For their 2014-15 season, the Bavarian State Opera are following a theme already laid down elsewhere - less adventurous programming, fewer non-19th works, less controversial directors, no new (or even recent) commissions. Belt-tightening? Casting remains strong - even where the names are less well-known, they've been intelligently picked.
There are just four main season premieres and a further two which get short runs at the summer Opernfestspiele:
- Věc Makropulos - Conductor: Tomáš Hanus Production: Árpád Schilling - with the deathless Nadja Michael in the title role.
- Manon Lescaut - Conductor: Alain Altinoglu Production: Hans Neuenfels - Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann are scheduled, so tickets are likely to be scarce.
- Lucia di Lammermoor - Conductor: Kirill Petrenko Production: Barbara Wysocka - Diana Damrau and Pavol Breslik head an exceptional cast.
- Lulu - Conductor: Kirill Petrenko Production: Dmitri Tcherniakov - Marlis Peterson and Bo Skovhus head another great cast.
- Pelléas et Mélisande (festival) - Conductor: Constantinos Carydis Production:Christiane Pohle - this is being shown at the smaller Prinzregententheater rather than the main house, meaning that it's unlikely to become a repertoire staple.
- Arabella (festival) - Conductor: Philippe Jordan Production: Andreas Dresen - Anja Harteros and Thomas Mayer star.
One of the reasons for the shortage of premieres may be the decision to revive the expensive (and excellent) Kriegenburg Ring for four cycles, all conducted by Kirill Petrenko. Evelyn Herlitzius, Stuart Skelton, Stephen Gould and Anja Kampe are just a few of the big Wagnerian names appearing.
As well as her festival premiere, Harteros turns up (if she turns up) in revivals of Tosca, Il trovatore, Don Carlo and La forza del destino. The latter is with Jonas Kaufmann, who has wisely elected not to repeat his Manrico.
Elsewhere, local boy Christian Gerhaher appears in L'Orfeo and Die Zauberflöte. Kristine Opolais tackles Eugene Onegin, with Mariusz Kwiecen in the title role for festival performances. Irene Theorin and Evelyn Herlitzius share the title role in a well-cast Elektra.
Despite claiming she'd never darken Staatsoper doors again after an alleged insult, the legendary Edita Gruberova makes her way back for Roberto Devereux.
The festival revival of Don Carlo features the unbeatable cast of Rene Pape, Ramon Vargas and Simon Keenlyside, and a festival Tristan und Isolde, the brilliant Konwitschny production conducted by Philippe Jordan, features Pape with Waltraud Meier and Peter Seiffert.