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What's on in summer 2023 at the UK's opera houses


The UK loves summer opera!


Luckily, there are many excellent opera companies across the country presenting cutting-edge productions of the highest musical standard and wonderful dining experiences.


As usual, the upcoming summer season features a fantastic range of performances. But with so much on offer, which shows should you choose?


If you are new to opera I recommend Tosca and La Bohème by Puccini. These two operas are a great introduction to the genre because they are gripping dramas acted out in real time. They will have you on the edge of your seat, laughing and crying in equal measures. Other excellent choices are Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and The Marriage of Figaro with their many familiar tunes and sheer, exuberant fun.


If you are familiar with opera already, there are two interesting productions of Werther coming up, both at the Royal Opera House and Grange Park Opera, as well as a rare production of Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmélites at Glyndebourne.


Personally, I am really excited to see that there is a new commission by Jonathan Dove, composer of Flight, at Opera Holland Park, called Itch.


Here's what's on this summer at the UK's top opera houses.


1. Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera, under the direction of Antonio Pappano, is one of the world’s leading opera companies. Based in the iconic Covent Garden theatre, it is renowned both for its outstanding performances of traditional opera and for commissioning new works by today’s leading opera composers.


Werther

20 June–4 July 2023

Antonio Pappano conducts Massenet's opera of grand passion and devastating tragedy.


Woman at Point Zero

28–30 June 2023

A story of two women who share their memories, experiences and secrets.


Don Carlo

30 June–15 July 2023

Nicholas Hytner's production of Verdi’s epic historical opera evokes the passion, violence and religious repression of Renaissance Spain.


The Marriage of Figaro

8–22 July 2023

Director David McVicar brings out the revolutionary elements in Mozart’s great comic opera of intrigue, misunderstanding and forgiveness.


La Traviata

10–23 July 2023

Richard Eyre's beautiful production tells the heart-breaking story of Violetta, a courtesan who sacrifices all for love.


Jette Parker Artists Summer Performance

22 July 2023

The 2022/23 Jette Parker Artists perform an uplifting array of opera excerpts on the main stage, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.


General booking opens on Thursday 13 April 2023.



 

2. Glyndebourne

Glyndebourne is an opera house in East Sussex, which has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival since 1934.


Don Giovanni

19 May-15 July 2023

Womanising aristocrat Don Giovanni lives a life of debauchery and pleasure, seducing and abandoning women wherever he goes. But when a seduction goes horribly wrong, he finally finds himself in a situation he cannot charm his way out of.


L’elisir d’amore

20 May-19 July 2023

Light, lyrical and bursting with energy, L’elisir d’amore was the biggest success of Donzietti’s career – a comedy with the softest of hearts and the sweetest of melodies.


Dialogues des Carmélites

10 June-29 July 2023

One of the most devastatingly powerful operas in the repertoire, Dialogues des Carmélites is also one of the most beautiful. Steeped in Debussy, Monteverdi and Verdi, Poulenc’s lyrical score balances cinematic drama and scope, charged with the violence of revolution, with moments of startling simplicity and beauty.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

1 July-22 August 2023

In Shakespeare’s story of dreams and desires, four young lovers find themselves lost in a magical wood – playthings for the fairies who rule there. Inhibition gives way to exploration, as fantasy and reality collide over the course of one heady summer’s night.


Semele

23 July-26 August 2023

With a plot full of lusty Gods and beautiful mortals, where intrigue and desire take centre-stage, Handel’s Semele combines the drama of Italian opera with the choral splendour and richness of English oratorio.


The Rake’s Progress

4-27 August 2023

Hogarth’s famous sequence of paintings, charting one man’s path from pleasure to ruin, are the starting point for one of the most dazzlingly original works of the 20th century, a Mozart opera that has wandered into a musical hall of mirrors – at once elegant and anarchic.


General booking opens on Sunday 5 March 2023 at 6:00 pm.



 

3. Garsington Opera

Garsington Opera is an annual summer opera festival founded in 1989. The Philharmonia Orchestra and The English Concert are its two resident orchestras. For 21 years it was held in the gardens of Ingrams's home at Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire, but since 2011 the festival has been held in Wormsley Park near Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire.


Il barbiere di Siviglia

31 May-22 July 2023

Rossini’s joyously inventive music makes this a deftly-paced triumph of comic timing.


Mitridate, re di Ponto

1 June-2 July 2023

Mitridate, the warrior king of Pontus, and his two sons Farnace and Sifare, are all in love with the same woman, Aspasia, resulting in a complex web of rivalry, jealousy, aggression and pent-up passion.


Ariadne auf Naxos

18 June-21 July 2023

The story of Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos and despairing of her lost love, is interrupted repeatedly by the comedians, keen to help and to advise her that the best way to cure a broken heart is to find another lover.


The Bartered Bride

30 June-23 July 2023

This is a story of thwarted love and arranged marriage, an arrangement which the spirited heroine, Mařenka, is not prepared to accept. She has to use every last ounce of determination, charm and cunning that she possesses in order to marry the man she loves.


General booking opens on Tuesday 4 April 2023 at 10:00 am.



 

4. Opera Holland Park

Surrounded by the beautiful formal gardens and wilded woodlands of Holland Park, the canopied open-air auditorium is the perfect place to enjoy critically acclaimed opera in the heart of London.


Rigoletto

30 May-24 June 2023

Hansel and Gretel

10 June-23 June 2023

La bohème

19 July-5 August 2023

Itch

22 July-4 August 2023

Ruddigore

9 August-12 August 2023

General booking opens in April 2023.



 

5. Grange Park Opera

Founded in 1998, Grange Park Opera's elegant summer festival takes place at West Horsley Place, an enchanting 15th century house near the Surrey hills.


Tristan & Isolde

8 June–9 July 2023

One of the greatest love stories ever told. From that puzzling first phrase, landing on the Tristan chord, Wagner’s late masterpiece weaves its magic. Epic – in every sense.