Five reasons not to miss La Monnaie’s 2018-19 season

This season, La Monnaie will have a schedule jam-packed with incredible shows that are sure to tickle everyone’s fancy. The upcoming programme is set to include a series of famous and widely loved performances, such as Richard Wagner’s classic love story Tristan und Isolde and Mozart’s masterwork Die Zauberflöte. However, La Monnaie will also be going beyond the traditional classics this season, bringing the unexpected: alongside the more celebrated works will be stellar performances that have undeservedly slipped under the radar during their time. And to put the icing on the cake, La Monnaie will also be hosting a world premiere of a brand new opera. We’ve curated a rundown of the crème de la crème to help you take your pick for their upcoming season.

First on the list of must-sees is From the House of the Dead, a devastating modernist work, which also happens to be the final work of art ever produced by the timeless Czech master Leoš Janáček. This story is based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s semi-autobiographical novel The House of the Dead, which delves into the personal experiences of the author and his inmates while in a prisoner camp set in Siberia’s deepest, darkest corner. Janáček’s music brings this sensitive and moving text to life on stage, imbuing it with a plethora of sounds that enhance the intense brutality of a real life story. Be challenged.

Something truly out of the ordinary makes its way to Brussels’ biggest stage this season, specifically Amilcare Ponchielli’s most famous opera La Gioconda. Despite the opera being best known for its ballet Dance of the Hours from the finale of Act 3 – especially after its appearance in cartoon form in Disney’s Fantasia – there’s a lot more to it than a short ballet sequence. The story originates from the hand of Victor Hugo and his novel Angelo, Tyrant of Padua, where the narrow streets, twisted canals and impressive piazzas of 17th century Venice form the backdrop in Hugo’s novel for a story full of mischievous scheming. To take on the task of directing a performance that’s chock-a-block with fantastic content is Hugo’s number one fan Olivier Py, whose take on La Giaconda will transform the romance with murder and fantasy to form a unique and exciting trip through the Serinissima.

Besides an impeccable selection of operas, La Monnaie hasn’t forgotten about all you dance fanatics out there. Bartók/Beethoven/Schönberg is a one-of-a-kind show combining three different choreographies that will open its curtains to the public for the very first time. The contemporary dance troupe Rosas – directed by the acclaimed Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker – will integrate an amalgamation of three of their choreographies based on the work of three famous composers, Bartók, Beethoven and Schönberg. Another guaranteed stunner is Sutra, which promises to be a spectacular show: 15 Buddhist monks move across the stage through the medium of martial arts, complete with an impressive set design by the legendary British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley. Last but not least is Vessel, a performance by the Belgo-French dancer Damien Jalet and Japanese sculptor Kohei Nawa, which will be shown in Belgium for the first time. A collaborative effort of two brilliant minds bring the audience a hypnotic dance experience inspired by a Japanese mountain ritual – eclecticism at its best.

Herman Sorgeloos (c)

The final treat in store is Anne Sofie von Otter & Pekka Kuusisto, Bengt ForsbergWell known for her impeccable ability to succeed in doing the impossible, Anne Sofie von Otter is back to impress us all. Having previously mixed the aforementioned master composer Janáček’s pieces with global pop hits from the likes of Björk and American composer John Adams, the mezzo-soprano takes us to the world of literature this time around, with a proposed set-list around the figure of Shakespeare. Promising to echo both the witty yet sometimes sorrowful character of much of the Bard’s own work through a range of star-studded musical influences, such as Rufus Wainright and Benjamin Britten, this recital is set to be a one-of-a-kind performance for this season.

In case you’re in search of something a bit more light-hearted, The Tale of Tsar Saltan will guarantee you a happy ending by taking you through the heart-wrenching separation and reunion of a Russian Imperial family. While Aleksandr Pushkin’s fairytale poem brings audiences face to face with the mystical wonders of Russian folklore, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical take on the story, which is full of exuberant emotion, is sure to bring a tear or two to your eye. Featuring La Monnae’s principal conductor Alain Altinoglu with the superstar director Dmitri Tcherniakov leading the production, you’re in for a treat. A perfect end to one show-stopping season.

One of the best ways to get the most out of La Monnaie’s programme is of course to get your hands on one of their season tickets: the MM Discovery ticket allows you to feast your eyes upon a selection of three of these mentioned shows, and a dance performance and recital of your choice. If additional priority entrance to all shows and the chance to attend some swanky screenings and talks sound right up your street, then the season ticket is your number one option.
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