In the double centenary year of the births of Wagner and Verdi, and the centenary year of the birth of Britten, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast every single one of the composers’ operatic works.
Starting from today with Verdi’s I Lombardi from Florence’s Maggio Musicale (at 6.30pm) the channel will broadcast recordings from opera houses across the globe, including The Met, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Vienna State Opera, La Scala and from the Aldeburgh Festival.
In the anniversary month of his birth, the exploration of Verdi’s work began yesterday in the Sunday Feature slot with Viva Verdi, a programme dedicated to the composer’s work and its relationship to 19th-century Italian society. Professor Roger Parker explores Verdi’s so-called ‘Risorgimento’ operas and explodes some of the myths around the music.
The first Benjamin Britten opera is the acclaimed 2012 English National Opera production of Billy Budd, to be broadcast on 26 January. As well as all of Britten’s operas, the season also includes a new jazz commission from Guy Barker for the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Guy Barker Big Band, which draws on a Henry James short story and features characters from Britten’s operas (scheduled for 12 June).
There is also a new play by controversial playwright Mark Ravenhill, Britten’s Gloriana, which follows the composer as he struggled to fulfil the original commission for the opera. Gloriana is being broadcast live from the Royal Opera House on 29 June, with the play following on the 30th.
The Wagner season begins with Parsifal on 2 March, with Jonas Kaufman in the title role, broadcast live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.
Every opera will include an introduction further exploring the themes and issues around each work. These guides will be available to download free via the BBC Radio 3 website after each broadcast.