Coming Up on World of Opera

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Semiramide

Proms Concerts, Royal Albert Hall, London

Week of September 24, 2016

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Mark Elder, conductor

CAST: Albina Shagimuratova (Semiramide); Daniela Barcellona (Arsace); Ildebrando d'Arcangelo (Assur); Javier Camarena (Idreno); Gianluca Buratto (Oroe); Susana Gaspar (Azema); David Butt Philip (Mitrane)

The last opera Rossini wrote for Italy, Semiramide premiered at La Fenice, in Venice, in 1823. In this exhilarating score, the composer exerts his mastery of Italian traditions while looking forward to his future in France, abandoning standard "dry recitative" to reach a new level of passionate expression.

RICHARD WAGNER: Das Rheingold

2016 Bayreuth Festival

Week of October 1, 2016

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus

Marek Janowski, conductor

CAST: Ilian Paterson (Wotan); Albert Dohman (Alberich); Sarah Connolly (Fricka); Roberto Saccà (Loge); Markus Eiche (Donner); Tansel Akzeybek (Froh); Andreas Conrad (Mime); Caroline Wenborne (Freia); Karl-Heinz Lehner (Fafner); Günther Groisböck (Fasolt); Nadine Weissmann (Erda); Alexandra Steiner (Woglinde); Stephanie Houtzeel (Wellgunde); Wiebke Lehmkuhl (Flosshilde)

Das Rheingold gets Wagner's monumental Ring cycle off to a rousing start, in a quickly- paced drama introducing a fanciful world of vivid characters and world-shaping passions.

VINCENZO BELLINI: I Puritani

Royal Theater, Madrid

Week of October 8, 2016

Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus
Evelino Pidò, conductor

CAST: Javier Camerena (Lord Arturo Talbo); Diana Damrau (Lady Elvira Walton); Nicola Testé (Sir Giorgio Walton); Miklós Sebestyén (Lord Gualtiero Walton); Ludovic Tézier (Sir Riccardo Forth); Antonio Lozano (Sir Bruno Robertson); Annalisa Stroppa (Enrichetta di Francia) 

When Bellini moved to Paris in the 1830s, he declared that French composers and audiences had "little understanding of real song." He apparently decided to remedy that. I Puritani -- Bellini's first opera for Paris -- is blessed by a raft of his finest melodies.

GIACOMO PUCCINI: Tosca

Vienna State Opera

Week of October 15, 2016

Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Jésus López Cobos, conductor 

CAST: Angela Gheorghiu (Floria Tosca); Jonas Kaufmann (Mario Cavaradossi); Bryn Terfel (Baron Scarpia); Ryan Speedo Green (Angelotti); Alfred Šramek (Sacristan); Benedikt Kobel (Spoletta); Marcus Pelz (Sciarrone) 

Puccini's thriller careens violently from passion-driven corruption to torture, murder and suicide -- proving that even the most sensational entertainment can make an artistic statement that's both enduring, and profoundly beautiful. This production from Vienna features an outstanding cast, and a superb performance by tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi.

JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU: Les Indes Galantes Prince

Regent Theater, Munich

Week of October 22, 2016

Munich Festival Orchestra 
Balthasar Neumann Chorus 

Ivor Bolton, conductor 

CAST: Lisette Oropesa (Hébé/Zima); Goran Juric (Bellone); Ana Quintans (L'Amour/Zaïre); Tareq Nazmi (Osman/Ali); Elsa Benoit (Emilie); Cyril Auvity (Valère/Tacmas); François Lis (Huascar); Don Alvaro); Anna Prohaska (Phani/Fatime); Mathias Vidal (Don Carlos/Damon); John Moore (Adario) 

Rameau's spectacular, globetrotting drama features extravagant scenes in locales ranging from a Turkish island in the Indian Ocean, to the Inca Empire of Peru, a Persian festival of flowers and the "savage" forests of North America.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: La Donna del Lago

2016 Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro

Week of October 29, 2016  

Teatro Comunale Orchestra and Chorus, Bologna 
Michele Mariotti, conductor 

CAST: Juan Diego Flórez (Giacomo/Uberto); Salome Jica (Elena); Marko Mimica (Douglas); Michael Spyres (Rodrigo); Varduhi Abrahamyan (Malcom); Ruth Iniesta (Albina); Francisco Brito (Serano/Bertram) 

In 1819, Rossini cashed in on an Italian taste for all things Scottish, with this opera based on a narrative by Sir Walter Scott. This production from the Rossini Opera Festival, in the composer's hometown, features the acclaimed Rossini tenor Juan Diego Flórez.

GIUSEPPE VERDI: Il Trovatore

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of November 5, 2016

Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus 
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

CAST: Ekaterina Semenchuk (Azucena); Francesco Meli (Manrico); LIanna Haroutounian (Leonora); Zeljko Lucic (Count di Luna); Maurizio Muraro (Ferrando); Jennifer Davis (Ines); David Junghoon Kim (Ruiz) 

The story of this complex drama at times verges on the outlandish, but Verdi's score also serves up an astonishing number of his most familiar melodies, making it one of the most popular of all the composer's operas.

GEORGE ENESCU: Oedipe

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of November 12, 2016 

Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus 
Leo Hussain, conductor 

CAST: Johan Reuter (Oedipus); Sophie Bevan (Antigone); John Tomlinson (Tirésias); Claudia Huckle (Mérope); Sarah Connolly (Jocasta); Marie-Nicole Lemieux (The Sphinx); Alan Oke (Shepherd); Nicolas Courjal (High Priest); Hubert Francis (Laius); Samuel Youn (Créon); In-Sung Sim (Phorbas); Stefan Kocan (The Watcher); Samuel Dale Johnson (Theseus)

While Enescu's music sometimes reveals the influences of Brahms, Wagner and Fauré, he also imbued his work with distinctly Romanian elements, creating a fascinating and highly-original personal style. This intense drama is based on the classic Oedipus plays by Sophocles.

VINCENZO BELLINI: Norma

Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London

Week of November 19, 2016

Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus 
Antonio Pappano, conductor

CAST: Sonya Yoncheva (Norma); Sonia Ganassi (Adalgisa); Joseph Calleja (Pollione); Brindley Sherratt (Oroveso); Vlada Borovko (Clotilde); David Junghoon Kim (Flavio)

Perhaps the ultimate bel canto classic, Bellini's masterpiece features a powerfully emotional story and a title role that's among the most challenging in all of opera, sung here by the exciting young Bulgarian soprano, Sonya Yoncheva.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Il Turco in Italia

Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro

Week of November 26, 2016 

G. Rossini Symphony Orchestra
Teatro della Fortuna M. Agostino Chorus
Speranza Scappucci, conductor

CAST: Erwin Schrott (Selim); Olga Peretyatko (Fiorilla); Cecilia Molinari (Zaida); Nicola Alaimo (Geronio); René Barbera (Narciso); Pietro Spagnoli (Prosdocimo); Levy Sekgapane (Albazar)

With A Turk in Italy, Rossini turns the narrative tables on his own, more popular comedy, The Italian Girl in Algiers. This opera may be less familiar but it's every bit as funny.

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