Royal Opera House announces major name change and promising new season

Christmas will see productions of Frederick Ashton’s ‘Cinderella’ ballet and Antony McDonald’s opera ‘Hansel and Gretel’

Ellie Muir
Tuesday 30 April 2024 10:56 BST
Royal Opera House will now go by its new organisational name, Royal Ballet and Opera
Royal Opera House will now go by its new organisational name, Royal Ballet and Opera (PA)

The Royal Opera House has announced a major name change to Royal Ballet and Opera, and its ambitious programme for the 2024/25 season.

On Tuesday (30 April) the company, under its new and combined organisational name, announced eight new ballet productions, a world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera Festen and a European premiere of Wayne McGregor’s MaddAddam.

While the Royal Opera and Ballet have long operated in the same building, the organisation said today that it is including the ballet into its name to reflect the breadth of its offering.

Alex Beard, the chief executive of the Royal Ballet and Opera, said the name update was “long overdue”.

“The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera have performed under the same roof since 1946 – and both companies now enjoy the prominence that they rightfully deserve,” Beard said.

“Together, the Royal Ballet and Opera will continue to perform at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, with performances shown in cinemas around the world, marking an exciting new era for the two companies as they enter a thrilling 2024/25 Season.”

Lee Hall has written the libretto for Turnage’s Festen, with Allan Clayton, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Gerald Finley in the cast. Richard Jones will direct, with Edward Gardner as conductor.

Other new opera productions include Ted Huffman, who previously directed the 2016 staging of Philip Venables’ 4.48: Psychosis, making his main stage debut with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Offenbach’s last work The Tales of Hoffman (1880) will be directed by Damiano Michieletto, and a Leonard Bernstein double bill will mark the first time his two shorter-length semi-autobiographical operas Trouble in Tahiti and A Quiet Place have been staged at the Covent Garden house.

Royal Opera House will be known as Royal Ballet and Opera to include all aspects of institution’s offering
Royal Opera House will be known as Royal Ballet and Opera to include all aspects of institution’s offering (PA Archive)

Between the departure of English-Italian conductor Antonia Pappano’s as music director at the Royal Opera, Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša does not take over until September 2025, so this season will host them both.

Pappano will conduct Barrie Kosky’s second installment of Ring Cycle, Die Walküre. Christopher Maltman reprises as Wotan, Lise Davidsen sings the role of Siegline and Elisabet Strid as Brünnhilde.

The Royal Ballet will put on the European premiere of Wayne McGregor’s MaddAddam, based on Margaret Atwood’s trilogy of novels, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

Kenneth MacMillan’s acclaimed Romeo and Juliet will return, marking its 60th anniversary.

Meanwhile, new work will be presented by choreographers including Christopher Wheeldon, Crystal Pite, Joseph Toonga and Kyle Abraham.

For the Christmas season, Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella and Antony McDonald’s Humperdinck opera adaptation of Hansel and Gretel are billed to draw in the festive crowds.

Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez in Frederick Ashton’s ‘Cinderella', 2023
Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez in Frederick Ashton’s ‘Cinderella', 2023 (©Tristram Kenton)

The announcement comes as the organisation has experienced a 10 per cent cut in Arts Council England funding as many institutions in the arts sector face similar withdrawals of funding – like the English National Opera (ENO), which has relocated to Manchester after it was told by the Arts Council last year that it would lose its £12m of its funding unless it moved out of the capital.

“We suffered our own cuts – 10 per cent in Arts Council funding, and the economic pressures we feel are no different to those felt by others,” Royal Ballet and Opera chief executive Alex Beard told The Guardian. “[But] in that context it’s so important to put a confident foot forward and invest in the future of the art form.”

The Covent Garden institution continues its push towards younger audiences, offering £30 midweek tickets to those aged between 16 and 25. Ticket prices start from £3 in the Linbury, £4 for main stage ballet programmes and £8 for operas.

Booking for the 2024/25 season will open on Wednesday 10 July.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in