Coming Up on World of Opera

JULES MASSENET: Manon

Malmö Opera, Sweden

Week of 4/19/2014

Malmö Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Leif Segerstam, conductor

CAST:  Georgia Jarman (Manon); Joachim Bäckström (Chevalier des Grieux); Alec Aedissian (Lescaut); Danle Hällström (Le Comte des Grieux); Jonas Duran (Guillot); Kosma Ranuer (Brétigny); Sofie Asplund (Pousette); Kamila Benhamza (Javotte); Kristina Wahlin (Rosette)

The vitality of opera in the 21st-century is evident in the sheer number of high quality of opera productions heard throughout the world, as demonstrated by this top-notch presentation from Sweden's Malmö opera, making its World of Opera debut with a production featuring the brilliant American soprano Georgia Jarman in the title role. 

W.A. MOZART: Don Giovanni

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Week of 4/26/2014

Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Nicola Luisotti, conductor

CAST: Mariusz Kwiecien (Don Giovanni); Alex Esposito (Leporello); Malin Byström (Donna Anna); Véronique Gens (Donna Elvira); Antonio Poli (Don Ottavio); David Kimberg (Masetto); Elizabeth Watts (Zerlina); Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Commendatore)

If ever a story fell right into a composer's wheelhouse, this would be the 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.

NICOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: The Tsar's Bride

La Scala, Milan

Week of 5/3/2014

Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala
Daniel Barenboi m, conductor

CAST:  Anatoly Kotscherga (Sobakin); Olga Peretyatko (Marfa); Johannes Martin Kränzle (Gryaznoy); Tobias Schabel (Skuratov); Pavel Cernoch (Lykov); Marina Prudenskaya (Lybasha); Stephan Rügamer (Bornelius)

This often spectacular score comes complete with palace intrigues, a deadly poisoning, and misplaced vengeance that leads to insanity and murder.  It's also home to some of Rimsky's most dazzling music.

GIACOMO PUCCINI: Tosca

Royal Theater, Turin

Week of 5/10/2014

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus
Renato Palumbo, conductor

CAST:  Anna Pirozzi (Tosca); Marto Berti (Cavaradossi); Marco Vratogna (Scarpia); Gabriele Sagona (Angelotti); Marco Camastra (Sacristan)

While careening from passion-driven corruption to torture, murder and suicide, Puccini's popular thriller proves that sensational entertainment can also make an artistic statement that's both enduring, and profoundly beautiful.

RICHARD WAGNER: Das Liebesverbot

Leipzig Gewandhaus

Week of 5/17/2014

MDR Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Kristjan Järvi, conductor

CAST:  Melanie Diener (Isabella); Morten Frank Larsen (Friedrich); Sonja Freitag (Dorella); Anna Gabler (Mariana); Bernhard Berchtold (Luzio); Benjamin Bruns (Claudio); Maximilian Argmann (Antonio); Julian Prégardien (Pontio) 

This early and rarely-heard comedy by Wagner comes to us from one of music's truly legendary venues, the third incarnation of Leipzig's historic Gewandhaus.

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI: Orfeo

Szymanowski Philharmonic Hall, Cracow

Week of 5/24/2014

La Venexiana Orchestra; Claudio Cavina, conductor

CAST: Anicio Zorzi (Orfeo); Roberta Memeli (Euridice/La Musica); Marina de Liso (La Messigiera/Speranza); Gioria Milanesi (Proserpina/Ninfa); Ugo Guagliardo (Plutone/Apollo); Salvo Vitale (Caronte)

CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK: Orfeo ed Euridice

Göteborg Opera

Week of 5/24/2014

Göteborg Opera Orchestra; Laurence Cummings, conductor

CAST: Katerina Kaméus (Orfeo); Kerstin Avemo (Euridice); Mia Karlsson (Amore)

In this fascinating double bill of "Orfeo operas," we hear two sides of one coin. When Gluck started his operatic "reform" movement he was looking back to opera's early days, when the genre was simpler and more directly expressive -- as in the time of Monteverdi. So it's ironic that of these two versions of the Orpheus legend, Monteverdi's seminal opera may actually be the more elaborate score.

NICOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh

Grand Liceu Theater, Barcelona

Week of 5/31/2014

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Josep Pons, conductor

CAST: Eric Halfvarson (Prince Yuriy); Maksim Aksenov (Prince Vsevolod); Svetlana Ignatovitx (Fevroniya); Dmitry Golovnin (Grishka Kuterma); Dimitris Tiliakos (Fyodor Poyarok)

This fanciful concoction by Rimsky-Korsakov has all the orchestral brilliance of the composer's familiar concert works, to complement a charming story blending Christian mysticism with age-old folk beliefs.

GIOACHINO ROSSINI: William Tell

Royal Theatre, Turin

Week of 6/7/2014

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

CAST: Carlos Alvarez (William Tell); John Osborn (Arnold Melcthal); Anna Maria Chiuri (Hedwige); Erika Grimaldi (Jemmy); Angela Meade (Mathilde); Giacomo Prestia (Melcthal); Luca Tittolo (Gessler); Mirco Palazzi (Walter Furst); Mikeldi Atxalandabaso (Ruodi)

If William Tell, the complete opera, was as familiar as its ubiquitous overture, it might just be the most famous opera ever composed! Still, as this production from Turin demonstrates, Rossini's final opera is far more than just the original home to "the theme from the Lone Ranger."

BOHUSLAV MARTINU: Mirandolina

National Moravian-Silesian Theatre, Ostrava

Week of 6/14/2014

National Moravian-Silesian Theatre Orchestra
Marko Ivanovic, conductor

CAST:  Katerina Kneziková (Mirandolina); Eva Drizgová-Jirusová (Ortensia); Anna Nitrová (Dejanina); Josef Moravec (Count d'Albafliorita); Jan Willem Bajlet (Cavaliere di Ripafratta); Martin Gurbal (Marchese di Forlimpopoli); Ales Briscein (Fabrizio)

Like his more famous countrymen Dvorak, Smetana and Janacek, Martinu displays a musical style that's both intrinsically Czech, and uniquely his own.  In this charming comedy, a seductive noblewoman surprises three aristocratic suitors by falling for one of her own servants, instead

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