The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House was founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Orchestra when the theatre reopened as the nation’s first permanent home for opera and ballet. Throughout its existence, the Orchestra has been distinguished by the number of top musicians who have joined its ranks and the outstanding roster of international conductors with whom it has played. It has been acclaimed by public and critics alike, and has won many awards.
At the beginning of the 2002/3 Season Antonio Pappano was appointed Music Director of The Royal Opera. Highlights of Pappano’s tenure have so far included Ariadne auf Naxos and Wozzeck (for which Pappano was awarded Olivier Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Opera), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production), Faust, Peter Grimes, Wagner’s Ring cycle, Don Carlo and the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minotaur. In September 2010 the Orchestra and The Royal Opera toured to Japan, performing Manon, La traviata and Mozart’s arrangement of Messiah under Pappano. Other performance highlights with visiting conductors include new productions of Adriana Lecouvreur and The Tsar’s Bride under Mark Elder, of Tannhäuser under Semyon Bychkov and of Cendrillon under Bertrand de Billy.
The Orchestra records regularly with both The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera. Their CD recordings with Pappano include two discs of Wagner highlights with Plácido Domingo and Tristan und Isolde with Domingo and Nina Stemme, released in 2005. The Orchestra regularly appear on DVD with The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, both on their own label Opus Arte and on other labels including Opera Rara (Roberto Devereux, Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal and Linda di Chamounix) and EMI. The Orchestra can also be heard accompanying The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet in Big Screen Events in the UK, and in cinema screenings transmitted worldwide.