Coming Up on World of Opera
CHARLES GOUNOD: Romeo and Juliet
Royal Wallonie Opera, Liége
Week of 3/1/2014
Royal Wallonie Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Patrick Davin, conductor
CAST: Annick Massis (Juliet); Aquiles Machado (Romeo); Patrick Bolleire (Frère Laurent); Pierre Doyen (Mercutio); Marie-Laure Coenjaerts (Stéphano); Laurent Kubla (Capulet); Xavier Rouillon (Tybalt); Christine Solhosse (Gertrude).
Gounod's popular Faust is far better-known than this, later opera. Still, of the scores, if not hundreds, of musical takes on the iconic Shakespeare tragedy, Gounod's version of Romeo and Juliet is one of a bare handful that still hold the stage today -- making it a remarkable opera in its own right.
JULES MASSENET: Cendrillon
Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona
Week of 3/15/2014
Grand Liceu Theater Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Andrew Davis, conductor
CAST: Joyce DiDonato (Cendrillon); Alice Coote (Prince Charming); Ewa Podles (Stepmother); Laurent Naouri (Pandolfe); Annick Massis (The Fairy); Cristina Obregón (Noémie); Marisa Martins (Dorothée); Luis Cansino (The King)
With apologies to Rossini, this may be the finest operatic representation of the classic fairytale, “Cinderella.” In any case, it’s the most faithful, and it also boasts one of Massenet’s most appealing scores.
GIUSEPPE VERDI: La Forza del Destino
Munich National Theater
Week of 3/15/2014
Bavarian State Orchestra
Bavarian Radio Chorus
Asher Fisch, conductor
CAST: Anja Harteros (Leonora); Jonas Kaufmann (Don Alvaro); Ludovic Tézier (Don Carlo di Vargas); Vitaly Kovalyov (Marquis of Calatrava/Padre Guardiano); Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla); Francesco Petrozzi (Trabuco); Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone); Heike Grötzinger (Curra)
VINCENZO BELLINI: La Sonnambula
Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona
Week of 3/22/2014
Grand Leceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Daniel Oren, conductor
CAST: Niana Damrau (Amina); Juan Diego Florez (Elvino); Nicola Ulivieri (Count Rodolfo); Eleonora Buratto (Lisa); Gemma Coma-Alabert (Teresa); Alex Sanmarti (Alessio)
Better known for tragic dramas including Norma and I Puritani, Bellini also had a smash hit with this lighthearted romp, set in a village full of good intentions where even the thorniest problems are simple misunderstandings, easily solved. This production from Spain features one of the world's leading bel canto tenors, Juan Diego Florez.
GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Le Comte Ory
Week of 3/29/2014
Lyon Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Stefano Montanari, conductor
CAST: Désirée Rancatore (Countess Adéle); Dmitry Korchak (Count Ory); Antoinette Dennefeld (Isolier); Patrick Bolleire (Governor); Philippe Sly (Raimbaud); Doris Lamprecht (Ragonde)
Rossini's penultimate opera is based on a medieval ballad about randy knights set loose in a convent. This version of the story is a bit more polite, with the nuns turned into a castle full of faithful wives, chastely awaiting the return of their husbands.
G.F. HANDEL: Rodelinda
Coliseum Theatre, London
Week of 4/5/2014
English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Christian Curnyn, conductor
CAST: Rebecca Evans (Rodelinda); Iestyn Davies (Bertarido); John Mark Ainsley (Grimoaldo); Susan Bickley (Eduige); Christopher Ainslie (Unulfo); Richard Burkhard (Garibaldo)
Handel wrote Rodelinda for a premiere in London, in 1725, featuring some of the greatest singers of the time, and this 2014 London concert performance features a world-class cast of its own. The opera itself portrays a strong-willed wife who risks her own life to protect her family, as her exiled husband struggles to find a way back to them.
GIACOMO MEYERBEER: L'Africaine
La Fenice, Venice
Week of 4/12/2014
La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus
Emmanuel Villaume, conductor
CAST: Veronica Simeoni (Sélika); Gregory Kunde (Vasco da Gama); Jessica Pratt (Inès); Angelo Veccia (Nélusko); Luca dall'Amico (Don Pédro); Davide Ruberti (Don Diégo); Anna Bordignon (Anna); Mattia Denti (Grand Inquisitor); Ruben Amoretti (High Priest of Brahma)
The debut of this opera, in 1865, was one of the most extravagant productions in the history of the Paris Opéra, and the drama can strain the capacity of even today's high tech theaters. This production comes to us from one of the world's most glamorous operatic destinations.
JULES MASSENET: Manon
Malmö Opera, Sweden
Week of 4/19/2014
CAST: Georgia Jarman (Manon); Joachim Bäckström (Chevalier des Grieux); Alec Aedissian (Lescaut); Danle Hällström (Le Comte des Grieux); Jonas Duran (Guillot); Kosma Ranuer (Brétigny); Sofie Asplund (Pousette); Kamila Benhamza (Javotte); Kristina Wahlin (Rosette)
The vitality of opera in the 21st-century is evident in the sheer number of high quality of opera productions heard throughout the world, as demonstrated by this top-notch presentation from Sweden's Malmö opera, making its World of Opera debut with a production featuring the brilliant American soprano Georgia Jarman in the title role.
W.A. MOZART: Don Giovanni
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
Week of 4/26/2014
CAST: Mariusz Kwiecien (Don Giovanni); Alex Esposito (Leporello); Malin Byström (Donna Anna); Véronique Gens (Donna Elvira); Antonio Poli (Don Ottavio); David Kimberg (Masetto); Elizabeth Watts (Zerlina); Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Commendatore)
If ever a story fell right into a composer's wheelhouse, this would be the one. It's hard to imagine a more complex weave of antic comedy, shocking violence and emotional betrayals than librettist Lorenzo da Ponte's incisive adaptation of the Don Juan legend -- or a composer better equipped to handle it than Mozart.