Tom Service picks his highlights of the year ahead
More than a good pun – a good idea, too: 20 new pieces, all 12 minutes long, will premiere across the country throughout the year, from hardcore classical to jazz. Joe Cutler's Ping! has been composed for table-tennis players; there's Emily Howard's mini-opera on the life of Czech runner Emil Zátopek in Liverpool; plus David Bruce's Fire, an outdoor operatic spectacular, in Salisbury. All 20 pieces will be broadcast on Radio 3. Howard Skempton's Five Rings Triple is on Radio 3 tomorrow. The Southbank Centre, London SE1, will feature all projects 13–15 July.
One of our most visionary composers gets the BBC Symphony Orchestra's Total Immersion treatment over a weekend in January, in London, and on Radio 3. There are Harvey's Buddhist-inspired orchestral works, the meditative brilliance of his choral pieces and, best of all, the British premiere of his opera Wagner Dream, Harvey's most ambitious fusion yet of western aesthetics and eastern philosophy. Barbican, London EC2, 28–29 January.
David McVicar returns to his roots for his first production of Stravinsky's glittering, ghoulish morality tale for Scottish Opera in March. There's an excellent cast, with Carolyn Sampson as Anne Trulove and Steven Page as Nick Shadow, in a piece that ought to suit McVicar's searching Mephistophelean stagecraft. Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 17–25 March, Festival theatre, Edinburgh, 27–31 March.
We don't know much about next year's Proms season, but we do know what the hottest ticket will be: Daniel Barenboim's complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies with the passionate players of his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. It all starts with a performance of the Ninth, on the first day of the Olympics. Start queuing in South Kensington now. Royal Albert Hall, London SW7, July and August.
Knussen's two masterful Maurice Sendak-based operas finally receive another production, in what should be a visionary multimedia staging by director and designer Netia Jones. With the Britten Sinfonia at the Aldeburgh festival in June and later at the Barbican in London, Knussen's dazzling music and Sendak's archetypal monsters, animals and hero, Max, will be brought to life through animation, lighting and stage magic. Aldeburgh festival, June; Barbican, October.
The European premiere of Gerald Barry's new Oscar Wilde opera (it went down a storm in Los Angeles earlier this year) is essential for anyone who cares about the future of the art form – and surrealist operatic cross-dressing. In his house in Galway, Barry sang me an aria he had written for Lady Bracknell, cast here as a basso profundo. Passionate Barry-champion Thomas Adès conducts; there is a stellar cast; and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group provide the tunes. Barbican, 26 April, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 28 April. bcmg.org.uk
All right, Covent Garden has done it before, but putting on the Ring is still an Olympic-size challenge. After the sporting shenanigans have finished, Covent Garden will stage four complete cycles of Keith Warner's production of Wagner's world-shaking tetralogy in the autumn. Let's hope Bryn Terfel turns up to sing this time; and hopefully you'll be able to get a ticket a bit cheaper than the £1,000 they are asking for the best seats. Royal Opera House, London WC2, 24 September to 2 November. roh.org.uk
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