With its majestic themes soaring upwards like gothic pillars and its brilliant chorales and fanfares glowing like stained – glass windows, Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 is the most monumental of his orchestral works, a cathedral in sound that grows out of pianissimo murmurs. Coming after the triumphs celebrated by the composer’s Seventh Symphony and Te Deum, the Eight was considered by Bruckner as the artistic climax of his career. Cleveland‘s Severance Hall is the venue for this performance. This hall, an eclectic yet elegant mix of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Classicism, Egyptian Revival and Modernism was inaugurated in 1931 and is still hailed today as one of the world‘s most beautiful concert halls. The Cleveland Orchestra, founded in 1918, began its ascent to the upper ranks of the world‘s ensembles after it moved to Severance Hall in 1931.
For over 20 years, the world-renowned Berliner Philharmoniker have celebrated their founding on May 1 with the annual Europa Konzert. The 2006 event was an all-Mozart program featuring Daniel Barenboim in his familiar dual role as both soloist and conductor. Sparkling high definition Blu-Ray brings the gorgeous Theatre of the Estates in Prague to life, highlighting this historic venue in its timely finery - attired to evoke the 1787 premiere of Don Giovanni, conducted by Mozart himself. A bonus Cultural Portait of Prague video makes this even more valuable to the curious viewer.
In Parma, where audiences are considered the most discerning in all Italy, the benchmark for vocal artists is set traditionally high. Operagoers here are intimately familiar with the works of their favourites, from Rossini to Puccini, and know every tricky corner by heart. God forbid any singer who fails to accomplish the task without due seemliness Unsurprisingly, then, this performance attempts no directorial experiments. The main setting for this realistically inspired production both indoors and out is Rosinas house, which is converted as required into its constituent parts.
Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007. The production was revived in 2012 and here he completes the trio with two new productions of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. Antonio Pappano conducts an acclaimed cast including Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ermonela Jaho, Lucio Gallo, Elena Zilio and rising star Francesco Demuro. “A triumph…three wonderfully directed and expertly acted productions. Add in Pappano's impeccable conducting and his valuable introductions to the pieces, and you have a nigh-on ideal Trittico.” BBC Music Magazine
This DVD is a new production of the Puccini favourite, staged at Salzburg 2012.Tenor Piotr Beczala rocks as Rodolfo, Mimì’s lover. Massimo Cavalletti sings Rodolfo’s friend Marcello with uncommon finesse and beauty of tone. Nino Machaidze is a moving Musetta.The robust orchestration of this popular opera verges on the ethereal as Mimì’s life slips away. Throughout his reading, conductor Daniele Gatti strikes the perfect balance between sentiment and sentimentality, vigour and fragility, the specter of untimely death and the quick and young it haunts. The New York Times wrote, “You don’t often hear Mimì sung with such vivid character and sheer charisma.”
Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent staging of Puccini's final opera, captured here in High Definition Widescreen, is one of the most opulent of all Met productions. A fairy-tale set in a mythical China, the opera tells of the icy Princess Turandot, whose fatal riddles test princes who seek her hand in marriage. Maria Guleghina takes the demanding title role and Marcello Giordani is Calàf, the unknown prince. Young Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya and veteran American bass-baritone Samuel Ramey co-star. Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons makes his Met debut conducting Puccini's great score which includes the best-loved of all tenor arias - Nessun dorma.