Gothenburg Opera’s 2015-6 season has started with a humdinger: Nina Stemme stepping into the shoes of Ingrid Bergman to play Alicia Hauser in the world première of Hans Gefors operatic take on Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. In her review here on Bachtrack, Katharina Hogrefe enthuses about how “every change and shift in plot was always audible in Stemme’s voice” and about the production in general, describing it as a role model for how exciting, modern opera can succeed. Notorious is on until November 1st, and at time of writing, there are just a few tickets left, so you might still be able to catch a performance.

© Ingmar Jernberg
© Ingmar Jernberg
For classic fare, look no further than Le nozze di Figaro (whose Swedish name, Figaros Bröllop, sounds gorgeously like the mayhem in the opera). The production, by Gothenburg Opera’s Artistic Director Stephen Langridge, premièred in 2014 to rave reviews, described here by Waltraut Anna Kautz as “entertainment on the highest level, up until the very last chord”. A strong cast includes Malin Hartelius and Markus Schwartz from last September’s première.

<i>Věc Makropulos</i> directed by David Radok © Patrik Borecky
Věc Makropulos directed by David Radok
© Patrik Borecky
My personal pick of the season is one of my favourite 20th century operas, Janáček’s The Makropulos Case. I’ve always loved the idea that opera can tackle improbable genres like science fiction, and Makropulos is a thought-provoking “beware of what you wish for” as it explores the probable true consequences of eternal youth and beauty – as well as featuring a ravishing score. The production, which receives ten performances between November and February, is a collaboration with the National Theatre of Janáček’s home town, Brno in Czech Republic, and it’s the first time the opera will have been sung in Sweden in its original Czech language.

Expect a strong dose of Japanese authenticity in a new production of Madama Butterfly in March and April: the director is the acclaimed Japanese actor and director Yoshi Oïda, who has a clutch of directing credits in both straight theatre and opera as well as being notable for many collaborations with Peter Brook. The role of Cio Cio San is shared between two Korean sopranos: Jung Nan Yoon and Karah Son.

The other two productions of the season give a nod to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This includes the other big Italian opera of the season: Verdi’s Macbeth, in a revival of David Radok’s 2008 production. The list of operatic productions is completed by a late romantic rarity: Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, being performed for first time ever in Sweden – surprisingly so given that the role of Ophelia was originally written for a Swedish soprano and includes a Swedish folksong added to the opera specifically for her.

<i>Crazy for you</i> - Denny Lekström (Bobby Barn), Jenny Holmgren (Polly Baker), ensemble © Mats Bäcker
Crazy for you - Denny Lekström (Bobby Barn), Jenny Holmgren (Polly Baker), ensemble
© Mats Bäcker
European theatres seem less fussy about distinguishing opera and musicals than those in the UK and the US. and Gothenburg’s season includes a long run of Crazy for you, the updated version of George Gershwin’s Girl Crazy. If your greatest delight in musical theatre is to listen to memorable tunes, you can’t get better than this, with I Got Rhythm and Someone to Watch Over Me topping a list of standards in a production enlivened by plenty of tap dance. Several of the numbers will also feature in a concert programme entitled “Gershwin!”, which the company will be touring around a variety of venues in the Västra Götaland region.

The Opera House plays host to several concerts through the season, including a performance of Holst’s The Planets. But in February, the most eye-catching of the concerts focuses on our specific planet. George Fenton received great acclaim for his music for the BBC series The Blue Planet. For four performances, the opera house will be turned into a cinema to watch a show based on the series, and Fenton himself will be conducting the Gothenburg Opera Orchestra to perform the music. If you’re wanting to get the uninitiated to hear symphonic music played by a real orchestra, I can’t think of a better way to do it.


This article was sponsored by Gothenburg Opera


Watch Gothenburg Opera’s video about Notorious: