The Linbury Theatre, the West End’s newest and most intimate theatre, showcases an exciting array of opera and dance in its inaugural Season, from an 18th-century rarity to 21st-century new works.
The first Season features four world premieres, including Gavin Higgins’s new opera The Monstrous Child, based on Francesca Simon’s novel of the same name.
Directors and choreographers participating include Ivo van Hove, Aletta Collins, Adele Thomas, Wayne McGregor and Timothy Sheader.
Co-producers and visiting companies and artists include Alessandra Ferri, National Dance Company Wales, Introdans, Cas Public, Ballet Black, Yorke Dance Project, Lost Dog, London Handel Festival, Isango Ensemble and Muziektheater Transparant.
Ticket prices range from £5 to £45, with 25 per cent of seats priced at £25 or less.
The Royal Opera House announces the first Season’s programme for the Linbury Theatre, the West End’s newest and most intimate theatre, opening in December 2018 after an extensive re-development as part of the Royal Opera House's Open Up project. A fully flexible space designed by Stanton Williams, the Linbury Theatre incorporates up to 406 seats and is designed as a fully realized new stage for the Royal Opera House to present an exciting array of innovative and engaging new work.
Creative Producer for The Royal Ballet, Emma Southworth, said: “I’m delighted to be able to welcome audiences into this beautiful, intimate new theatre, offering an international stage for The Royal Ballet and dance, giving us the opportunity to collaborate with artists from across the country and beyond. It’s so exciting to be able to fill the space with such a variety of programming, especially with artists who are so well known to audiences through their past work with The Royal Ballet."
Olivier Award-winning international ballerina Alessandra Ferri returns to the Linbury Theatre in January 2019, presenting TRIOConcertDance alongside renowned American Ballet Theatre Principal dancer Herman Cornejo and acclaimed concert pianist Bruce Levingston. The show features work by choreographers including Demis Volpi, Russell Maliphant, Wayne McGregor, Herman Cornejo, Fang-Yi Sheu and Angelin Preljocaj, and offers audiences an opportunity to experience the work of these internationally renowned artists in a beautiful and intimate new space.
In February 2019, The Royal Ballet presents New Work New Music, a programme which includes Blue Moon, a new work by acclaimed director and choreographer Aletta Collins, set to a David Sawer score co-commissioned by The Royal Philharmonic Society Drummond Fund and BBC Radio 3 and performed by an ensemble of female dancers from The Royal Ballet. A collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, New Work New Music will offer audiences an opportunity to hear a variety of contrasting music set to dance for the first time, across work by choreographers including Goyo Montero, Royal Ballet Principal Character Artist Kristen McNally, Royal Ballet Soloist Calvin Richardson and Alexander Whitley, who returns to the Royal Opera House after the premiere of his work Noumena in the Clore Studio in November 2017.
In March 2019, National Dance Company Wales present AWAKENING, a programme featuring contemporary works by Fernando Melo, Caroline Finn and Marcos Morau. Afterimage (Melo) is a unique theatrical experience, using a mixture of mirrors and creative choreography; Revellers’ Mass (Finn) depicts an unlikely dinner party and is inspired by old paintings while Tundra (Morau) is an ultra-modern, robotically mesmerizing exploration of Russian folk dance and revolution. In addition, National Dance Company Wales present Discover Dance – a fun and relaxed interactive performance suitable for children and families, offering audience members the chance to dance on stage with NDC Wales dancers and learn excerpts from the Company’s show, followed by a performance of Revellers’ Mass. Also in March, Introdans presents the programme Dutch Masters, containing important items from their signature neoclassical repertory. Returning to the UK for the first time in more than a decade, the company perform a mixed bill, which includes Polish Pieces and Andante by Hans van Manen, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by Jiří Kylián and CANTUS by Nils Christe.
The Royal Ballet’s signature International Draft Works programme is presented in the Linbury Theatre in April 2019, and is a forum for choreographers and dancers to explore ideas and present developing work. Submissions will be invited from the UK, Europe and North America’s foremost dance companies and beyond. Each piece will be fully realized, with costumes, set and lighting. The programme offers audiences an opportunity to see choreographic voices of the future develop new and innovative work.
Also in the Linbury Theatre, Ben Duke’s company Lost Dog presents Juliet & Romeo, which runs alongside The Royal Ballet’s revival of Romeo and Juliet. A witty reassessment of Shakespeare’s star-crossed couple as they survive, marry and move into their 40s, Juliet & Romeo combines dance, theatre and comedy to present a memorable duet mirroring our modern obsessions.
In the Clore Studio, Yorke Dance Project presents Playground by Kenneth MacMillan, 40 years after the work had its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival. Alongside this, Yorke Dance Project will also present a new work by Robert Cohan, Communion, created as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary. Wayne McGregor, a mentee of Cohan, will also join him for a Q&A after the performance. The company will also perform their full anniversary programme including Playground, Communion, a new commission by Los Angeles based choreographer Sophia Stoller and a work by Yolande Yorke-Edgell.
Receiving its UK premiere in May 2019, Canadian company Cas Public’s 9 is produced in collaboration with Belgian company Kopergietery. Choreographed by Hélène Blackburn and set to Martin Tétreault’s overlayed score (based on Beethoven’s Symphony no.9) the piece is inspired by Cas Public performer Cai Glover, who overcame a hearing impairment to become a professional dancer. Suitable for audiences of all ages, 9 utilizes a unique sensory approach to performance, exploring notions of listening to a musical masterpiece without hearing, and transcending boundaries to transform bodies into visual language. Following this, award-winning ballet company Ballet Black returns to the Linbury Theatre with a mixed programme of work, including Cathy Marston’s The Suit.
In June 2019 the Linbury Theatre will host the inaugural Young Talent Festival, presenting performances from some of the world's leading junior companies and schools. Running from Monday 16 June to Saturday 6 July 2019, the festival includes mixed programmes presented by the Ballett Zürich Junior Company, The Norwegian National Ballet 2, Dutch National Ballet Juniors, Rambert School and The Royal Ballet School. Rambert 2 will also participate with a staging of Kamuyot by Ohad Naharin in the Paul Hamlyn Hall. Completing the festival line-up, participants of the Royal Opera House’s Chance to Dance programme perform their own creative interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, performing alongside dancers from The Royal Ballet. Running alongside this is the culmination of the annual Young Creatives programme, which cements The Royal Ballet's commitment to nurturing future generations of dancing talent from across the UK and beyond.
Looking ahead to the 2019/20 Season, The Royal Ballet and Rambert will present Aisha and Abhaya, a co-production in association with BBC Films, directed by ground-breaking London-based filmmaker Kibwe Tavares and choreographed by Sharon Eyal.
Aisha and Abhaya (meaning ‘Hope and Fearlessness’) is a contemporary fairytale about two sisters seeking refuge from their homeland in a fantastical world, which proves to be riven with familiar troubles and dangers. Set to a commissioned score by GAIKA and Ori Lichtik, with costumes by visionary artist Uldus Bakhtiozina, this incredible new dance work combines film, animation and live performance by Rambert’s extraordinary dancers to tell a compelling parable for our times. Originally programmed to open the Linbury Theatre in December 2018, the premiere of Aisha and Abhaya has had to be postponed due to Kibwe Tavares suffering a sudden, unexpected illness.
Creative Producer for The Royal Opera, Sarah Crabtree, said: “It’s thrilling to be able to open a brand-new, intimate theatre fit to showcase the best in opera and music-making for generations to come. Our inaugural programme looks to the future with world premieres and back to our roots with a long overdue revival; it showcases exciting emerging talent alongside the finest theatre-makers of our time.”
The first work presented by The Royal Opera in the Linbury Theatre is Gavin Higgins’s new opera The Monstrous Child, which receives its world premiere in February 2019. Based on Francesca Simon’s darkly humorous novel for teens, The Monstrous Child explores ordinary teenage angst in the extraordinary world of Norse gods, giants and the Underworld. The opera is the latest work commissioned by The Royal Opera for a younger audience, following the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Coraline at the Barbican Theatre in March 2018, Hatch and Dot, Squiggle and Rest at the Polka Theatre in 2015 and 2017, and How the Whale Became and the Firework-Maker’s Daughter in the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The Monstrous Child is directed by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Artistic Director Timothy Sheader, making his Royal Opera debut, and sees Jessica Cottis return to the Company (following her debut with Mamzer Bastard at Hackney Empire in 2018) to conduct a cast featuring Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Tom Randle, Dan Shelvey, Lucy Schaufer, Elizabeth Karani and Graeme Broadbent.
In March 2019, The Royal Opera and London Handel Festival present a new staging of Handel’s Berenice, which returns for the first time to the site of its premiere at the Covent Garden Theatre in 1737. Sung in a new English translation by Selma Dimitrijevic, the opera’s story pits two strong women against princes and each other in a battle of love and politics. Adele Thomas directs the new production, with London Handel Festival Musical Director Laurence Cummings conducting the musicians of the London Handel Orchestra and a cast featuring Rachael Lloyd, James Laing, William Berger and Jette Parker Young Artists Jacquelyn Stucker and Patrick Terry.
The Royal Opera House welcomes award-winning South African lyric theatre company Isango Ensemble to the Linbury Theatre to present the first revival of A Man of Good Hope alongside a staging of SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill in April 2019. Based on Jonny Steinberg's book, A Man of Good Hope tells the true story of one refugee’s epic quest across Africa through music and dance. Mark Dornford-May’s production, co-produced by The Royal Opera and first seen at the Young Vic in 2016, has received widespread critical acclaim as ‘An extraordinary, magical piece of theatre’ (The Times), ‘Exhilarating and inspired’ (The Guardian) and ‘Glorious, vibrant musical theatre that speaks to the biggest concern of age’ (Financial Times). SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill is a powerful and moving requiem inspired by Fred Khumalo’s book on the real-life maritime disaster of 1917, when the SS Mendi sank off the Isle of Wight, killing more than 600 South Africans en route to the Western Front to support British troops. Transferring to London for the first time following hugely successful performances in Southampton as part of the 14-18 NOW World War I programme, SS Mendi is a remarkable retelling of a largely forgotten tragedy.
For their annual chamber opera in May 2019, The Royal Opera and the Jette Parker Young Artists present Henze’s Phaedra, in a new production by Jette Parker Young Artist director Noa Naamat. The late German composer’s final opera had its premiere at Berlin State Opera in 2007 and is a re-working of Greek myth. The story explores the death of Hippolytus, destroyed by his stepmother Phaedra’s obsessive love for him. Phaedra reunites the Jette Parker Young Artists with the musicians of Southbank Sinfonia, who are conducted by Edmund Whitehead.
Belgian director Ivo van Hove makes his Royal Opera debut in June 2019, bringing Muziektheater Transparant’s production of The Diary of One Who Disappeared to the Royal Opera House for its UK premiere. This unique staging of Leoš Janáček’s song cycle features singers Ed Lyon and Marie Hamard and actors Hugo Koolschijn and Gijs Scholten van Aschat, and includes new music by Annelies Van Parys composed for the production. Ivo van Hove’s work in London in recent seasons has been widely praised, most notably his productions of Lee Hall’s Network and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre, and of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic, for which he received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director.
In July 2019 The Royal Opera presents Engender, a new weekend festival that puts women working in opera at the front and centre of the action. Engender highlights a wealth of female talent both onstage and behind the scenes and provides a platform for conversations exploring gender in opera today. Events across the weekend offer insights into the creative process, first glimpses of work in progress, performances from emerging artists and the opportunity to examine and debate the future of opera with practitioners from across the art form.