World of Opera
The "Scottish Play," and Verdi's unique genius for adapting Shakespeare
Handel's spirited contribution to an operatic franchise.
A little-known opera, inspired by a literary legend.
Domingo stars in one of Verdi's darkest dramas
A bawdy drama by one of early opera's greatest masters.
Gounod's popular Faust is far better-known than this, later opera. Still, of the hundreds of musical takes on the iconic Shakespeare tragedy, Gounod's version of Romeo and Juliet is one of a bare handful that still hold the stage today -- making it a remarkable opera in its own right.
Wagner’s early and rarely-heard comedy has so many "non-Wagnerian" elements that the composer himself, in his later years, looked back on it with a slightly bemused eye. Based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, it comes to as one of many commemorations of the playwright's anniversary year.
A stirring drama depicting adultery among the pious, this 1850 opera got off to a rough start -- in large part because 19th-century censors found the story intolerable. Still, there are many who feel that Stiffelio belongs in the same league as the three Verdi operas that followed it -- Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata.
A much-loved masterpiece, Puccini’s Butterfly combines an exotic setting with verismo intensity. It's both a passionate romance and a cautionary tale, warning that the meeting of divergent cultures can lead to both rich rewards, and tragic misunderstanding.
Based on an illustrated tale, published as a newspaper serial, Janácek's fanciful opera is one of his true masterworks. At once charming and frightening, this one-of-a-kind drama tells an enchanting story that's both tragic, and in the end, life-affirming.
Like The Queen of Spades, another popular psychodrama by Tchaikovsky, this brooding masterpiece is based on the writing of Alexander Pushkin. Its darkly dramatic story portrays a caddish aristocrat whose indifference towards others turns full circle, and comes back to destroy him. This production features the great baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, making a heroic and much-acclaimed appearance in the title role -- interrupting treatment for a recently-diagnosed brain tumor which had forced him to curtail his schedule.
Whether Verdi intended it or not, many of his early operas were seen by the public as inspirational appeals to Italian unity and patriotism. Giovanna d'Arco is one of them. Based on the life of Joan of Arc, it's also a story of people united against tyranny and oppression. This production comes to us from Italy's most famous opera house, with superstar soprano Anna Netrebko in the title role.
Idomeneo is a masterpiece that’s only beginning to gain its rightful place in Mozart’s canon. The opera may have an outlandish plot -- complete with conniving gods and a marauding sea monster -- but it’s also blessed with some of Mozart’s most beautiful music and a troupe of opera’s most touchingly human characters.