Jan Younghusband, Head of TV Commissioning for BBC Music today announced a raft of Autumn Classical Music Television commissions across BBC Four for Channel Editor Cassian Harrison. Highlights include a documentary on tenor Jonas Kaufmann, as part of a wider BBC Opera Season, and a reflection on the anniversary of English Cellist Jacqueline du Pré.
Jan Younghusband said: “Putting the artists centre stage, giving incredible access and celebrating the excellence of their craft, is my mission at BBC Music. BBC Four is the biggest commissioner of original Classical Music television programming and we have something for everyone to love, from cutting edge opera performance straight to your living room, to portraits of artistic excellence.”
The new programmes announced today include BBC Four’s contribution to a pan-BBC Opera Season with Jonas Kaufmann, Tenor for the Ages (1x90) by acclaimed filmmaker John Bridcut. The film follows operatic superstar Kaufmann over two years at a pivotal point in his career including his return to the stage after some time away from performing. The programme will give audiences unprecedented access to Kaufmann alongside intimate performance segments, concert footage and candid interviews presenting an artist at the height of his career.
As part of the BBC Opera Season and as a companion piece to the documentary, Younghusband has also commissioned a performance capture of Keith Warner’s new production of Otello, at The Royal Opera House (1x150) conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Jonas Kaufmann. Alongside these two commissions, there will also be another helping of Shakespeare with a broadcast of Brett Dean's critically acclaimed new opera, Hamlet, which was filmed live during its outstanding debut run at Glyndebourne opera house this summer (1x120). The production features Sir John Tomlinson, Sarah Connolly and Barbara Hannigan, with Allan Clayton as Hamlet.
In addition to these new announcements for BBC Four, Younghusband has commissioned a two part documentary on BBC Two, Lucy Worsley’s Nights at the Opera, in collaboration with the V&A’s forthcoming Autumn exhibition. The series will see Lucy travel to six different cities across Europe to explore how opera has a key role in the history of these cities. As part of her raft of commissions, Younghusband also has plans to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of acclaimed English Cellist Jacqueline du Pré who died on 19th October 1987.
Speaking about the commission Younghusband said: “It seemed a good time to pause and reflect on Jacqueline’s career, her unique contribution to the world, and the loss we still feel in the music world now that she is not with us anymore.”
The programme (1x60) will contain archive footage which remembers both her personality and her music through the memories and tributes of her closest friends and colleagues including; Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Toby Perlman, Fou Ts’ong, Zubin Mehta, William Pleeth, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hugh Maguire, Elizabeth Wilson, Cynthia Friend, Charles Beare, Suvi Grubb, Dr Len Selby and Clive Barda. There is music by Beethoven, Eccles, Couperin, Clementi, Elgar, Brahms, Offenbach and Bruch. The writer and director is Christopher Nupen who was close to Jacqueline du Pré for more than 20 years and made five films with her during her lifetime.
As a companion piece to the programme, Daniel Barenboim will also introduce a recently re-discovered filmed performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto performed by Jacqueline du Pré in August 1968 at the very height of her musical powers. The performance was shown on the BBC at that time and again in the 1980s, but otherwise has not been seen for 30 years and is acclaimed as one of du Pré’s most outstanding performances.