The new opera seasons in Sweden are coming together, and more nicely than usually. Sweden, the birth place of opera legends such as Björling and Nilsson and a host of now active singers who are internationally successful, has a rather patchy record for mounting great opera the last three decades. This time around things looks somewhat brighter.
Let's start by looking at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm where the season's first premiere will be a new Carmen (thank God, the current production is just awful) by Vincent Broussard and Lionel Bringiuer. The (anti)heroine will be sung Katarina Dalayman, probably on a break from a some Brünnhildes and Elektras. Dalayman might prove a success though, her voice has always sounded best in her dark and smouldering middle voice. Her stage presence is also quite animalistic. Not a Carmen in the de los Angeles mould, but more of Bumbry probably.
The biggest draw of the season is the new La Fanciulla del West with the role debut of fabulous Nina Stemme mounting the horse in a Christof Loy production. On her side will Aleksandr Antonenks be, a reliable and robust voice with a somewhat quite rounded timbre. A fun fact is that Loy was originally contracted to direct a new Un Ballo in Maschera with Stemme and Mattei but plans were changed when Mattei withdrew and the hunt for a decent tenor failed.
Lohengrin gets a new production by Stephen Langride,with Weinius as Lohengrin and Susanne Resmark as Ortrud. Unfortunately Elsa is miscast with house soprano Lena Nordin, whose nowadays rather sharp end metallic voice is not what you hope for in an Elsa.
There will also be new productions of Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelite Sisters, a double bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and a new opera by Anders Eliasson called Karolinas sömn (The Sleep of Karolina).
The most interesting guest appearance is probably Ermonela Jaho as Violetta in October. And to kick off the season the Kirov Opera and Valery Gergiev will make a two day guest appearance. Let's hope there are more interesting guest appearances from international singers to round out the season. Given that, the next season will be a distinct improvment compared to the two last mediocre (at best) seasons.
(Picture by Alexander Kenney courtesy of the Royal Swedish Opera)