The Royal Opera House announces 2023/24 Season

The Royal Opera House has today announced its 2023/24 Season, unveiling a bold programme of thrilling new work, UK premieres and much-loved revivals, alongside the biggest national learning programme in ROH history, exciting new regional partnerships, and a host of daytime events, behind the scenes tours, exhibitions and artistic Insights in the heart of Covent Garden.

Public booking opens on Wednesday 2 August 2023.

Production photo of Don Quixote ©2019 ROH. Photographed by Andrej Uspenski

The Royal Ballet Season

The Royal Ballet presents a tapestry of works that celebrate the Company’s rich heritage and celebrated house choreographers, and brings creativity into spaces across the Royal Opera House with a Festival of New Choreography.

The Season features revivals from Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan alongside contemporary classics by Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Cathy Marston.

The Company’s illustrious legacy from Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton and Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan is marked in a number of productions. Ashton’s boundless invention is displayed in two mixed programmes, with The Dream and his virtuosic Rhapsody. One of these programmes also features Les Rendezvous while the other includes Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan, Hamlet and Ophelia, and a guest performance by The Sarasota Ballet of The Walk to the Paradise Garden.

The Sarasota Ballet will also demonstrate the genius of Ashton in the Linbury Theatre with a vibrant array of his creative output. The Royal Ballet and The Sarasota Ballet’s Ashton performances during the Season mark the opening of ASHTON WORLDWIDE, the Frederick Ashton Foundation’s five-year international festival conceived to celebrate the work and legacy of Frederick Ashton. Further information on the festival will be announced by the Foundation in due course.

Kenneth MacMillan’s dramatic flair is celebrated with the romantic tragedy Manon, which this Season celebrates its 50th birthday, and a mixed programme – Requiem, Danses Concertantes and Different Drummer – plus performances and a film premiere by Yorke Dance Project, illustrating the choreographer’s exceptional artistic development across the decades.

In other revivals, Carlos Acosta’s vibrant production of Don Quixote opens the Season for The Royal Ballet. This celebrated production, which premiered in 2013, is the perfect showcase for a Company dancing at its peak. The enduringly popular 19th-century classics The Nutcracker and Swan Lake will also feature in the Season.

Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project returns following its critically-acclaimed world premiere in 2021. Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, the afterlife is brought into blazing life through the poetic vision of McGregor and his creative team, including pioneering composer Thomas Adès and artist Tacita Dean.

Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet Christopher Wheeldon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s late romance The Winter’s Tale celebrates its 10th anniversary. With striking designs by Bob Crowley and atmospheric music by Joby Talbot, The Winter’s Tale is widely considered a modern ballet classic.

Two award-winning works, Cathy Marston’s The Cellist, which takes its inspiration from the life and music of Jacqueline du Pré, and Valentino Zucchetti’s breezy Anemoi, receive their first revivals in a mixed programme of powerful musical heft.

The Festival of New Choreography champions new and diverse choreographic voices through the many spaces of our iconic Covent Garden home. A collection of new work will be seen on the Main Stage, and also included is an immersive new work for The Royal Ballet by Robert Binet presented in the Linbury Theatre and co-produced by the National Ballet of Canada.

The Royal Ballet presents the world premiere of a new production in the Linbury Theatre adapted from the play Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons by Sam Steiner. The Limit combines spoken word and dance with choreography by Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist Kristen McNally and direction by Ed Maddenand features Royal Ballet Principals Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell in one of the casts. The Limit is set to a newly commissioned score by Isobel Waller-Bridge, who composed the score for the BBC series Fleabag as well as film scores for Vita and Virginia (2018) and Emma (2020).

The Royal Ballet continues its development of emerging creative and performing talent with Draft Works, International Draft Works and the Next Generation Festival. The Royal Ballet continues its long-standing commitment to fostering dance partnerships, with Northern Ballet, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre, Ballet Black and Sydney Dance Company in the Linbury Theatre.

Fallen Angels Dance Theatre make their Linbury Theatre debut. Led by Artistic Director Paul Bayes Kitcher, former Birmingham Royal Ballet soloist, the award-winning company supports those recovering from addiction and mental health adversity through dance, performance and creativity. This work marks the first collaboration between Fallen Angels and New Note Orchestra, a Brighton-based collective of 18 musicians in recovery.

Northern Ballet return to the Linbury Theatre with a programme of new contemporary ballet, including the premiere of a new work by Royal Ballet Soloist Benjamin Ella and a work by New York City Ballet Principal Tiler Peck.

Ballet Black present a double bill featuring Will Tuckett’s Then or Now and Mthuthuzeli November’s Nina: By Whatever Means, a tribute to Nina Simone. Yorke Dance presents a new programme including work by Robert Cohan, Martha Graham and Kenneth MacMillan, and Sydney Dance Company make their Linbury Theatre debut.

On Wednesday 1 November, World Ballet Day, a much-loved global celebration that brings together over 50 of the world’s leading ballet and dance companies, celebrates its tenth anniversary. Over the course of 24 hours, rehearsals, discussions and classes are streamed for free across six continents, offering unique behind-the-scenes glimpses of ballet’s biggest stars and exciting new performers.

Natalya Romaniw and Erwin Schrott in Tosca ©2022 Clive Barda

The Royal Opera opens its Season with two landmark works on both of the ROH stages.

On the Main Stage, Antonio Pappano partners with Barrie Kosky for the first time to conduct a bold new imagining of Wagner‘s first chapter of the Ring cycle, Das Rheingold a massive undertaking for any opera house with an outstanding cast including Christopher Maltman as Wotan and Christopher Purves as Alberich.

In the Linbury Theatre, George Benjamin and Martin Crimp bring us Picture a day like this – a major new work which receives its UK premiere following the world premiere this summer at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. After the historic success of Lessons in Love and Violence and Written on Skin, Benjamin and Crimp return alongside stage directors Daniel Jeanneteau and Marie-Christine Soma.

Antonio Pappano, whose first new production at the Royal Opera House was Christof Loy’s production of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos in 2002, conducts his last new production at the Royal Opera House in Loy’s eagerly anticipated adaptation of Strauss‘s Elektra uniting two of today’s leading dramatic sopranos: Nina Stemme in the title role, and Karita Mattila as the haunted queen Klytämnestra.

In May, a Farewell Gala Concert for Antonio Pappano will see a stellar cast of soloists perform alongside the Chorus and Orchestra in celebration of his 23-year tenure. Maestro Pappano will then lead a cast that includes his longtime collaborator Jonas Kaufmann, and Sondra Radvanovsky and Carlos Álvarez in a revival of David McVicar‘s lavish production of Giordano‘s Andrea Chénier. 

In June 2024, The Royal Opera will be returning to Japan on tour for the first time since 2019 with performances at Bunka Kaikan Theatre and NHK Hall in Tokyo, and Kanagawa Kenmin Hall in Yokohama. Antonio Pappano will be conducting Oliver Mears’s darkly elegant production of Verdi’s Rigoletto and Andrei Șerban’s classic staging of Puccini’s Turandot.

The Royal Opera’s exploration into Handel‘s Covent Garden operas and oratorios continues with his final masterpiece, Jephtha, which premiered on this site in 1752. This epic new production is staged by Director of The Royal Opera Oliver Mears and is conducted by Handel specialist Laurence Cummings. Extraordinary tenor Allan Clayton performs the title role, joined by an outstanding, largely British cast including Jennifer France, Alice Coote and Brindley Sherratt.

Aigul Akhmetshina and Vasilisa Berzhanskaya share the role of Carmen in Damiano Michieletto‘s poetic, contemporary new staging of Bizet‘s beloved Carmen. Antonello Manacorda and Emmanuel Villaume conduct two accomplished casts in this sultry new production which evokes the passion and heat of Bizet’s score.

Next Season, the Royal Opera collaborate with Fuel for the first time, presenting the world premiere of Woman & Machinea ground-breaking binaural opera experience from Mercury-nominated songwriter ESKA, directed by Kirsty Housley. Incorporating the sonic worlds of the neonatal unit and the womb, with influences of contemporary, electronic and Zimbabwean Shona Music, this new work connects themes of life, survival and womanhood.

This Christmas, a range of family favourites return to the ROH stages. Little Bulb’s Oliver award-winning Wolf Witch Giant Fairy will excite children and families in the Linbury Theatre with the original troupe of travelling players returning as the energetic ensemble cast, bringing this endearing folk opera to new audiences, young and old. On the main stage, music lovers of all ages can enjoy Antony McDonald‘s mischievous production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, newly translated into English by Kelley Rourke. Mark Wigglesworth conducts two stellar casts including Anna Stéphany, Hanna Hipp, Anna Devin and Lauren Fagan. 

Following the Irish National Opera’s (INO) Olivier award-winning Bajazet and Least Like The Other, INO and The Royal Opera present their third collaboration: a brand-new staging of Vivaldi’s 1734 opera, L‘Olimpiade. The production is directed by Daisy Evans, with conductor Peter Wheelan leading the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

In April, the Jette Parker Artists present a thrilling double-bill. Eleanor Burke directs Martinů‘s surreal one-act opera Larmes de couteau and Harriet Taylor directs John Harbison’s adaptation of text from W.B. Yeats’ Full Moon in March. Both works are conducted by Edward Reeve, who will lead the Britten Sinfonia.

The 2023/24 Season also features a raft of beloved revivals including Christof Loy’s La Forza del Destino, Laurent Pelly’s L’elisir d’amore, Oliver Mears’s Rigoletto, Damiano Michieletto’s heat-soaked double-bill Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci, Richard Jones’ production of La bohème, Jonathan Kent’s Tosca, Tim Albery’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Moshe Leiser’s and Patrice Caurier’s Madama Butterfly, Katie Mitchell’s production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Jan Philipp Gloger’s production of Così fan tutte.

Antonio Pappano © ROH Clive Barda, 2015

Royal Opera House across the UK

The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet present 13 productions in 1500 cinemas across the globe next Season, including such beloved classics as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker and exciting new productions of Carmen, by Damiano Michieletto and Das Rheingold, by Barrie Kosky.

Message In A Bottle, the acclaimed dance theatre production by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Kate Prince, set to the music of Grammy Award-winning artist Sting, has also been filmed for cinema release in May 2024, in partnership with Sadler’s Wells and Universal Music UK. The international refugee crisis is at the centre of this production – an imagined story about one displaced family, and a universal story of loss, fear, survival, hope and love. Songs including ‘Every Breath You Take’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ and ‘Fields of Gold’ feature in new arrangements.

This is on top of wider digital innovation as we make available 24 more productions on ROH Stream. These will include work from Wayne McGregor, and Joseph Toonga’s See Us, as well as The Royal Ballet’s new production of Cinderella. These will be supported by a raft of new behind-the-scenes films, interviews and performances, including a celebration of Antonio Pappano’s tenure as Music Director of The Royal Opera; a host of choreographic and vocal masterclasses; and exclusive World Ballet Day content, with rehearsals and insights from across its rich ten-year history.

We also announce our biggest, boldest and most impactful national learning programme to date, inspiring creativity of children and young people across the country.  Our flagship Create & Learn programmes drive this national output, which sits alongside industry-leading talent development projects, a new partnership in South Yorkshire, with Rotherham, and a raft of daytime events, family activities and free concerts in our Covent Garden home.

In July, we unveil our first ever national Create Day, connecting more than 2,000 children across four locations around the country: Coventry, Doncaster, Thurrock and Covent Garden. Large scale events, connected via live broadcast, take place in each location and see participants perform pieces inspired by Crystal Pite’s Light of Passage, the culmination of months of work in schools around the UK. This will be expanded still further in 2024, with every school in the country being invited to take part, making it the largest shared cultural schools project ever hosted in the UK.

In Rotherham, we work with local partners to deliver a programme of activity with the aim of reaching every primary school in the region. The programme gives pupils aged 5-11 access to curriculum-linked lesson plans, in school workshops, the chance to see live performances at the Royal Opera House, and to participate in large-scale performance opportunities locally.  It features a collaboration with the Rotherham Music Service on a performance at Magna Science Adventure Centre in June 2024, with more than 1,400 primary school children performing alongside artists of the Royal Opera House in a unique celebration of art, learning and participation.  The programme intends to support the creative confidence of teachers and young people in the run up to Rotherham being the first Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025.

Following on from the great legacy of ROH Bridge, we also launch ROH East, a dedicated new programme which works in Levelling Up for Culture schools across the East of England, building confidence of teachers and inspiring creativity of young people across Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and North Kent.  We also celebrate the tenth anniversary of Thurrock Trailblazer, which has delivered arts initiatives to almost 100,000 children and young people in 57 schools across the region to date.

Rigoletto – The Royal Opera ©2021 ROH. Photographed by Ellie Kurttz

At home in Covent Garden

Following this Season’s programme of work in support of Ukraine and those displaced by the war, we continue to work with the displaced Ukrainian community inspiring hope through the collective act of singing. This builds on work undertaken across the 2022/23 Season with the Ukrainian community in London. This included the Songs for Ukraine project, as well as dedicated performances from both The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera, which helped to raise £450,000 for Disasters Emergency Committee‘s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

Young ROH goes from strength-to-strength in its third year, with 10,000 tickets made available to 16–25-year-olds for just £30. The scheme has helped attract younger audiences, which now make up the single largest audience group at the Royal Opera House. This programme sits alongside six whole house Schools’ Matinees, offered at a heavily discounted rate to state school children, and the Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat, offering a specially-invited audience the chance to see The Nutcracker in our first ever relaxed performance on the Main Stage. We will welcome more than 10,000 young people up and down the country as part of this project.

147 events take place in Covent Garden including 16 free Live at Lunch performances and 40 Insights, offering a unique behind-the scenes look at our resident companies. Many of these are broadcast online for free. We also unveil our biggest programme of guided tours to date, offering 11 unique behind-the-curtain experiences which promise to build on the more than 50,000 tour guests we welcomed last Season. This includes high teas, a look at our second home at the High House Production Park in Thurrock, and curated histories of the Royal Opera House through the lens of Pride and International Women’s Day.

We unveil a host of thought-provoking free exhibitions and displays throughout next Season which bring our spaces to life and invite audiences to delve deeper behind the scenes. These include a celebration of the huge talent that was Maria Callas, celebrating the centennial of her birth, and a dedicated exhibition by photographer Mary McCartney who captured exclusive behind the scenes images of Wayne McGregor’s critically acclaimed ballet The Dante Project. There will also be commemorative displays of beautiful historical costumes including a celebration of the centenary of Nicholas Georgiadis who designed sumptuous costumes for Kenneth MacMillan ballets including Manon and Mayerling.

The Royal Opera House performs for IWD at St. Pancras International © 2022 Sam Lane

Nurturing Talent

We continue our efforts to offer new projects that develop future talent and drive diversity across both of our art forms and the industry. Following the success of our Pilot Orchestra Mentorship programme in 2022/23, we launch ‘Overture’ in partnership with Black Lives in Music, continuing to work with young musicians aged 18-25 from the global majority or other underrepresented backgrounds to provide essential mentoring tailored to the participants’ individual needs while enhancing skill sets, insight and training in the classical music field.

Over the Season, we run six more Creative Exchanges with community groups around London, providing a creative space for Royal Opera House artists and external participants to come together, share their experiences and create their own work inspired by ballet and opera stories.

Chance to Dance, our flagship programme aimed at giving primary school children from areas with limited artistic provision their first opportunity to engage creatively with ballet, expands to include five areas, and the Youth Opera Company, our in-house chorus of 50+ state school children, perform in two main stage productions: Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci and Carmen

The Jette Parker Artists recruit an additional seven international artists to take their first steps on the international stage; and we welcome our biggest ever cohort of apprentices (15) into a range of departments across the organisation- including roles in costume, lighting, technical and production, IT, and marketing.


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