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Royal Opera announces new work and relationships for 2013-2020

Productions to take place both on Main Stage and in Linbury Studio Theatre.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 January 2013 at 2.30pm | 13 Comments

The Royal Opera has announced artistic plans for more than 15 new works to be presented from 2013 to 2020, both on the Main Stage and in the Linbury Studio Theatre.

Director of Opera Kasper Holten and Music Director Antonio Pappano plan to extend the established tradition of commissioning British composers as well as work by leading international artists.

Kasper Holten commented: “New work is not and should not be at the periphery of our programme, but right at the core of what and who we are. And this is something we do, not because we must, but because it is something that we are passionate about. We hope that opera audiences will share our curiosity and come with us with open minds along this journey.”

Antonio Pappano added: “Our efforts are being focused on working with the composers who really excite us, both for the Linbury Studio Theatre and for the main stage. We have worked hard to find the composers we feel have a real flair and passion for opera, and we are very excited about being able to roll out our vision for new work on all scales.”

2012/13 will see the UK stage premiere in the Linbury for Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Ramin Gray, alongside the UK premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and the revival of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur.


Next Season will see a number of productions created specially for the Linbury including Australian composer Ben Frost’s adaptation of Iain Banks’s cult novel The Wasp Factory. The composer will also direct the opera that has been commissioned by Bregenz Festival’s Art of our Times programme. It is a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Hebbel-am-Ufer Berlin, Holland Festival and Cork Midsummer Festival.

Also presented in the 2013/14 Season will be a Christmas opera for family audiences by Julian Philips and directed by Natalie Abrahami; two new pieces inspired by the Faust legend, one by British electronic composer Matthew Herbert, and the other by composer Luke Bedford and playwright David Harrower; the first UK performances of renowned Italian composer Luca Francesconi’s Quartett (a new version directed by John Fulljames and co-produced with London Sinfonietta and Opéra de Rouen after the piece’s 2010 premiere at La Scala, Milan); and the first of an annual collaboration with Aldeburgh Music and Opera North to commission first operas from young composers.


Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole will return to the Main Stage, followed by a new opera in the Linbury by Philip Glass, based on Franz Kafka’s The Trial. The opera is a co-commission with Music Theatre Wales, Theater Magdeburg and Scottish Opera. Also commissioned for the Linbury is a new chamber opera by German/Danish composer Søren Nils Eichberg and librettist Hannah Dübgen. The opera is a taut thriller, which asks us to question what we can really trust – which emotions are real and which are virtual.


Future plans include a new opera for children by Mark-Anthony Turnage and directed by Katie Mitchell in the Linbury; an adaptation of Max Frisch’s play Count Oederland by Judith Weir and librettist Ben Power, a collaboration with Scottish Opera and Oper Frankfurt; a Main Stage commission with Deutsche Oper Berlin from German composer Georg Friedrich Haas based on John Fosse’s novel Morgon og Kveld (Morning and Evening) premiering at Covent Garden in November 2015; a new opera in Spring 2017 from Thomas Adès based on Buñuel’s film The Exterminating Angel with libretto by Tom Cairns, who also directs; another major Main Stage commission in Spring 2018; and an adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass by Unsuk Chin and librettist David Henry Hwang for the main stage in the 2018/19 Season.


The Royal Opera will challenge leading European composers Kaija Saariaho (Finland), Mark-Anthony Turnage (UK), Luca Francesconi (Italy) and Jörg Widmann (Germany) to create large scale new operas. The vision is for four distinct operas, each one in part inspired by the composer’s response to a set of questions developed in collaboration with the philosopher Slavoj Žižek: “What preoccupies us today? How do we represent ourselves on stage? What are the collective myths of our present and future?”

Other commissions include work by Chris Mayo, Sasha Siem and Soumik Datta, as well as by digital artists Kleis&Rønsholdt and Tal Rosner. The current 2012/13 Season will see composers David Bruce and Elspeth Brooke take up positions as Composers in Residence.

As well as staged work, from 2013 The Royal Opera has developed new relationships with Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Sound and Music as well as collaborating in the future with all large-scale regional companies and working with mid-scale touring companies. Covent Garden will also invest in a programme of opera development including workshops and readings, both public and in-house.

Read the full announcement [Press release]

What are you most looking forward to seeing?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 January 2013 at 2.30pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Antonio Pappano, by Kasper Holten, Kasper Holten, Music, new work, The Wasp Factory

This article has 13 comments

  1. Alice Poulsen responded on 10 January 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

    Blimey ............ !!

  2. Beverley Smith responded on 10 January 2013 at 5:29pm Reply

    Wow! How exciting! Looking forward to Anna Nicole in 2014.

  3. I saw The Importance at the Barbican. Can't wait to see a fully staged production.

  4. Jack Williams responded on 11 January 2013 at 10:39am Reply

    One request - can we please have a few operas which have music we want to buy and listen to many times after the performance?

    • John Seldon responded on 18 January 2013 at 3:20pm

      HOW I agree with you Mr. Williams. If the success of (E.G) the music for of Alice in Wonderland (Ballet of course) could be emulated in new opera. how delighted I would be. I cannot view the plans with enthusiasm because I fear already what I anticipate the sound will be like . It would be a joy to have music for new opera which was memorable (ie which I would want on a CD or as a download) but the choaking grasp of the "Atonal" denies the audiences of that alternative pleasure - so for it is back to rehearing the core repertoire. Heigh ho!

  5. The Wasps Factory in an opera at the ROH! Iain Banks' masterpiece on stage. Do not know whether to laugh or cry. But I will be there....

  6. Stephen Diviani responded on 11 January 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

    Well, looks like I'll have to stop sneering at the ROH (main house) for being dull, conservative and a bit of a museum, with the occasional 'star' turn. All you need to do now is drop the ticket prices a little more so that most Londoners can actually afford to see the odd opera or two.........

    Sincere best wishes for all the new projects!

  7. Susan Whitman responded on 11 January 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

    Utterly fantastic. ENO has not premiered a new production from a British composer since 1998. 14 years! ROH now clearly the home of new and radical work from UK and international artists. Well done and please keep it up.

  8. Looking forward to Anna Nicole,I was one of two bodybuilders acting in the show last time...time to dust off that line green mankini!

  9. Trevor Stammers responded on 22 January 2013 at 10:54am Reply

    It is great that ROH is taking on ENO for commissioning and producing new works, and I cant wait to see "Written on Skin" in March, but I just can't understand why neither house is interested in putting on works by the many fantastic lyrical opera composers from the USA, such as Jake Heggie and William Balcom. I had to travel to Dublin a few yeats back to see the only only staged production of Heggie's wonderful "Dead Man Walking", within reasonable travelling distance. Why this antipathy to Americans who can actually write tuneful operas?

  10. Will be interesting to see ANNA NICOLE again. Have just seen THE MINOTAUR for the second time, love it, what a great composer Birtwistle is....

This article has 1 mention elsewhere

  1. Opera: “I’m not dead!” | Mae Mai:  […] irony being that in 2020 the Royal Opera in Britain has commissioned four new works for the 2020 season inspired by […]

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