The best classical concerts and opera of summer 2016

    Oedipus finally reaches Britain, there’s a Messiaen marathon in Suffolk, Opera North’s Ring hits the road – and John Luther Adams summons up a deluge

    Summer culture: Film | Dance | Theatre | Art | Comedy | Music | TV

Nature, Life and Love

The Hallé’s Dvořák festival includes some rarities along with the well-known symphonies and concertos. There are overtures and symphonic poems, and the final concert is given over to Mark Elder’s performance of the oratorio St Ludmila, hardly ever performed in Britain but regarded by Dvořák enthusiasts as one of his greatest achievements.
•5 to 21 May, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

In Parenthesis

Commissioned to mark Welsh National Opera’s 70th birthday and to commemorate the Battle of the Somme a century ago, Iain Bell’s new opera is based on David Jones’s poetic novel of the same name, which attempts to find hope even in the carnage and trenches of the first world war.
•13 and 21 May; 3 June, Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Then touring.

John Luther Adams premieres his Pultizer-winning work Become Ocean in the UK.
John Luther Adams premieres his Pultizer-winning work Become Ocean in the UK. Photograph: Donald Lee

Become Ocean

John Luther Adams’ apocalyptic orchestral piece was inspired by the seascapes of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and by the thought that if sea levels continue to rise we shall all eventually “become ocean”. The 40-minute work won a Pulitzer prize two years ago; this will be its UK premiere, with Ludovic Morlot conducting the CBSO.
•19 May, Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Sarah Connolly will appear in Oedipe at the ROH.
Sarah Connolly will appear as Jocasta in Oedipe at the ROH. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Oedipe

George Enescu’s only opera, widely regarded as one of the finest of the 20th century, finally reaches a British stage – 80 years after its Paris premiere. Fura dels Baus’s spectacular production comes to Covent Garden from the Monnaie in Brussels. Johan Reuter sings the role of Oedipus, with Sophie Bevan as Antigone, Sarah Connolly as Jocasta and Leo Hussain conducting.
•23 May to 8 June, Royal Opera House, London.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Directed and designed by Peter Mumford, Opera North’s concert staging of Wagner’s great cycle has been painstakingly compiled opera by opera, year by year, and heaped with praise all along the way. Now the entire tetralogy is being toured, making a worthy culmination to Richard Farnes’s years as the company’s music director.
•24 to 29 May, Town Hall, Leeds. Then touring.

Kelly Cae Hogan in Die Walkure.
Kelly Cae Hogan in Die Walkure. Photograph: Clive Barda

Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals

Stravinsky’s music is a regular part of the concert repertory. Along with the familiar masterpieces, the Philharmonia’s festival, devised by music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, also includes less frequently heard scores, such as the ballet Agon, the opera Mavra, and that extraordinary, unclassifiable evocation of Russian village life, Les Noces.
•15 to 26 May; 26 and 29 September, Southbank Centre, London.

Tristan and Isolde

The final new production of English National Opera’s 2015-16 season sees the return of Edward Gardner, its much missed former music director. Gardner follows up his conducting of last year’s hugely successful Mastersingers with more Wagner. The new production of Tristan is directed by newly announced artistic director Daniel Kramer, with Stuart Skelton and Heidi Melton as the doomy lovers.
•9 June to 9 July, Coliseum, London.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard has been artistic director of the Aldeburgh festival since 2008. He’s stepping down at the end of this year’s event, and marking his departure with a pair of pianistic marathons. On 19 June, he’s playing Messiaen’s great Catalogue d’Oiseaux from dawn to dusk at various locations in the Suffolk countryside, while a week later he’s taking part in a performance of Bartók’s cycle of teaching pieces, Mikrokosmos.
•10 to 26 June, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh.

Nature sounds … Pierre-Lauren Aimard brings a piano marathon to Snape Maltings in June.

The Hogboon

Peter Maxwell Davies’s community opera, commissioned by the LSO and based on an Orcadian folk tale, was one of the works still to be performed when the composer died in March. The world premiere takes place in the orchestra’s final concert of the season. It will be conducted by Simon Rattle, with children’s and student choirs and the orchestra’s own chorus.
•26 June, Barbican, London.

The Makropoulos Case

The real goodies in this year’s BBC proms tend to be concentrated in the final weeks of the season. But opera lovers won’t want to miss Jiří Bělohlávek’s concert performance with the BBC Symphony of Janáček’s masterpiece, in which Karita Mattila will sing the role of Emilia Marty for the first time in the UK.
•19 August, Royal Albert Hall, London.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The top classical, world, folk and jazz of summer 2017
Comedy choirs, desert rock, a trip to the moon and a musical tour of Hull are the standout sounds of the season. Plus Django Bates jazzes up Sgt Pepper

Tim Ashley, Robin Denselow, John Fordham and Imogen Tilden

19, Jun, 2017 @5:00 AM

Article image
The top 10 classical concerts and operas of 2015
Andris Nelsons and Simon Rattle led masterful surveys of Beethoven and Sibelius, the Proms made it great to stay up late, and opera brought moments both comic and surreal

Andrew Clements and Guardian music

16, Dec, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
2013 classical and opera preview: Lulu in Wales and Disney at the ENO
Andrew Clements: David Pountney directs Berg's opera about the doomed femme fatale for WNO while Philip Glass's opera about Walt Disney receives its British premiere

Andrew Clements

30, Dec, 2012 @8:22 PM

Article image
Best of 2015: our classical critics pick their favourite live events
There were masterly turns by prodigious youngsters, and vigorous performances by mature masters – across the UK, it’s been a fascinating classical year

Rian Evans, Alfred Hickling, Erica Jeal, Martin Kettle, Kate Molleson

18, Dec, 2015 @8:00 AM

Article image
War, peace, and everything between: the best classical music of autumn 2018
WNO takes on Tolstoy, Lothian’s other festival grows in stature, and Gershwin pays a visit to the Coliseum

Andrew Clements

27, Aug, 2018 @5:01 AM

Article image
From Adès’ angel to Verdi’s fat knight: what to see as classical and opera venues reopen
Live music is back across the UK; we pick ten events to brighten the coming months

Andrew Clements

14, May, 2021 @3:42 PM

Article image
The top 10 classical shows of 2017
A magisterial Monteverdi cycle, Oliver Knussen’s adventures in haiku – and a hero’s return for Simon Rattle. Our critic picks his highlights

Andrew Clements

18, Dec, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Beyoncé and beyond: the hottest sounds of summer 2016
Bob, Beyoncé and the Boss top a summer that sees Kendrick Lamar pimp Hyde Park and Axl Rose front AC/DC. Plus the return of Dexys, ABC – and Adam Ant

Robin Denselow, John Fordham, Harriet Gibsone, Michael Hann, Tim Jonze, Alexis Petridis and Imogen Tilden

02, May, 2016 @3:46 PM

Article image
Les Vêpres Siciliennes review – theatricality and spectacle in Verdi's grand opera
Conductor Carlo Rizzi and Welsh National Opera’s chorus and orchestra give the ear much to savour, but the voices disappoint in David Pountney’s new production

Rian Evans

10, Feb, 2020 @10:57 AM

Article image
Hansel and Gretel review – ENO take fairytale opera and fly with it
English National Opera’s update of Humperdinck’s masterpiece strikes the right note between pathos and enchantment

Andrew Clements

18, Jun, 2019 @11:32 AM