Coming Up on World of Opera

AMBROISE THOMAS: Hamlet

Göteborg Opera, Sweden

Week of August 27, 2016

Göteborg Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Henrik Schaefer, conductor

CAST: Thomas Oliemans (Hamlet); Ditte Højgaard Andersen (Ophelia); Paul Whelan (Claudius); Kaarina Karnéus (Gertrude); Peter Loguin (Polonius); Björn Larsson (Ghost of King Hamlet); Anton Ljungqvist (First Gravedigger); Ingemar Anderson (Second Gravedigger)

The first of back-to-back musical takes on Shakespeare's Hamlet, this drama is among just a handful of Shakespeare-based operas to have achieved lasting success in the world's theaters. The few others include works by Verdi, Gounod and Britten, putting Thomas in rarified operatic company.

FRANCO FACCIO: Amleto

Bregenz Festival, Switzerland

Week of September 3, 2016

Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Prague Philharmonic Chorus

Paolo Carignani, conductor

CAST: Pavel Černoch (Hamlet); Iulia Maria Dan (Ophelia); Dshamilja Kaiser (Gertrude); Claudio Sgura (Claudio); Eduard Tsanga (Polonious); Sébastien Soules (Orazio); Martosz Urbanowicz (Marcello); Gianluca Buratto (Ghost); Paul Schweinester (Laerte); Jonathan Winell (Herald); Yasushi Hirano (Gravedigger)

Franco Faccio was an Italian contemporary of Verdi better known as a conductor than a composer. His operatic version of Hamlet premiered in Genoa in 1865, and was viewed by many as overly "modern." Faccio's collaborator on Amleto was librettest Arrigo Boito, who went on to write the librettos for two of Verdi's great Shakespeare operas, Otello and Falstaff.

LEOS JANÁCEK: The Makropoulos Case

Proms Concerts, Royal Albert Hall, London

Week of September 10, 2016

BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Singers

Jiří Belohlávek, conductor

CAST: Karita Mattila (Emilia Marty); Ales Briscejn (Albert Gregor); Gustav Belácek (Dr. Kolenatý); Jan Vacík (Vítek); Svatopluk Sem (Baron Jaroslav Prus); Alex Vorácek (Janek); Jan Jezek (Count Hauk-Sendorf)

A spellbinding drama told in the compellingly beautiful musical and dramatic idiom that's unique to Janacek's operas. The second of our three productions from London's Proms Concerts, The Makropulos Case is the story of a miraculously ageless diva who seems to have found a formula for immortality, only to be confronted by the sudden reality of death.

W. A. MOZART: Così fan tutte

Aix-en-Provence Festival

Week of September 17, 2016

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

Cape Town Opera Chorus

Louis Langrée, conductor

CAST: Lenneke Ruiten (Fiordiligi); Kate Lindsey (Dorabella); Joel Pietro (Ferrando); Nahuel di Pierro (Guglielmo); Sandrine Piau (Despina); Rod Gilfry (Don Alfonso)

Deceptively complex, this comic farce leaves many listeners a little bit queasy. Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto revolves around lightweight jokes and an elaborate prank, but in tandem with Mozart's music that trickery also reminds us that even our most cherished relationships can quickly turn fragile, and tenuous.

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.

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