Coming Up on World of Opera
GIUSEPPE VERDI: Falstaff
La Scala, Milan
Week of November 28, 2015
La Scala Orchestra and Chorus
Danieli Gatti, conductor
CAST: Nicola Alaimo (Falstaff); Eva Mei (Alice Ford); Laura Polverelli (Meg Page); Massimo Cavaletti (Ford); Eva Liebau (Nanetta); Francesco Demuro (Fenton); Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Mistress Quickly); Patrizio Saudelli (Bardolfo); Giovanni Parodi (Pistola); Carlo Bosi (Dr. Caius)
Verdi's final two operas, Otello and Falstaff, were both based on Shakespeare. Together, they may be the finest valedictory in the history of opera, and Falstaff may also be the most optimistic. This recent production comes to us from Milan's La Scala, where the opera was premiered in 1893.
ARRIGO BOITO: Mefistofele
Bavarian State Opera, Munich
Week of December 5, 2015
Bavarian State Orchestra and Chorus Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
CAST: René Pape (Mefistofele); Joseph Calleja (Faust); Kristine Opolais (Margherita); Heike Grötzinger (Marta); Andrea Borghini (Wagner); Karine Babajanyan (Helen of Troy); Rachael Wilson (Pantalis); Joshua Owen Mills (Neréo)
Arrigo Boito is best-known by far as one of Verdi's favorite librettists; he wrote the texts for both Otello and Falstaff. Yet, Boito was also an accomplished composer in his own right and Mefistofele, based on Goethe's Faust, is far and away his most successful opera.
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Roberto Devereux
Teatro Real, Madrid
Week of December 12, 2015
Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus Bruno Campanella, conductor
CAST: Mariella Devia (Elisabeth, Queen of England); Gregory Kunde (Roberto Devereux); Mariusz Kwiecen (Duke of Nottingham); Silvia Tro Santafé (Sara, Duchess of Nottingham); Juan Antonio Sanabria (Lord Cecil); Andrea Mastroni (Sir Walter Raleigh)
Donizetti had a well-known affinity for historical stories of the English monarchy. This time, he takes on a tale of intrigue and jealousy in the court of Queen Elisabeth I, including her supposed entanglement in a regal love triangle, involving Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and Sara, Duchess of Nottingham.
NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Christmas Eve
Svetlanov Hall, Moscow
Week of December 19, 2015
State Symphony Capella of Russia Orchestra and Chorus Valery Polyansky, conductor
CAST: Lyudmila Kuznetsova (Solokha); Oleg Dolgov (Vakula); Maxim Sazhin (Devil); Sergei Toptygin (Village Head); Andrei Antonov (Chub); Anna Pegova (Oxana); Leonid Bomstein (Deacon); Elena Evseeva (Tsaritsa); Ruslan Rozyev (Zaporozhets the Sorcerer)
Based on a Ukrainian story by Gogol, Rimsky's opera is one of the few that are specifically set at Christmas time. The same story was also set by Tchaikovsky in The Slippers, with Rimsky's version putting greater emphasis on the tale's more fantastic and mystical elements.
JOHN ADAMS: El Niño
Spoleto Festival USA
Week of December 26, 2015
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra Westminster Choir Joe Miller, conductor
CAST: Erica Brookhyser (Mezzo-Soprano); Daniel Bubeck (Countertenor 1); Brian Cummings (Countertenor 2); Caitlin Lynch (Soprano); Steven Rickards (Countertenor 3); Mark Walters (Baritone)
John Adams, Pulitzer Prize-winner and arguably America's best-known living composer, describes El Niño as, “my way of trying to understand what is meant by a miracle."This sweeping setting of the Christmas story is both freshly contemporary and filled with ancient traditions, including medieval carolers, Latin American poets, and an ethereal children's chorus. As the New York Times put it, "El Niño bears so many gifts that the senses stagger under the load."
GIOACHINO ROSSINI: La Cenerentola
Week of January 1, 2015
Lausanne Opera Chamber Orchestra and Chorus
CAST: Serena Malfi (Cenerentola); Edgardo Rocha (Ramiro); Alexandre Diakoff (Don Magnifico); Giorgio Caoduro (Dandini); Laure Barras (Clorinda); Catherine Trottmann (Tisbe); Luigi De Donato (Alidoro)
Based on the fairytale favorite "Cinderella" La Cenerentola is one of Rossini's most delicate and delightful comedies. But in this version of the story, it's not magic slippers and fairy godmothers that carry the day, but rather the strength of love and the resiliency of the human spirit.
JULES MASSENET: Werther
Week of January 9, 2016
Mozarteum Orchestra and Alejo Pérez, conductor
CAST: Angela Gheorghiu (Charlotte); Piotr Beczala (Werther); Daniel Schumtzhard (Albert); Elena Tsallagova (Sophie); Giorgio Surian (Le Bailli); Martin Zysset (Schmidt); Ruben Drole (Johann)
This one might be considered Massenet’s "other opera." His Manon is more famous, but Werther is beginning to get the wider attention it surely deserves. Based on a trendsetting novel by Goethe, the opera is the story of a man whose lost love leads him to the ultimate act of desperation.
HECTOR BERLIOZ: Les Troyens
Hamburg State Opera
Week of January 16, 2016
Hamburg State Philharmonic and Hamburg Opera Chorus with Kent Nagano, conductor
CAST: Torsten Kerl (Aeneas); Catherine Nagelstadt (Cassandra); Christina Gansch (Ascanius); Alin Anca (Pantheus); Kartal Karagedik (Chorebus); Stanislav Sergeev (Priam); Elena Zhidkova (Dido); Marta Swiderska (Hecuba); Bruno Vargas (Ghost of Hector); Julian Prégardien (Hylas); Petri Lindros (Narbal); Markus Nykänen (Iopas).
Berlioz had a lifelong enthusiasm for Virgil's Aeneid, and brought that passion to life in his most ambitious opera. It's presented here in a new production from Hamburg, marking conductor Kent Nagano's first production since becoming the Hamburg State Opera's new music director.
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Lucia di Lammermoor
Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona
Week of January 23, 2016
Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus with Marco Armiliato, conductor
CAST: Elena Mosuc (Lucia); Juan Diego Flórez (Edgardo); Marco Caria (Enrico); Albert Casals (Arturo); Simón Ofila (Raimondo); Jorge Rodríguez Norton (Normanno)
It's hard to think of a heroine with a fate more heartbreaking -- or more shocking -- than that of Donizetti's Lucia, whose famous mad scene is one of the greatest moments in any opera. This production from Barcelona features one of today's most acclaimed tenors, Juan Diego Flórez, with the brilliant Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc in the title role.
P. I. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades
Week of January 30, 2016
Rome Opera Orchestra and Chorus with James Conlon, conductor
Maksim Aksenov (Hermann); Oksana Dyka (Lisa); Elena Zaremba (Countess); Vitaliy Bilyy (Prince Yeletsky); TómasTómasson (Count Tomsky); Elena Maximova (Pauline); Mikhail Korobeinikov (Surin); Vladimir Reutov (Chaplitsky); Vadim Zaplechny (Chekalinsky)
Compulsive gambling has gotten plenty of people in deep trouble, but few more dramatically than the unfortunate Hermann in Tchaikovsky's opera. Based on a chilling story by Pushkin, the operatic version is no less disturbing than the original.