The voice of Liceu. New season 2018/19

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Press release · NEW SEASON 2018/19




A wide variety of styles embracing pieces from the 18th through the 21st century featuring the world première of L’enigma di Lea by Benet Casablancas, with stage direction by Carme Portaceli and musical direction Josep Pons.

A new season with strong female roles in the operatic titles and 3 leading female stage directors -Portaceli, de Beer and Miskimmon- with new and inventive performances on stage.

Liceu continues to be a venue for international great voices with Camarena, Damrau, Radvanovsky, Theorin, Beczala, DiDonato, Yende, Buratto, Schrott, Haroutounian, Bakanova, etc. as well as great Catalan and Spanish singers such as Álvarez, Albelo, Arteta, Sabata, Moreno, Beaumont, de León, Blanch, and Calvo, among others.

A new co-production to inaugurate the season with Bellini's I Puritani with stage direction by Annilese Miskimmon and musical direction by Christopher Franklin

Wagner's inspiring spirit guides the new "Chamber Music at Liceu" project led by Josep Pons featuring the Theatre's Chorus and Orchestra. The Orchestra's symphonic concerts also evoke the paths forged by the German composer.

Large formations and technology will also be present in the new season with Ponchielli's La Gioconda, featuring 238 artists on the stage and Händel's Rodelinda, with stage direction by Claus Guth, large format projections and a mobile building in the set design.

The season boasts a remarkable combination of classic titles and breakthrough projects. Les pêcheurs de perles returns to Liceu after 54 years with a performance featuring a reality show approach.


Bernstein's Candide will be performed in a concert version for the first time at Liceu to commemorate the centenary of the composer's birth under the baton of John DeMain.

Theorin, Arteta and Buratto will début in the role, while Haroutounian and Bakanova will sing in the Theatre for the first time, among others.

David Alden with Kátya Kabanová and Damiano Michieletto with Luisa Miller offer two of the most intense performance with Josep Pons and Domingo Hindoyan as musical directors, respectively.

Liceu once again retains 3 ballets, promoting Spanish dance troupes this season with the CND and BNE. The Ballet of the Opéra de Lyon will step onto Liceu's stage for the first time with three contemporary pieces by Jiří Kylián.

Liceu will being its collaboration with ADMAF, the organiser of the Festival of Abu Dhabi, with the international lute player Naseer Shamma and the concert From Ashur to Seville and the Beit Al Oud Orchestra.

El Petit Liceu will promote two new productions: Mans a l’òpera! by Xavi Mateu andAcròbata i Arlequí by the company La Maquiné.

Barcelona, 26 March 2018

The Gran Teatre del Liceu has presented its new 2018/19 season in a press release featuring the president of the Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu, Salvador Alemany, the artistic director, Christina Scheppelmann, and the musical director, Josep Pons. The new general director of the institution was publicly announced just yesterday. Valentí Oviedo will be presented in the second half of April.

The new 2018/19 season boasts 10 staged operas and 3 in concert version by 11 composers. Liceu continues to place special emphasis on dance, hosting 3 ballets, which are added to the 10 concertsand recitals6 shows at El Petit Liceu and activities in the Foyer, including a new musical project: “Chamber Music at Liceu”. This season is focused on great titles with great voices, engaging variedaesthetic tastes and participating in the international opera scene with new co-productions. These three central points for the new schedule intend to offer a great breadth of styles and encompass everything from Baroque music to contemporary music with the global première of L’enigma di Leaby Benet Casablancas. This new production from Liceu features text by Rafael Argullol, musical direction by Josep Pons, stage direction by Carme Portaceli and set design by Paco Azorín. The team places special focus on contemporary music paired with a top-notch cast featuring Allison Cook as Lea. This new performance, Casablancas' first opera, is staged in a space beyond time where Lea, a possession of God and an immortal being, cannot reveal her secret. The importance of the new repertoire is one of the main focal points of Scheppelmann's artistic project: "as a public-private opera theatre we have to expand the repertoire and provide support to new lyrical creation". Along these same lines, OFF LICEU retains 3 dates in the programme and is an integral project supporting contemporary music and new composers.

Bellini's I Puritani inaugurates the season with a new co-production by Liceu with the Welsh and Danish National Operas. One of the highlights of the season features the outstanding Javier Camarena and Pretty Yende directed by Christopher Franklin. The innovative and risk-taking stage performance is directed by Annilese Miskimmon who initially locates this timeless love story in 20th-century Northern Ireland. Through Elvira's madness, the opera leaps back in time to the time of Cromwell and the English Civil War where the original piece is set. Another of the season's breakthrough pieces comes from stage director Lotte de Beer's rendering of Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, where opera and reality show go hand in hand. This opera, musically directed by Yves Abel, features the voices of Ekaterina Bakanova, in her début at the Theatre, and Olga Kulchinska in the role of Leila, along with John Osborn and Dimitry Korchak as Nadir. Les pêcheurs, which has not graced the Theatre since 1964, is based on a love triangle in a religious backdrop. The new performance, a production of the Theater an der Wien, takes on a new modern reinterpretation, while remaining faithful to the subtext of the work.

The notable female roles in the opera titles are combined with 3 new and inventive renderings from three female stage directors, Portaceli, Miskimmon and de Beer. Liceu's artistic director also believesaesthetic innovation requires a feminine point of view: "we try to find spaces for disruption, creativity and surprise. We also seek to balance options that expand the horizons of our audience".Kátya Kabanová, one of the most sordid titles of Janáček's operatic catalogue and also one of the least seen in Liceu, portrays women's desire for freedom in a set designed by David Alden who delves into a dysfunctional society within Soviet totalitarianism. This title is an exciting challenge for Liceu's Symphonic Orchestra which takes on the lead in this piece from the Czech repertoire with 85 musicians in the pit directed by Maestro Pons. The production by the English National Opera features the American soprano Patricia Racette. Rossini's L’italiana in Algeri, which also focuses on the women's determination to be free and the search for freedom, returns to Liceu after 36 years. This comic farce, also under-represented in the Theatre, boasts a lively and colourful set-up by theregista Vittorio Borrelli, with the imaginative spirit of Rossini's music taken up by Riccardo Frizza.

The season itself pays special recognition to the Baroque repertoire focusing on the versatile composer Georg Friedrich Händel. Rodelinda is the first piece to be featured, unveiled in 1725 in London and never before seen at Liceu. A new co-production with the Royal Theatre, the Opéra de Lyon and Oper de Frankfurt, arrives under the baton of the titular conductor Josep Pons and stage direction by Claus Guth who recreates the story through the imagination of Flavio, the son of the monarchs. A dazzling mobile set design and large-scale projections make this opera one of the largest and most anticipated productions of the season. The cast, led by the soprano Lisette Oropesa and the counter-tenor Bejun Mehta, shines in one of Händel's least known operas. Agrippina, on the other hand, the last opera by composer unveiled in Italy in 1709, can be seen in concert version with the voice of Joyce DiDonato and a cast with great specialists in Baroque opera such as the bass Luca Pisaroni and the Argentine counter-tenor Franco Fagioli. The work Il Pomo d’Oro, under the musical direction and harpsichord of Maxim Emelyanychev, tackles one of the great Baroque operas from the early 18th century.


La Gioconda by Ponchielli, another of the season's main performances, has not only charmed Liceu's audiences in the past, but also represents the long-awaited début of Iréne Theorin in an Italian role at Liceu. This interpretation by Pier Luigi Pizzi boasts more than 230 artists -147 actors on stage and 91 musicians- under the musical direction of Guillermo Garcia Calvo and a masterful orchestration which includes the mythical "Dance of the Hours". The star-studded cast features Dolora Zajick, Brian Jagde, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, and Maria José Montiel, among others. Puccini's Madama Butterflyand Tosca are also two of Liceu's most acclaimed successes that can be seen this season, both with novelties and great voices driving the performance. Ainhoa Arteta will début in the role of Cio Cio San alternating with Lianna Haroutounian who will grace Liceu's stage for the first time. Giampaolo Bisanti will direct this staging by Moshe Lesier while Patrice Caurier focuses the attention on the protagonist's internal drama with highly eye-catching visual representations, aligned with the spirit of the score. Tosca by Paco Azorín boasts an unbeatable cast with Liudmyla Monastyrska and Tatiana Serjan, Erwin Schrott, Lucio Gallo, Fabio Sartori and Roberto Aronica under the musical direction of John Fiore. These two titles are sure to attract the wider public to the opera as called for in the Theatre's statutes. "We're aware that our public have a diverse array of feelings and we ensure that everyone can find their own inspiration in our seasons whether it's with operas, concerts, dance performances, or even for the littlest among us with El Petit Liceu. We're a plural institution," stated Salvador Alemany, the Foundation's President during the press event.


The opera season closes with Luisa Miller, staged by Damiano Michieletto, who focuses the action on the drama of the two protagonists Rodolfo and Luisa, performed by Piotr Beczala and Sondra Radvanovsky. Michieletto sets the opera in pre-Romantic Germany in an elegant and lush production musically directed by Domingo Hindoyan. Eleonora Buratto, Luca Salsi, Juan Jesús Rodríguez and Arturo Chacón-Cruz fill out the cast.

Opera in concert version

Liceu joins the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth with Candide in a concert version. For the first time, Liceu's audience can listen to this comedic operetta inspired by the celebrated novella by Voltaire, one of the foremost philosophers of the French Enlightenment. John DeMain will take charge of the musical direction with Paul Appleby as Candide, Katheryn Lewek as Cunegunde and Doris Soffel as the Old Lady. Jordi Boixaderas will narrate this long journey while the Chorus will also have a special role. Salvador Oliva has adapted the text, originally in English, so that the parts recited can be performed in Catalan.

The great voices will also sing the lead roles of the operas in concert version. Diana Damrau and Carlos Álvarez will offer us a Hamlet and Ophelia under the baton of Daniel Oren. Ambroise Thomas, the composer of Hamlet and an excellent representative of French lyric drama, provided this score rich in details and dramatic development, featuring the soprano performing the madness aria.Agrippina with Joyce DiDonato will close out the operas in concert version.


Musical News: "Chamber Music Liceu"

This season presents important challenges at the musical level. Our musical director Josep Pons will start up a new highly-anticipated project, "Chamber Music at Liceu", an initiative featuring 4 chamber concerts throughout the season which aim to bring us closer to the essence of music, delving into the work through more reduced and even soloist formations. The "Chamber Music at Liceu" programme will take us through the paths forged by Wagner, those which lead us to the composer himself and those which are based on his music. These concerts offer a more intimate way of listening to the German composer's transgressive spirit in different formats.

Two highly important dates stand out in this programme: one is the first public concert by the Liceu Brass Ensemble, a new formation emerging from our Orchestra's brass groups. The second is an acapella concert performed by the female voices of the Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, directed by Conxita Garcia.

The cycle will start on 23 November 2018 with a programme featuring performances of two ofBeethoven's last string quartets and will close on 31 May with a unique concert that includes the fifteen-instrument version of Lied der Waldtaube (Gurrelieder) by Arnold Schönberg; Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (version by A. Schönberg) and Wagner's Siegfried Idill.

Concerts and recitals

The new season's two symphonic concerts, directed by Maestro Pons, have also been conceived based on Wagner's influence. As the conductor stated during the media presentation of the season, he's seeking "a universe where Wagner is still fully present even though his notes aren't always played".

The first date, the "Pau Casals Memorial" concert, will take us from Schubert's Unfinished Symphonyto Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, through the voices of the mezzo-soprano Anna Larsson and the tenor Nikolai Schukoff. The second date, The “Ring” without Words, will bring us on a journey through the interludes and instrumental parts of Wagner's tetralogy, ordered and linked together by the orchestra director Lorin Maazel, which will close the concert and recital season on 25 July.

The agreement between Liceu and the AMDAF, the organiser of the Festival of Abu Dhabi, bears its first fruit in the concert by the internationally renowned Iraqi lute player Naseer Shamma. The agreement will continue in the upcoming seasons as well, promoting the cultural exchange between institutions and cultures. Shamma will début at the Liceu with 30 musicians from his Beir Al Oud ensemble and will present a very special concert that will trace the musical bonds between the Arab World and Europe, with his particular technique at the midpoint between tradition and his own modern compositions.

The orchestra director Emmanuele Haïm returns to Liceu with a concert about lovers' hardships based on Händel most suggestive arias, Desperate Lovers. Le Concert d'Astrée presents a Baroque orchestral and vocal concert with the soprano Sandrine Piau and the counter-tenor Tim Mead. The concert's main theme focuses on the impossible loves inherent to the opera seria of the first third of the 18th century. Piotr Beczala and Iréne Theorin, two of the most acclaimed great voices in recent productions in Liceu, will offer a concert and a recital, respectively.

Charles Dickens' successful Christmas Story with music by Albert Guinovart has already become a tradition during the holidays. The Symphonic Orchestra of Liceu with VEUS - The Cor Infantil Amics de la Unió will return to perform this piece complemented by live sand art created by the Companyia Ytuquepintas.

After Liceu's incorporation into the foundation, the International Tenor Viñas Singing Competitionreaches its 56th edition with more promising up-and-coming talents from the world of song. This vital section of the Theatre's programme offers a launchpad for new voices.


For dance, Liceu retains 3 ballet titles, while promoting Spanish dance this new season with the Compañia Nacional de Danza (CND) and the Ballet Nacional de España (BNE) with shows for all audiences: Don Quijote and Zaguán y Alento, respectively. The CND presents one of the great classics of the 19th century with the music by Ludwig Minkus choreographed by José Carlos Martínez. Don Quijote does not neglect the classic aesthetics of the original piece by Marius Petipa where Martínez's sly nods to contemporary dance can be seen in his choreographic approach. Likewise, the BNE's performance directed by Antonio Najarro is one of the company's most successful offering up a re-imagining of more traditional flamenco toward a modernisation of the genre. The show mixes flamenco with tango and jazz in a fascinating fusion through the sight and sound with music by Jesús Torres in the case of Zaguán and Fernando Egozcue for Alento.

The ballet of the Opéra de Lyon, directed by Yourgos Loukos, will début at Liceu with 3 pieces by the one of the living legends of contemporary dance, choreographer Jiří Kylián -Bella Figura, Petite Mort and Wings of Wax-. Kylián's approach is based on the rationality of the body's physical exercise and delves into the spiritual element of the human figure in motion, with music that ranges from Heinrich Biber to Philip Glass, passing through Alessandro Marcello, Antonio, Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others. For the fourth consecutive year, Liceu continues providing support to IT Dansa, the Young Company of the Theatre Institute, which presents KaashLa Fiesta and Whim Fractured Fairytale, with an explosion of energy under the direction of Catherin Allard.

Two new shows for the Petit Liceu

After the début of El Jove Barber de Sevilla in October 2017, in the line of rekindling El Petit Liceu, the Theatre is not only keeping this title for the 2018/19 season, but is also incorporating two new shows: Mans a l’Òpera! and Acròbata i Arlequí.

Mans a l’Òpera! is a new production by the Gran Teatre that El Petit Liceu inaugurates with a show by Xavi Mateu and Anna Llopart covering the steps needed to create an opera, not only at the artistic level, but also at the technical, set design, costume design, character creation levels, etc. This show, intended for children over 6, will provide a fun and complete overview of the mess that happens both behind the scenes and on stage. Likewise, Acròbata i Arlequí by the company La Maquiné closes out the family cycle. An original creation for children over 4 where everything is possible, a stage musical project inspired by Pablo Picasso and the music of the first avant-garde composers such as Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc. El Jove Barber de Sevilla, in co-production with ASLICO -Associazzione Lirica e Concertistica (COMO)- relies on the support of Liceu's Conservatory Orchestra and presents a journey for the adventures of Figaro with Rossini's music.

El Petit Liceu's programming is completed by successful titles for the smallest among us: Els músics de Bremen by Piore Ballbé, Allegro Vivace and La Petita Flauta Màgica by Joan Font (Comediants), and Guillem Tell by the company La Baldufa.

Summary of the activities in the 2018/19 season

The number of performances for next season is practically the same as this season. In global programme figures, the 2018/19 season has a total of 32 titles with 127 performances, 2 titles more than this season, which has 129 performances. Dances retain their presence with 3 ballets and 16 performances, compared to the 17 of this season. In the opera section, 2018/19 has 13 titles and 95 performances, compared with the 13 titles and 98 performances from 2017/18. In terms of recitals and concerts, the total number of titles drops from 8 to 7 and 8 performances will be offered instead of the 9 this season. On the other hand, the activities in the Foyer receive greater support, going from 4 to 7 titles. 


Gran Teatre del Liceu