Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden: May 20/24/28/31 and June 3/6/9
Un Ballo in Maschera, Opera Holland Park; June 8/10/12/14/19/21/25/27/29
On Tuesday 21 May, the day after opening in her sixteenth production at the Royal Opera House, Rosalind Plowright will celebrate her 70th birthday. Over her 45 year career, Plowright has sung in musicals, Eric Idle and John Du Prez's oratorio based on Life of Brian: Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy), and made cameo appearances in films for London Weekend TV and the BBC, but it is her finely observed portrayals - 74 characters in 67 operas ranging from Monteverdi to Dallapiccola – that have won her worldwide respect and admiration.
This will be Plowright's second production of Andrea Chénier at Covent Garden. For her first, in 1984, she was cast as Maddalena di Coigny opposite Jose Carreras. Ten years later, she returned to the opera in the role that she is about to reprise, La Contessa di Coigny, a role which she also performed in Munich.
Singing her opening performance in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera at Opera Holland Park just as the run of Andrea Chénier comes to an end, Plowright returns to the composer who has been at the centre of her repertoire ever since singing the role of Aida in Frankfurt in 1981. Madame Arvidson marks Plowright's second role in Un Ballo in Maschera and her fifteenth Verdi role, including the soprano role in Verdi's Requiem which she sang at the BBC Proms in 1984. Her previous appearances at Opera Holland Park include two Cilea operas L'arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur, Puccini's Suor Angelica and Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.
Commenting on the roles available to her in her 70th year, Plowright said: "I'm loving the roles I am doing now. Parts like the Countess in Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades, the Baroness in Samuel Barber's Vanessa, Mrs Sedley in Britten's Peter Grimes – they have a lot more character than the simpering soprano leads. Obviously, I can't sing those roles any more anyway, and I hardly look the part, so it's great to give my career a new chapter in this way."