International superstars Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón give inspired performances in Massenet's passionate opera, Manon. Netrebko gives full range to her abilities as a singer and actress in portraying innocence, lust, greed and, above all, beauty. It is Netrebko's mesmerizing performance which makes Villazón's youthful passion and ultimate despair even more authentic and heart-breaking. The setting in this production has been updated to the 1950s and the entire opera takes place as if Manon were the star of her own film. Indeed, Netrebko transforms her character from the innocence of Audrey Hepburn through the voluptuousness of Marilyn Monroe into the tragedy of Ingrid Bergman. The work of director Vincent Paterson, known for his work on Broadway and in music videos, is especially effective in creating an energetic and ultimately tragic performance with stunning visual splendor. Netrebko and Villazón, the true dream-team for this opera, are joined by the conductor Daniel Barenboim who leads the Staatskapelle Berlin in a spontaneous and passionate performance.
Rolando Villazón as Nemorino exhibits a real gift for comic acting, manipulating his rubber face into dozens of hilarious poses, flawlessly turning stock comic gestures into laugh-out-loud moments, and even juggling apples with the panache of a circus performer. More important, he uses his lyric tenor to sing the part with impressive subtlety, suggesting Nemorino's desperation while singing of his love for Adina. His big show-stopper, "Una furtiva lagrima," features melting pianissimos and a breathtaking decrescendo in its final phrase. Netrebko's Adina is every bit as good, with deft acting and a lovely lyric soprano voice that makes you understand why she's the only girl for Nemorino.
An all-star cast featuring Deutsche Grammophon artist Anna Netrebko, Bryn Terfel and Anna Prohaska, delivers a sensational new recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the start of his inaugural season as Music Director of La Scala. Recorded live at the opening of the 2011-12 La Scala season, Don Giovanni is now set to be released in time for Bryn Terfel’s 50th birthday on 9 November 2015. It also ties in with the traditional opening of the new season at La Scala – 7 December, the feast-day of St Ambrose, patron saint of Milan.
There is not much to fault in this quintessentially Russian opera with the lavish staging and fantastic costumes surely a feat to the eye. You cannot find much fault on the musical side of things either as many have expressed their opinion that this remains the finest version of the opera by a mile. The charismatic and almost demonic Gergiev conducts with his systematic, unabated passion for music which is most certainly in his blood and his players definitely do him proud. The cast is also top notch on all counts with Netrebko and Gorchakova particularly impressive.
Here is the opera event of 2005, the Salzburg Festival’s "La Traviata" featuring Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, and Thomas Hampson in a dramatic staging by Willy Decker – the thrilling production that prompted riotous ovations not seen since Karajan’s heyday.
Lovers of Il trovatore a work famous for its perennially popular cavatinas and cabalettas rightly expect the singers to be at the very top of their vocal game and particularly look forward to the top C at the end of Manrico s stretta, a true do di petto produced not from the head but from the chest. Yet the production of the work that was staged at the end of 2013 by the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin jointly run by Daniel Barenboim and Jürgen Flimm deliberately flouted these expectations and traded familiarity for astonishment. Such a reaction was due not only to the two most famous singers of our age, both of whom were appearing onstage for the first time in their respective roles, but also to the company s music director, who made it abundantly clear that he was concerned with more than just a feast for the ears and rousing rum-ti-tum rhythms.
Although I Puritani was performed during the Metropolitan Opera's first season in 1883, it had not been seen there for decades until this production by Sandro Sequi was unveiled in 1976. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the partnership of Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti, and it is to the credit of all concerned in this recent revival that one soon forgets names from the past and enjoys what is a spirited attempt to evoke mid-19th-century style.
Redesigned since it was first seen at the London Coliseum in 2011, Deborah Warner’s elegant and untricksy production of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical romance transferred last autumn to the Metropolitan Opera. Offering as it does a beautifully detailed and sensitively characterised reading of the piece, Chekhovian in atmosphere and period, it merits a warmer critical reception than it has received on either side of the Atlantic.