The best in dance, opera and classical music to book in 2022, from Raymonda to The Handmaid’s Tale


With new ballets choreographed by Tamara Rojo and Christopher Wheeldon, an all-new operatic adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, long-awaited premieres of “lost” works, and music created under unimaginable conditions in labor camps, 2022 will promises to be an exciting year for opera, dance and classical music. Here are our top picks.


Sir Simon Rattle leading the LSO

/ AFP/Getty Images

A typically seductive program under the direction of Simon Rattle includes the delayed world premiere of the complete Exiles: Remembrances for Voices and Orchestra by one of Britain’s leading composers, Julian Anderson, alongside music by Mahler and his neglected friend but talented Hans Rott (a movement from his fascinating Mahlerian Symphony), Webern and Dvorák (his Seventh Symphony, a favorite of Rattle). Anderson’s work, although inspired by artists endangered by Nazism, takes on additional resonance at a time when a large part of the population, including the creators, felt in a kind of exile.

Barbican, January 9

Unpacked voices

Some of the UK music scene‘s most innovative programming has taken place at Kings Place in recent years in its ‘Unwrapped’ series. The 14th iteration, “Voices Unwrapped,” celebrates a nation reclaiming its voice with an assortment ranging from Renaissance polyphony, jazz, near harmony, and folksong to cutting-edge electronics and music. performance poetry. The launch weekend features ever-popular baritone Roderick Williams in an installation by Sound Voice, superb ensemble VOCES8 and Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis with her band Allt.

Kings Square, January 13-15


Tamara Rojo makes her debut as a director and choreographer

/ Karolina Kuras

A brand new production of a ballet rarely seen in its entirety in the UK by the English National Ballet. Tamara Rojo reimagines the 19th century three-act tutu classic, bringing Crusader-era action to the battlefields of the Crimean War, where a love triangle plays out between Florence Nightingale’s nurse Raymonda, the Private John and Abdur, leader of the Ottoman army. Although Rojo – one of the great dancers of her generation – does not appear in the production, it marks her debut in directing and choreography. A must for classical ballet lovers.

London Colosseum, January 18-23

Total Immersion: Music for the End Times

The latest episode of the BBC’s Total Immersion series features music from the ghettos and camps of Nazi-occupied Europe. Music written by Hans Krása, Pavel Haas and Viktor Ullmann in the Theresienstadt camp is performed by the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the afternoon, while the evening concert features Ullmann’s devastating satirical opera The Emperor of Atlantis, in which Death goes on strike, thus thwarting the Emperor’s plans to maintain his power through endless war. Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin des temps, also written in a labor camp, closes the day, finally reaching heaven in its serene final violin solo.

Barbican, January 23


Superstar Joyce DiDonato is part of the cast

/ Getty Images for Record A

Handel’s last masterpiece, Theodora, which unfolds a story of true love against the backdrop of religious persecution, contains some of his most heartbreaking music. Katie Mitchell’s new production for Covent Garden (for which theater it was written, although strictly a dramatic oratorio) promises to revisit the work from a dual perspective of modern feminism and contemporary religious terrorism . With superstars Joyce DiDonato and Jakub Józef Orliński among the cast, and Julia Bullock in the title role, this is one film not to be missed.

Royal Opera House, January 31

Mark Bruce Company: Ghosts

A welcome return to the stage for this innovative little company, led by one of the country’s most interesting dance theater creators and staged in London’s finest venue. Among the works on offer are Phantoms, a new piece created by the team behind the troupe’s popular Dracula and Macbeth productions, which features “a carousel of dreamlike characters in a beautifully savage world descending into chaos” (so , right on the mark for Bruce then). Rounding out the bill are Green Apples, a towering duet choreographed to music by The White Stripes, and Folk Tales, a five-man game set to the folk songs of (you guessed it) Martin Simpson.

Wilton’s Music Hall, February 24 to March 5

Riot Ensemble: this lunar beauty

Riot Ensemble, under the direction of its artistic director, Aaron Holloway-Nahum, has carved out a niche for itself with meticulously curated performances of contemporary music that truly push the boundaries. Anna Clyne’s This Lunar Beauty, after which the program is named, is described as a “melodic creation on a sound space”. A “lost” play by Rufus Isabel Elliot, Plowing Without Violence, receives its long-delayed world premiere. The evening also includes two works by older contemporary composers: a meditation on a Bach chorale by Sofia Gubaidulina and A L’ile de Gorée for chamber ensemble with solo harpsichord by Xenakis.

Kings Square, March 16

Elaine Mitchener

Elaine Mitchener can be loosely described as an experimental singer and movement artist, but she is essentially unclassifiable. Gasps, stutters, yelps are part of an astonishing oral palette deployed to express the fate of the oppressed and the slaves. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, she presents WOMENS WORK, the title taken from the pioneering Fluxus magazine of the 1970s. The program presents contemporary works by women and composers who identify with women.

Wigmore Hall, March 8

Dance reflections, Van Cleef & Arpels Festival

A fortnight of thrilling dance, featuring the greatest contemporary choreographers, staged in places scattered around the capital, and supported by the jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels, linked to the world of ballet for almost a century. (Balanchine’s Jewels, one of the great ballets of the 20th century, was inspired by the company’s glittering storefronts on New York’s Fifth Avenue.) performed by Rambert (12-14, Tate Modern) and the influential Fase d’ Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (16-17, Royal Opera House).

Various locations, March 9-23

Black Ballet

Marie Astrid Mence and other Ballet Black performers performing Washa by Mthuthuzeli November

/ Camille Greenwell

This eight-person troupe may have been formed by Cassa Pancho in 2001 to provide much-needed opportunities for Black and Asian ballet dancers, but along the way it has also earned a reputation for attracting up-and-coming choreographers and for its audacity, creative programming. This latest doubleheader is an example of this, with acclaimed South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma creating a new piece for the entire company, with an original score by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, co-artistic director of esteemed hip-hop group Boy. Blue, alongside a work directed and choreographed by Pancho, which celebrates 20 years of Ballet Black history – and looks to its future.

Barbican, March 24-27

Arditti Quartet

The Arditti Quartet performs at the Casa da Musica

/ Alexandre Delmar

The avant-garde offering of Purcell Sessions, initiated recently at the South Bank Centre, continues with more avant-garde programs featuring emerging multidisciplinary artists, electronic producers, an “ethereal-pop” artist, projects involving a voice transcription software, immersive staging and more. In this context, the Arditti Quartet, for half a century pushing the boundaries of contemporary music, seem almost outdated, but their April concert with UK premieres of works by Betsy Jolas, Tansy Davies and Christian Mason, should be worth a deviation.

Purcell Hall, South Bank Centre, April 2

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a contemporary society ruled by a ruthless fundamentalist theocracy that reduces women to the role of sexually mute functionaries (servants) has gripped the nation in its television adaptation. Danish composer Poul Ruders’ visceral opera, written long before Elisabeth Moss wrung our withers with her long-suffering Offred, returns to ENO in a new production by Annilese Miskimmon (her first since she took over as artistic director) and directed by Joana Carneiro. The cast includes Kate Lindsey as Offred, with Susan Bickley as her mother, Emma Bell as Aunt Lydia and Harewood artist John Findon as Luke.

English National Opera, Coliseum, April 4

EasterTenebrae and Christian Forshaw

A new dawn rises over St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square in the New Year as the jewel of a James Gibbs church becomes a cultural hub hosting performances by renowned artists and ensembles such as John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, Ex Cathedra, The Gesualdo Six, I Fagiolini, Tallis Scholars, BBC Singers, Chineke! Voice and the ENO choir. For this Easter concert, entitled Drop, Slow Tears: A Meditation for Choir and Sax, Tenebrae presents sacred music from Hildegard of Bingen to Tallis and Gibbons, with thoughtful saxophone improvisation by Christian Forshaw.

St Martin-in-the-Fields, April 9

Like water for chocolate

Dancer Marcelino Sambe

/ Getty Images

He’s already tackled the Shakespeare problem (The Winter’s Tale), a modern classic (Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland) and a whimsical fairy tale (Cinderella) – but Christopher Wheeldon’s latest three-act ballet for the Royal Ballet could be his project the most ambitious to date. Co-commissioned with American Ballet Theatre, it’s based on Laura Esquivel’s realistic and magical novel, which weaves a passionate love affair with — here’s the challenge — plenty of Mexican food. The production will be led by conductor Alondra de la Parra, with a new score commissioned by longtime Wheeldon collaborator Joby Talbot, and danced by a cast including Royal Ballet stars Francesca Hayward, Marcelino Sambé and Lauren Cuthbertson .

Royal Opera House, June 2-17

The car man

The cast of Car Man in 2015

/ handout

Matthew Bourne’s multi-award winning New Adventures company The Car Man is redesigned to fit the cavernous auditorium of Albert Hall as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations. Based on Bizet’s opera Carmen, with a dash of neo-noir thriller The Postman Always Rings Twice for Good Measure, it’s a story of love, lust and revenge set in a garage-restaurant greasy set of 1960s small town America. In addition to new creations from Olivier and Lez Brotherston award-winning Tony, the show will also see Bourne’s choreography – as inventive and fresh as when the show first performed there. 20 years ago – approached by an enlarged company of 65 dancers.

Royal Albert Hall, June 9-19


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