This year is coming to a close and after having looked back at some of the milestones certain stars made this year, it is time to look at 2017. There is so much to look forward to as many of the greatest stars will take on new roles while other will reprise signature roles in new productions with star-studded casts. The following is a look at the new productions that are all likely to create buzz and conversations around the world, productions that will be sold out and have audiences in line waiting for rush tickets. Note that this only includes productions included as part of the 2016-17 season, so late-year showcases are not included.
17. Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffman” at the Los Angeles Opera: It may not be a new production but the Los Angeles Opera’s revival of Offenbach’s masterpiece is one not be missed. Diana Damrau stars as the four heroines, roles she has triumphed in numerous times. She will be joined by Vittorio Grigolo in the title role. The two stars have created some very electric performances that have attracted audiences all over the world. Their unforgettable chemistry in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Massenet’s “Manon” are just a few reasons not to miss this run. Placido Domingo conducts the work while his wife Marta Domingo directs.
16. Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma: Marina Rebeka has become one of the most exciting artists of our time. Her technical perfection is coupled with powerful expression that makes audiences want to revisit her work again and again. Her acting is natural and her coloratura roulades are affecting. As a result, Rebeka’s foray into Donizetti’s second queen at the Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma is not to be missed. It is a sure triumph and a role that she will likely take on for years to come. Andrea de Rosa directs the new production with Paolo Fanale also starring.
15. Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” at the Vienna State Opera: Anna Netrebko has triumphed in the role of Leonora all in New York, Salzburg and Berlin and numerous other major cities. However, this is the first time she will bring her signature role to the Vienna State Opera. Add in Roberto Alagna who has incredible chemistry with Netrebko and you have a dynamic duo. The rest of the cast is also a powerhouse that includes Luciana D’Intino and Ludovic Tezier. Danielle Abbado brings visual mastery to the new production with Marco Armiliato conducting.
14. Rossini’s “Otello” at LoftOpera: There are no stars at Loft Opera and there is no conventional venue. What there is is a spirit to make great music and attract younger audiences to the opera. While the cast has not been announced and there are absolutely no details about the production, this is an opera audiences still have to go see. Why? This company is defining the meaning of opera and creating a fun experience that has attracted the millennial audience that big opera companies are dying for. Top that off with $5 beer and you have an entertaining and wacky experience. This is undeniably the best way to discover one of Rossini’s finest works.
13. Bizet’s “Les Pecheurs de Perles” at the Berlin State Opera: Every time filmmaker Wim Wenders delves into a new project it is something to see. This time he will direct the classic Bizet opera at the Berlin State Opera and with his visual style in this is a production not to be missed. Of course Daniel Barenboim is conducting a superstar cast that includes Olga Peretyatko in her role debut and the young Italian tenor Francesco Demuro.
12. Puccini’s “Tosca” in Baden Baden: It has been years since Kristine Opolais sang her first Tosca. But back then she was still a rising star. Since then Opolais has become one of the greatest Puccini interpreters of our time. Opolais is one of those intense performers that gives it all on stage and creates real drama. In the new production by Philipp Himmelmann, there is no doubt that after so many great Puccini roles and more experience, her return to Tosca in Baden Baden will be unforgettable. Sir Simon Rattle will add even more excitement to the evening with his lush and detailed conducting.
11. Auber’s “Fra Diavolo” in Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma: This work is by far the least known on this list and for that same reason, it deserves a spot. For Roma to tackle an unknown opera and line up John Osborn, Sonia Ganassi and Pretty Yende is already a victory. It is important to find unknown works and add them to the repertoire and Roma’s artistic dedication to this will likely pay off with this all star cast.
10. Rossini’s “La Gazza ladra” at Teatro alla Scala: Ever since Riccardo Chailly became music director at La Scala, he has made sure to bring back rare operas to the house and experimented with editions. While this new production of Rossini’s work has no big stars, Chailly’s textured conducting will likely bring out some of the musical gems sometimes ignored in this opera. It is also important that La Scala also plans to relay it in cinemas, allowing audiences around the world to hear this rare work.
9. Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk” at the Salzburg Festival: Never underestimate Nina Stemme and her powerful voice. She is one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos in the world and one of the best actresses. This year she will make her role debut as Katerina in Shostakovich’s masterpiece and this is the single reason audiences should be excited as she delves into difficult, yet rewarding territory. She is joined by legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, who adds star power to the cast. Andreas Kriegenburg directs the new production with Mariss Jansons in the pit.
8. Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier” at Bayerische Staatsoper: Anja Harteros and Jonas Kaufmann are a powerhouse duo that have sung numerous roles together in Munich including Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” “La Forza del Destino, “Il Trovatore” and Wagner’s “Lohengrin.” The duo is beloved in Munich and they are sure to bring vocal fireworks to the run of this work. Add in a new production by Philipp Stölzl and baritone Luca Salsi and you have a night at the opera that will be unforgettable.
7. Strauss “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera: Strauss’ opera is one that audiences adore and one that Renee Fleming has made a signature for years. This year she says goodbye to the role and at the same time to Met audiences. It will be the last time to catch her in an opera production for a while so it is crucial to see this great performer. In her performances she’ll be joined by Elina Garanca in her final performances of the opera and Matthew Polenzani, who will be the Italian tenor. Robert Carsen’s new production is also getting rave reviews from the Royal Opera House so that makes it even more urgent to go and see this production.
6. Rossini’s “Semiramide” at the Bayerische Staatsoper: Joyce Didonato is one of the great bel canto singers of our time. She has conquered Rossini operas like “La Donna del Lago, “La Cenerentola,” “Le Comte Ory” and “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” and Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda.” That is why it is so exciting to see her adding the role of Semiramide to her repertoire. Known for its challenges and length, Didonato is accompanied by a great cast that includes Lawrence Brownlee and Rossini expert Daniella Barcelona. Michele Mariotti will conduct the production by David Alden.
5. Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nuremburg” at the Royal Opera House: Antonio Pappano’s detail to Wagner’s music is always a a pleasure to listen to. This year he conducts Wagner’s timeless comedy in a new production by Kasper Holten, which will mark his last at the Royal Opera. And the great news is that he will be joined by Bryn Terfel in the lead role. Terfel has already triumphed in numerous Wagner roles and the addition of Hans Sachs is one audiences should be excited for.
4. Wagner’s “Die Walkure” at the Salzburg Easter Festival: Anja Kampe, Anja Harteros, Peter Seiffert, and Vitalij Kowaljow are just some of the names who form the cast of Wagner’s “Die Walkure.” Top that with Christian Thielemann’s masterful conducting and you have Wagner’s music at an apex. Tickets are limited for this run at the Salzburg Festival so it is crucial to get a ticket as soon as possible.
3. Dvorak’s “Rusalka” at the Metropolitan Opera: It’s not Mary Zimmerman‘s production that makes this opera so exciting this year. It’s the casting that Peter Gelb has lined up. Kristine Opolais will star in the role that made her a big star alongside great American tenor Brandon Jovanovich. Jamie Barton will make her role debut as Jezibaba and Eric Owens will portray the Water Nymph. Even more exciting is that Met lined Katerina Dalayman to sing the foreign princess. This is the all star cast that Met audiences expect and they will likely be in for a treat with this production.
2. Verdi’s “Aida” at the Salzburg Festival: Every time Anna Netrebko makes a role debut it is exciting to see what the soprano does with the role and how much she has grown as an artist. As a result, her upcoming “Aida” performances are ones that will be the hottest ticket at the Salzburg Festival. Not only has Netrebko triumphed in every Verdi role she has performed to date but she has shown new sides to the beloved characters. With Aida, Netrebko will move one more step into the dramatic repertoire. She will be joined by Francesco Meli in his first Radames and the imposing Ekaterina Semenchuck, who is one the best dramatic mezzo sopranos around. Luca Salsi will round out the cast with Riccardo Muti in the pit in his return to the Salzburg Festival.
1. Verdi’s “Otello” at the Royal Opera House: Jonas Kaufmann is set to climb the Mount Everest of Tenor roles with Verdi’s masterpiece “Otello.” Known as the most challenging role for tenor, audiences have been craving for Kaufmann to sing the title role for years and the wait is almost over. With tickets yet to go on sale, every performance will likely be sold out by the end of the first day. But thankfully for those who don’t get a ticket, the performance run will be filmed and relayed in cinemas. Antonio Pappano will conduct the new production by Keith Warner and Maria Agresta and Ludovic Tezier will round out the cast.