Coming Up on World of Opera

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Aureliano in Palmira

Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro

Week of 1/24/15

G. Rossini Symphony Orchestra
Chorus of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna
Will Crutchfield, conductor

CAST: Jessica Pratt (Zenobia); Lena Belkina (Arsace); Michael Spyres (Aureliano); Raffaella Lupinacci (Publia); Dempsey C'Rivera (Oraspe); Dimitri Pkhaladze (Gran sacerdote); Sergio Vitale (Licinio)

This story of romantic intrigue among warring leaders of the ancient world is rarely heard in modern opera houses, though it is home to some of Rossini's best-known music: Its rousing overture was later recycled to kick off his comedy, The Barber of Seville.

JULES MASSENET: Cleopatre

Champs-Elysees Theatre, Paris

Week of 1/31/15

Paris Opera Chorus
Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra

CAST: Sophie Koch (Cleopatre); Frederic Goncalves (Marc-Antoine); Cassandre Berthon (Octavie); Benjamin Bernheim (Spakos); Jean-Gabriel Saint Martin (Severus); Olivia Doray (Charmion); Pierre-Yves Binard (Ennius)

Not performed until two years after the composer's death, Massenet's final opera tells the powerful story of one of the ancient world's most intriguing historical figures, and her ill-fated romance with Rome's Mark Antony.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN:  Fidelio

La Scala, Milan

Week of 2/7/15

La Scala Orchestra and Chorus
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

CAST:  Anja Kampe (Leonore); Klaus Florian Vogt (Florestan); Kwangchul Youn (Rocco); Mojca Erdmann (Marzelline); Florian Hoffmann (Jaquino); Falk Struckmann (Don Pizarro); Peter Mattei (Don Fernando)

Beethoven spent as much time on his only opera as some composers did on their entire portfolios -- and it shows.  Fidelio is one of opera's greatest stories of salvation, both literal and spiritual.  It's heard here in the 2014-15 season-opening production at La Scala, in Milan, with soprano Anja Kampe in one of her signature roles.