kerstin Avemo).
Remember, Sunday matinees are generally accessible as Eurostar day trips from London (but do check performance times before booking).