The Royal Opera House in review: A look back on 2013 from Alex Beard
The Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House picks out his highlights of the year. Do you agree?
31 December 2013 at 11.27am | Comment on this article
2013 has been an extraordinary year for the Royal Opera House.
I can’t believe almost twelve months have passed since the revival of The Minotaur. Sir John Tomlinson’s ferocious performance in this powerful and visceral production stayed with me all year. It is a contemporary masterpiece. The Royal Ballet’s Mayerling was another highlight of the early months of 2013. Created by one of the great British choreographers, it is a work of genius, beautifully portrayed in one of Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru’s final performances with us.
Of course, one of my personal highlights has to be getting the job here. The Royal Opera House has been a big part of my life for many years, from my first awestruck visit aged eleven, via student years in the cheap seats, to decades of admiration from the outside. It was a huge honour to be asked in March to join this much-loved, world-class organization.
I spent six months getting to know all aspects of the Royal Opera House’s work, with a night at the opera or ballet with each member of the Executive team in all parts of the Linbury and main auditorium. I was hugely inspired by the breadth of work on stage – from enduring classics to cutting-edge work – all of the highest quality, presented to passionate and committed audiences.
The start of the 2013/14 Season, and my time here, was very special. Lise Lindstrom kicked off an extraordinary winter of revivals with her terrifying Turandot. There was a glorious symmetry as I last saw this production in its first run, starring Plácido Domingo, when it had just returned from LA in 1984.
We marked both Wagner and Verdi’s bicentenaries over the year, with the most successful and popular Deloitte Ignite to date, followed later in the season by The Royal Opera’s epic Les Vêpres siciliennes and Parsifal. I was blown away by these two exceptional new productions, magisterially interpreted by Tony Pappano and the outstanding Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
The revival of Romeo and Juliet was a particular highlight for The Royal Ballet, thanks to Lauren Cuthbertson’s return to the stage after a long injury and Natalia Osipova’s breathtaking debut. I was also very pleased to be at the opening of the Mason Healthcare Suite a few months later – our state-of-the art healthcare facility dedicated to safeguarding the health and well-being of the dancers.
Later, I was delighted to join one of the suite’s supporters, Angela Bernstein, as she was awarded the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy for her huge contribution to the arts. So much of our work, including our extensive Learning and Participation programme, relies on our donors and it is wonderful when their passion and commitment is celebrated publicly.
The festive season is a very special time at the Royal Opera House. Along with the thousands of children and families enjoying a ballet for the first time at the Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat, I had my own ‘first’ – seeing my very first Nutcracker, which I enjoyed immensely.
It has been a great year and a wonderful four months in post. Thank you for all your support. There’s a huge amount to look forward to in 2014. Have a very happy New Year.