News - BBC Opera Season


This autumn, in collaboration with the V&A and Royal Opera House, the BBC will embark upon a season of opera programming featuring new films, documentaries, performances and special projects across TV, radio and digital...

These major cultural institutions have come together with the shared vision to engage a wider audience with opera and to enthuse a new generation of opera lovers.

The season has been in development for the past three years and will take audiences behind the scenes to explore the social, political and historical context of major works. It will place world-class performances centre stage on screens and radio airways, give new insights into the form through the world’s greatest living opera stars, explore the emotive power of the art form and see opera companies from across the UK coming together for the first time with BBC Arts for an online celebration of British, European and global performance.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, says: "We are thrilled to be collaborating with the V&A, ROH, major cultural institutions and leading opera companies from across the UK, to place opera centre stage at the BBC this autumn. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience and explore one of the most exhilarating and irresistible of all art forms across BBC Radio, TV and digital platforms, and together with our partners we will look to create a nationwide moment for opera, engaging ever larger audiences and inspiring the next generation of opera lovers."


The TV coverage includes newly commissioned programmes showcasing the history, drama and talent behind this unique art form.

Lucy Worsley’s Nights at the Opera on BBC Two will highlight the cities and social context behind some of opera’s greatest works, whilst BBC Four documentary Jonas Kaufmann, Tenor For The Ages shines a light on one of the greatest opera stars of our time. These documentaries are complemented by world class performances of Verdi’s Otello from the Royal Opera House and Brett Dean’s Hamlet from Glyndebourne, both set to be broadcast on BBC Four.

Jan Younghusband, Head of Commissioning, BBC Music TV, says: "I am delighted to be working in collaboration with the V&A, the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne this autumn to present a specially-curated season of television programmes from BBC Music. These broadcasts will take our audiences behind the scenes, to delve into the history and stories behind some of opera’s pivotal works, give unprecedented access to one of opera’s greatest stars and shine a spotlight on some of the acclaimed productions and performances taking place in the UK today."

On radio, BBC Radio 3 will present an enriched opera offering this autumn, which will include special editions of programmes including Saturday Classics, Music Matters, Private Passions, Composer Of The Week, The Essay and two dedicated Sunday Feature documentaries. Radio 3 will also broadcast the seven major operas featured in the V&A’s new exhibition: Opera: Passion, Power And Politics.

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, says: "Radio 3 is the year-round home of opera at the BBC, broadcasting two operas a week, and around 90 complete operas a year. We are committed to bringing remarkable music and culture to our listeners, and as such are pleased to be able to offer an enriched opera offering on Radio 3 this autumn. With a curated season of documentaries, special programmes, appearances by some of today’s most exciting artists, as well as broadcasting each of the operas featured in the V&A’s exhibition, we hope to provide a treat for opera lovers, and allow new audiences to discover this important art form."


As a prelude to the opera season’s offering on Radio 3, Radio 4 will present a five part series, Following Pappano, which shadows Sir Antonio Pappano as the Royal Opera House’s production of La bohème takes shape. He works with singers, discusses the particular challenges of operating at the very highest level of operatic performance, and gives candid insights into the often perilous journey towards an opening night.

BBC Arts Digital presents #OperaPassion, a digital opera festival which will see major cultural institutions and leading opera companies come together to showcase the very best of UK opera and establish a nationwide creative opera network to encourage further partnerships, new collaborations and future audiences.

Peter Maniura, Head of Digital Development for BBC Arts, says: "BBC Arts Digital has brought together a dozen different partners from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, utilising the latest technology in a nationwide celebration of the best of opera being made in the UK today. I am hugely excited by the creativity and innovation which can be seen in opera houses across the country and the ambition and scale of this collaboration will shine a light on this most dramatic of art forms."

#OperaPassion Day | 19 October
BBC Arts Digital has brought together eight leading UK opera companies and major cultural institutions to work together on an unprecedented day of live streaming. Partners include the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and Northern Ireland Opera working with the V&A, BBC Radio 3, Tomorrow’s World and Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, supported by the British Council.

The online live streams will transport audiences to every corner of the UK with insights from inside the company’s theatres and tour. Through interview, archive, innovative technology and exclusive performances, the companies will take you behind the scenes to explore and demystify opera in a celebration of its raw emotive power and engaging an ever-wider audience for opera.

#OperaPassion day will conclude on BBC Radio 3, where there will be the chance for listeners to vote for the opera of their choice to be broadcast in full that evening from four Royal Opera House production recordings.




Pictured (Radio): Danielle de Niese. Image credit: Chris Dunlop, other images BBC