World of Opera
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World of Opera brings listeners compelling performances
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Opera encompasses the seminal operas of centuries past as well
as today's masterpieces.
Theater an der Wien, Vienna
Arnold Schoenberg Chorus ORF Radio Symphony Constantin Trinks, conductor
CAST: Michael Nagy (Hans Heiling); Katerina Tretyakova (Anna); Angela Denoke (Queen of the Erdgeister); Stephanie Houtzel (Gertrude); Peter Sonn (Konrad); Christoph Seidl (Stephan); Patrick Maria Kühn (NIklas)
Marschner's work seldom appears in today's theaters, despite playing an important historical role in operatic history. His operas fill the musical gap between the early, German Romantic operas of Weber, and the revolutionary music dramas of Wagner. Hans Heiling tells a folk-based tale of a clash between two worlds, the mortal and the spiritual.
GIUSEPPE VERDI: Falstaff
La Scala, Milan
La Scala Orchestra and Chorus
CAST: Nicola Alaimo (Falstaff); Eva Mei (Alice Ford); Laura Polverelli (Meg Page); Massimo Cavaletti (Ford); Eva Liebau (Nanetta); Francesco Demuro (Fenton); Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Mistress Quickly); Patrizio Saudelli (Bardolfo); Giovanni Parodi (Pistola); Carlo Bosi (Dr. Caius)
Verdi's final two operas, Otello and Falstaff, were both based on Shakespeare. Together, they may be the finest valedictory in the history of opera, and Falstaff may also be the most optimistic. This recent production comes to us from Milan's La Scala, where the opera was premiered in 1893.
ARRIGO BOITO: Mefistofele
Bavarian State Opera, Munich
Bavarian State Orchestra and Chorus Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
CAST: René Pape (Mefistofele); Joseph Calleja (Faust); Kristine Opolais (Margherita); Heike Grötzinger (Marta); Andrea Borghini (Wagner); Karine Babajanyan (Helen of Troy); Rachael Wilson (Pantalis); Joshua Owen Mills (Neréo)
Arrigo Boito is best-known by far as one of Verdi's favorite librettists; he wrote the texts for both Otello and Falstaff. Yet, Boito was also an accomplished composer in his own right and Mefistofele, based on Goethe's Faust, is far and away his most successful opera.
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Roberto Devereux
Teatro Real, Madrid
Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus Bruno Campanella, conductor
CAST: Mariella Devia (Elisabeth, Queen of England); Gregory Kunde (Roberto Devereux); Mariusz Kwiecen (Duke of Nottingham); Silvia Tro Santafé (Sara, Duchess of Nottingham); Juan Antonio Sanabria (Lord Cecil); Andrea Mastroni (Sir Walter Raleigh)
Donizetti had a well-known affinity for historical stories of the English monarchy. This time, he takes on a tale of intrigue and jealousy in the court of Queen Elisabeth I, including her supposed entanglement in a regal love triangle, involving Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and Sara, Duchess of Nottingham.
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Christmas Eve
Svetlanov Hall, Moscow
State Symphony Capella of Russia Orchestra and Chorus Valery Polyansky, conductor
CAST: Lyudmila Kuznetsova (Solokha); Oleg Dolgov (Vakula); Maxim Sazhin (Devil); Sergei Toptygin (Village Head); Andrei Antonov (Chub); Anna Pegova (Oxana); Leonid Bomstein (Deacon); Elena Evseeva (Tsaritsa); Ruslan Rozyev (Zaporozhets the Sorcerer)
Based on a Ukrainian story by Gogol, Rimsky's opera is one of the few that are specifically set at Christmas time. The same story was also set by Tchaikovsky in The Slippers, with Rimsky's version putting greater emphasis on the tale's more fantastic and mystical elements.
JOHN ADAMS: El Niño
Spoleto Festival USA
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra Westminster Choir Joe Miller, conductor
CAST: Erica Brookhyser (Mezzo-Soprano); Daniel Bubeck (Countertenor 1); Brian Cummings (Countertenor 2); Caitlin Lynch (Soprano); Steven Rickards (Countertenor 3); Mark Walters (Baritone)
John Adams, Pulitzer Prize-winner and arguably America's best-known living composer, describes El Niño as, “my way of trying to understand what is meant by a miracle."This sweeping setting of the Christmas story is both freshly contemporary and filled with ancient traditions, including medieval carolers, Latin American poets, and an ethereal children's chorus. As the New York Times put it, "El Niño bears so many gifts that the senses stagger under the load."
GIOACHINO ROSSINI: La Cenerentola
January 3, 2016
Lausanne Opera Chamber Orchestra and Chorus
CAST: Serena Malfi (Cenerentola); Edgardo Rocha (Ramiro); Alexandre Diakoff (Don Magnifico); Giorgio Caoduro (Dandini); Laure Barras (Clorinda); Catherine Trottmann (Tisbe); Luigi De Donato (Alidoro)
Based on the fairytale favorite "Cinderella" La Cenerentola is one of Rossini's most delicate and delightful comedies. But in this version of the story, it's not magic slippers and fairy godmothers that carry the day, but rather the strength of love and the resiliency of the human spirit.
JULES MASSENET: Werther
Mozarteum Orchestra and Alejo Pérez, conductor
CAST: Angela Gheorghiu (Charlotte); Piotr Beczala (Werther); Daniel Schumtzhard (Albert); Elena Tsallagova (Sophie); Giorgio Surian (Le Bailli); Martin Zysset (Schmidt); Ruben Drole (Johann)
This one might be considered Massenet’s "other opera." His Manon is more famous, but Werther is beginning to get the wider attention it surely deserves. Based on a trendsetting novel by Goethe, the opera is the story of a man whose lost love leads him to the ultimate act of desperation.
HECTOR BERLIOZ: Les Troyens
Hamburg State Opera
Hamburg State Philharmonic and Hamburg Opera Chorus with Kent Nagano, conductor
CAST: Torsten Kerl (Aeneas); Catherine Nagelstadt (Cassandra); Christina Gansch (Ascanius); Alin Anca (Pantheus); Kartal Karagedik (Chorebus); Stanislav Sergeev (Priam); Elena Zhidkova (Dido); Marta Swiderska (Hecuba); Bruno Vargas (Ghost of Hector); Julian Prégardien (Hylas); Petri Lindros (Narbal); Markus Nykänen (Iopas).
Berlioz had a lifelong enthusiasm for Virgil's Aeneid, and brought that passion to life in his most ambitious opera. It's presented here in a new production from Hamburg, marking conductor Kent Nagano's first production since becoming the Hamburg State Opera's new music director.
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Lucia di Lammermoor
Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona
Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus with Marco Armiliato, conductor
CAST: Elena Mosuc (Lucia); Juan Diego Flórez (Edgardo); Marco Caria (Enrico); Albert Casals (Arturo); Simón Ofila (Raimondo); Jorge Rodríguez Norton (Normanno)
It's hard to think of a heroine with a fate more heartbreaking -- or more shocking -- than that of Donizetti's Lucia, whose famous mad scene is one of the greatest moments in any opera. This production from Barcelona features one of today's most acclaimed tenors, Juan Diego Flórez, with the brilliant Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc in the title role.
P. I. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades
Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus with James Conlon, conductor
Maksim Aksenov (Hermann); Oksana Dyka (Lisa); Elena Zaremba (Countess); Vitaliy Bilyy (Prince Yeletsky); TómasTómasson (Count Tomsky); Elena Maximova (Pauline); Mikhail Korobeinikov (Surin); Vladimir Reutov (Chaplitsky); Vadim Zaplechny (Chekalinsky)
Compulsive gambling has gotten plenty of people in deep trouble, but few more dramatically than the unfortunate Hermann in Tchaikovsky's opera. Based on a chilling story by Pushkin, the operatic version is no less disturbing than the original.
GIUSEPPE VERDI: Ernani
Royal Opera of Wallonie, Liége
Royal Opera of Wallonie Orchestra and Chorus with Paolo Arrivabeni, conductor
CAST: Elaine Alvarez (Elvira); Gustavo Porta (Ernani); Orlin Anastassov (Don Ruy Gomez de Silva); Lionel Lhote (Don Carlo); Carmelo De Giosa (Don Riccardo); Alexei Gorbatchev (Jago)
After his first few operas Verdi was marked as a composer with a political message, speaking out for Italian unity and freedom. When it came time for opera number five he tried something different, dipping into Romantic literature for Ernani, after a play by Victor Hugo. It touches on politics, but at its heart the story is pure passion, with a title character choosing love over life itself.
MAURICE RAVEL: L'Heure espagnole and L'Enfant et les sortilèges
Victoria Hall, Geneva
Suisse Romande Orchestra and Geneva Grand Theater Chorus with Charles Dutoit, conductor
CAST (L'Heure espagnol): Daniela Mack (Concepcíon); Julen Behr (Gonzalve); François Piolino (Torquemada); Elliot Madore (Ramiro); David Wilson-Johnson (Don Inigio)
CAST (L'Enfant et les sortilèges): Khatouna Gadeila (Child); Hanna Hipp (Mother/Teacup/Dragonfly/Shepherd); Daniela Mack (Cat/Squirrel); Kathleen Kim (Fire/Nightingale/Princess); Julie Pasturaud (Shepherdess/Bat/Owl); David Wilson-Johnson (Armchair/Cat); Elliot Madore (Grandfather Clock/Tree); François Piolino (Teapot/Old Man/Tree Frog)
Ravel composed only two operas, and both are too short for a full evening's entertainment. Fortunately, they combine to make an outstanding operatic double-bill, as we hear in this production from Geneva, featuring the renowned Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, with conductor Charles Dutoit.
GAETANO DONIZETTI: The Elixir of Love
Opéra de Bastille, Paris Opera
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus with Donato Renzetti, conductor
CAST: Aleksandra Kurzak (Adina); Roberto Alagna (Nemorino); Mario Cassi (Belcore); Ambrogio Maestri (Dr. Dulcamara); Mélissa Petit (Gianetta)
On its face, the story of L'elisir d'amore features little to be taken seriously. Yet Donizetti's music transports the opera beyond the world of farce to a place where simple confidence leads to life-changing revelations. This Paris production features renowned tenor Roberto Alagna as Nemorino, a role that including the widely-popular aria, "Una furtive lagrima."
CHRISTOPH WILLBALD GLUCK: Orphée et Eurydice
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, LondonRoyal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
CAST: Juan Diego Flórez (Orphée); Lucy Crowe (Eurydice); Amanda Forsythe (Amour)
Gluck's Orfeo, his original, Italian opera based on the Orpheus legend, was a landmark event in operatic history. He then followed it with this French version of the story, which may be even more striking, including a new, bravura tenor aria. That aria is performed here by tenor Juan Diego Flórez, in his first-ever appearance in the opera.
CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI: L'Orfeo
Torroella de Montgri Music Festival, Spain
La Fenice Ensemble and Jean Tubéry, conductor
CAST: Jan Van Eslacker (Orfeo); Caroline Tarrit (Euridice); Saskia Salembier (La Musica); Luciana Mancini (La Speranza); Roxane Chalard (Proserpina); Jean-Claude Saragosse (Plutone)
If Gluck's Orphée changed operatic history, Monteverdi's version of the same story may have started it. It's hard to say who wrote the very first opera, but there's little debate about the first truly great one. It was Monteverdi's Orfeo, surely the first score to fully explore the unique world of artistic expression that belongs to opera alone.
GIUSEPPE VERDI: La Traviata
Teatro San Carlo, Naples
Teatro San Carlo Orchestra and Chorus with Nello Santi, conductor
CAST: Maria Grazia Schiavo (Violetta Valéry); Ismael Jordi (Alfredo Germont); Giovanni Meoni (Giorgio Germont); Giuseppina Bridelli (Flora); Marta Calcaterra (Annina); Fernando Piqueras (Barone Douphol); Italo Proferisce (d'Obigny); Francesco Musinu (Dr. Grenville); Massimiliano Chiarolla (Gastone)
When the diva dies just as the final curtain falls, it may seem like an operatic cliché -- but not in the hands of Giuseppe Verdi. He made the final scene of La Traviata one of the most profound of them all. In this production, Maria GraziaSchiavo, famous for her interpretations of Baroque opera, brings a fresh and vivid approach to one of opera's greatest romantic characters.
W. A. MOZART: Idomeneo
Teatro La Fenice, Venice
La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus with Jeffrey Tate, conductor
CAST: Ekaterina Sadnovnikova (Ilia); Bernden Gunnell (Idomeneo); Monica Bacelli (Idamante); Michaela Kaune (Elettra); Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani (Arbace); Krystian Adam (High Priest); Michail Leibundgut (Voice of Neptune)
Idomeneo is a masterpiece that’s only beginning to gain its rightful place in Mozart’s canon. The opera may have an outlandish plot -- complete with conniving gods and a marauding sea monster -- but it’s also blessed with some of Mozart’s most beautiful music and a troupe of opera’s most touchingly human characters.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN: Peter Grimes
Theater an der Wien, Vienna
Arnold Schoenberg Chorus and ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra with Cornelius Meister, conductor
CAST: Kurt Streit (Peter Grimes); Agneta Eichenholz (Ellen Orford); Hanna Schwartz (Auntie); Andrew Foster-Williams (Balstrode); Rosalind Plowright (Mrs. Sedley); Stefan Cerny (Swallow); Andreas Conrad (Bob Boles); Tobias Greenhaigh (Ned Keene); Erik Arman (Rev. Horace Adams)
The seeds for this powerfully emotional drama were sewn while Britten was in California, where an encounter with George Crabbe's poem The Borough left the composer nostalgic for Aldeburgh, his coastal hometown in Suffolk.
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