Coming Up on World of Opera

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI: King Roger & GIOACHINO ROSSINI: L'Inganno Felice

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Teatro La Fenice, Venice

Week of 7/25/15

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Antonio Pappano, conductor

CAST: Mariusz Kwiecien (King Roger II); Georgia Jarman (Roxana); Kim Begley (Edrisi); Saimir Pirgu (Shepherd); Alan Ewing (Archbishop); Agnes Zwierko (Deaconess)


La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus

Stefano Montanari, conductor

CAST: (L'Inganno Felice): Marina Bucciarelli (Isabella); Giorgio Misseri (Bertrando); Filippo Fontana (Batone); Omar Montanari (Tarabotto); Marco Filippo Romano (Ormondo)

Szymanowski is widely regarded as the most important Polish composer after Chopin.  King Roger -- portraying the inherent conflict between Apollonian ideals and Dionysian pleasure -- is often cited as a true, musical rarity:  a genuine masterpiece unaccountably neglected.  And as a bonus, from Venice, La Fenice presents a rarely-heard one-act gem by Rossini.

CHARLES GOUNOD: Faust

Royal Theater, Turin

Week of August 1, 2015

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus

Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

CAST: Charles Castronovo (Faust); Irina Lunga (Marguerite); Ildar Abdrazakov (Méphistophélès); Vasilij Ladjuk (Valentin); Paolo Maria Orecchia (Wagner); Ketevan Kemodlidze (Siébel); Samantha Korbey (Marthe)

Goethe's immortal drama, with it's legendary deal with the devil, has been adapted in countless ways, from symphonic poems to rock musicals, but few if any can match the power and romance of Gounod's opera.

GIACOMO PUCCINI: La Boheme

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of August 8, 2015

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Dan Ettinger, conductor

CAST:  Anna Netrebko (Mimi); Joseph Calleja (Rodolfo); Lucas Meachem (Marcello); Jennifer Rowley (Musetta); Simone Del Savio (Schaunard); Marco Vinco (Colline); Jeremy White (Benoit); Ryland Davies (Alcindoro)

Puccini's love-stoked tearjerker may end tragically, but the opera's multiple levels of passion and sentiment still make for a great "date night."  And, as the perfect remedy for any tottering romance, La Boheme is also among the most popular operas ever composed.

W. A. MOZART: La Clemenza di Tito

Champs-Elysées Theatre, Paris

Week of August 15, 2015

Aedes Chorus

Le Cercle de l'Harmonie Orchestra

Jérémie Rhorer, conductor

CAST:  Kurt Streit (Tito); Karina Gauvin (Vitellia); Kate Lindsey (Sesto); Julie Boulianne (Annio); Julie Fuchs (Servilia); Robert Gleadow (Publio)

The characters in Mozart's final opera discover that even when it seems things could hardly go more horribly, disastrously wrong, everything can still turn out just fine -- thanks to this drama's generous, and almost surreally tolerant title character.   

ERNEST CHAUSSON: King Arthur

Bastille Opera, Paris

Week of August 22, 2015

Paris National Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Philippe Jordan, Conductor

CAST:  Thomas Hampson (Arthur); Roberto Alagna (Lancelot); Sophie Koch (Guinevere); Stanislas de Barbeyrac (Lionel); Pether Sidhom (Merlin); Alexandre Duhamel (Mordred); Francois Lis (Allan)

In early 20th-century Brussels, opera lovers were asked to name their favorite works.  At the top of the list were Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande -- and Chausson's King Arthur.  It's easy to see -- and hear -- why.  Chausson's only completed opera has a love story worthy of Tristan, and a score that represents the best of late 19th-century France. 

GIUSEPPE VERDI: Luisa Miller

Hamburg State Opera

Week of August 29, 2015

Hamburg State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Simone Young, conductor

CAST:  Nino Michaidze (Luisa); Ivan Magrì (Rodolfo); George Petean (Miller); Tigran Martirossian (Count Walter); Christina Damian (Federica); Oliver Zwarg (Wurm); Ida Aldrian (Laura)

Always drawn to the greatest and most challenging literature, Verdi based this compelling drama on a play by Friederich Schiller.  Often neglected today, the opera was a success at its Naples premiere and features some top-notch music, even by Verdi's standards, including a series of evocative choruses and one of his finest overtures.

CHARLES GOUNOD: Cinq-Mars

Prinzregenten Theater, Munich

Week of September 5, 2015

Bavarian Radio Chorus

Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra

Ulf Schirmer, conductor

CAST:  Véronique Gens (Princesse Marie); Mathias Vidal (Marquis de Cinq-Mars); Andrew Foster-Williams (Father Joseph); Tassis Christoyannis (Le Conseiller de Thou); André Heyboer (Fontrailles); Norma Nahoun (Marion Delorme); Marie Lenormand (Le Berger)

When this opera premiered in Paris, in 1877, it was criticized as a sort of hybrid -- stuck between the contrasting worlds of French Grand Opera and opéra comique.  Yet with its passionate, historical story, and the allure of Gounod's highly-accomplished score, it's beginning to get a second chance.

W. A. MOZART: The Abduction from the Seraglio

Proms Concerts, Royal Albert Hall, London

Week of September 12, 2015

Glyndebourne Festival Chorus

Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment

Robin Ticciati, conductor

CAST:  Sally Matthews (Konstanze); Edgaras Montvidas (Belmonte); Tobias Kehrer (Osmin); Mari Eriksmoen (Blonde); Brenden Gunelli (Pedrillo)

If you believe the story, this classic "rescue" opera is the piece the Emperor said had, "too many notes."  Judging by its lasting popularity, audiences seem to think it has just the right number of notes and so, apparently, did Mozart.

P. I. TCHAIKOVSKY: Iolanta & IGOR STRAVINSKY: Perséphone

Aix-en-Provence Festival

Week of September 19, 2015

Lyon Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Teodor Currentzis, conductor

CAST (Iolanta):  Ekaterina Sherbachenko (Iolanta); Dmitry Ulianov (René); Maxim Aniskin (Robert); Arnold Rutkowski (Vaudémont); Willard White (Ibn-Hakia); Vasily Efimov (Alméric); Pavel Kudinov (Bertrand); Diana Montague (Marta); Maria Bochmanova (Brigitta); Karina Demurova (Laura)

CAST (Perséphone):  Dominque Blanc (Perséphone); Paul Groves (Eumolpe)

A fanciful one-act opera by Tchaikovsky combines with Stravinsky's uniquely evocative melodrama in an intriguing and colorful double-bill from one of France's foremost summer festivals.