OperaWire’s Top 10 Must-See Operas In 2020

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Dario Acosta/Gregor Hohenberg / Sony Music/Paola Kudacki / Met Opera)

The year 2019 offered up its fair share of amazing opera experiences. As the calendar changes to 2020, OperaWire is taking a look at some of the most hotly anticipated performances that the New Year will have to offer for audiences. Without further ado, here are the top 10 opera productions of 2020 that we are most excited for(This list only includes productions that have been announced).

10. Aggripina  – Metropolitan Opera

Harry Bicket conducts the Met premiere of Handel’s early work in Sir David McVicar’s acclaimed production from the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie. The production is set to star Joyce DiDonato in one of her signature roles, Kate Lindsey, Brenda Rae, Iestyn Davies, Brenda Rae in highly anticipated Met debut, Matthew Rose, and Duncan Rock.

Performance Dates: Feb. 6-March 7, 2020 

9. M. Butterfly – Santa Fe Opera

Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang world premiere their new work for the Santa Fe Opera. The opera will be directed by James Robinson and will star David Bizic, Kangmin Justin Kim, Hera Hyesang Park, Kevin Burdette, and Joshua Dennis. Xian Zhang conducts the premiere.

Performance Dates: August 1-26, 2020

8. I Masnadieri – Bayerische Staatsoper

Verdi’s rarely performed early work gets a new production by Johannes Erath. Michele Mariotti conducts an all-star cast headed by Charles Castronovo and Diana Damrau, making role debuts. Mika Kares and Igor Golovatenko also star with Carmen Giannattasio also performing in the production. The Munich theater is set to livestream the production on its streaming service.

Performance Dates: March 8-29, 2020 & July 1 & 4, 2020

7. Elisabetta Regina d’Inghilterra – Rossini Opera Festival

Davide Livermore directs a new production of Rossini’s work with Karine Deshayes, Sergey Romanovsky, Mariangela Sicilia, Sonia Prina, Barry Banks, and Oscar Ore. Bel Canto specialist Evelino Pido conducts the work.

Performance Dates: August 10-20, 2020

6. The Ring Cycle – Bayreuth Festival

Günther Groissböck stars in a new production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle directed by Valentin Schwarz and conducted by Pietari Inkinen. The new production will have three Brünnhildes including Petra Lang, Daniela Koehler, and Christine Goerke. Stephen Gould, Tomasz Konieczny, John Lundgren, Ain Anger, Lise Davidsen, Klaus Florian Vogt, Georg Zeppenfeld, Stefan Vinke, Wilhelm Schwinghammer, and Andreas Schager also star.

Performance Dates: Das Rhiengold: July 27-August 24, 2020, Die Walkure: July 28-August 25, 2020, Siegfried: July 31-August 27, 2020, Gotterdammerung: August 1-29, 2020

5. Fedora – Teatro alla Scala

Sonya Yoncheva makes her highly anticipated role debut in Giordano’s rarely performed work. The superstar soprano is joined by Roberto Alagna in his long awaited return to the Teatro alla Scala. Also in the cast are Mariangela Sicilia, and Massimo Cavalletti. Daniel Oren conducts the production by Mario Martone, who had great success at La Scala in his opening night production of “Andrea Chenier.”

Performance Dates: June 3-30, 2020

4. Fidelio – Royal Opera House

Jonas Kaufmann returns to the London stage in a new production of Beethoven’s only opera. The showcase, which celebrates the composer’s 250th birthday anniversary, will also star rising star Lise Davidsen, Georg Zeppenfeld, Amanda Forsythe, and Simon Neal.

Antonio Pappano conducts the new production by Tobias Kratzer. This run of performances is already sold-out but audiences will be able to check it out in cinemas.

Performance Dates: March 1-17, 2020

3. Castor and Patience – Cincinnati Opera

Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith world premiere their new opera in a production by Kevin Newbury. The cast will include Latonia Moore, Kevin Short, Frederick Ballentine, Janai Brugger, Catherine Martin, and Davóne Tines. Kazem Abdullah conducts the production which will be a special event, especially after Spears’ first work “Fellow Travelers.”

Performance Dates: July 16-26, 2020

2. Don Carlo – Semperoper Dresden, Salzburg Easter Festival

Anna Netrebko makes her highly anticipated role debut as Elisabetta in a new production of Verdi’s epic by Vera Nemirova in Dresden. The sold-out production is also set to star Yusif Eyvazov, Franco Vassallo, Ekaterina Semenchuk, and Ildar Abdrazakov.

Christian Thieleman will conduct the opera, which will be broadcast on Arte. The production will also be shown at the Salzburg Easter Festival with Anja Harteros.

Performance Dates: Dresden: May 23-June 1, 2020, Salzburg: April 3 & 14, 2020

1. Seven Deaths of Maria Callas – Bayerische Staatsoper, Greek National Opera, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

By far the most ambitious production of the year is an opera project by Marina Abramović which is set to include music by Marko Nikodijević and scenes of operas by Georges Bizet, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Puccini, and Giuseppe Verdi. The production by Abramović and Lynsey Peisinger will be conducted Yoel Gamzou and will star a number of young singers including Nadezhda Karyazina, Whitney Morrison, Leah Hawkins, Adela Zaharia, Selene Zanetti, Gabriella Reyes, and Hera Hyesang Park.

Willem Dafoe makes a special appearance as the film actor and Abramović will also perform. The production is also expected to appear at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Opéra National de Paris.

Performance Dates: Munich: April 11-14, 2020, Florence: June 4-6, 2020, Athens: July 8-10, 2020


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