The Royal Albert Hall has announced two new shows: Carmen in Concert, and an Organ Celebration featuring a new commission by Oscar-winning film composer Michael Giacchino, as part of its Love Classical festival next year.
Carmen in Concert will see the acclaimed Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra return to the Hall for the first time since 1999, alongside three-time Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. They will be joined by American Michael Spyres as Don José, and conductor John Nelson, for a full concert rendition of Bizet’s classic 1875 opera.
The Hall’s 9,999-pipe organ will take centre-stage for the Organ Celebration, spotlighting world-renowned organists Wayne Marshall, David Briggs, Isabelle Demers and Thomas Trotter. They will be joined by the Hall’s associate artist Anna Lapwood, who recently appeared in a history-making collaboration at the Hall with electronic act Bonobo. As well as performing, Lapwood will provide a verbal ‘guided tour’ of the instrument, demonstrating its unique capabilities.
Lucy Noble, Artistic Director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “We’re delighted to be staging Love Classical for a fourth year, building on some of the incredible talent that has already featured in the series.
“It’s particularly exciting to be bringing leading international artists and orchestras back to the Hall after the pandemic, with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra’s first outing at the Hall in more than 20 years and a major American star in Joyce DiDonato.”
“We also can’t wait to hear the premiere of Michael Giacchino’s organ commission, a key part of our ongoing 150th anniversary celebrations, and quite unlike anything he’s ever done before.”
Carmen in Concert continues a series of high-profile concerts and recordings by Joyce DiDonato and John Nelson, which have included Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet, Damnation of Faust and Les Troyens. Founded in 1855, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra is one of France’s oldest orchestras.
Carmen was first performed at the Hall in 1884, when soprano Minnie Hauk – who played an instrumental role in popularising the work – gave a rendition of the Habanera. The Hall has seen many classic performances since then, featuring such luminaries as Jose Carreras, Sir Bryn Terfel, Jussi Bjorling, Beniamino Gigli, Sir Thomas Beecham, Nicola Benedetti, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
The Hall’s pipe organ, known as the “Voice of Jupiter”, was the largest instrument in the world when it was built. It has since been expanded to 9,999 pipes and marked its 150th birthday last year along with the venue. Since 1871 it has been played by artists including Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Anton Bruckner and Camille Saint-Saëns.
Oscar-winning film composer Michael Giacchino’s new commission will be at the heart of the Organ Celebration. Giacchino’s work has included the scores for Up – which won the Oscar for Best Score – Star Trek, The Batman and Spiderman: No Way Home. He has headlined the Hall three times in the past decade, including a star-studded 50th birthday concert featuring J.J Abrams, and a greatest hits event with fellow composer David Arnold.
More Love Classical events in other spaces around the Hall will be announced later in the year.
Previous festival stars have included Sir Bryn Terfel, trumpeter Alison Balsom, violinist Nigel Kennedy, Detroit techno legend Carl Craig, and classical guitarist Miloš.
The Royal Albert Hall is marking its 150th anniversary with a series of landmark events, new commissions and emerging artists. It is recovering from its first closure since WWII, which resulted in £70m of lost income and a £20m debt.