Monday, February 20, 2017
An authentically reactionary revival of Franco Zeffirelli‘s sacred production of Puccini’s Tosca is the highlight of the Met’s 2017-2018 season. The tragically underrepresented Sir David McVicar, absent from the Met for nearly two weeks now, has consented to do traffic direction for the cast of Kristine Opolais, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel, all of whom will surely show up. More dreary news follows the jump. New Productions Norma – Vincenzo Bellini OPENING NIGHT Opening: September 25, 2017 Conductors: Carlo Rizzi / Joseph Colaneri Production: Sir David McVicar Set Designer: Robert Jones Costume Designer: Moritz Junge Lighting Designer: Paule Constable Movement Director: Leah Hausman Live in HD: October 7, 2017 The season opens with a new production of Bellini’s bel canto tragedy Norma, starring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, which she has sung to acclaim at the Met in 2013, as well as at the Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Lyric Opera of Chicago—making her one of the world’s leading interpreters of the iconic title character. Joyce DiDonato co-stars as Norma’s colleague and rival, Adalgisa, opposite Joseph Calleja as Pollione and Matthew Rose as Oroveso. On October 16 and 20, Marina Rebeka will make her Met role debut as the Druid priestess, Norma. Beginning December 1, the production will star Angela Meade as Norma with Jamie Barton reprising the role of Adalgisa and led by Joseph Colaneri. Sir David McVicar directs the production, having staged seven Met productions including Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Handel’s Giulio Cesare, the double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux. The Exterminating Angel – Thomas Adès MET PREMIERE Opening: October 26, 2017 Conductor: Thomas Adès Libretto: Tom Cairns, in collaboration with the composer Production: Tom Cairns Set and Costume Designer: Hildegard Bechtler Lighting Designer: Jon Clark Projection Designer: Tal Yarden Choreographer: Amir Hosseinpour Live in HD: November 18, 2017 The Exterminating Angel has its Met premiere, conducted by the composer, Thomas Adès. The 2016 opera, co-commissioned by the Met and sung in English, is based on the screenplay by Luis Buñuel and Luis Alcoriza for the acclaimed 1962 Buñuel film. Directed by the librettist Tom Cairns, the ensemble cast features Audrey Luna as Leticia Maynar; Amanda Echalaz as Lucia de Nobile; Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila and Sophie Bevan as Beatriz, both in Met debuts; Alice Coote as Leonora Palma; Christine Rice as Blanca Delgado; Iestyn Davies as Francisco de Ávila; Joseph Kaiser as Edundo de Nobile; Frédéric Antoun in his Met debut as Raúl Yebenes; David Portillo as Edmundo; David Adam Moore in his Met debut as Col. Álvaro Gómez; Rod Gilfry as Alberto Roc; Kevin Burdette as Señor Russell; Christian Van Horn as Julio; and John Tomlinson as Dr Carlos Conde. The Exterminating Angel is a co-commission and co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Royal Danish Theatre; and Salzburg Festival, where the production premiered in 2016. Tosca – Giacomo Puccini NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA Opening: December 31, 2017 Conductor: Andris Nelsons / Bertrand de Billy Production: Sir David McVicar Set and Costume Designer: John Macfarlane Lighting Designer: David Finn Movement Director: Leah Hausman Live in HD: January 27, 2018 Andris Nelsons conducts a new staging of Puccini’s dramatic tragedy, directed by Sir David McVicar. Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann star as the heroine Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi, with Bryn Terfel as the villainous Scarpia. In April, Anna Netrebko adds a new role to her Met repertory as the title diva, opposite Marcelo Álvarez as Cavaradossi. Michael Volle and George Gagnidze share the role of Scarpia during April and May performances with Bertrand de Billy conducting. Così fan tutte – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Opening: March 15, 2018 Conductor: David Robertson Production: Phelim McDermott Set Designer: Tom Pye Costume Designer: Laura Hopkins Lighting Designer: Paule Constable Live in HD: March 31, 2018 Phelim McDermott returns to the Met with a new staging of Mozart’s comedy Così fan tutte, led by David Robertson. The production, set in Coney Island during the 1950s, features Amanda Majeski and Serena Malfi as the conflicted sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella; Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara as their feisty maid, Despina; Ben Bliss and Adam Plachetka as the sisters’ fiancés, Ferrando and Guglielmo; and Christopher Maltman as the cynical Don Alfonso. Così fan tutte is a co-production with the English National Opera, where this staging premiered in 2014, in collaboration with Improbable. Cendrillon – Jules Massenet MET PREMIERE Opening: April 12, 2018 Conductor: Bertrand de Billy Production: Laurent Pelly Set Designer: Barbara de Limburg Costume Designer: Laurent Pelly Lighting Designer: Duane Schuler Choreographer: Laura Scozzi Live in HD: April 28, 2018 Massenet’s enchanting opera Cendrillon, based on the Cinderella story, premieres at the Met conducted by Bertrand de Billy in a staging by Laurent Pelly, whose Met credits include staging Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment and Massenet’s Manon. Joyce DiDonato stars as the title character, a role she has sung to acclaim at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, The Santa Fe Opera, and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. The cast also features Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Godmother, Alice Coote as Prince Charming, Stephanie Blythe as the evil stepmother Madame de la Haltière, and Laurent Naouri as Pandolfe. Cendrillon is produced in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie, Brussels; and Opéra de Lille. This production was first performed at The Santa Fe Opera in 2006. Requiem – Giuseppe Verdi CONCERT Opening: November 24, 2017 Conductor: James Levine Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine will conduct four concert performances of Verdi’s Requiem, a powerful meditation on death, featuring soloists Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, along with the Met’s orchestra and chorus. Noteworthy Met Debuts Notable Met debuts this season include Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught as Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (September 26); South African soprano Golda Schultz as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (September 27); British conductor Alexander Soddy leading La Bohème (October 2); American soprano Angel Blue as Mimì in La Bohème (October 2); British soprano Sally Matthews as Silvia de Ávila in The Exterminating Angel (October 26): Italian conductor Jader Bignamini leading Madama Butterfly (November 2); German soprano Christiane Karg as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (December 6); American conductor Ward Stare leading The Merry Widow (December 14); Venezuelan conductor Domingo Hindoyan leading L’Elisir d’Amore (January 16); Italian baritone Davide Luciano as Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore (January 16); German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry in Parsifal (February 5); German mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster as Klytämnestra in Elektra (March 1); and Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov as Walter in Luisa Miller (March 29). In addition, Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinyt?-Tyla makes her first Met appearance, leading the MET Orchestra in a Carnegie Hall concert on May 18. Repertory Highlights The 2017-18 season will feature 20 revivals of works by 14 composers starring many of the world’s leading opera singers and conductors. Met Music Director Emeritus James Levine conducts Mozart’s opera, Die Zauberflöte, sung in full-length performances in its original German. The cast features Golda Schultz as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as Tamino, Markus Werba as Papageno, Christian Van Horn as Sprecher, and Tobias Kehrer as Sarastro. Il Trovatore, also conducted by Levine, stars Maria Agresta as Leonora, Anita Rachvelishvili as Azucena, Yonghoon Lee as Manrico, Quinn Kelsey and Luca Salsi as Count di Luna, and Štefan Kocán and Kwangchul Youn as Ferrando. Levine also conducts a rare revival of Luisa Miller, which has not been seen at the Met since 2006. Sonya Yoncheva sings the title role, opposite Piotr Beczala as Luisa’s lover Rodolfo, in the story of a young woman who sacrifices her own happiness in an attempt to save her father’s life. The cast also includes Plácido Domingo as Luisa’s father Miller with Olesya Petrova as Federica, and Alexander Vinogradov and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Walter and Wurm, the ruthless men determined to tear Luisa and Rodolfo apart. Met Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a revival of Parsifal, starring Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role, with Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry, Peter Mattei as Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor, and René Pape as Gurnemanz. In March, Nézet-Séguin returns to the Met to conduct Elektra starring Christine Goerke in the title role, with Elza van den Heever as Chrysothemis, Michaela Schuster as Klytämnestra, Jay Hunter Morris as Aegisth, and Mikhail Petrenko as Orest. Rossini’s rarity set in ancient Babylon, Semiramide, which has not been seen at the Met in 25 years, will be conducted by Maurizio Benini and feature Angela Meade in the title role, with Elizabeth DeShong as Arsace, Javier Camarena as Idreno, Ildar Abdrazakov as Assur, and Ryan Speedo Green as Oroe. Ailyn Pérez stars in her role debut as the title character in Thaïs opposite Gerald Finley as Athanaël, with Jean-François Borras as Nicias and David Pittsinger as Palémon. The performances will be conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. Les Contes d’Hoffmann, conducted by Johannes Debus, stars Vittorio Grigolo as Hoffmann with Erin Morley as Olympia, Anita Hartig as Antonia/Stella, Oksana Volkova as Giulietta, Tara Erraught as Nicklausse/The Muse, Laurent Naouri as the Four Villains, and Christophe Mortagne as the Four Servants. Three Puccini revivals will be presented in the 2017-18 season. La Bohème stars Angel Blue as Mimì, opposite Dmytro Popov as Rodolfo with Brigitta Kele as Musetta and Lucas Meachem as Marcello. Later performances star Anita Hartig and Sonya Yoncheva as Mimì; Jean-François Borras, Russell Thomas, and Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo; and Michael Todd Simpson as Marcello. The opera will be conducted by Alexander Soddy and Marco Armiliato. Madama Butterfly stars Hui He and Ermonela Jaho as Cio-Cio-San with Maria Zifchak as Suzuki, Roberto Aronica and Luis Chapa as Pinkerton, and David Bizic, Dwayne Croft, and Roberto Frontali as Sharpless. Jader Bignamini and Marco Armiliato conduct all performances. Turandot features Oksana Dyka and Martina Serafin sharing the title role of the icy princess, with Maria Agresta, Hei-Kyung Hong, and Guanqun Yu as Liù. Marcelo Álvarez reprises the role of Calàf, and James Morris and Alexander Tsymbalyuk share the role of Timur. Le Nozze di Figaro stars Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Sonya Yoncheva as the Countess, Christiane Karg and Nadine Sierra as Susanna, Serena Malfi and Isabel Leonard as Cherubino, Luca Pisaroni and Mariusz Kwiecien as the Count, and Adam Plachetka and Ildar Abdrazakov as the title character. Harry Bicket conducts all performances. Susan Graham reprises Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow conducted by Ward Stare. The cast also includes Andriana Chuchman as Valencienne, Paul Groves as Danilo, David Portillo as Camille de Rosillon, and Thomas Allen as Baron Mirko Zeta. The double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci is conducted by Nicola Luisotti, which features Roberto Alagna in the leading tenor roles of Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci. Cavalleria Rusticana also features Ekaterina Semenchuk and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Santuzza, and Željko Lu?i? as Alfio. Pagliacci stars Aleksandra Kurzak as Nedda, George Gagnidze as Tonio, and Alessio Arduini as Silvio. Pretty Yende and Matthew Polenzani star as the spirited Adina and Nemorino, the simple peasant who falls in love with her, in L’Elisir d’Amore, which also stars Davide Luciano as Belcore and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Dulcamara. All performances are conducted by Domingo Hindoyan. Lucia di Lammermoor returns to the Met starring Olga Peretyatko, Jessica Pratt, and Pretty Yende in the title role. Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano share the role of Edgardo with Massimo Cavalletti, Luca Salsi, and Quinn Kelsey as Enrico and Vitalij Kowaljow and Alexander Vinogradov as Raimondo. Roberto Abbado conducts all performances. Ailyn Pérez and Bryan Hymel star as the doomed lovers in Roméo et Juliette with Joshua Hopkins as Mercutio and Kwangchul Youn as Frère Laurent. Plácido Domingo conducts all performances. Holiday Presentations The Met will stage two holiday presentations during the 2017-18 season: Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Richard Jones’s staging of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Continuing a tradition that began in 2006, the English-language, abridged performances, designed to make the opera more accessible, will be sold at reduced ticket prices for both operas. The cast of The Magic Flute includes Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as Tamino, Nathan Gunn as Papageno, Alfred Walker as the Speaker, and Tobias Kehrer as Sarastro. Edo de Waart will conduct the performances beginning November 25. The cast of Hansel and Gretel features Lisette Oropesa as Gretel, Tara Erraught as Hansel, Dolora Zajick as Gertrude, Gerhard Siegel as the Witch, and Quinn Kelsey as Peter. Donald Runnicles will conduct the performances opening on December 18. Photo by Met Technical Department
By Jacob Stockinger This posting is both a news story and a shopping guide for recordings you might like to give or get. It features the classical music winners for the 59th annual Grammy Awards that were announced last Sunday night. Music about the famed American writer Ernest “Papa” Hemingway (below), writing while on safari in Kenya in 1953), with cellist Zuill Bailey, turned out to be a four-time winner for Naxos Records. You can hear the opening movement — titled “Big Two-Hearted River” after the famous short story by Hemingway — in the YouTube video at the bottom. For more information about the nominees and to see the record labels, as well as other categories of music, go to: https://www.grammy.com/nominees On the Internet website, the winners are indicated by a miniature Grammy icon. On this blog they are indicated with an asterisk and boldfacing. As a point of local interest, veteran producer Judith Sherman – who has won several Grammys in the past but not this year – was cited this year for her recordings of the University of Wisconsin-Madison ’s Pro Arte Quartet centennial commissions, Vol. 2. So at least there was a local Grammy nominee, a rare event. Of regional interest, the non-profit label Cedille Records of Chicago won for its recording of percussion music by Steve Reich. And to those Americans who complain about a British bias in the Gramophone awards, this list of Grammy winners shows a clear American bias. But then that is the nature of the “industry” – and the Grammys are no less subject to national pride and business concerns than similar awards in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. At least that is how it appears to The Ear. Anyway, happy reading and happy listening. BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, CLASSICAL *“Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles” — Mark Donahue & Fred Vogler, engineers (James Conlon , Guanqun Yu, Joshua Guerrero, Patricia Racette , Christopher Maltman, Lucy Schaufer, Lucas Meachem, LA Opera Chorus & Orchestra) “Dutilleux: Sur Le Même Accord ; Les Citations; Mystère De L’Instant & Timbres, Espace, Mouvement” — Alexander Lipay & Dmitriy Lipay, engineers (Ludovic Morlot, Augustin Hadelich & Seattle Symphony) “Reflections” — Morten Lindberg, engineer (Øyvind Gimse, Geir Inge Lotsberg & Trondheimsolistene) “Shadow of Sirius” — Silas Brown & David Frost, engineers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Jerry F. Junkin & the University Of Texas Wind Ensemble) “Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow: Symphonies Nos. 5, 8 & 9” — Shawn Murphy & Nick Squire, engineers; Tim Martyn, mastering engineer (Andris Nelsons & Boston Symphony Orchestra ) PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, CLASSICAL Blanton Alspaugh *David Frost (below) Marina A. Ledin, Victor Ledin Judith Sherman (pictured below with a previous Grammy Award. She came to Madison to record the two volumes of new commissions for the centennial of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet) Robina G. Young BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE “Bates: Works for Orchestra” — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony) “Ibert: Orchestral Works” — Neeme Järvi, conductor (Orchestre De La Suisse Romande) “Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 In B-Flat Major, Op. 100” — Mariss Jansons, conductor (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) “Rouse: Odna Zhizn; Symphonies 3 & 4; Prospero’s Rooms” — Alan Gilbert, conductor (New York Philharmonic) *“Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow – Symphonies Nos. 5, 8 & 9” (below) — Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra) BEST OPERA RECORDING *“Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles” (below) — James Conlon, conductor; Joshua Guerrero, Christopher Maltman, Lucas Meachem, Patricia Racette, Lucy Schaufer & Guanqun Yu; Blanton Alspaugh, producer (LA Opera Orchestra; LA Opera Chorus) “Handel: Giulio Cesare” — Giovanni Antonini, conductor; Cecilia Bartoli, Philippe Jaroussky, Andreas Scholl & Anne-Sofie von Otter; Samuel Theis, producer (Il Giardino Armonico) “Higdon: Cold Mountain” — Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor; Emily Fons, Nathan Gunn , Isabel Leonard & Jay Hunter Morris; Elizabeth Ostrow, producer (The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra; Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers) “Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro” — Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Thomas Hampson, Christiane Karg, Luca Pisaroni & Sonya Yoncheva; Daniel Zalay, producer (Chamber Orchestra of Europe; Vocalensemble Rastatt) “Szymanowski: Król Roger ” — Antonio Pappano, conductor; Georgia Jarman, Mariusz Kwiecień & Saimir Pirgu; Jonathan Allen, producer (Orchestra of the Royal Opera House ; Royal Opera Chorus) BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE “Himmelrand” — Elisabeth Holte, conductor (Marianne Reidarsdatter Eriksen, Ragnfrid Lie & Matilda Sterby; Inger-Lise Ulsrud; Uranienborg Vokalensemble) “Janáček: Glagolitic Mass” — Edward Gardner, conductor; Håkon Matti Skrede, chorus master (Susan Bickley, Gábor Bretz, Sara Jakubiak & Stuart Skelton; Thomas Trotter; Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Bergen Cathedral Choir, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Choir of Collegium Musicum & Edvard Grieg Kor) “Lloyd: Bonhoeffer” — Donald Nally, conductor (Malavika Godbole, John Grecia, Rebecca Harris & Thomas Mesa; the Crossing) *“Penderecki Conducts Penderecki, Volume 1” — Krzysztof Penderecki, conductor; Henryk Wojnarowski, choir director (Nikolay Didenko, Agnieszka Rehlis & Johanna Rusanen; Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Warsaw Philharmonic Choir) “Steinberg: Passion Week” — Steven Fox, conductor (The Clarion Choir) BEST CHAMBER MUSIC/SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE “Fitelberg: Chamber Works” — ARC Ensemble “Reflections” — Øyvind Gimse, Geir Inge Lotsberg & Trondheimsolistene “Serious Business” — Spektral Quartet *“Steve Reich”— Third Coast Percussion “Trios From Our Homelands” — Lincoln Trio BEST CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTAL SOLO “Adams, John.: Scheherazade.2” — Leila Josefowicz; David Robertson, conductor (Chester Englander; St. Louis Symphony) *“Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway” — Zuill Bailey (below); Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Nashville Symphony) “Dvořák: Violin Concerto & Romance; Suk: Fantasy” — Christian Tetzlaff; John Storgårds, conductor (Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra) “Mozart: Keyboard Music, Vols. 8 & 9” – Kristian Bezuidenhout “1930’s Violin Concertos, Vol. 2” – Gil Shaham; Stéphane Denève, conductor (The Knights & Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra) BEST CLASSICAL SOLO VOCAL ALBUM “Monteverdi” — Magdalena Kožená; Andrea Marcon, conductor (David Feldman, Michael Feyfar, Jakob Pilgram & Luca Tittoto; La Cetra Barockorchester Basel) “Mozart: The Weber Sisters” — Sabine Devieilhe; Raphaël Pichon, conductor (Pygmalion) *“Schumann & Berg” (below top) — Dorothea Röschmann; Mitsuko Uchida, accompanist (tied) *“Shakespeare Songs” (below bottom) — Ian Bostridge; Antonio Pappano, accompanist (Michael Collins, Elizabeth Kenny, Lawrence Power & Adam Walker) (tied) “Verismo” — Anna Netrebko; Antonio Pappano, conductor (Yusif Eyvazov; Coro Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia; Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia) BEST CLASSICAL COMPENDIUM *“Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway; American Gothic; Once Upon A Castle” — Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer “Gesualdo” — Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Manfred Eicher, producer “Vaughan Williams: Discoveries” — Martyn Brabbins, conductor; Andrew Walton, producer “Wolfgang: Passing Through” — Judith Farmer & Gernot Wolfgang, producers; (Various Artists) “Zappa: 200 Motels – The Suites” — Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Frank Filipetti & Gail Zappa, producers BEST CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL COMPOSITION “Bates: Anthology of Fantastic Zoology” — Mason Bates, composer (Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra) *“Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway” — Michael Daugherty (below), composer (Zuill Bailey, Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony) “Higdon: Cold Mountain” — Jennifer Higdon, composer; Gene Scheer, librettist (Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Jay Hunter Morris, Emily Fons, Isabel Leonard, Nathan Gunn & the Santa Fe Opera) “Theofanidis: Bassoon Concerto” — Christopher Theofanidis, composer (Martin Kuuskmann, Barry Jekowsky & Northwest Sinfonia) “Winger: Conversations With Nijinsky” — C. F. Kip Winger, composer (Martin West & San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) Tagged: 59th Annual Grammy Awards , accompanist , Alan Gilbert , Alban Berg , America , Andris Nelsons , Antonio Pappano , Arts , Augustin Hadelich , ballet , Baroque , Bergin , bias , blog , Bonhoeffer , Boston , Boston Symphony , Cecilia Bartoli , Cedille Records , Cello , Chamber music , Chamber Orchestra of Europe , choral music , Classical music , Compact Disc , concerto , David Robertson , Dmitri Shostakovich , Dutilleux , Early music , Edvard Grieg , Essa-Pekka Salonen , France , Frank Zappa , George Frideric Handel , Germany , Ghosts of Versailles , Gil Shaham , Grammy , Grammy Award , Grammy Award for Album of the Year , Grammy Award for Record of the Year , Gramophone , Great River Shakespeare Festival , Greig , Hemingway , homeland , Ian Bostridge , icon , Internet , Jacob Stockinger , Janacek , Jennifer Higdon , John Adams , John Corigliano , Keyboard , Krzysztof Penderecki , Leila Josefowicz , local , Madison , Mariss Jansons , mass , Michael Daugherty , Michael Tilson Thomas , Mitsuko Uchida , motel , Mozart , Music , Nashville , Naxos Records , Neeme Jarvi , New York Philharmonic , Nijinsky , Norway , opera , Orchestra , percussion , Piano , Poland , Pro Arte Quartet , producer , Prokofiev , regional , San Francisco , San Francisco Symphony , Santa Fe , Schumann , Seattle Symphony , Shakespeare , short story , Shostakovich , sing , singer , Sonata , song , St. Louis Symphony Orchestra , Stalin , Steve Reich , Stuttgart , symphony , tale , Texas , The Knights , Thomas Hampson , trio , UK , United Kingdom , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , vaughan williams , Viola , Violin , vocal music , Warsaw , Wisconsin , Yannick Nézet-Séguin , YouTube , Zappa , Zuill Bailey
Productions are in order; bold indicates a debut; I may have omitted some one-off cast combos. On the whole: as exciting as this season is weak. Norma (new David McVicar production) Radvanovsky, DiDonato, Calleja, Rose / Rizzi (September-October) Rebeka, DiDonato, Calleja, Rose / Rizzi (October) Meade, Barton, Calleja, Rose / Colaneri (December) Having middling '90s throwback Carlo Rizzi in the pit instead of the 2013 revival's Riccardo Frizza is about the only less-than-thrilling element of this opener. Three premiere principals who've proved not only star-quality sound but bel canto mastery, interesting alternate ladies afterwards... And David McVicar is not only an brilliant director but one who has done great things with Sondra Radvanovsky particularly, from 2009's Trovatore to 2016's Donizetti queens. Les Contes d’Hoffmann Grigolo, Morley, Hartig, Volkova, Erraught, Naouri, Mortagne / Debus (September-October) I rather liked Grigolo in this season's Romeo, but this Bart Sher show requires him to sustain a character for longer stretches than the Gounod opera, making his choppy sense of phrase more of a liability. Still, there are enough elements that could go well (including new-to-the-house Irish mezzo Tara Erraught as Niklausse) on top of an excellent production. Die Zauberflöte Schultz, Lewek, Castronovo, Werba, Van Horn, Kehrer / Levine (September-October) Müller, Lewek, Castronovo, Gunn, Walker, Kehrer / de Waart (November-December, family version in English) The conductors should make both the regular and "family" versions work. Besides returning names (including Kathryn Lewek, the best Queen of the Night I've ever heard), South African (by way of Juilliard) soprano Golda Shultz's debut as Pamina should be interesting. Incidentally, Rene Pape is scheduled for one performance of Sarastro on October 14. La Boheme Blue, Kele, Popov/Borras/Thomas, Meachem/Simpson, Rock, Soar/Rose, Plishka / Soddy (October) Hartig, Kele, Thomas, Meachem, Rock, Rose, Pliskha / Soddy (November) Yoncheva, Phillips, Fabiano, Lavrov, Rose, Plishka / Armiliato (February-March) Some new faces debuting in this eternal Zeffirelli production, most notably Oxonian conductor Alexander Soddy and American soprano Angel Blue. But the surest bet is the last cast, with young Americans Susanna Phillips and Michael Fabiano in roles they've made their own. Turandot Dyka, Agresta, Alvarez, Morris / Rizzi (October-November) Serafin, Yu, Alvarez, Tsymbalyuk / Armiliato (March-April) Some unexpected casting choices here. Oksana Dyka, decent but somewhat faceless in this season's Jenufa, at least has done Tosca and Aida here before. The alternate Turandot, Martina Serafin, was last seen here as an enchantingly responsive Marschallin! Since then she's taken on the really big parts, though not at the Met: Abigaille, Brünnhilde, Lady Macbeth, and Turandot. Could go well... or not. Hei-Kyung Hong reprises one of her signature roles once with each cast. The Exterminating Angel (new Tom Cairns production) Luna, Echalaz, Matthews, Bevan, Coote, Rice, Davies, Kaiser, Antoun, Portillo, Moore, Gilfry, Burdette, Van Horn, Tomlinson / Adès (October-November) The two prior operas of Thomas Adès have not lacked good music nor good libretti: it's the combination of these into an interesting, human opera that hasn't quite come off. Perhaps a show based on a Luis Buñuel movie (and directed by the librettist) will do the trick. There is, in any case, an impressive lineup of British and American vocal talent involved. Madama Butterfly He, Zifchak, Aronica, Bizic / Bignamini (November) Jaho, Zifchak, Aronica/Chapa, Frontali / Armiliato (February-March) So after doing one emergency sub performance (for Ruth Ann Swenson in Traviata) at the Met in 2008, Ermonela Jaho never appears here again... until a decade later, when she headlines a revival of Butterfly. The fall run brings new Italian conductor Jader Bignamini. Thaïs Pérez, Borras, Finley / Villaume (November-December) Ailyn Pérez, an outstanding Mimi this season, takes a full-on star vehicle opposite Gerald Finley. They don't quite have the name recognition of Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson, for whom this show was made, but this could be one of the stealth successes of the season. Requiem Stoyanova, Semenchuk, Antonenko, Furlanetto / Levine (November-December) I don't recall recurring concert performances scheduled as part of the season before, but if any plotless piece could work this way, it's Verdi's famously dramatic-operatic Requiem. These shows will be almost a generation after the April 29, 2001 performance at Carnegie that everyone who attended will still wax on about (shouldn't the Met or Carnegie release a recording of this at some point?). Levine then had Renee Fleming, Olga Borodina, Marcelo Giordani, and Rene Pape at or near the height of their powers (though Giordani was a bit of a weak link, and I'd like to have heard how Ramon Vargas did in a similar performance on the Met's Japanese tour). Here it looks like Aleksandrs Antonenko will be an upgrade at tenor, but mezzo Ekaterina Semenchuk - another singer not seen at the house for a while - is an odd choice, not having impressed in her appearances so far. Le Nozze di Figaro Plachetka, Karg, Willis-Sørensen, Pisaroni, Malfi / Bicket (December) Abdrazakov, Sierra, Yoncheva, Kwiecien, Leonard / Bicket (December-January) The names in the latter cast may be more recognizable, but I suspect the former (with debuting German soprano Christiane Karg as Susanna) may provide more of Mozart's ensemble glory. The Merry Widow Graham, Groves, Chuchman, Portillo, Allen / Stare (December) Graham, Groves, Chuchman, Stayton, Allen / Stare (December-January) Not a bad cast for the most cast-proof show the Met has debuted in decades. Who knew that comic timing drives comedies? Young American conductor Ward Stare debuts in the pit. Hansel and Gretel (family version in English) Oropesa, Erraught, Zajick, Siegel, Kelsey / Runnicles (December-January) McKay, Gillebo, Zajick, Siegel, Croft / Runnicles (December 28) Good casting for a kids' piece. Tosca (new David McVicar production) Opolais, Kaufmann, Terfel / Nelsons (NYE-January) Netrebko, Alvarez, Volle / de Billy (April-May) Netrebko, Alvarez, Gagnidze / de Billy (May) I believe Sondra Radvanovsky was originally supposed to headline this new production, which attempts to wash away the much-hated Luc Bondy version of 2009. Instead we get Kristine Opolais, the least interesting part of both Richard Eyre's wretchedly bad Manon Lescaut and Mary Zimmerman's otherwise-brilliant Rusalka. (She has succeeded in more direct Puccini, though.) But perhaps it doesn't matter - except as a what-if - when Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel have shown themselves of carrying this piece on their own. And though she has less male star power, I think Tosca might be a very good part for Anna Netrebko. Cav/Pag Semenchuk, Alagna, Lučić; Kurzak, Alagna, Gagnidze, Arduini / Luisotti (January) Westbroek, Alagna, Lučić; Kurzak, Alagna, Gagnidze, Arduini / Luisotti (January-February) I'm not sure whether the Alagna who shows up will be the no-voice one of the Manon Lescaut premiere or the respectable-sounding and insightful one of the end of that run and Butterfly, but his inconsistency has been characteristic since the beginning of his international career. McVicar's rendering of the double-bill is outstanding, and San Francisco's Nicola Luisotti has done magical things in his too-rare Met appearances. L’Elisir d’Amore Yende, Polenzani, Luciano, D'Arcangelo / Hindoyan (January-February) Both Yende and Polenzani have an emotional transparency that should work excellently in this piece. Il Trovatore Lee, Agresta, Rachvelishvili, Kelsey, Kocán / Levine (January-February) Lee, Agresta, Rachvelishvili, Salsi, Youn / Levine (February) Anita Rachvelishvili moves up a vocal weight class with her first Met Azucenas (she did her first performances of the part recently in London), opposite two baritones moving up from Marcello to Di Luna. But with outstanding Korean spinto Yonghoon Lee in the title role and Levine in the pit, this is yet another promising staple. Parsifal Vogt, Herlitzius, Mattei, Nikitin, Pape / Nézet-Séguin (February) The most significant revival of the season. Yannick Nézet-Séguin will go from "Music Director Designate" to the actual thing in 2020, but he's debuting German repertory cornerstones until then. This spring it's Flying Dutchman, but next year he'll lead the first revival of the most significant and successful Met Wagner production in a long, long time: Francois Girard's 2013 Parsifal. (Not least in that success was Daniele Gatti's intensely concentrated conducting, so there's a lot to live up to there.) He has the low-voiced end of the original cast, with Peter Mattei's Amfortas, Evgeny Nikitin's Klingsor, and René Pape's Gurnemanz all returning. The new parts of the cast are significant as well: dramatic soprano Evelyn Herlitzius finally makes her Met debut as Kundry, and Klaus Florian Vogt returns to Wagner a dozen years after making the most stunning - and most stunningly ignored - Met debut of our era as Lohengrin. (Vogt does return to the Met before this, in next month's Fidelio.) Semiramide Meade, DeShong, Camarena, Abdrazakov, Green / Benini (February-March) Good cast for a Rossini rarity. After her scheduled performances of Italiana this season went to debuting Italian mezzo Marianna Pizzolato, I do wonder whether Elizabeth DeShong will in fact sing these performances as Arsace. Elektra Goerke, van den Heever, Schuster, Morris, Petrenko / Nézet-Séguin (March) Christine Goerke's titanic concert performance of this early Strauss opera with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony (October 2016 at Carnegie) dwarfed the dull, homogenized new Met version last season. The change from Salonen's civilizing version to Yannick Nézet-Séguin's characteristic visceral style should do much, and Goerke's ability to sing through the cacophonic title part lyrically can't be missed, but full success may require a revival stage director unafraid to depart from Chereau's drab vision. Così fan tutte (new Phelim McDermott production) Majeski, Malfi, O'Hara, Bliss, Plachetka, Maltman / Robertson (March- Though the cast looks good and the visuals interesting, David Robertson was responsible for the worst-conducted night of Mozart I've ever heard at the Met, so I'll wait and see. The production is new to the Met but already debuted at ENO. Lucia di Lammermoor Peretyatko, Grigolo, Cavalletti, Kowaljow / Abbado (March-April) Pratt, Grigolo, Cavalletti/Salsi, Kowaljow / Abbado (April) Yende, Fabiano, Kelsey, Vinogradov / Abbado (April-May) I was listening to Pretty Yende last night in Puritani, thinking that the Met should hire her for Lucia... and here we go. She gets the better Edgardo in Michael Fabiano as well: the role depends far too much on line and phrase to expect much on the whole from Vittorio Grigolo (though the Italian will surely deliver exciting high notes). Luisa Miller Yoncheva, Beczala, Domingo, Petrova, Vinogradov, Belosselskiy / Levine (March-April) Sonya Yoncheva's manner is a bit on the chilly side to get all the pathos of the title part's great duets, but the men involved should make much of this early Verdi. Cendrillon (new Laurent Pelly production) DiDonato, Kim, Coote, Blythe, Naouri / de Billy (April-May) So, we're officially in the part of Joyce DiDonato's career when she makes big houses put on silly shows. Good cast, seems charming enough, and though Laurent Pelly (Fille, Manon) hasn't done a really good production here, he hasn't made any terrible ones either. Roméo et Juliette Hymel, Pérez, Deshayes, Hopkins, Youn / Domingo (April-May) Interesting cast, very good production, but Domingo in the pit is a deal-breaker. If you have the itch, just see Yende and Costello next month (which has many fewer good alternative options than spring 2018).
First, an admission. I do not love Elina Garanca’s voice. I admire it a great deal—the fluidity of tone across her registers, the effortless technique. But I only like the basic timbre; I cannot say I love it. What makes Garanca special to me is less the quality of her voice than the way she deploys her instrument. In recent years, the voice has grown, transitioning from lyric to spinto. Revive is a manifesto of sorts, declaring her intentions for the new direction in her career. The aria choices are eclectic. Garanca covers both familiar ground and roads less travelled, even a couple of rarities. She offers tantalizing roles like Eboli, Dalila, and Charlotte, but not “O don fatale,” “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” or Charlotte’s Letter Aria. In the accompanying essay, Strong Women in Moments of Weakness, she explains her inspiration for programming this new album. The selections are representative of her new repertoire—roles suited to her current voice — but also her age. She is happy to consider Eboli or Amneris but not Azucena, because she feels that the singer portraying the old gypsy should literally be old enough to be Manrico’s mother. One can appreciate this thinking intellectually while being glad that most mezzos and casting directors have not followed it. I wouldn’t want to be without Fiorenza Cossotto’s Azucena recorded in her mid-30s. And I have no problem with Dolora Zajick (at a similar age) playing Luciano Pavarotti’s mother—though he was some two decades her senior—in her sensational Met debut. The point here is that Garanca takes on roles that make sense to her in every way—vocally, dramatically, and her stage in life. Because she sees her choices in the Italian rep as limited to a handful of roles, she mines the French repertoire extensively, finding roles that suit her new voice while also taking advantage of her relative youth. In the essay, she points to her natural affinity for the French repertoire. And she is not incorrect in that assessment. She may not do anything special with the French language but she embraces the spirit of the Romantic French arias with inspiration. The hallmarks of a great Garanca performance are musical alertness and a surrender to the dramatic moment. In her best roles, whether as Mozart’s Sesto or Donizetti’s Giovanni or Sara, Garanca puts all her considerable skill and talent at the service of the moment. The result is often performances of great urgency and high musical value. Throughout this album, Garanca’s musicality is never in doubt though, interpretively, she responds better to some arias than others. Still, there are a number of selections in which all the pieces come together. Mascagni’s “Voi lo sapete” starts the album and was apparently the departure point for the entire album. Santuzza was Garanca’s first venture into dramatic repertoire and she brings the character’s pitiable desperation vividly to life. After a strong start, she carries forth with one of the best tracks on the album, “Acerba volutta” from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. In this aria and others, her voice displays a biting quality at the bottom of her range and a certain hardness of tone. But if her low notes lack the opulent tone of great Principessas of yesteryear, she certainly has plenty of opulence at the top of her high mezzo. She builds the final stanza of the aria to its climax with satisfying grandeur. Later in the album, she switches roles, singing Adriana’s “Io son l’umile ancella.” This is the weakest selection, not reaching the high standard she achieves elsewhere. The soprano notes are not a concern. Rather, she can’t quite float the notes the way she would like so one hears the effort that goes into coaxing those gentle lines, especially when the notes sit in her passagio. The ending is forceful when I suspect she was going for merely passionate. As noted, there are a large number of French Romantic arias, and they almost all tend towards sweeping, lush melodies. The exception is Didon’s “Ah! Ah! Je vais mourir… Adieu, fière cité” from Berlioz’s Les troyens. She portrays the Carthaginian queen’s grief with dignified pathos and, while there is a lot more to the role than that aria, one has every hope that the role could be a major triumph for her. Fortunately, she plans on taking it to the stage in the future. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOduAJ_Z3GM At first I was a bit disappointed to be getting Eboli’s Veil Song instead of the high-drama “O don fatale” but she puts down one of the most musically accomplished accounts of the aria I’ve heard. Where the main melody alternates between two notes, she articulates them without sounding “clucky,” achieving instead a kind tremolo effect that suits the song’s character. She takes her time with the cadenzas, showing musical imagination. I especially like her way with the quiet roulades at the end of each cadenza. While she could do more to portray Eboli’s fiery personality, she displays an appealing rhythmic incisiveness. This confidence also serves her well in Priezosilla’s “Rataplan” from La forza del destino. What can often be an ungrateful aria is a showpiece for Garanca and her rhythmic acuity. In both selections, she has an equal partner in conductor Roberto Abbado, who knows where to put the accents to keep the music buoyant. Throughout the album, he and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana offer polished and sensitive playing. Her choice of “Amour, viens aider ma faiblesse” from Samson et Dalila is a reminder that Saint-Saens gave his anti-heroine three great arias. Garanca sings the alluring melody with urgency and beautiful legato. This is another role which Garanca plans to take to the stage and, even if her voice sits a bit higher than the ideal of the part, one does not doubt her powers of seduction. She brings similar musical qualities and dramatic resolve to “Hérode! Ne me refuse pas!” from Massenet’s Herodiade, building the aria to a passionate climax. This is one of the album’s high points. Listening to the brief aria Ponchielli gives Laura made me fantasize about a Gioconda with Anna Netrebko. What a confrontation the two would have! Because of the spinto requirements of the role, Laura often comes off sounding too matronly for my taste. Here, Garanca strikes the right balance of fulfilling the musical requirements while still bringing youthful vitality to the part. She finishes off the aria with a gorgeous piano portamento. In the booklet, she says that she’s very keen on singing the part but wonders if any company will want to spend the resources on mounting the opera. I think a joint call to Mr. Gelb with friend Anna could possibly do the trick! Eschewing the Letter Aria from Massenet’s Werther, Garanca opts for Charlotte’s less obvious “Va! laisse couler mes larmes” and delivers it with tender melancholy. In the booklet , she admits that Mignon’s “Connais-tu le pays” is a bit out of place in her album concept but she loves it. It is the most touchingly sung selection. Marina’s aria from Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov is the only aria not in French or Italian. It is well-sung but fails to take off. On the other hand, Musetta’s aria, “Marcello mio,” from Leoncavallo’s La bohème is an album highlight. Leoncavallo gives his Musetta music of greater depth than Puccini does his and Garanca takes full advantage of the material, delivering the aria with fervent sweep. I wish she had chosen to close the album with this aria, instead of the less substantial “Reine! Je serai reine” from Saint-Saens’s Henry VIII. She sings that aria well, and one can see the appeal of closing an album with cries of “I will be Queen” (a declaration most every parterrian has surely made at some point) but it is not as strong a statement as many other selections. Throughout, she does a good job of enunciating the words without necessarily doing much to highlight them. There is no text-pointing here, no sense of a particular textual phrase driving the musical interpretation. While she has room for dramatic growth in some selections, she is sensitive and probing. Her voice has grown, yes, but so has her temperament. In the past, I have found some of Garanca’s early work beautifully sung but dramatically pallid. The best selections on Revive demonstrate that her singing has increased in breadth, not just in vocal amplitude but also in interpretive grandeur. If this album is a credo for a new chapter in Elina Garanca’s career, I say bring it on!
Michaela Schuster as the Princesse de Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH/Catherine Ashmore, 2010 ‘Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura’ is an aria from Francesco Cilea ’s 1902 opera Adriana Lecouvreur . It introduces us to the Princesse de Bouillon, the about-to-be discarded lover of the opera’s hero Maurizio. This is one of Italian opera’s most vivid depictions of tormented passion, and also a rare example of a mezzo-soprano showpiece aria in fin de siècle Italian opera. Where does it take place in the opera? ‘Acerba voluttà’ opens Act II of Adriana Lecouvreur. The married Princesse de Bouillon has arranged a secret meeting with Maurizio at the villa of her husband’s actress-lover, Mademoiselle Duclos. As she waits for her lover, she gives vent to her troubled emotions. She would be still more troubled were she to know that her husband – who jealously believes the rendezvous to be between Duclos and her new lover – is on his way to the very same villa with the actors of the Comédie Française. What do the lyrics mean? The Princess first expresses her conflicting feelings: she luxuriates in her love, but is tormented by her lover’s absence and doubts his fidelity. She then anxiously anticipates Maurizio’s appearance, and imagines that he has arrived, only to realize that all she has heard is the wind in the trees by the river. Finally, she prays to the star of the orient to shine and bring her Maurizio – if he has remained faithful. Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura, lentissima agonia, rapida offesa, vampa, gelo, tremor, smania, paura, ad amoroso sen torna l’attesa! Ogn’eco, ogn’ombra nella notte incesa contro la impazïente alma congiura: fra dubbiezza e disìo tutta sospesa, l’eternità nell’attimo misura… Verrà? M’oblìa? S’affretta? O pur si pente?… Ecco, egli giunge!… No, del fiume è il verso, misto al sospir d’un’arbore dormente… O vagabonda stella d’Orïente, non tramontar: sorridi all’universo, e s’egli non mente scorta il mio amor! Bitter pleasure, sweet torture, slow agony, quick offence, burning, freezing, trembling, impatience, fear, are kindled in a loving breast by waiting! Every echo, every shadow in the ardent night conspires against my impatient soul. Everything is suspended between doubt and desire… Eternity is measured in moments… Will he come? Has he forgotten me? Is he hurrying? Has he changed his mind? He’s here!… No, it is the whispering of the river, mingled with the sighing of the trees… Wandering star of the East, do not fade: smile on the universe, and if he is not false, guide my love to me! What makes the music so memorable? While Adriana made a serene Act I entrance celebrating her art in ‘Io son l’umile ancella’, Cilea introduces the Princesse de Bouillon to us as a very different woman, emotionally volatile and entirely focussed on romantic passion. The ferocious first section of her aria, with its agitated orchestral introduction, fortissimo (loud) opening vocal outburst, dramatic forays into the chest register and slow crescendo to a climactic high phrase on the words ‘eternity is measured in moments!’ is histrionic, almost obsessively self-focussed. And yet the Princess is also vulnerable: the quiet, delicately textured music as she imagines Maurizio approaching conveys tenderness and girlish excitement. Moreover, the dreamy lyricism of her prayer to the evening star (the aria proper; the material up to this point is arioso, between song and recitative) makes us feel her love for Maurizio is sincere, even if the dramatic, richly scored climax as she soars to the vocal heights and the ferocious fanfare-like orchestral postlude have a menacingly imperious air. The Princesse de Bouillon is Adriana Lecouvreur’s villainess, but by depicting her romantic sufferings so vividly, Cilea invites us to sympathize with her even as we fear her ferocity. Adriana’s other music highlights The opera’s best-known highlights are Adriana’s two great arias: the radiant ‘Io son l’umile ancella’ in Act I and Act IV’s melancholy ‘Poveri fiori’. Both are beautiful – as are Maurizio’s arias, particularly Act I’s romantic ‘La dolcissima effigie’ and Act III’s swaggering ‘Il russo Mèncikoff’. And Michonnet’s Act I monologue, as he watches Adriana act, is one of opera’s greatest depictions of unrequited love. But there’s much more to Adriana Lecouvreur than arias. Particularly strong are its scenes depicting the world of theatre: the busy preparations of the Comédie Française team that open Act I; the charming neoclassical ballet on the Judgement of Paris in Act III; and Adriana’s chilling monologue, using melodrama (speech over orchestral music), that closes Act III. One mustn’t forget either the almost unbearably poignant end to Act IV, as Adriana hallucinates she is the Muse of Tragedy before she dies. Classic recordings Although performances of Adriana Lecouvreur were relatively rare until recently, several recordings exist due to the popularity of the title role with sopranos. James Levine ’s 1977 Sony recording has the dream team of Renata Scotto , Plácido Domingo , Elena Obraztsova and Sherrill Milnes in the principal roles. Alternatively, Decca offers a recording with another great soprano – Renata Tebaldi – and star mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato as the rivals for Mario del Monaco ’s Maurizio. Simoniato can also be heard on a 1959 recording re-released by Opera d’Oro with Magda Olivero in one of her favourite roles as Adriana and Franco Corelli as Maurizio. Among DVDs, particularly noteworthy versions include a 1976 production with Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras , a 1989 version from La Scala with the great soprano Mirella Freni as Adriana, and The Royal Opera’s very own David McVicar production , with Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann as the ill-starred lovers. More to discover Cilea’s best-known work aside from Adriana Lecouvreur was the opera L’arlesiana , with its beautiful ‘Lamento di Federico’ (a favourite among tenors). Otherwise his output was relatively small, though die-hard fans can find recordings of his piano and chamber music. Among Italian operas of the same period, Giordano ’s French Revolution opera Andrea Chénier is an absolute must for fans of Adriana – its musical style strongly influenced Cilea – while Puccini ’s Tosca likewise features a strong, performing-artist heroine. Mascagni ’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo ’s Pagliacci offer interesting contrasts and similarities to Adriana in terms of style and dramatic content. And listeners keen to explore fin de siècle Italian opera further will enjoy the discs of verismo arias released by Anna Netrebko , Jonas Kaufmann and Renée Fleming , among others, and maybe also recordings of relative rarities such as Giordano’s Fedora or Zandonai ’s Francesca da Rimini . Adriana Lecouvreur runs 7 February–2 March 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona , Vienna State Opera , San Francisco Opera and Opéra National de Paris , and is given with generous philanthropic support from The Friends of Covent Garden .
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