Friends booking opens on 19 March - that's tomorrow - and general booking on 8 April for the final chunk of the ROH's 2013-14 season.
The big draw this time is the scheduled return of Jonas Kaufmann, who'll be making his role debut as des Grieux in Manon Lescaut. Unusually for Kaufmann, he's already booked a rematch (next year in Munich), a firm indication that he's confident with the part - and more importantly, is likely to turn up. Kristine Opolais tackles the title role, with Christopher Maltman as her pimping sibling. And watch out for some real Italian style from Maurizio Muraro as Geronte de Ravoir and Antonio Pappano in the pit. A new production from heritage pasticheur Jonathan Kent is unlikely to cast any fresh light on the work.
The other biggie is a new Maria Stuarda from Cecilia Bartoli's favoured directors Leiser and Caurier. Better known for comedy, they still managed to score a hit in Salzburg last summer with Norma, so who knows? Carmen Giannattasio moves up (prematurely?) into the big league as rival queen to Joyce DiDonato, but I predict the surprise hit will be tenor Ismael Jordi as Leicester. Vienna habitué Bertrand de Billy conducts.
La bohème returns for the usual interminable round. Three dates feature Angela Gheorghiu and her handpicked retainers, including irresistible chest-clutcher Vittorio Grigolo. The other shows star Ermonela Jaho and Charles Castronovo, together with a younger and frankly more interesting supporting cast.
Christof Loy's Ariadne auf Naxos is revived, presumably in honour of the Straussiversary. Karita Mattila as Ariadne, a role which should suit her current vocal estate admirably, is the main draw. Jane Archibald is one of the best Zerbinettas around, but Roberto Saccà wouldn't be my first choice for Bacchus. To put it mildly. Curiosity value comes from insurance salesman Wynne Evans as Scaramuccio. Unlike certain celebrity tenors the accomplished Evans should be more than up to the role.
Now we're down to the file under outreach section.
Actually, that's a cruel slight against Moses und Aron, which turns up for just two dates in a new Welsh National Opera production. Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito (not Ivan Morandi as the ROH site states) are the directors of this Schoenberg masterpiece (remember their infamous pussycat Rusalka?), and Lothar Koenigs conducts. John Tomlinson and Rainer Trost bring the wisdom of years to the challenging title roles. This one is competitively priced, so there's no excuse not to give it a try.
The knee-torturing Linbury Studio hosts Quartett, Luca Francesconi's operatic play on Les Liaisons dangereuses. Directed by John Fulljames, it settles in for an ambitious 10 performances.
Finally in the Linbury there's H.K. Gruber's porcine cabaret fantasy Gloria – A Pigtale, which might be ignorable were it not for the promise of "a cast of five human sausages." Surely even a vegan couldn't resist?