Homoki himself has six productions in the season, three of them new. The pick is Verdi’s La forza del destino – usually a rarity among his mature operas, but it’s had a few new productions in Europe in recent seasons. Zurich’s season brochure describes Verdi’s opera as “a merciless portrait of a broken society” indicating that perhaps Homoki will hold a mirror up to our own turbulent times. The relationship between Leonora and Don Alvaro is doomed from the start because of social differences, meaning her father would never accept him as her suitor. When their planned elopement goes wrong, ending with Alvaro’s accidental, but fatal, shooting of Leonora’s father, “the force of destiny” is unstoppable as Don Carlo, Leonora’s brother, seeks vengeance. The young cast is headed by Hibla Gerzmava as Leonora, Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee as Alvaro and George Petean as Carlo. Luisi, a safe pair of hands in Verdi, conducts.
Heinz Holliger’s new opera Lunea, directed by Homoki, has its genesis in a song about the 19th-century poet Nikolaus Lenau. The song was premiered in Zurich’s opera house by Christian Gerhaher and Holliger has now used it as the nucleus for his opera, which will not describe Lenau’s life, “but will shed light on texts, figures and situations from the cosmos of his life – through visions, flashes of insight and fantasy images.”
Of Homoki’s revivals, Der fliegende Holländer is the pick, with newly knighted Sir Bryn Terfel reprising the role of the Dutchman, while Piotr Beczała reprises the role of Prince Sou-Chong in Lehár’s The Land of Smiles, the staging of which premieres this summer.
It’s difficult second-guessing what Calixto Bieito has up his sleeve for Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, but one imagines he won’t skimp on the sex or the bloodshed. Eyebrows may be raised just by looking at the casting, with countertenors cast not just as Nero, but also as Amore.
Idomeneo isn’t always people’s idea of a favourite Mozart opera, yet it’s a deeply personal work where all the characters are in conflict. Idomeneo, King of Crete, is returning from the Trojan Wars when his ship is wrecked. Having sworn to Neptune that he will sacrifice the first man he meets if he is spared, Idomeneo washes up ashore where he is greeted by his own son, Idamante. Jetske Mijnssen directs Zurich’s new production with a cast headed by Joseph Kaiser and English mezzo Anna Stéphany as Idamante.
The key attraction of Sebastian Baumgarten’s new production of Weill’s satirical Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is surely Karita Mattila taking on the role of Leokadja Begbick, one of three fugitives on the make. Ted Huffmann directs a new Madama Butterfly, with Svetlana Aksenova as Cio-Cio San and Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu as Pinkerton. Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda includes the thrilling – but fictitious – encounter between Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart and is a gift for talented singers. David Alden’s new production features Diana Damrau as Maria and Salome Jicia as Elizabeth.
Edward Clug choreographs a new full length work on Goethe’s Faust, to a score composed by Milko Lazar. The work focuses on the elderly scholar’s thirst for knowledge and his self-doubts, but Clug also explores the story of Gretchen’s sacrifice and the hellish world of the Walpurgis Night. The season also sees a revival of Clug’s Rite of Spring and Crystal Pite's Emergence.
Alongside opera and ballet, Zurich’s season also features a number of orchestral concerts and Liederabend given by some of the world’s top singers, including Sonya Yoncheva, Michael Volle and Pretty Yende. There’s also a special gala concert given by legendary coloratura soprano Edita Gruberova, which will doubtless draw her many fans to Switzerland’s first city.
Article sponsored by Zurich Opera and Ballet.