Coming Up on World of Opera

UMBERTO GIORDANO: Andrea Chénier

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of 3/28/15

Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus

CAST: Jonas Kaufmann (Andrea Chénier); Eva-Maria Westbroek (Maddalena de Coigny); Rosalind Plowright (Comtesse di Coigny); Zeljko Lucic (Carlo Gérard); Denyce Graves (Bersi); Peter Coleman-Wright (Pietro Fléville); Adrian Clarke (Mathieu)

In Giordano's revolutionary potboiler love and politics vie for the hero's soul, vividly demonstrating how both of those passions can be dangerous to one's health. This Covent Garden production features two of today's most highly-regarded stars, tenor Jonas Kaufmann and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: Tancredi

Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow

Week of 4/4/2015

Alberto Zedda, conductor

CAST: Patricia Bardon (Tancredi); Alga Peretyatko (Amenaide); Antonino Siragusa (Argirio); Oleg Tsybulko (Orbazzano); Alexandra Kadurina (Isaura); Irina Reynard (Ruggero)

Tancredi was the opera that first established Rossini's international reputation, and it demonstrates that in the hands of a true master, even the well-worn traditions of opera seria could still produce both moving romance, and riveting spectacle.

VINCENZO BELLINI: Norma

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of 4/11/2015

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus

Renato Palumbo, conductor

CAST: Sondra Radvanovsky (Norma); Ekaterina Gubanova (Adalgisa); Gregory Kunde (Pollione); Raymond Aceto (Oroveso); Anna Purche (Clotilde); Francisco Vas (Flavio)

Perhaps the ultimate bel canto classic, Bellini's masterpiece features a powerfully emotional story and a title role that's among the most challenging in all of opera, sung here by one of today's most exciting sopranos, Sandra Radvanovsky.

W. A. MOZART: The Marriage of Figaro

Royal Theater, Turin

Week of 4/18/15

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus

Yutaka Sado, conductor

CAST: Mirco Palazzi (Figaro); Carmela Remigio (Countess Almaviva); Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (Count Almaviva); Ekaterina Bakanova (Susanna); Paola Gardina (Cherubino); Samantha Korbey (Marcellina); Fabrizio Beggi (Bartolo); Arianna Vendittelli (Barbarina); Luca Casalin (Don Curzio); Matteo Peirone (Antonio)

Deep down, as with many of Mozart's "comedies," Figaro isn't as funny as it first seems, with plenty of telling human foibles, weaknesses, heartbreak, and even treachery, all lurking beneath a slapstick veneer -- and illuminated by page after page of glorious music.

OTTO NICOLAI: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Liège Opera

Week of 4/25/15

Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Christian Zacharias, conductor

CAST: Anneke Luyten (Alice Ford); Sabina Willeit (Meg Page); Franz Hawlata (Sir John Falstaff); Davide Giuste (Fenton); Werner Van Mechelen (Ford); Sophie Junker (Ann Page); Laurent Kubla (Page); Stefan Cifolelli (Slender); Patrick Delcour (Dr. Caius)

Successful Shakespeare-based operas are few and far between, and this gem is often overlooked. Using the same story that later inspired Verdi's Falstaff, Nicolai's colorful score combines the sparkle of Italian opera with the budding style of German romanticism.

ENRIQUE GRANADOS: Goyescas, GIACOMO PUCCINI: Suor Angelica

Royal Theater, Turin

Week of 5/2/15

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus

Denato Renzetti, conductor

CAST, GOYESCAS: Giuseppina Piunti (Rosario); Andeka Gorrotxategui (Fernando); Anna Maria Chiuri (Pepa); Fabián Veloz (Paquiro) CAST, SUOR ANGELICA: Amarilli Nizza (Sister Angelica); Anna Maria Chiuri (Princess); Maria Di Mauro (Abbess); Silvia Beltrami (Monitress); Claudia Marchi (Mistress of the Novices); Damiana Mizzi (Sister Genovieffa); Nicoletta Baù (Sister Osmina); Maria de Lourdes Martins (Sister Dolcina)

This unusual double bill features a mystical one-act drama from Puccini's Il Trittico, plus an opera that began life, literally, at the keyboard. Goyescas, by Granados, is based on music from a popular set of piano pieces inspired by the romantic paintings of Francisco Goya.

VINCENZO BELLINI: The Capulets and the Montagues

La Fenice, Venice

Week of 5/9/15

La Fenice Orchestra

Omer Meir Welber, conductor

CAST: Sonia Ganassi (Romeo); Jessica Pratt (Juliet); Shalva Mukeria (Tebaldo); Rubén Amoretti (Capellio); Luca Dall'Amico (Lorenzo)

Bellini's take on the Romeo and Juliet story is unusual in that it's not primarily based on Shakespeare's tragedy, instead deriving from an Italian novella. It was a runaway hit at its premiere, causing Bellini to dub the drama "Zaira's revenge," as much of its music was recycled from his opera Zaira, which had failed less than a year earlier.

RICHARD WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; London

WEEK of 5/16/15

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Andris Nelsons, conductor

CAST: Egils Silins (Dutchman); Adrianne Peiczonka (Senta); Peter Rose (Daland); Michael König (Erik); Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mary); Ed Lyon (Steersman)

While weighing in at about two-and-a-half hours -- without an intermission! -- Dutchman may still be Wagner's most straightforward and approachable opera. It's a stormy drama of legendary determination, undeniable love and ultimate redemption.

FROMENTAL HALÉVY: La Juive

Vienna State Opera

Week of 5/23/15

Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Frédéric Chaslin, conductor

CAST: Olga Bezsmertna (Rachel); Neil Shicoff (Eléazar); Jason Bridges (Prince Léopold); Aida Garifullina (Princess Eudoxie); Dan Paul Dumitrescu (Gian Francesco); Gabriel Bermúdez (Ruggiero); Marcus Pelz (Albert)

The first of this quarter's three shows from Vienna, Halévy's drama premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1835 in what may then have been the most extravagant opera production in history, complete with lavish, period costuming and a phalanx of onstage equestrians.

VINCENZO BELLINI: I Puritani

Vienna State Opera

Week of 5/30/15

Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Marco Armiliato, conductor

CAST: Olga Peretyatko (Elvira); John Tessier (Lord Arturo Talbo); Carlos Alvarez (Sir Riccardo Forth); Jongmin Park (Sir Giorgi Valton); Sorin Coliban (Lord Gualtiero Valton); Carlos Osuna (Sir Bruno Robertson); Ilseyar Khayrullova (Enrichetta di Francia)

When Bellini moved to Paris in the 1830s, he declared that French composers and audiences had "little understanding of real song." He apparently decided to remedy that. I Puritani -- Bellini's first opera for Paris, and the last opera he composed before his death at age 33 -- is blessed by a raft of his finest melodies.

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