Coming Up on World of Opera

W. A. MOZART: Così fan tutte

Aix-en-Provence Festival

Week of August 6, 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.

CLAUDE DEBUSSY: Pelléas and Mélisande

Aix-en-Provence Festival

Week of August 13, 2016

Philharmonia Orchestra
Cape Town Opera Chorus

Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

CAST: Stéphane Degout (Pelléas); Barbara Hannigan (Mélisande); Laurent Naouri (Golaud); Franz Josef Selig (Arkel); Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo (Geneviève); Chloé Briot (Yniold); Thomas Dear (Doctor)

Can an opera deliver passion and intensity without over-the-top mad scenes, rousing calls to arms, and crashing cadences? The answer is yes, and this emotional marvel by Debussy proves it.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: The Barber of Seville

Proms Concerts, Royal Albert Hall, London

Week of August 20, 2016

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus

Enrique Mazzola, conductor

CAST: Danielle de Niese (Rosina); Taylor Stayton (Almaviva); Björn Burger (Figaro); Alessandro Corbelli (Dr. Bartolo); Christophoros Stamboglis (Basilio); Janis Kelly (Berta); Huw Montague Rendall (Fiorello)

There may be no such thing as artistic perfection, but with Barber of Seville Rossini surely came as close as anyone to creating a flawless operatic comedy. The production is the first of three this quarter from the prestigious Proms Concerts, performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

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: Mitridate, King of Pontus

La Monnaie, Brussels

Week of September 17, 2016

La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Christophe Rousset, conductor

CAST: Michael Spyres (Mitridate); Lenneke Ruiten (Aspasia); Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare); David Hansen (Farnace); Simona Šaturová (Ismene); Sergei Romanovsky (Marzio); Yves Saelens (Arbate)

This remarkable drama shows us the 14-year-old Mozart finding his "opera legs," in music that grows more and more beautiful as the opera progresses. The tragic story centers on a king's would-be bride, who is loved by one of the king's two sons but falls in love with the other -- earning both lovers a death sentence.

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.

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