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W. A. MOZART: Così fan tutte

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of October 10, 2015

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus Josep Pons, conductor

CAST: Juliane Banse (Fiordiligi); Maite Beaumont (Dorabella); Joël Prieto (Guglielmo); Joan Martin-Royo (Ferrando); Sabina Puértolas (Despina); Pietro Spagnoli (Don Alfonso)

Deceptively complex, this comic farce leaves many listeners a little bit queasy. Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto may spring plenty of lightweight jokes, but in tandem with Mozart's music the trickery reminds us that even our most cherished relationships can quickly turn fragile, and tenuous.


Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro

Week of October 17, 2015

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna Donato Renzetti, conductor

CAST: Nino Machaidze (Ninetta); René Barbera (Giannetto); Teresa Lervolino (Lucia); Lena Belkina (Pippo); Simone Alberghini (Fabrizio Vingradito); Alex Esposito (Fernando Villabella); Riccardo Fioratti (Giorgio)

This opera -- The Thieving Magpie -- features one of Rossini's most popular and ingenious overtures, yet the opera itself is rarely heard. The production comes to us from the prestigious Rossini Opera Festival, held annually in the composer's home town.


Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of October 24, 2015

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus Paolo Carignani, conductor

CAST: Sondra Radvanovsky (Tosca); Jorge de León (Cavaradossi); Ambrogio Maestri (Scarpia); Vladimir Baykov (Angelotti); Valeriano Lanchas (Sacristan); Francisco Vas (Spoletta); Manel Esteve (Sciarrone); Elena Copons (Shepherd Boy)

Puccini's popular thriller careens violently from passion-driven corruption to torture, murder and suicide, yet proves that even the most sensational entertainment can make an artistic statement that's both enduring, and profoundly beautiful. From Barcelona, Sondra Radvanovsky gives a powerful, yet nuanced performance in the title role.


Peralada Castle Festival, Spain

Week of October 31, 2015

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus Riccardo Frizza, conductor

CAST: Eva Maria Westbroek (Desdemona); Gregory Kunde (Otello); Carlos Álvarez (Iago); Francisco Vas (Cassio); Vicenç Esteve Madrid (Roderigo); Miguel Ángel (Lodovico); Mireia Pintó (Emilia); Damián del Castillo (Montano)

Otello, Iago and Desdemona, three of literature's most complex and compelling characters, come to life in what many consider Verdi's most moving opera. Written when the composer was in his early 70s, Otello takes one of Shakespeare's finest tragedies and, if anything, makes it even more powerful and heartbreaking.

W. A. MOZART: Don Giovanni

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, LondonRoyal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of November 7, 2015

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus Alain Altinoglu, conductor

CAST: Christopher Maltman (Don Giovanni); Alex Esposito (Leporello); Albina Shagimuratova (Donna Anna); Dorothea Röschmann (Donna Elvira); Rolando Villazón (Don Ottavio); Julia Lezhneva (Zerlina); Nahuel Di Pierro (Masetto); Eric Halfvarson (Commendatore)

Few operas have stories as perfectly suited to a composer as this one. It's hard to imagine a more complex weave of antic comedy, shocking violence and emotional betrayals than librettist Lorenzo da Ponte's incisive adaptation of the Don Juan legend -- or a composer better equipped to handle it than Mozart.

SIMON MAYR: Medea in Corinto

Valle d'Itria Festival, Martina Franco, Italy

Week of November 14, 2015

Transylvania State Philharmonic Chorus Italian International Orchestra Fabio Luisi, conductor

CAST: Davinia Rodriquez (Medea); Michael Sypres (Giasone); Roberto Lorenzi (Creonte); Enea Scala (Egeo); Mihaela Marcu (Creusa); Paolo Cauteruccio (Evandro); Nozomi Kato (Ismene)

Not widely known today, Simon Mayr was among the most important opera composers of the early 19th-century, bringing German harmonic language and orchestral color to the world of Italian opera. His Medea tells the gripping mythological story of a woman so obsessed with revenge that she destroys her own children.


Theater an der Wien, Vienna

Week of November 21, 2015

Arnold Schoenberg Chorus ORF Radio Symphony Constantin Trinks, conductor

CAST: Michael Nagy (Hans Heiling); Katerina Tretyakova (Anna); Angela Denoke (Queen of the Erdgeister); Stephanie Houtzel (Gertrude); Peter Sonn (Konrad); Christoph Seidl (Stephan); Patrick Maria Kühn (NIklas)

Marschner's work seldom appears in today's theaters, despite playing an important historical role in operatic history. His operas fill the musical gap between the early, German Romantic operas of Weber, and the revolutionary music dramas of Wagner. Hans Heiling tells a folk-based tale of a clash between two worlds, the mortal and the spiritual.


Lucerne Festival

Week of November 28, 2015

Zurich Opera Chorus Bamberg Symphony Orchestra Jonathan Nott, conductor

CAST: Ambrogio Maestri (Falstaff); Eva Mei (Alice Ford); Jana Kurucová (Meg Page); Fabio Capitanucci (Ford); Carolina Ullrich (Nanetta); Paolo Fanale (Fenton); Elisabeth Kulman (Mrs. Quickly); Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (Bardolfo); Federico Sacchi (Pistola); Emanuele Giannino (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.

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.


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.

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