Gustav Holst’s Egdon Heath – A Homage To Thomas Hardy Op 47 provided a suitable contrast to brass and percussion in its muted double basses and darkly brooding cellos, evoking the bleak mysterious moors.
It was followed by Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Dispelling The Fears, a punchy double trumpet concerto for Philip Cobb and Gábor Tarkövi.
Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony, with texts by a variety of English poets from Edmund Spenser to WH Auden, was the evening’s main work.
London Symphony Orchestra was joined by the boys’ and girls’ Tiffin Choirs, who overflowed from the stage into the aisles.
Three excellent soloists – Elizabeth Watts, Alice Coote and Allan Clayton – delivered the medley of poems.
Despite dark undertones that came through in Britten’s 1948 work, the mood was joyous; bringing a touch of spring to September.
September is the time of new awakenings in the music world and no company is today more awake than the Royal Opera House.
Ditch the tag of elitist, say instead elite, as in excellent. Following an extensive three-year construction project costing £50.7million – with new entrances, foyers, terraces, café, bar and restaurant – the Royal Opera House is now open to the public every day from 10am, with a programme of ticketed and free daytime events.
The cost of this new arts complex and community place has been met entirely by 15 opera and ballet-loving philanthropists.
Opening Season for New Linbury Theatre ****
The first impression of the reconstructed building next to the 19th-century grandeur of the main opera house is of light and air, and a shining marble expanse of floor that looks straight on to and is almost part of the street.
Smooth lines and curves lead to different floors.
They provide foyers for the new Linbury Theatre, an intimate world-class theatre that is an additional stage for the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet, as well as international artists.
The 2018/2019 programme ranges from 18th-century rarities to 21st-century premieres. Prices are pitched low, with 25 per cent of seats at £25 or less, and top price of £45.
The difference between the concrete box of the previous Linbury studio theatre and the wood-lined friendly feel of the new flexible space is eye-opening.
Participation is key in the foyer events and Jillian Barker, director of learning and participation, plans to see the foyers providing places for people to be creative.
There will be a series of tea dances and festivals – tickets on sale tomorrow – and free drop-in Live At Lunch sessions showcasing artists from the Royal Opera and its Orchestra plus opportunities to find out more about Royal Opera craftsmanship, such as how a sword is made in the armoury.
The first season features four world premieres kicking off with Gavin Higgins’s new opera The Monstrous Child, based on the novel by Francesca Simon.
A new production of Handel’s Berenice, written for the Covent Garden Theatre, returns to the site for the first time since its premiere in 1737 and the new programme includes innovative visiting opera and dance companies.
London Symphony Orchestra/Rattle Barbican Hall,London EC2 (Tickets: 020 7638 8891/ barbican.org.uk)
Opening Season for New Linbury Theatre Royal Opera House, London, WC2 (Tickets: 020 7304 4000/roh.org.uk)