Although highly esteemed by Classical and Romantic composers such as Beethoven and Brahms (the latter's summing-up: "what we musicians recognize as the height of dramatic music"), Cherubini's setting of Euripides, first heard in 1797 in French, all but vanished over the course of the 19th century. Today it would be as obscure as the Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier's operatic treatment of the same material were it not for the title role's emergence in the 1950s as one of Maria Callas's signature roles… By Todd Kay
Riccardo Muti has conducted a number of Da Ponte's Mozart operas in Vienna, and this, together with the 1996 'Cosi fan tutte', are musical winners through and through.
The reason is simple - the casts in both productions are GREAT. By Abert
This Covent Garden production of Bizet’s Carmen, makes a vivid musical and dramatic impression. Director Francesca Zambello creates a properly Spanish atmosphere, filling the stage with a profusion of detailed characters. In Act One’s town square each of the many soldiers, strollers, cigarette factory girls, and children are individuals, so there’s a bustle of continuous, realistic activity. That attention to detail carries over to the rest of the opera, involving viewers in the action. Tanya McCallin’s sets are a perfect foil for the direction: simple, movable panels that serve as lightly sketched backdrops for the town square, a tavern, the smugglers’ mountain hideaway, and the final scene in front of the bull ring. But what makes this Carmen special is the singing and acting of the principals… –Dan Davis