This is a rare and exciting chance to experience a work by a forgotten master. Its Italian composer Steffani (1654–1728) was widely acclaimed in his own day and admired by such composers as Handel for his musicality and originality. First performed in Munich in 1688, Niobe remained neglected until 2008, when it was staged at the Schwetzingen Festival. A triumphant achievement by conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and director Lukas Hemleb, that atmospheric production is now restaged by The Royal Opera with a great specialist cast of musicians. Véronique Gens plays the title role of the Queen of Thebes who angers the gods and is punished with the death of all her children, while the male soprano Jacek Laszczkowski, as her husband Anfione, makes his debut with the Company. The Balthasar Neumann Ensemble will be the specialist orchestra for what is an unmissable event for all lovers of early opera and anyone keen to discover more about opera’s perpetually enjoyable marriage of music and drama.