Opera

Rinaldo

George Handel and Leonardo Leo Rinaldo opera to a libretto by Aaron Hill and Giacomo Rossi. This is the 1718 version of Handel as reconstructed by Giovanni Andrea Sechi. Directed 2018 by Giorgio Sangati at the Festival della Valle d’Itria. Stars Carmela Remigio (Armida), Francisco Fernández-Rueda (Goffredo), Loriana Castellano (Almirena), Teresa Iervolino (Rinaldo), Francesca Ascioti (Argante), Dara Savinova (Eustazio), Valentina Cardinali (Lesbina), Simone Tangolo (Nesso), Dieli Hoxha (Argante’s Head), Kim-Lillian Strebel (Spirit in the guise of a woman), and Ana Victória Pitts (Wiseman). Also features mimes Alessio Arzilli, Andrea Bellacicco, Alessandro Colaninno, Cristiano Parolin, Marco Risiglione, and Jacopo Sorbini. Fabio Luisi conducts the Orchestra La Scintilla. Set design by Alberto Nonnato; costume design by Gianluca Sbicca; lighting design by Paolo Pollo Rodighiero; directed for video by Matteo Ricchetti; recorded by Rino Trasi and Giuseppe Famularo. Released in 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Saul

Handel Saul opera to libretto by Charles Jennens. Directed 2015 by Barrie Kosky at the Glyndebourne Opera House. Stars Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (Abner/High Priest/Amalekite/Doeg), and John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Leader Alison Bury) and The Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Designs by Katrin Lea Tag; choreographed by Otto Pichler; lighting by Joachim Klein. Directed for TV by François Roussillon; produced by George Bruell. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+

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Der Freischütz

Carl Maria von Weber Der Freischütz opera to libretto by Friedrich Kind. Directed 2017 by Matthias Hartmann at the Teatro alla Scala. Stars Michael Kraus (Ottokar), Frank van Hove (Kuno/Samiel’s Voice), Julia Kleiter (Agathe), Eva Liebau (Ännchen), Günther Groissböck (Kaspar), Michael König (Max), Stephen Milling (A Hermit), and Till von Orlowsky (Kilian). Myung-Whun Chung conducts the Coro e orchestra del Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni). Set design by Raimund Orfeo Voigt; costume design by Susanne Bisovsky and Josef Gerger; lighting design by Marco Filibeck; dramaturgy by Michael Küster. Released 2019, music was recorded with 48kHz/24-bit sound sampling and disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Le Coq d’Or

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Le coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel) opera to a libretto by Vladimir Bel’sky. Staged 2002 by Ennosuke Ichikawa at the Théâtre Musical de Paris - Châtelet. Stars Albert Schagidullin (King Dodon), Ilya Levinsky (Prince Guldon), Andrei Breus (Prince Afron), Ilya Bannik (General Polkan), Elena Manistina (Amelfa), Barry Banks (Astrologer), Olga Trifonova (Queen of Shemakha), and Yuri Maria Saenz (Golden Cockerel). Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre de Paris and the Chorus of The Mariinsky Theatre (Arndrei Petrenko Chorus Master). Stage direction by Isao Takashima with assistant Nobuo Ichikawa; set design by Setsu Asakura with assistant Yasue Itod; costumes by Tomio Mohni; make-up by Suzanne Pisteur; lighting by Jean Kalman; choreography by Kanshino Fujima with assistant Sakon Fujima. Sung in Russian with subtitles in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Directed for TV by Thomas Grimm. Released in 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

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Le Comte Ory

Rossini Le comte Ory opera to libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson. Directed 2011 by Bartlett Sher at the Met. Stars Juan Diego Flórez (Le Comte Ory), Diana Damrau (La Comtesse Adèle), Joyce DiDonato (Isolier), Susanne Resmark (Ragonde), Michele Pertusi (Tutor), Stéphane Degout (Raimbaud), Monica Yunus (Alice), Tony Stevenson (Courtier), and Tyler Simpson (Courtier). Maurizio Benini conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera (Chorus Master Donald Palumbo). Sets designed by Michael Yeargan; costume design by Catherine Zuber; lighting design by Brian MacDevitt; music produced by Jay David Saks; directed for video by Gary Halvorson. Supervising Producers Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park. Producers Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik. Released 2015, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

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Le Comte Ory

Rossini Le comte Ory opera to libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson. Directed 2017 by Denis Podalydès at the Opéra Comique. Stars Philippe Talbot (Le Comte Ory); Julie Fuchs (La Comtesse); Gaëlle Arquez (Isolier); Éve-Maud Hubeaux (Dame Ragonde); Patrick Bolleire (Le Gourverneur); Jean-Sébastien Bou (Raimbaud); Jodie Devos (Alice); and Laurent Podalydès and Léo Reynaud (Actors). Louis Langrée conducts the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and Choir les éléments (Chorus Master Joël Suhubiette). Set design by Eric Ruf; costume design by Christian Lacroix; lighting design by Stéphanie Daniel; choreography by Cécile Bon; assistant stage direction by Laurent Delvert and Laurent Podalydès. Directed for TV by Vincent Massip. Released 2019, disc appears to have 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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I Puritani

Bellini I Puritani opera to libretto by Carlo Pepoli. Directed 2018 by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Stars Roland Bracht (Lord Gualtiero Valton), Adam Palka (Sir Giorgio Valton), Ana Durlovski (Elvira), Réne Barbera (Lord Arturo Talbo), Gezim Myshketa (Sir Riccardo Forth), and Heinz Göhrig (Sir Bruno Robertson). Manlio Benzi conducts the Staatsorchester Stuttgart and the Staatsopernchor Stuttgart (Chorus Master Christoph Heil). Dramaturgy by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito; set and costume design by Anna Viebrock; lighting design by Reinhard Traub; video direction by Marcus Richardt. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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L'Étoile

Emmanuel Chabrier L’Étoile opera to libretto by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. Directed 2014 by Laurent Pelly at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. Stars Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Lazuli), Christophe Mortagne (Le Roi Ouf I), Hélène Guilmette (La Princesse Laoula), Jérôme Varnier (Siroco), Elliot Madore (Hérisson de Porc-Épic), Julie Boulianne (Aloès), François Piolino (Tapioca), François Soons (Patacha), Harry Teeuwen (Zalzal), Jeroen van Glabbeek (Le Maître), and Richard Prada (Le Chef de la Police). Patrick Fournillier conducts the Residentie Orkest The Hague and the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera (Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins). Set design by Laurent Pelly; costume design by Laurent Pelly in collaboration with Jean-Jacques Delmotte; lighting design by Joël Adam; dialogue adaptation and dramaturgy by Agathe Mélinand; flim direction by François Roussillon. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Wozzeck

Alban Berg Wozzeck opera to libretto by the composer (as inspired by the play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner). Directed 2015 by Andreas Homoki at the Opernhaus Zürich. Stars Christian Gerhaher (Wozzeck), Brandon Jovanovich (Drum Major), Mauro Peter (Andres), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Captain), Lars Woldt (Doctor), Gun-Brit Barkmin (Marie), Pavel Daniluk (First Apprentice), Cheyne Davidson (Second Apprentice), Martin Zysset (Madman), Irène Friedli (Margret), and Alessandro Reinhart (Marie’s Child). Fabio Luisi conducts the Philharmonia Zürich and the Chor der Oper Zürich (Chorus Master Jürg Hämmerli). Set and costume design by Michael Levine; costume assistance by Meta Bronski; lighting design by Franck Evin; dramaturgy by Kathrin Brunner. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+

Georg Büchner died in 1837 when he was only 24! He was a member of the Young Germany movement and an active revolutionary who literally risked his neck and had to flee arrest by the secret police. He had published several well-regarded Sturm und Drang plays and a novella. He was a contemporary of Heinrich Heine; Nietszche was born about 7 years later. Büchner left behind 4 batches of barely legible fragments of a play called Woyzeck. It took specialists years of work to figure out that the fragments together formed a complete play.

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Theodora

Handel Theodora oratorio to libretto by Thomas Morell. Directed 2009 by Christof Loy at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Christine Schäfer (Theodora), Bejun Mehta (Didymus), Joseph Kaiser (Septimius), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Valens), Bernarda Fink (Irene), and Ryland Davies (Messenger). Ivor Bolton conducts the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Salzburger Bachchor (Chorus Master Alois Glaßner). Organ solo by James McVinnie. Sets by Annette Kurz; costumes by Ursula Renzenbrink; lighting by Stefan Bolliger; dramatic advice by Thomas Jonigk; choreographic assistance by Thomas Wilhelm. Directed for TV by Hannes Rossacher. Released  2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B

Handel wrote Theodora as an oratorio that would normally be formed by a large chorus standing in rows with the soloists in front and all singers using sheet music. Opera director Christof Loy was hired to semi-stage the oratorio. Loy was a good choice for this since his style as opera director generally is to vastly simplify sets, props, and dramaturgy to the point that even operas become semi-staged. With Loy on board you can save money on the frills and pay bigger fees to get the best singers.

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Carmina Burana and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2

Carl Orff Carmina Burana cantata and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 concert. Recorded 2018 at the Imperial Ancestral Temple in the Forbidden City, Beijing. Features soloists Aida Garifullina (soprano), Toby Spence (tenor), Ludovic Tézier (baritone), Daniil Trifonov (piano), and Mari Samuelsen (violin). Long Yu conducts the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Spring Children’s Choir, and the Wiener Singakademie (Chorus Master Heinz Ferlesch). Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

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Tosca

Puccini Tosca opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2018 by Michael Sturminger at the Osterfestspiele Salzburg. Stars Anja Harteros (Floria Tosca), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Mario Cavaradossi), Ludovic Tézier (Baron Scarpia), Andrea Mastroni (Cesare Angelotti), Matteo Peirone (The Sacristan), Mikeldi Atxalandabaso (Spoletta), Luca Casalin (Sciarrone), Levente Páll (A Jailer), and Benjamin Aster (A Shepherd Boy). Christian Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Salzburger Bachchor (Chorus Master Alois Glaßner), and the Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor (Chorus Master Wolfgang Götz). Costume and set design by Renate Martin and Andreas Donhauser; lighting design by Urs Schönebaum. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Alcina

Handel Alcina opera to a libretto by an unknown author. Directed 2015 by Katie Mitchell assisted by Dan Ayling and Robin Tebbutt at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Stars Patricia Petibon (Alcina, a sorceress), Philippe Jaroussky (Ruggiero, a warrior enchanted by Alcina), Anna Prohaska (Morgana, Alcina’s younger sister), Katarina Bradić (Bradamante, Ruggiero’s former sweetheart), Anthony Gregory (Oronte, Alcina’s general), Krzysztof Baczyk (Melisso, Ruggiero’s former comrade), and Elias Mädler (Oberto, a boy seeking his missing father). Actors are Juliet Alderdice (the real Alcina), Jane Thorne (the real Morgana), Ian Hallard (Oberto's father/servant), plus Zoé Aldrich, Josephine Arden, Sarah Northgraves, and Anna Martine (more servants of Alcina). Andrea Marcon conducts the Freiburger Barockorchester and Chœur MusicAeterna (Chœur de l'Opéra de Perm under Chorus Master Vitaly Polonsky). Continuo: theorbos Daniele Ciminiti and Maria Ferré; cello Guido Larisch; harpsichords Andrea Marcon and Johannes Keller. Set design by Chloe Lamford; costume design by Laura Hopkins assisted by Blanca Anon Garcia and Clémence Pernoud

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Alcina

Handel Alcina opera to a libretto by an unknown author. Directed 2010 by Adrian Noble at the Wiener Staatsoper.  Stars Anja Harteros (Alcina), Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero), Veronica Cangemi (Morgana), Kristina Hammarström (Bradamante), Alois Mühlbacher (Oberto), Benjamin Bruns (Oronte), and Adam Plachetka (Melisso). Marc Minkowski conducts Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble (Chorus Director Thomas Lang). Stage musicians are Thibault Noally (Violin), Nils Wieboldt (Cello), Florian Cousin (Flute), Gilberto Caserio (Recorder), Toshinori Ozaki (Theorbo), Francesco Corti and Johannes Maria Bogner (Harpsichord). Chorus members are Hannelore Auer, Gilles Combecave, Arina Holecek, Christian Jung, Jens Musger, Richard Neugebauer, Martina Reder, Barbara Reiter, Barbara Sommerbauer, Cornelia Sonnleithner, Ion Tibrea, and Oleg Zalytskiy. Dancers provided by the Wiener Staatsballett. Set and costumes by Anthony Ward; lighting by Jean Kalman; choreography by Sue Lefton. Directed for TV by Matthias Leutzendorff.

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Nino Rota Double Bill

Nino Rota opera double feature directed 2017 by Cesare Scarton at the Reate Festival.

  1. La notte di un nevrastenico (The Night of a Neurotic) to a libretto by Riccardo Bacchelli. Stars Giorgio Celenza (The Neurotic); Carlo Feola (The Consierge); Daniele Adriani (The Commendatore); Sabrina Cortese (She); Antonio Sapio (He); Vincenzo Carni (A Floor Boy/Hotel Staff); Maria Rita Combatteli, Lucia Filaci, Siri Kval Ødegård; Mariangela De Vita, and Giacomo Nanni (Hotel Staff).

  2. I due timidi (The Two Timid Ones) to a libretto by Suso Cecchi D’Amico. Stars Giorgio Celenza (Narrator), Sabrina Cortese (Mariuccia), Daniele Adriani (Raimondo), Chiara Osella (Mrs. Guidotti), Antonio Sapio

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