Captured live at London’s Royal Opera House, this Barbiere, with its unbeatable cast and the directors’ characteristic wit and intelligence, offers a unique dramatic twist: Joyce DiDonato, who had broken her leg on the opening night, went on with the show. As she said: “Being trapped in the wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina's huge desire to break free.
Il Turco in Italia is one of Rossini‘s wittiest but most neglected works. It is full of ingenious and freshly composed invention. It is Rossini‘s fi rst collaboration with Felice Romani - Bellini‘s librettist - on this opera and Romani understood perfectly Rossini‘s love of pastiche and parody. He provided a commedia dell‘ arte scenario that gave Rossini plenty of opportunity to mock traditions he had helped to cultivate in the first place. The plot is delightfully salcious and among the many jewels in the score, the duet for Geronio and Selim, in which the Turk tries to persuade the ageing husband to sell his wife to him, is widely considered one of the composer‘s masterpieces.
John Copley’s enduring production of one of the most famously melodious and popular of all operas is a classic of the Royal Opera repertory. With historically accurate designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and an excellent cast headed by Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai, this 2009 revival, in which conductor Andris Nelsons makes a distinguished Royal Opera House debut, does full justice to Puccini’s masterpiece. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound.
The inspirational Vladimir Jurowski conducts Verdi’s last opera, his only true comic opera. An international cast is led by Christopher Purves in the larger-than-life role of the corpulent Falstaff, whose profligacy both outrages and inspires the citizens of Windsor. Richard Jones’s production brings out the humour, bitterness and anger – mixed with tenderness and wisdom – embodied in the Shakespeare plays on which the libretto is based.
The diversity of Wayne McGregors astonishing talent is demonstrated through Chroma, Infra and Limen, each created for The Royal Ballet, for whom he is resident choreographer. Intimate yet universal, light yet dark, frenetic yet lyrical, McGregor pursues his passion for exploring the inner workings of the human body and mind, his many-layered and beautiful dances providing visual, sensual and kinaesthetic stimulus for the viewer.
Handel’s second opera for the so-called “rival queens,” Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, was Admeto, which had its premiere in 1727. Their purported rivalry—created more by the public than by the singers themselves—resulted most famously in the cat fight parodied by John Gay in his Beggar’s Opera of the same year. The operas Handel wrote for these reigning divas are as musically brilliant as any of his other works. But as a result of his attempts to structure dramas that would give absolutely equal value to two leading ladies, the rival-queen operas are dramatically problematic and strain credulity at times, Admeto not excepted.
This all-time ballet favourite, in which young Clara is swept into a fantasy adventure when one of her Christmas presents comes to life, is at its most enchanting in Peter Wright's glorious production - as fresh as ever in its 25th year. Tchaikovsky's ravishing score, period designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman (including an ingenious magical Christmas tree), an exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy (Miyako Yoshida) and chivalrous Prince (Steven McRae), the mysterious Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis) and vibrant dancing by The Royal Ballet make for a captivating performance.
Luis Pasqual's powerful production for the Spanish capital sets Da Ponte's timeless story of sleaze and seduction into the dark world of 1940s Spain. Carlos Álvarez, in the title role, toys with the affections of Donna Anna, Zerlina and the Spanish lady Donna Elvira, before his overpowering methods finally bring his own destruction.
Miyako Yoshida dances the title role originally created for Margot Fonteyn in the hauntingly beautiful underwater world of Ondine, vividly brought to life by The Royal Ballet. Frederick Ashton's shimmering choreography, Lila de Nobili's impressionistic designs and Hans Werner Henze's specially commissioned, vibrant and inventive score, memorably combine to evoke the many moods and colours of the sea.
Under Franz Welser-Möst’s fabulous conducting this production of the Zurich Opera House is setting musical standards. In conjunction with the director Sven-Eric Bechtolf, he has developed into one of the leading teams in contemporary music theater. A great score, a famous production and wonderful singers: this Così fan tutte live recorded at the famous Zurich Opera House is a ‘must see’ for opera lovers.