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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 15:27 GMT
World première at Opera House
Simon Rattle will conduct Sophie's Choice
Simon Rattle will conduct Sophie's Choice
An adaptation of the book Sophie's Choice is to have its world première as part of the Royal Opera House's latest season of performances.

Composer Nicholas Maw adapted William Styron's 1979 novel, and the opera will be conducted by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra head Simon Rattle and directed by outgoing National Theatre director Trevor Nunn.

Austrian soprano Angelika Kirchschlager
Austrian soprano Angelika Kirchschlager will take the role of Sophie
New productions of another seven operas will be included in the prestigious venue's 2002/3 season, which includes a total of 20 operas plus a range of ballets.

It also sees the first programme put together by new music director Antonio Pappano.

Sophie's Choice will get its first performance just before Christmas 2002, six years after being commissioned.

It will be the first new work to be premièred at the venue since Alexander Goehr's Ariane in 1995.

Austrian soprano Angelika Kirchschlager will star as Sophie, the Nazi-era refugee who is the subject of fascination for a struggling writer, Stingo, played by Canadian tenor Gordon Gietz.

Bryn Terfel is to reprise his role in Falstaff
Bryn Terfel is to reprise his role in Falstaff
New productions of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, Berg's Wozzeck, Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci were chosen by Pappano because they are "all musical and theatrical masterpieces I love".

He said: "Working on new productions together with the creative teams is, for me, a most important and thrilling process.

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel will return in a revival of Verdi's Falstaff in February 2003.

It will be the second season for Royal Ballet Director Ross Stretton, who has said he will bring more internationally acclaimed choreographers to the venue.

'Challenging'

A new production of The Sleeping Beauty by Natalia Makarova and a ballet to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Kenneth MacMillan will be among his highlights.

"The quest for new choreography is continuous, occasionally frustrating, sometimes deeply rewarding, but always immensely challenging," he said.

The venue's executive director Tony Hall said he will continue his drive to attract new audiences, with box office figures remaining consistently high.

"In all that we do artistically we must stand for excellence, we are all equally committed to allowing as many people as possible to see and enjoy what we do," he said.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Wales
Terfel takes on the dark side
14 Dec 01 | Reviews
Royal Ballet's moving Onegin
16 Oct 01 | Arts
Boos for Opera House première
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