BBC announces new Maestro series

Actor Josie Lawrence and Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood to take part in this year’s competitors

BBC Two’s Maestro returns this spring with Maestro at the Opera, with competitors to include a judge from Strictly Come Dancing and a Radio DJ.

This year's series is in collaboration with the Royal Opera House.

The four celebrities taking on the challenge of learning how to conduct opera are actor Josie Lawrence, choreographer and Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy and DJ Trevor Nelson.

Each competitor will have a mentor and start by learning how to conduct an aria. Watching their performances will be judges Sir Mark Elder, soprano Danielle de Niese and double-bassist Dominic Seldis – although the orchestra of the Royal Opera House will have the final say on which competitors will progress to the next round.

In the second programme the aspiring Maestros will be faced with the task of conducting a scene from an opera before one winner will be given the challenge of conducting a whole act, something that Covent Garden’s director of opera, Kaspar Holten called ‘probably be the most difficult challenge any of the contestants will ever face in their professional lives’.

‘It’s a wonderful way of bringing opera to BBC audiences,’ said Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House. 'It’s going to be a fascinating journey watching the Maestros meet the challenges of opera in the thick of a working theatre.’

The series will also feature interviews with music director at Covent Garden, Sir Antonio Pappano, soprano Kiri Te Kanawa and tenor Alfie Boe.

Maestro at the Opera is to be broadcast in three hour-long programmes from the end of April – and look out for a feature on this year’s Maestro in the May issue of BBC Music Magazine.

Elizabeth Davis