The Royal Opera is delighted to be returning to Japan in September 2019 as part of an exciting year of UK–Japan exchanges, titled UK in Japan 2019–20, following the Company’s hugely successful tour in autumn 2015. In September 2019, The Royal Opera will present performances of David McVicar’s sumptuous staging of Charles-François Gounod’s masterpiece Faust, and of Keith Warner’s psychologically probing and moving production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Shakespeare-inspired opera Otello. All performances are conducted by The Royal Opera’s Music Director Antonio Pappano.
Faust opens the tour on Thursday 12 September 2019 and features a cast including Italian tenor Vittorio Grigòlo in the title role, Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as his diabolic companion Méphistophélès and American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Faust’s lover Marguerite. The production was last performed by The Royal Opera in April 2019.
The opera tells the story of the philosopher Faust’s ill-considered pact with the devil Méphistophélès, who offers him youth and the love of the beautiful Marguerite, in exchange for the philosopher’s soul. All too soon, Faust realizes that his quest for pleasure may have disastrous consequences.
This production sets the action in Paris in the early 1870s, draws parallels between the experiences of Gounod and Faust, and revels in the opera’s gothic elements. Themes of love, betrayal and the battle between good and evil are brought to life through the spectacular set designs of Charles Edwards, elegant costume designs by Brigitte Reiffenstuel and atmospheric lighting design by Paule Constable. David McVicar’s staging is revived by Bruno Ravella. The vigorous original choreography by Michael Keegan-Dolan is revived for this run by Emmanuel Obeya.
Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello opens on Saturday 14 September 2019 and features a cast including American tenor Gregory Kunde in the title role, Armenian soprano Hrachuhi Bassenz as Desdemona and Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley as Iago. The production was last seen at the Royal Opera House in June 2017.
Designer Boris Kudlička’s semi-abstract sets and Kaspar Glarner’s period costumes highlight the contrasting innocence of Desdemona and malevolence of Iago, while Bruno Poet’s lighting designs reflect Otello’s increasingly troubled emotions. Warner sensitively examines the relationships between Moors, Turks and Westerners in Shakespeare’s time, and shows how Otello feels an outsider in his society, which contributes to his loss of confidence and gradual mental collapse. For this run of performances, Keith Warner’s staging is revived by Royal Opera Staff Director Julia Burbach.
Faust opens the tour at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno Park on 12 September 2019, with subsequent performances on 15 and 18 September 2019. The production also visits Kanagawa Kenmin Hall in Yokohama on 22 September 2019. Otello opens at Kanagawa Kenmin Hall on 14 September 2019, with an additional performance on 16 September 2019, and visits Tokyo Bunka Kaikan on 21 and 23 September 2019.