La donna del lago - Royal Opera House, 17 May 2013 (first night)
The Royal Opera House has pulled together the most perfect cast imaginable for this new production. They more than lived up to expectations, with line after line of the most thrillingly spectacular Rossini singing I've ever heard. Even a production that rivals the recent Nabucco for sheer ineptness couldn't dim their brilliance.
The ROH officially revealed full details of their 2013-14 season this morning. As most had slipped out one way or the other already, there are only one or two surprises - not all of them welcome.
There are seven new productions, and in celebration of Richard Strauss's 150th birthday there are three of his operas.
The most exciting new production, long-known, is Stefan Herheim's Les Vepres Siciliennes, conducted by Antonio Pappano and featuring Marina Poplavskaya, Erwin Schrott, Michael Volle and the inevitable Bryan Hymel.
Claus Guth's Die Frau Ohne Schatten comes fresh(ish) from La Scala with Johan Botha, Emily Magee, Michaela Schuster and Johan Reuter, and is conducted by Semyon Bychkov.
A new (to Covent Garden) Robert Carsen Carmelites conducted by Simon Rattle features Magdalena Kozena and Anna Prohaska.
Star-wise, Juan Diego Florez is back in La fille du régiment, this time with Patrizia Ciofi, Ewa Podles - and future Downton Abbey star Dame Kiri te Kanawa.
Manon Lescaut features Jonas Kaufmann, together with Kristine Opolais and Christopher Maltman. There's a Faust revival with Joseph Calleja, Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenlyside. Joyce DiDonato reprises her Maria Stuarda in a new Leiser/Caurier production, with Carmen Giannattasio and Charles Castronovo. Karita Mattila makes her return to Covent Garden in Keith Warner's splendid Wozzeck, also featuring Simon Keenlyside, and Christof Loy's Ariadne auf Naxos, with Jane Archibald and Ruxandra Donose.
To compensate for his multiple London no-shows perhaps, Jonas Kaufmann also gives a main stage recital on 6 April.
Conductor wise, the major shock is that baritenor Placido Domingo will be let loose on Tosca.
A Joyce DiDonato masterclass for Juilliard School students will be streamed live on the School's website today.
It begins at 4pm EST (9pm in the UK), and is expected to end around 21/2 hours later. The live stream will not be repeated, though it's possible extracts may appear on the School's YouTube channel at a later date.
You may recall a rumour aired here back in February that Jonas Kaufmann would return to the Wigmore Hall on 21 April 2013.
Well, the date is confirmed - but the show has been upsized to the Royal Festival Hall, where Jonas's playmates are the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Fighting for the hearts and wallets of the London audience will be Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato, who are at the Barbican on the same night.
This is where a free market economy gets you.
The Kaufmann date isn't on the Southbank website yet, but you can see it in a brochure called Classical Music 2012/13 which you can pick up for free from the Royal Festival Hall.
The Kaufmann concert is expected to go on sale on 17 September 2012, but see below. Also included in the brochure are some other dates which may be of interest:
***UPDATE*** the box office says some of these concerts will go on sale on 30 April (or 25 April for members) - it's not clear exactly which ones.
Cendrillon - Royal Opera House, 5 July 2011 (first night)
Anyone who wants to take the kids to the Royal Opera House this Xmas can choose between the tubercular charms of La Traviata and a five hour operatic X-Factor in German. Meanwhile, the exquisitely child-friendly Cendrillon is saddled with 10.30 finishes and £100+ tickets at a time when many families are on holiday anyway. It goes without saying there are still plenty of seats left. At least it gets a free Big Screen showing on 13 July.