ABAO Bilbao Opera

After the announcement of the new measures decreed by public administrations to control the COVID-19 pandemic, that include strong restrictions on mobility and capacity, ABAO Bilbao Opera is forced to postpone the expected premiere of the opera Alzira, scheduled for 21 of November.

Opera Giuseppe Verdi the historic project of the Tutto Verdi Association was going to close this season, an unprecedented cultural program around the world, in which throughout 15 years have been represented in the Bilbao scene 30 Verdian catalog titles, conference cycles, recordings and various publications

Current measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, prevent more than half of ABAO members and lyric fans in general, go to functions. further, These restrictions also affect Europe and make it extremely difficult to carry out pre-production preparations, making it difficult to carry out the premiere of an opera with guarantees of success that has aroused enormous interest in the world of lyricism due to its uniqueness, and that would put a finishing touch to this emblematic project of the Association and a worldwide lyrical reference

To be able to give the appropriate closure to the Tutto Verdi project, the Association is working, together with all those involved in the staging of this opera: all the cast, orchestra and technical and creative teams, in search of a new agenda that allows to carry out this extraordinary premiere of such an unusual work in the history of opera. Alzira will be represented in a next season, becoming the sixth subscription title of the same.

Since the start of the pandemic, ABAO is working with the clear will to keep cultural activity alive, always collaborating with the authorities and modifying the programming to adapt to the circumstances arising from this extraordinary situation. Until now, everything possible has been done to move forward with the planned programming, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so with the quality and excellence that have always characterized the Association., trying in addition to minimize the economic damage as much as possible.

If circumstances permit, ABAO Bilbao Opera will resume the season next January with the staging of Samson and Delilah Camille Saint-Saëns, twenty years after his last replacement in the Bilbao season. The Association aware that culture must be considered as an essential good for society, bet that opera continues to be present in the social life of our community, maintaining their activity as other economic and social disciplines are doing whenever circumstances allow.

ABAO Bilbao Opera

ABAO Bilbao Opera, Bilbao's main lyrical reference, take the first step towards cultural normality.

A private initiative that bets on quality culture

The artistic activity grows with new releases and titles that are incorporated into the association's catalog

The emblematic Tutto Verdi project reaches its final point with a premiere in Bilbao and an Ópera XXI Award production 2019

Great figures of recognized international prestige star in a season of the highest quality

The BBVA Foundation collaborates with the cultural creation of ABAO as the main sponsor of the season

The next 24 October is inaugurated the 69 ABAO Bilbao Opera season with new projects, activities and a program that grows in new titles and social and cultural programs. The private initiative, Bilbao's main lyrical and artistic reference, confirms its commitment to a culture of the highest quality.

Applying a strict principle of prudence to which the current circumstances derived from the health pandemic oblige, ABAO reopens its doors and presents an intense proposal, exciting, varied, full of news and that will be carried out with all the necessary security measures, without impairment of artistic quality.

In this sense, the Association works with public institutions as well as with lyric theater organizations, in the search for the most suitable solutions that allow the normal development of the opera season in a manner fully compatible with health security. The Euskalduna Bilbao is in the process of obtaining the pertinent certification that guarantees its suitability as a safe space. The traditional collaboration between both institutions will contribute to the success of the season and enhance the image of Bizkaia as a cultural benchmark.. In parallel, the Association prepares the design of possible alternatives to any eventuality or limitation, to guarantee the right of partners, sponsors and the general public, to be able to attend the performances, always in safe conditions.


  • ABAO Bilbao Opera and the BBVA Foundation, main sponsor of the season, contribute to promoting excellence and operatic culture and to bringing the highest quality shows to the public.
  • The new season brings great titles from the lyrical repertoire like L'Elisir d'Amore Y Tosca, practically unknown works in Spain such as Alzira, less frequent titles like Samson and Delilah, and a gem to discover for the Bilbao public: The turkish in Italy.
  • Among the operas and shows scheduled, there is, 1 premiere, 5 premieres in Bilbao, 2 ABAO co-productions and 6 new titles that are added to the ABAO Bilbao Opera repertoire list in its 67 years of history.
  • 3 productions of the five that are presented in the general season are premiere nationwide,
  • A total of 43 functions: 26 in the general season at the Euskalduna Bilbao and 17 for children and youth audiences in the Abao Txiki season at the Arriaga Theater, with 70.500 expected viewers.
  • The premiere in Bilbao of Alzira, stages a co-production of ABAO Bilbao Opera together with the Grand National Theater of Peru and the Opèra Royal Wallonie-Liège, which has been awarded the Ópera XXI Prize 2019 for the Best Latin American Opera Production.
  • The emblematic Tutto Verdi project comes to an end with the staging of the title number 30 from the Verdian catalog, and a great concert to close the program.
  • Five great batons visit the new season: Christophe Rousset, Daniel Oren, Renato Palumbo, Oliver Díaz and Yves Abel to conduct the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, the Basque National Symphony Orchestra and the Bilbao Opera Choir, that expand their repertoire, consolidating the artistic prestige of stable ABAO collaborators.
  • Debut 11 singers alongside prominent performers who triumph in the world's leading opera houses as: Ainhoa ​​Arteta, Teodor Ilincăi, Paul Bordogna, Sabina Puértolas, Anna Pirozzi, Ekaterina Semenchuck, Joel Prieto o Elena Sancho Pereg.
  • ABAO SMALL offers 4 productions of different formats for different ages, all premieres in Bilbao. Three of the shows will have school sessions with the participation of 2.700 young students of 34 schools, reaffirming ABAO's commitment to training and its commitment to bringing opera closer to children and young people.
  • We celebrate Beethoven year at Abao Txiki with the absolute premiere of: Ludi's journey. A new production by ABAO Bilbao Opera designed to bring the music of the German composer closer to the youngest in an emblematic year.
  • More than 400 free activities including didactic talks, workshops, colloquia and conference cycles with an expected scope of 41.400 beneficiaries.
  • The Gazteam program is reinforced with activities and financial incentives for children 25 Y 30 years that allows them to access shows at any function and in the best locations available for a flat rate of 25 and € 30.
  • The “Opera and +” program at the Hospital de Cruces for patients is consolidated, family and medical personnel in the areas of nephrology, pediatrics, neonatology and oncology with activities around the opera as an integrative and therapeutic vehicle, with the sponsorship of Fundación Repsol and Petronor and the collaboration of Obra Social LaCaixa


The new season develops a program of the highest quality that includes five great titles in the history of lyrics that reflect the journey of mixed feelings through music.

Rossini, Verdi, Saint-Saëns, Donizetti and Puccini bring two repertoire titles to the Bilbao scene L'elisir d'amore Y Tosca, a less frequent opera Samson and Delilah and two premieres The turkish in Italy Y Alzira, title that closes the emblematic project of the Bilbao Association, everything Green.

A new season in which eleven singers debut, a music director and a stage director, and that stands out with the presence in the pit of five great international batons at the head of the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa, of the Basque National Symphony Orchestra and the Bilbao Opera Choir, along with them outstanding performers who succeed in the main opera houses of the world.

The BBVA Foundation whose distinguishing feature is the impulse to scientific knowledge and cultural creation, Bilbao Opera collaborates with ABAO as the main sponsor of the season.

Gioachino Rossini


24, 27, 30 October 2 of November 2020

  • Premiere at ABAO Bilbao Opera
  • In the main roles Paolo Bordogna, Sabina Puértolas, Renato Girolam and Juan José de León
  • On stage a production by Emilio Sagi, fresh, intelligent and full of color that recreates the Neapolitan universe of the years 60
  • In the pit, the famous harpsichord player and conductor Christophe Rousset at the head of the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa

The season opens with the Bilbao premiere of The turkish in Italy by Gioachino Rossini one of the composer's highest-rated operas with a gallant story, charm, tangles and lots of fun. Rossini's opera bufa ironic about the different ways of seeing society and narrates the misadventures of Selim, a Turkish prince eager to discover new pleasures in Italy.

In the distribution of this opera, the baritone Paolo Bordogna, a true specialist in buffa papers, the soprano from Navarra Sabina Puértolas, the "Fiorilla de Sagi" with an intense acting and vocal intervention, the debut of baritone Renato Girolami and tenor Juan José de León.

In the musical section, the French master and harpsichord player Christophe Rousset, a great connoisseur of this repertoire and one of the most active directors of today's phonography, takes over the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa to direct a score full of seductive moments, high melodic inspiration and rich textures.

On stage a production by Emilio Sagi, of great visual appeal that transfers the action to the Naples of the years 50-60. An extraordinary theatrical proposal, fresh, modern and sparkling, Scenographically reflected in a crowded Neapolitan street where detail is not lacking. Armed by Daniel Bianco, shows big buildings, plazas, tendales, trams and scooters, in a successful custom recreation full of light and color.

Giuseppe Verdi


21, 24, 27 Y 30 November 2020

  • Premiere at ABAO Bilbao Opera
  • Alzira, last title of the Tutto Verdi project
  • Anna Pirozzi, Sergio Escobar and Juan Jesús Rodríguez in the leading trio
  • In the musical direction the debut of Daniel Oren, artistic director of the Giuseppe Verdi Theater in Salerno
  • Co-production of ABAO Bilbao Opera, Opera Prize XXI 2019 to the Best Latin American Production

It opens in November Alzira, one of Giuseppe Verdi's lesser-known operas, whose staging ABAO Bilbao Opera concludes the emblematic Tutto Verdi project. This project started in 2006 and has brought to the Bilbao scene 30 Verdian catalog titles, conference cycles, recordings and publications, in a cultural program that has lasted 15 years, unprecedented worldwide.

This ethnic opera is inspired by Voltaire's work ‘Alzira and the Americans’ and contains all the seeds that would later make Busseto's genius famous. Find in the most popular and represented composer in the world a story that refers to Peru and the time of the Conquest, It is an added attraction for an epic work between conquerors and oppressed, next to a devastating love triangle.

Leading the trio starring the splendid Neapolitan soprano Anna Pirozzi, one of the most prominent artists in the current lyric scene. At his side the tenor Sergio Escobar, who recently triumphed in Paris replacing Roberto Alagna in the verdiano Don Carlo, and the always safe baritone Juan Jesús Rodríguez.

In the pit the debut of the Israeli teacher Daniel Oren, heir to the great Italian tradition, artistic director of the Giuseppe Verdi Theater in Salerno, and whose presence is habitual in the great coliseums around the world like the Metropolitan of New York, the Royal Opera House and the State Opera in Vienna, to lead the Basque National Symphony Orchestra.

The ABAO Bilbao Opera co-production, the Grand National Theater of Peru and the Opèra Royal Wallaonie-Liège devised by the debutant in Bilbao Jean Pierre Gamarra, was designed in 2018 in the framework of the celebrations for the Bicentennial of the Independence of Peru and has recently obtained the Opera XXI Prize 2019 for the Best New Latin American Production.

The staging moves the action to Lima at the beginning of the 20th century with sophisticated western-style costumes, a minimalist scenery, melancholic, where lighting takes on special importance and gives a feeling of tragedy, seclusion and claustrophobia, adequate to this plot of the dominated and oppressed. A creative proposal of great quality and current in the topics it addresses, since it puts on the table a dialectical combat between European America and the American owner of the land, the fight for supremacy, the systematic abuse of the Church and the tragic destiny of a woman in a world guided by man's obsessions.

Camile Saint-Saëns


23, 26, 29 January 1 February 2021

  • ABAO recovers one of the most significant operas in the French repertoire, after two decades of absence
  • Debut of Ekaterina Semenchuck, specialist in the dramatic 19th-century mezzo-soprano repertoire
  • In the pit the emblematic Italian director Renato Palumbo at the head of the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa
  • ABAO debutant production Paul-Emile Fourny, premiere in Spain

Samson and Delilah by Camile Saint-Saëns, one of the most representative French operas of the 19th century, opens 2021 twenty years after his last replacement at ABAO. This title of passion and exoticism fuses biblical history and opera to narrate the duel between a man with the appearance of a titan, and a woman who will drag him to perdition by cutting his hair, symbol of their strength.

The protagonist duo, debut of the Russian Ekaterina Semenchuck, one of the great mezzo-sopranos of the moment that triumphs in the main theaters of the world and specialist in the repertoire of the XIX; and the return of tenor Marco Berti after his recent success in La Fanciulla del West ABAO last February.

To direct this opera of important choral episodes whose score combines the timbral color of the orchestration with the rigor of musical construction, the baton of the great teacher Renato Palumbo at the head of the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa.

Stage director Paul-Emile Fourny chooses an unconventional reading of this half-oratorical play, half biblical opera, where dramatic action and singing are privileged and prevail over stage conception, respecting the universal and timeless character of history. Very pure, with great inventiveness and without provocation, the regista focuses attention on the protagonists. Large moving elements shape a changing scene, more symbolic and abstract than realistic, that creates the atmosphere of oppression inherent in the work and where the lighting occupies a relevant space. The effect of the fall of the temple, it is particularly spectacular. The costumes and choreography expose splendid paintings demonstrating the action.

Gaetano Donizetti


20, 23, 26, 27 (New Opera) February and 1 March 2021

  • One of Donizetti's most popular works and one of the most beloved in the public
  • A young cast led by Elena Sancho Pereg and Joel Prieto
  • In the musical section, the outstanding teacher Óliver Díaz at the head of the Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa
  • Production by Marina Bianchi, fresh, agile and very funny, national premiere
  • XV edition of the Opera Berri program with a second cast in the main roles and tickets to the 50% of their usual price.

One of the most beloved operas by the public and one of the most charming jewels of the 19th century opera buffa returns in February: L'elisir d'amore Donizetti. This sentimental comedy set in the Basque Country, it is one of the heights of the Italian master's production, and it has a balanced mix between comedy and drama, depth and simplicity, romanticism and melancholy, with archetypal characters inspired by the art commedy.

The cast is led by the young San Sebastian soprano Elena Sancho Pereg and the Madrid tenor Joel Prieto, who debuts in ABAO and whose career has been developed with great success in the United States, who will be in charge of singing the famous aria “A furtiva lagrima”. Baritone Pablo Ruiz and bass David Menéndez complete the quartet.

On the orchestral podium to conduct a score with great freshness and inspiration, the young master Óliver Díaz, musical director until last year of the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid, in front of the Basque National Symphony Orchestra.

On stage a production premiere in Spain, funny, fresh and agile signed by Marina Bianchi that highlights youth and infatuation recreating a delicate outdoor scenery.

He 27 February this title will feature Opera Berri. This initiative sociocultural ABAO Bilbao Opera, celebrates its XV edition and aims to bring opera closer to society, with well-known titles and tickets to 50% of their usual price. The lead duo is played by Itziar de Unda and Moisés Marín.

Giacomo Puccini


22, 25, 28 Y 31 May 2021

  • Trio of star stars: Ainhoa ​​Arteta, Teodor Ilincai and Roberto Frontali
  • Historical and monumental production, conceived by the renowned regista Mario Pontiggia
  • Yves Abel one of the great international masters, al frente de la Bilbao Symphony Orchestra

The immortal Tosca Puccini, one of the most representative operas of the Italian verista repertoire for its dramatic intensity and for containing some of the most beautiful and well-known arias in the history of opera, season closes in May.

In 1900 the work was a revolution, opening a new page of Italian opera and the path to a fully mature Puccini. The script outlines a perfect dramatic structure, with time unit, place and action, and with constant dramatic tension, that combines love, intrigue, violence, passion and death.

Floria Tosca, first woman indisputable in showing his passions: love, hatred and jealousy that will lead to tragedy, will be interpreted by the strong and confident voice of Ainhoa ​​Arteta, one of the most popular dramatic sopranos of the moment. Teodor Ilincai plays the impetuous Mario Cavaradossi, one of the most appreciated roles in his repertoire, to masterfully address the lyrical longing for “And the stars were shining”. Complete the leading trio Roberto Frontali in the role of Vitellio Scarpia; the charismatic baritone has brought the character of the evil baron to stages around the world.

In the musical section Yves Abel returns to Bilbao, one of the great international masters, to lead the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa to put music to a colorful and highly lively instrumentation score.

The stage direction is from the emblematic regista Mario Pontiggia, a director characterized by the rigor of his proposals. The magnificent scenery, with a historical and monumental design, acts as a soundboard supporting the impressive pictorial value of the stage set, projecting the viewer into an opulent space, visually dominated by the symbols of papal Rome from 1800, subdued by the cruel Vatican police among fanaticism, violence and pomp. All the scenery is colossal, from the perspective cut of the dome of Sant’Andrea della Valle from the first act, to the great elements of the Palazzo Farnese den of the devilish Scarpia, even the tragic epilogue on the terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo, where the papal coat of arms acts as a symbolic background to Tosca's death. Francesco Zito's wardrobe has great splendor, color relevance and elegance.

The Bilbao Opera Choir, directed by Boris Dujin, deals with the choral part of the season.


  • A great show to close in June 2021 the successful and iconic Tutto Verdi project
  • Internationally renowned artists will put the finishing touch to 15 years of an unprecedented cultural program

ABAO Bilbao Opera prepares a brilliant and spectacular Concert to close in June 2021 the Tutto Verdi project that the association develops since 2006, and that concludes with the staging of Alzira this season.

During 15 years the project has represented 30 titles with 120 functions, ten Verdi weeks have been organized with the participation of more than 50 speakers from different disciplines, and seven books have been published and four DVDs and CDs have been released. All this forms a unique cultural program in the world.

To conclude this momentous and extensive project, ABAO prepares a unique event: an extraordinary concert that will feature the presence of six outstanding performers on the international scene, together with the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa and the Bilbao Opera Choir. More of 150 artists on stage to represent a program full of passion, feeling and strength, with a tour through the most emblematic works of the Busseto master, with interpretations of the best-known scenes and some unpublished surprise in ABAO by the favorite Italian composer of Bilbao fans.


  • Four premieres: Acrobat and Harlequin, The elixir of love, Ludi's journey and the title in Basque From the sea to school
  • 17 functions for audiences of different ages and 18.100 expected viewers
  • 2.700 school of 34 schools participate in school functions

The opera season conceived to awaken the cultural interests of the younger and be enjoyed with family, reaches its sixteenth edition at the Arriaga Theater with three new titles premiere in Bilbao and one absolute premiere title.

The premiere of Acrobat and Harlequin, a stage-musical project of La Maquiné inspired by the imaginary circus universe of the pink stage of Piccaso, and the music of the first avant-gardes through the composers Erik Satie and Francis Poulen, season opens in October.

A new production premiere in Bilbao of The elixir of love Donizetti, devised by the tenor Aquiles Machado, arrives in January to celebrate Christmas. Machado locates the story in a fantasy world that arises from the books that a girl Adina likes so much. From her desk Adina imagines the story whose fantasy leads the protagonists of this story to become heroes, heroines and villains of tales.

In March comes the world premiere of Ludi's journey, an ABAO Bilbao Opera production designed by Ana Alcolea where the magic of music is combined with that of the theater to, from the hand of Master Beethoven, take a trip around Europe discovering the different aspects of the history of music. This title is a culmination to the celebrations for the 250 anniversary of the birth of the German musician.

The season closes in May the premiere in Bilbao of From the sea to school of the Donostiarra Musical Fortnight. A children's music-theatrical show in Basque, made by and for children, performed by the Easo Children's Choir that sits on the pillars of creative sustainability, ecological and social and is made up of two musical works of operatic format: "The songs of the sea" by Roger Calmel and “The school teacher ” the Georg Philipp Telemman.

The sixteenth season of ABAO TXIKI has a planned capacity of 18.100 viewers, and it is secured both artistic appearance and educationally, with 2.700 students of 34 centers participating in the 3 school functions, within the educational program ABAO Bilbao Opera, and are expected 15.400 spectators in 14 Family sessions functions, that they are developed through the social program of the Association.


  • The series The ABC of the Opera presents 5 new presentations at the Fine Arts Museum
  • Opera Bihotzetik continues at DeustoForum with new experiences
  • 1.600 intended participants

ABAO Bilbao Opera maintains an extensive cultural program with free and accessible activities with the aim of bringing opera to all audiences, creating spaces for culture and art.

The Cultural Program is supported by activities such as the Cycle The ABC of the Opera with free presentations in the Auditorium of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, where more than 1.000 fans every new season and which has speakers of recognized prestige in the sector such as Luis Gago, Rubén Amón or Eva Sandoval, among others

The Opera Bihotzetik initiative at Deusto Forum designed for all audiences, promotes so close and accessible knowledge of opera through the experience of great figures. This season will have new and interesting encounters with more than 600 attendees expected.


  • 31 year educational program around the opera
  • 422 activities 7 action programs
  • More of 28.000 beneficiaries
  • The "Opera and +" program at the Hospital de Cruces expands its reach
  • Hundreds of young people participate in the initiative each season Gazteam Abao

ABAO's Teaching Program, pillar of the institution and the longest-serving state originally launched ago 31 years. It is based on active collaboration with 150 educational centers that reaches more than 17.000 Attendees participating in 332 scheduled activities. The program includes school sessions for the Abao Txiki season and pedagogical guides for teachers.

The “Opera y +” program seeks to contribute through opera to the emotional well-being of patients, family and medical personnel in the areas of nephrology, pediatrics, neonatology and oncology at the Hospital Universitario de Cruces, with the sponsorship of the Repsol and Petronor Foundation and the collaboration of Obra Social LaCaixa. An activity that in its fifth edition will develop 56 activities in which more than 1.900 beneficiaries.

The Opera Berri program, brings a title closer each season to 2.000 spectators with tickets at half their usual price. This season will be the 27 February, with L'elisir d'amore and the voices of Itziar de Unda and Moisés Marín in the lead duo.

The program for young people under 30 years Gazteam Abao, It has flat rates 25 30 € to go to the opera in any function or title and the best seats available. Near 500 Young people enjoy this advantage and participate in events, visits and other activities.

The Senior Program is designed in collaboration with the experience classrooms and the senior cultural centers of both universities and municipalities in different locations in Bizkaia, Gasteiz, Burgos or Santander. Didactic talks, theater visits and dress rehearsals, has 3.300 participants.

further, ABAO develops a program of inclusion and social collaboration to promote the approach to lyrics and culture to people with diverse abilities or at risk of exclusion, and collaborates assiduously with organizations like Caritas, Bakuba, Basque Family Action, ASEBI, Aspanovas, AECC, Avices, Hemophilia Association Euskadi, Hirikude, among other.