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ROH2 was the contemporary arm of the Royal Opera House until 2012, commissioning and producing dance and contemporary opera works in the Linbury Studio Theatre, Clore Studio Upstairs, Paul Hamlyn Hall and various other locations situated both within the Royal Opera House and outside. ROH2 also provided additional artistic resource to partners and associate artists in order to help the organisation realise its strategic aims. ROH2 focused on developing the art forms, creating opportunities for emerging artists and attracting new and diverse audiences to the Royal Opera House. From the start of the 2012/13 season the work of ROH2 has been undertaken by the 'studio programmes' of the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet.
ROH2 had a multi-layered approach, which included:
- New productions and commissions in the Linbury Studio Theatre and Clore Studio Upstairs
- Co-productions and co-commissions with partner organisations and companies
- A contemporary opera development programme
- Associate artist programmes and professional development work
- Festival programming in the public spaces of the Royal Opera House and outside the building
- Visiting companies whose work complements the artistic programme
- Taking ROH2 productions to partner regions and venues across the UK as part of the ROH On The Road programme
Working with partners
ROH2 developed partnerships with a range of arts organisations and companies, including Music Theatre Wales, The Opera Group, The Britten Sinfonia, Akademi, London Sinfonietta, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, Ballet Black, the National Dance Network, Opera East, Dance Umbrella, London Jazz Festival and the London International Mime Festival.
Intended benefits included:
- Opening up ROH to a range of new audiences
- Access to ROH resources for partner companies
- Skills and knowledge sharing
- Innovative approaches to developing new work
- Involvement of the ROH in a range of forums, opening up communication and enabling new relationships
ROH2 regularly commissioned and produced new opera and dance work. New productions initiated by ROH2 include:
Faeries (Will Tuckett), Pleasure’s Progress (Will Tuckett/Paul Englishby), Goldberg (Kim Brandstrup/Tamara Rojo), Ghosts (Cathy Marston), The Soldier’s Tale (Will Tuckett); Into the Woods (Will Tuckett), Dalston Songs (Helen Chadwick), The Thief of Baghdad (Will Tuckett/Paul Englishby), Into the Little Hill (John Fulljames/George Benjamin), The Red Balloon (Aletta Collins/Street Furniture), Parthenogenesis (Katie Mitchell/James MacMillan).
Significant new work from visiting companies included Opera East with Heart of Darkness (Tarik O'Regan/Tom Phillips), Music Theatre Wales with In the Penal Colony (Philip Glass), English Touring Opera with Promised End (Alexander Goehr), Segue with Songs from a Hotel Bedroom (Kurt Weill/Kate Flatt/Peter Rowe), Open Heart Productions with God’s Garden (Arthur Pita), The Opera Group with The Enchanted Pig (Jonathan Dove/Alasdair Middleton), Music Theatre Wales with Letters of a Love Betrayed (Eleanor Alberga), and Ballet Black with wide ranging programmes of new dance commissions, Ros Warby as part of Dance Umbrella, Cleveland Watkiss and Nikki Yeoh as part of the London Jazz Festival and the Josef Nadj Company, Jos Houben and Andre and Lefeuvre as part of the London International Mime Festival.
Work for families and young people
ROH2 created a significant portfolio of high quality work for family audiences. The Royal Opera House's new work for young people and families produced by ROH2 includes Faeries, The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio, Gentle Giant, Timecode, Thief of Baghdad and The Red Balloon.
Artist Development Initiatives
ROH2 had a commitment to providing a space where artists could take creative risks and explore new ideas.
In 2008-09, ROH2 launched a two-year Choreographic Associates programme. This was a structured programme of professional and creative development opportunities for three emerging choreographers. Participants were offered a range of opportunities across ROH, working with different departments, and identifying areas of special interest for their practice. They also took part in Wayne McGregor’s Arrows programme, alongside members of The Royal Ballet. The Choreographic Associate programme has been continued by the Royal Ballet Studio Programme.
In 2005, with the support of the Genesis Foundation, ROH2 embarked on an intensive programme to promote and encourage opera composition and launch new collaborations between composers and librettists. Over four years (2005-9), OperaGenesis supported over 30 creative teams through workshops, mentoring and informal showings. The projects, ranged from work rooted in the classical tradition, through electro-acoustic music, animated opera, choreographic collaborations and even an opera that eventually became a musical.
The Opera Development programme (2009–2011) at the Royal Opera House was designed to allow composers and librettists at a variety of different levels the opportunity to produce new opera. The programme aimed to help young people with less opera/vocal-writing experience develop their skills in writing for opera and the theatre through courses for composers, librettists and directors, as well as main stage rehearsal observerships which allow small groups to watch the rehearsal process of Stage and Pianos to Sitzproben to Stage and Orchestras. ROH2 also worked with more established composers, allowing them the time to create new works through week-long workshops.
Performances within the programme also offered a number of diverse opportunities for composers:
Exposure; Snapshots of New Opera allowed performance opportunities from a variety of emerging composers, in which extracts from new operas were performed in an informal, cabaret setting.
OperaShots – evenings of short operas by composers outside the classical mainstream. June 2010 saw works by Nitin Sawhney, Orlando Gough and Jocelyn Pook; April 2011 saw works by Anne Dudley (dir Terry Jones) and Stewart Copeland; November 2011 saw a new work by Errolyn Wallen and Bonnie Greer.
Chamber Opera commission – ROH2 commissioned a new opera in the Linbury Studio Theatre, giving exposure to emerging composers of the moment.
Deloitte Ignite, sponsored by Deloitte launches the ROH season. Each year, a guest curator is invited to take the art forms of the ROH as the starting point for a series of commissions, installations, exhibitions and performances which challenge audiences to see opera, ballet and contemporary art in new and different ways. The first Deloitte Ignite (2008) was curated by Wayne McGregor and took place over three days, attracting over 9000 people to the ROH. In 2009 Time Out magazine curated the festival and the world’s first Twitter Opera was born. 2010’s festival was curated by Joanna MacGregor with an arboreal theme and an eclectic range of music, dance and film based installations and live events. 2011 was curated by Mike Figgis and focused on the theme of 'Just Tell the Truth'. 2012 was an 'African weekend' curated by Yinka Shonibare. 2013, the centenary year for Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner was curated by Stephen Fry and lasted for four weeks. 2014 focused on myth and was curated by Dr Minna Moore Ede and the Royal Ballet.