The Opéra Royal de Wallonie (ORW) presented its 2022-2023 season on Monday, a season that strives to be diverse, according to General and Artistic Director, Stefano Pace.
Pace, who has been in place since June last year, has chosen some of his highlights for the coming season which began on Friday 13 May with Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
"It’s a wonderfully diverse programme this year but if I could suggest some highlights… I would say ‘Dialogues of the Carmelites’ and ‘Adriana Lecouvreur’ because I chose them, and I have been totally absorbed in both projects since their inception," he says. "And then, to be honest, I also have to choose two others which are 'La Sonnambula' and 'Alzira'.”
“Bellini's ‘La Sonnambula’ is an absolute masterpiece," he continues. "I love Bellini. I myself was artistic director of the Massimo Vincenzo Bellini Theatre in Catania, and it's really, from a musical point of view, fantastic. And then ‘Alzira’ is a youth opera by Verdi. Verdi did not particularly like it. It's important to propose it since times are changing, tastes are also changing, and to see if, really, over time, operas have been justly or unjustly forgotten."
Other operas in the season include ‘La Sonnambula’, also from Bellini, ‘Hamlet’, ‘Adriana Lecouvreur’, Rossini’s ‘Il Turco in Italia’ and ‘La Vie parisienne’ by Jacques Offenbach.
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In addition to opera, the season features a number of concerts and galas including an appearance by the legendary Plácido Domingo. The ORW also hosts the second International Competition for Opera Conductors.
In addition to the new season, the ORW is also introducing its new music director, Giampaolo Bisanti. Of Milanese origin, he has already worked with Liège musicians. "I have already worked in the past with this wonderful orchestra that inspires me a lot of esteem and friendship," he says.
"It's a colourful season. It is very beautiful, and what is important is that it gives the public the opportunity to choose, to go and hear titles of very varied musical genres. There is the Italian repertoire, the bel canto, Verdi but also ‘Hamlet’, ‘Dialogues of the Carmelites’... All these are titles that can give the public a very wide choice and therefore a very varied musical and historical journey. I think this opera season is really well built."
In this season, Giampaolo Bisanti will conduct Verdi's ‘Alzira’ himself, Bellini's ‘Sonnambula’, and will be the conductor at the special gala evening featuring acclaimed Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho as well as holding the baton at Placido Domingo's concert.
The programme in itself is already a triumph. For the ORW, the last two seasons have not been easy due to Covid-19. Despite everything, general director Stefano Pace looks ahead with positivity. “I said to the board of directors that I arrive in an opera that is in good shape,” he says.
“But that doesn't mean you can indulge in crazy spending. It is always necessary to be a good father and a wise commander. So, there will be no madness, but we will do the maximum of what the financial and economic availabilities will allow us."