Embarrassments of riches: Opera Season at the BBC

Embarrassments of riches: Opera Season at the BBC

Jenna Simeonov

This fall, the BBC is presenting an Opera Season of its own. In partnership with the Royal Opera House, BBC Two, BBC Radio 3, BBC Four, and BBC Arts Digital is collaborating with the Victoria and Albert Museum for their current blockbuster exhibition, Opera: Passion, Power, and Politics.

The results? Documentaries, films, behind-the-scenes events, and broadcast performances, presented on television, radio, and online. Some highlights:

  • On **October 14 and 21**: BBC Two presents in two episodes *Lucy Worsley's Nights at the Opera*
  • On **October 15**: BBC Four presents John Bridcut's documentary *Jonas Kaufmann, Tenor for the Ages*
  • On **October 15**: BBC Four presents Keith Warner's production of *Otello* at the Royal Opera House, starring Jonas Kaufmann and Maria Agresta
  • On **October 22**: BBC Four presents Brett Dean's *Hamlet*, starring Allan Clayton in the title role, from its premiere performance run at the Glyndebourne Festival
  • **October 16-20**: A special edition of *The Essay* on BBC Radio 3, featuring five accounts of falling in love with opera, by journalist/writer Rachel Cooke, novelist Julian Barnes, actor David Threlfall, writer Garth Greenwall, and novelist Patricia Duncker.
  • On **October 22**: *The Flapper's Guide to the Opera*, recreating the operatic scene in 1920s London.

One of the more exciting events on the line-up is #OperaPassion Day on October 19, which marks an “unprecedented day of live streaming” from the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and Northern Ireland Opera as well as the V&A, BBC Radio 3, Tomorrow’s World and Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, supported by the British Council.

The eight hours of live streaming includes interviews, exclusive performance, archive footage and behind-the-scenes content; the day culminates on BBC Radio 3, where listeners can vote for one of four Royal Opera productions (The Magic Flute, Faust, Tosca and The Flying Dutchman) to be broadcast that evening.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with the V&A, ROH, major cultural institutions and leading opera companies from across the UK, to place opera centre stage at the BBC this autumn,” says Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts. “Audiences will have the opportunity to experience and explore one of the most exhilarating and irresistible of all art forms across BBC Radio, TV and Digital platforms, and together with our partners we will look to create a nationwide moment for opera engaging ever larger audiences and inspiring the next generation of opera lovers.”



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