As the Southbank Centre braces itself for a year of Noise (see feature, page 58), and opera-lovers contemplate a feast of Britten, Verdi and Wagner, lutenist Paul O'Dette explores the melancholy and wit of 450-year-old John Dowland on Thursday at London's Wigmore Hall. Kasper Holten directs Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House from 4 February, Welsh National Opera enters a new era as Lulu opens at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 8 February, and Scottish Opera pays a belated centenary tribute to Massenet with Pia Furtado's production of Werther at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, from 15 February.
Highlights of the Britten centenary include Tim Albery's seaside staging of Peter Grimes at the Aldeburgh Festival, from 7 June, a new production of Gloriana from Richard Jones at the Royal Opera House from 10 June, and an all-star concert performance of Albert Herring at the Barbican, London, on the composer's birthday weekend in late November. Fellow anniversary composers Wagner and Verdi duke it out through the first six months of the year. Ronald Samm takes the lead in Opera North's Otello at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, starting next week. English National Opera presents Peter Konwitschny's controversial reading of La traviata a couple of weeks later. English Touring Opera takes Simon Boccanegra on the road from 8 March, and the Royal Opera House has a new production of Nabucco from 30 March.
Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé play Act III of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, 10 February. Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conclude their survey of Tristan und Isolde at City Halls, Glasgow, 14 February. Northern Ireland Opera and Scottish Opera have new productions of The Flying Dutchman, from 15 February and 4 April respectively, while Richard Farnes and Opera North's semi-staged Ring cycle continues with Siegfried in Leeds, Birmingham, Gateshead and Salford, from 15 June.
Away from the anniversary trifecta, Thomas Zehetmair and Northern Sinfonia continue their parallel cycles of Brahms and Schumann symphonies at the Sage, Gateshead, on 2 February and 9 June. Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra focus on the sublime in their Glasgow and Edinburgh performances of Das Lied von der Erde, 15 and 16 March, and Harold in Italy, 4 and 5 April. For lovers of French Baroque music, David McVicar directs Charpentier's Médée for English National Opera from 15 February, while Glyndebourne presents its first production of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie from 26 June.
Lauded at its Aix-en-Provence premiere, George Benjamin's Written on Skin arrives at the Royal Opera House in early March. London Sinfonietta give the world premiere of Steve Reich's Radio Rewrite at the Royal Festival Hall, 5 March, and Music Theatre Wales tour Salvatore Sciarrino's magnetic Luci mie traditrici (dates to be confirmed). Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic visit the Barbican with John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, 16 March, and Philip Glass's The Perfect American opens at the Coliseum, 13 June. Summer plans fall into place as the 2013 BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival programmes are unveiled in the spring. Until then, two rarities stand out for forward planning: Wolf-Ferrari's I gioielli della Madonna at Opera Holland Park from 23 July, and Jacopo Foroni's Cristina, Regina di Svezia, wild card in the 2013 Wexford Opera Festival, from 23 October.
Face to watch
South Korean-born soprano Hye-Youn Lee was an electrifying Elettra in last year's Grange Park Opera production of Idomeneo, and has the role of neurotic novice Blanche de la Force in this year's staging of Dialogues des Carmélites.