Opera

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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Tosca

PucciniTosca 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. Sung in Italian. 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; lighting design by James Farncombe; choreography by Joseph W. Alford; musical assistant was Johannes Keller; piano répétiteur was Jean-Paul Pruna. Directed for TV by Corentin Leconte; produced by François Duplat. Sung in Italian. Released  2016, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound output. Grade: A+

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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. Zoltan Glied corrected pointed out that the sound for this title was recorded using 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling. This makes this the first opera recording published (we think) in state-of-the-art sound and HD video. Sung in Italian. Released  2011, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

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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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Turandot

Puccini Turandot opera to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Directed 2018 by Stefano Poda at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Rebeka Lokar (Turandot), Jorge de León (Calaf), Erika Grimaldi (Liù), In-Sung Sim (Timur), Antonello Ceron (The Emperor Altoum), Marco Filippo Romano (Ping, Lord Chancellor), Luca Casalin (Pang, Majordomo), Mikeldi Atxalandabaso (Pong, Head Chef of the Imperial Kitchen), Roberto Abbondanza (A Mandarin), Joshua Sanders (The Prince of Persia [silent role]), Sabrina Amè (First Handmaid), Manuela Giacomini (Second Handmaid), and Nicoletta Cabassi (Pu-Tin-Pao, the Executioner[silent role]). Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master Claudio Fenoglio). Set design, costume design, lighting design, and choreography by Stefano Poda; collaborator director and assistant was Paolo Giani Cei. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini; Audio Producer Claudio Speranzini; Recording Engineer Antonio Martino; Audio Recording, Editing, and Mix by MASClassica. Sung in Italian. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: A+

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I due Foscari

Verdi i due Foscari opera to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed by Alvis Hermanis in 2016 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Stars Plácido Domingo (Francesco Foscari), Francesco Meli (Jacopo Foscari), Anna Pirozzi (Lucrezia Contarini), Andrea Concetti  (Jacopo Loredano), Edoardo Miletti (Barbarigo), Chiara Isotton (Pisana), Azer Rza-Fade (Fante), and Modestas Sedlevičius (Servant of the Dodge). Michelle Mariotti conducts the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni).  Frédéric Olivieri directs soloists of the Academy and students of the Ballet Academy of Teatro alla Scala. Stage and set designs by Alvis Hermanis; costume design by Kristīne Jurjāne; lighting by Gleb Filshtinksy; choreography by Alla Sigalova; video designs by Ineta Sipunova; dramatic advisor was Olivier Lexa. Directed for TV by Tiziano Manchini. A 2K standard Blu-ray was released in 2017. A 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray was released in 2019. Both discs have 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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The Exterminating Angel

Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel opera to libretto by Tom Cairns. Directed 2017 by Tom Cairns at the Metropolitan Opera. Stars Audrey Luna (Leticia Maynar), Amanda Echalaz (Lucía de Nobile), Sally Matthews (Silvia de Ávila), Sophie Bevan (Beatriz), Alice Coote (Leonora Palma), Christine Rice (Blanca Delgado), Iestyn Davies (Francisco de Ávila), Joseph Kaiser (Edmundo de Nobile), Frédéric Antoun (Raúl Yebenes), David Portillo (Eduardo), David Adam Moore (Colonel Álvaro Gómez), Rod Gilfry (Alberto Roc), Kevin Burdette (Señor Russel), Christian Van Horn (Julio), and John Tomlinson (Doctor Carlos Conde). Thomas Adès conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Chorus Master Donald Palumbo). Set and costume design by Hildegard Bechtler; lighting design by Jon Clark; projection design by Tal Yarden; choreography by Amir Hosseinpour; music production by David Frost; recorded for TV by Gary Halvorson. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Orphée et Eurydice

Christoph Gluck Orphée et Eurydice opera to libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline. Directed 2018 by Hofesh Shechter & John Fulljames at the Teatro alla Scala. Stars Juan Diego Flórez (Orphée), Christiane Karg (Eurydice), and Fatma Said (L’Amour). Michelle Mariotti conducts the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni). Set and costume design by Conor Murphy; lighting by Lee Curran (revived by Andrea Giretti); choreography by Hofesh Shechter. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in French. Released 2018, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Cinderella

Alma Deutscher Cinderella opera to a libretto by the composer. Directed by Brad Dalton at the Opera San José in 2017. Stars Vanessa Becerra (Cinderella), Jonas Hacker (Prince), Nathan Stark (The King), Stacey Tappan (Griselda), Karin Mushegain (Zibaldona), Mary Dunleavy (Stepmother), Claudia Chapa (Emeline), Brian Games Myer (Minister), and Helen Deutscher (Flower Girl). Features the composer Alma Deutscher on violin, piano, and organ. Jane Glover conducts the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House and the Opera San José Orchestra and Chorus. Released 2018. Grade: NA

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Lessons in Love and Violence

George Benjamin Lessons in Love and Violence opera to a libretto by Martin Crimp. Directed 2018 by Katie Mitchell (with associate director Joseph Alford) at the Royal Opera House. Stars Stéphane Degout (King), Barbara Hannigan (Isabel), Gyula Orendt (Gaveston/Stranger), Peter Hoare (Mortimer), Samuel Boden (Boy/Young King), Ocean Barrington-Cook (Girl), Jennifer France (Witness 1/Singer 1/Woman 1), Krisztina Szabó (Witness 2/Singer 2/Woman 2), and Andri Björn Róbertsson (Witness 3/Madman). The composer himself conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin). Designs by Vicki Mortimer; lighting by James Farncombe; movement direction by Joseph Alford. Directed for TV by Margaret Williams. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade NA

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Madama Butterfly

Puccini Madama Butterfly opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier at the Royal Opera House in 2017. Stars Ermonela Jaho (Cio-Cio San), Marcelo Puente (Pinkerton), Scott Hendricks (Sharpless), Carlo Bosi (Goro), Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki), Jeremy White (Bonze), Emily Edmonds (Kate Pinkerton), Gyula Nagy (Imperial Commissioner), and Yuriy Yurchuk (Prince Yamadori). Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Master William Spaulding; Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin). Set design by Christian Fenouillat; costume design by Agostino Cavalca; lighting design by Christophe Forey; directed for video by Matthew Woodward. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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I Lombardi alla prima crociata

Verdi I Lombardi alla prima crociata opera to a libretto by Temistocle Solera. Directed 2018 by Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Giuseppe Gipali (Arvino), Alex Esposito (Pagano), Lavinia Bini (Viclinda), Angela Meade (Giselda), Antonio Di Matteo (Pirro), Joshua Sanders (Prior of Milan), Giuseppe Capoferri (Acciano), Francesco Meli (Oronte), and Alexandra Zabala (Sofia). Michele Mariotti conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master Andrea Secchi). Set design by Jean-Guy Lecat, costume design by Fernand Ruiz, light design by Franco Marri; assistant direction by Gianni Santucci; recorded by Rino Trasi and Giuseppe Famularo; directed for video by Matteo Ricchetti and Adriano Figari. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Norma

Bellini Norma opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2018 by Sir David McVicar at the Metropolitan Opera. Stars Matthew Rose (Oroveso), Joseph Calleja (Pollione), Adam Diegel (Flavio), Sondra Radvanovsky (Norma), Joyce DiDonato (Adalgisa), Michelle Bradley (Clotilde), and Christopher Reynolds and John Reynolds (Norma’s Children). Carlo Rizzi conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Chorus Master Donald Palumbo). Set design by Robert Jones; costume design by Moritz Junge; lighting design by Paule Constable; movement direction by Leah Hausman; directed for TV by Gary Halvorson. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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