Coming Up on World of Opera

FRANCESCO CAVALLI: Veremonda, L'Amazzone di Aragona

Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston

Week of May 28, 2016

New York Baroque Incorporated

Aaron Carpene, conductor

CAST: Vivica Genaux (Veremonda); Raffaele Pe (Delio); Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli (Zelemina); Andrey Nemzer (Alfonso); Matthew Maniaci (Zaida); Céline Ricci (Vespina); Joseph Barron (Roldano); Jason Budd (Giacutte); Steven Cole (Don Buscone)

Cavalli was among the finest and most influential composers from the early days of opera, in the 17th century, yet his two-dozen-plus dramas are seldom heard today. Veremonda tells a varied and colorful story of entangled love, international diplomacy, mistaken identity, and gender equality.

GIUSEPPE VERDI: I Due Foscari

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of June 4, 2016

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

CAST: Placido Domingo (Francesco Foscari); Liudmyla Monastyrska (Lucrezia Contarini); Aquiles Machado (Jacopo Foscari); Raymond Aceto (Jacopo Laredano); Josep Fadó (Babarigo); Maria Miró (Pisana)

Verdi's operas are so popular that few of his great dramas could truly be described as "unjustly neglected" -- but this one may fit the bill. One of Verdi's darkest scores, I due Foscari is also among his most striking scores. It tells a compelling story of deadly intrigue and political treachery set against the historical backdrop of 15th-century Venice.

BENJAMIN GODARD: Dante

Prinzregenten Theater, Munich

Week of June 11, 2016

Munich Radio Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Chorus

Ulf Schirmer, conductor

CAST: Véroniqe Gens (Béatrice); Edgaras Montvidas (Dante); Rachel Frenkel (Gemma); Diana Axentil (Ecolier); Jean-Francois Lapointe (Bardi)

Benjamin Godard is hardly a "household word" in musical circles today, but in his time he stood alongside Saint-Saens among the most versatile composers in 19th-century France. In this opera, the great Italian writer Dante Alighieri not only inspires the music, but also plays a starring role.

G. F. HANDEL: Alcina

Opéra des Nations, Geneva

Week of June 18, 2016

Suisse Romande Orchestra, Cappella Mediterranea

Leonardo García Alarcón, conductor

CAST: Nicole Cabell (Alcina); Monica Bacelli (Ruggiero); Siobhan Stagg (Morgana); Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani (Oronte); Kristina Hammarström (Bradamente); Michael Adams (Melisso); Mary Feminear (Oberto)

The sorceress Alcina, a vivid character born in Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso, has a nasty habit of turning her enemies into wild animals. She's foiled when she seduces the wrong guy, a knight who courageously defeats her spells and frees her victims.

GIUSEPPE VERDI: Macbeth

Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Week of June 25,2016

Vienna State Opera

Alain Altinoglu, conductor

CAST: George Petean (Macbeth); Tatiana Serjan (Lady Macbeth); Ferruccio Furlanetto (Banquo); Jorge de León (Macduff); Jinxu Xiahou (Malcolm); Donna Ellen (Lady-in-Waiting)

Astonishingly, there may be only a half-dozen or so successful operas inspired by Shakespeare. Even more remarkable is that Verdi alone accounted for three of them. His Macbeth may not be heard quite so often as Otello and Falstaff, but it's still among his finest and most intense dramas.

GIACOMO PUCCINI: Turandot

Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Week of July 2, 2016

Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

CAST: Lise Lindstrom (Turandot); Yusif Eyvazov (Calaf); Anita Hartig (Liù); Dan Paul Dumitrescu (Timur); Heinz Zednik (Emperor Altoum); Gabriel Bermúdez (Ping); Carlos Osuna (Pang); Norbert Ernst (Pong)

As he also proved with Madame Butterfly and La Fanciulla del West, Puccini never hesitated to apply his proudly Italian sensibilities to far flung, “exotic” locales. With Turandot, he evokes the splendors of ancient China -- in an opera featuring “Nessun dorma,” the aria the Three Tenors famously put on the charts.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Otello

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of July 9, 2016

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona
Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus

Christopher Franklin, conductor

CAST: Gregory Kunde (Otello); Jessica Pratt (Desdemona); Dmitry Korchak (Rodrigo); Yije Shi (Iago); Lidia Vinyes-Curtis (Emilia); Mirco Palazzi (Elmiro); Josep Fadó (Doge of Venice); Josep Lluís Moreno (Lucio); Beñat Egiarte (Gondolier)

Lovers of Shakespeare's Othello may find that Rossini's version strays a bit at the beginning. But when all is said and done, Rossini and the bard seem joined at the hip, in a hair-raising finale that rivals even Verdi's masterful setting of the drama. The production is the first half of an Otello double-header from Barcelona.