Opera Platform Launched


The Opera Platform is launched – free, live and on demand


The Royal Opera and Welsh National Opera are delighted to announce their involvement in a new online platform dedicated to opera. From Friday 8 May, The Opera Platform will offer both those who already love opera and those curious to try it for the first time the opportunity to watch performances and access backstage content via a new online platform.

This new website is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe programme and created by a partnership led by Opera Europa – the European association of opera companies and festivals – with cultural broadcaster ARTE and 15 European opera companies including The Royal Opera and WNO in the UK. This multinational partnership is set to extend the reach of opera in Europe and beyond.

The Opera Platform will offer free content from the 15 opera companies involved. This will include full opera performances and extracts, synopses and background material, artist interviews and behind-the-scenes documentaries.

Król Roger will be the first opera from The Royal Opera to be streamed on The Opera Platform on 16 May 2015.  Szymanowski’s opera Król Roger is performed for the first time at Covent Garden this Season, in a new production by Kasper Holten, Director of Opera for The Royal Opera.  The production marks the first collaboration between Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano and Kasper Holten. Designs are by Steffen Aarfing, lighting design is by Jon Clark, video designs by Luke Halls and choreography by Cathy Marston. The cast features Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as King Roger, with American soprano Georgia Jarman making her Royal Opera debut in the role of Roger’s queen, Roxana. Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu sings the role of the Shepherd, with British tenor Kim Begley as Roger’s advisor Edrisi, Polish mezzo-soprano Agnes Zwerko as the Deaconess and Irish bass Alan Ewing as the Archbishop. The production is a co-production with Dallas Opera and Opera Australia.

The first full-length opera from Welsh National Opera to be streamed on the platform will be the Company’s new commission for 2016, In Parenthesis.  Based on the poem In Parenthesis by World War I poet David Jones, this new opera is composed by Iain Bell with a libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins. It will be directed by WNO Artistic Director David Pountney and conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with design by Robert Innes Hopkins. In Parenthesis features an exciting ensemble cast including Peter Coleman-Wright, Graham Clark, Donald Maxwell and Alexandra Deshorties. In Parenthesis will be broadcast on The Opera Platform in summer 2016. A second WNO opera will be broadcast in summer 2017.

WNO Artistic Director, David Pountney, says: ‘Opera Europa’s opera platform offers WNO a great opportunity to widen its access internationally, and will build up a library of online work which reflects the astonishing vibrancy of the art form, featuring famous classic titles alongside many world premieres and rarer works, and setting the great companies like Madrid and Vienna alongside and on an equal footing with smaller companies who do not have such a high online profile. This is a great opportunity for opera to widen its appeal, and WNO is proud to play its part as a founder member.’

Kasper Holten, Director of Opera for The Royal Opera, says : ‘This is a fantastic European-wide initiative offering opera lovers and newcomers to opera a chance to enjoy the very best that Europe has to offer for free! I am particularly thrilled that our brand new production of Król Roger is the first to be captured for this new platform for streaming opera. This new means of getting relatively unknown treasures to a wide audience is very exciting for all of us, and I am personally looking forward to seeing a whole range of new productions and works in the forthcoming months.’

The Opera Platform will be launched with a live transmission from Madrid’s Teatro Real of La traviata.  Throughout May, the platform will also broadcast Król Roger from The Royal Opera, Kullervo from Finnish National Opera and Valentina from Latvian National Opera.  At least one new opera will be broadcast from the platform each month, and each will be available to access on demand for six months. Additional content will be regularly added to the platform.

The Opera Platform is launched as part of the ninth annual European Opera Day, for which this year’s theme is ‘Opera alive and online’.