Coming Up on World of Opera

P. I. TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin

Teatro Comunale, Bologna

Week of 7/5/2014

Teatro Comunale Orchestra and Chorus
Aziz Shokhakimov, conductor

CAST: Amanda Echalaz (Tatiana); Artur Rucinski (Onegin); Sergey Skorokhodov (Lensky); Lena Belkina (Olga); Elena Traversi (Larina); Alexei Tanovitski (Gremin)

A brooding masterpiece, Tchaikovsky's dark drama portrays a caddish aristocrat whose indifference towards others turns full circle, and comes back to destroy him.


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of 7/12/2014

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Maurizio Benini, conductor

CAST: Joseph Calleja (Faust); Sonya Yoncheva (Marguerite); Bryn Terfel (Méphistophélès); Simon Keenlyside (Valentin); Jihoon Kim (Wagner); Renata Pokupic (Siébel); Diana Montague (Marthe)

This lush drama by Gounod is surely the most popular musical representation of the immortal story of Faust, a man who confronts both the devil incarnate and the hellish consequences of his own weakness.


Grand Theatre of Geneva

Week of 7/19/2014

Grand Theatre Orchestra and Chorus
John Fiore, conductor

CAST: Franco Vassallo (Nabucco); Csilla Boross (Abigaille); Ahlima Mhamdi (Fenena); Leonardo Capalbo (Ismaele); Roberto Scandiuzzi (Zaccaria); Khachik Matevosyan (High Priest of Baal)

The composer's first big hit, Nabucco is one of many of Verdi operas in which his patriotic followers found a timely political agenda woven into an exotic, historical context. Its emotional chorus "Va Pensiero" became a sort of unofficial, Italian national anthem.


Champs-Elysées Theatre, Paris

Week of 7/26/2014

Champs-Elysées Theatre Chorus Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra
Enrique Mazzola, conductor

CAST: Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Tancredi); Patrizia Ciofi (Amenaide); Antonino Siragusa (Argiro); Christian Helmer (Orbazzano); José Maria Lo Monaco (Isaura); Sarah Tynan (Roggiero)

The first of Rossini’s great serious operas, Tancredi demonstrates that in the hands of a true master, even the aging opera seria format -- more associated with Baroque opera -- could still produce both moving romance, and riveting spectacle.


Broadcasting Hall, Bremen

Week of 8/2/2014

Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra
Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs, directors

CAST: Karina Gauvin (Niobe); Philippe Jaroussky (Anfione); Amanda Forsythe (Manto); Christian Immler (Tiresia); Aaron Sheehan (Clearte); Terry Way (Creonte); Jesse Blumberg (Poliferno); José Lemos (Nerea)

This rarely-heard gem is both a splendid jumble of comedy, tragedy, mythology and politics, and one of the most accomplished operas of its time, employing a musical style that seems to bridge the artistic worlds of Monteverdi and Handel.

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI: The Coronation of Poppea

Palais Garnier, Paris

Week of 8/9/2014

Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, conductor

CAST: karine Deshayes (Poppea); Jeremy Ovenden (Nerone); Andrea Concetti (Seneca); Varduhi Abrahamyan (Ottone); Monica Bacelli (Ottavia); Gaëlle Arquez (La Fortuna/Drusilla); Jael Azzaretti (La Virtù/Damigella); Amel Brahim-Djelloul (Amore); Manuel Nunes Camelino (Arnalta); Giuseppe de Vittorio (Nutrice)

Monteverdi's Poppea proves that passion was plentiful in the opera house long before Verdi and Puccini hit the scene --  and that virtue doesn't always win out in the end. The opera portrays an illicit love so strong that it threatens to bring down an empire -- accompanied by one of the steamiest love-duets ever composed. 

RICHARD STRAUSS: Die Frau ohne Schatten

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

CAST: Johan Botha (The Emperor); Emily Magee (The Empress); Michaela Schuster (Nurse); Johan Reuter (Barak, the Dyer); Elena Pankratova (Dyer's Wife); Jeremy White (One-Armed Man); Hubert Francis (The Hunchback); Ashley Holland (Messenger of Keikobad)

The opera's librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, called it a "magic fairy tale." The highly-symbolic story inhabits both the real world, and a realm of pure spirituality, and while it has often been overshadowed by the composer's more famous dramas, many Stauss aficionados consider The Woman without a Shadow to be his finest opera.


Montpellier Festival

Week of 8/23/2014

Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon National Orchestra
Latvian Radio Chorus
Paolo Carignani, conductor

CAST: Elena Mosuc (Caterina Cornaro); Ivan Magri (Gerardo); Franco Vassallo (Lusignano); Francois Lis (Mocenigo); Julie Knecht (Mathilde); Franck Bard (Knight of the King)

Though it's not one of Donizetti's better known scores, the concise drama and pure, emotional energy of this opera make it one of his most compelling. 


Bayreuth Festival

Week of 8/30/2014

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Kirill Petrenko, conductor

CAST: Wolfgang Roch (Wotan); Martin Winkler (Alberich); Claudia Mahnke (Fricka); Elisabet Strid (Freia); Nadine Weissmann (Erda); Norbert Ernst (Loge); Burkhard Ulrich (Mime); Wilhelm Schwinghammer (Fasolt); Sorin Coliban (Fafner); Markus Eiche (Donner); Lothar Odinius (Froh); Mirella Hagen (Woglinde); Julia Rutigliano (Wellgunde); Okka von der Damerau (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. 


Grand Theatre of Geneva

Week of 9/6/2014

Suisse Romande Orchestra
Grand Theatre Chorus
Evelino Pidò, conductor

CAST: Babara Frittoli (Wally); Gregory Kunde (Giuseppe Hagengach); Balint Szabo (Stromminger); Andrzej Dobber (Vincenzo Gellner); Ivanna Lesyk-Sadivska (Walter); Ahlima Mhamdi (Afra)

As Verdi's career was winding down, and Puccini's was achieving full flight, Catalani tried to take Italian opera in a different direction, combining Italian passion and lyricism with a German Romantic style of drama. La Wally was by far his greatest success.


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