Based on Gogol’s fantastical and comic story of the Devil’s antics on Christmas Eve, this magical blend of opera and ballet is brought to vivid life in Francesca Zambello’s colourful production. Magnificent set designs (Mikhail Mokrov) and costumes (Tatiana Noginova), and an excellent, largely Russian cast provide authenticity. Splendid dancing by The Royal Ballet and Cossack dancers completes the spectacle.
In 1974, British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan in turn decided to focus on the two protagonists for an ambitious ballet that could translate the feelings and emotions of two souls abused by the accidents of life and their own personal weaknesses. In short, how a young girl on her way to a convent manages to elope with the young student with whom she has just fallen in love, only to leave him to escape destitution and finally allow herself to be persuaded by her brother Lescaut to yield to the advances of wealthy “protectors”. Accused of prostitution and deported to Louisiana, Manon is rescued by Des Grieux. Driven to murder by Manon’s jailer, he escapes with her into the marshes where the young girl ultimately succumbs. Although sincere, the love that Manon and Des Grieux share for each other cannot stand up to the vagaries of existence. As a result, neither is able to escape moral or social decline. Rather than reuse the score of Massenet’s opera, MacMillan entrusted Leighton Lucas with the task of arranging a series of extracts taken from a selection of the French composer’s operatic, symphonic and vocal scores… The end result was a huge success from its debut performance in London in 1974 onwards.
Glyndebourne has brought to light a long-overlooked winner in Donizetti’s Poliuto, delivering ‘a superb musical performance’ (The Telegraph) offering ‘lucent accounts of the principal roles and an incandescent London Philharmonic Orchestra, under Enrique Mazzola’ (New York Times). This first ever professional UK staging of the story of third-century Armenian martyr St Polyeuctus features a ‘trio of world-class young singers’ with Fabiano, winner of the Beverly Sills and Richard Tucker awards, displaying a ‘thrilling, vibrant tone’ in the title role, Martínez providing Paolina with ‘pinging coloratura’ and Golovatenko giving a ‘radiant-toned’ voice to Severo. (The Guardian)
The Mariinsky label is delighted to release the first of four operas on DVD in 2013 with Verdi’s 'Attila'. Released in celebration of Verdi’s anniversary year, acclaimed Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov stars in the title role, in this the premiere of Arturo Gama’s production. He is ably supported by soprano, Anna Markarova in the role Odabella; baritone, Vladislav Sulimsky in the role of Ezio and tenor, Sergei Skorokhodov.
Marlis Petersen, Tom Randle, Victor Torres, Pietro Spagnoli, Magnus Staveland, Sunhae Im, Arttu Kataja, Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Nigel Lowery, Amir Hosseinpour Freiburger Barockorchester René Jacobs In the Summer of 2009, the British director Nigel Lowery and the Iranian choreographer Amir Hosseinpour brought to the stage of the Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden”, with colour and full of humour, the fantastic and imaginative adventures of “Racing Roland”. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn, the composer’s most renowned opera during his lifetime,“Orlando Paladino”, was performed, a heroic-comical stage piece based on Ariost’s famous “Versepos”. Singers such as Marlis Petersen (Angelica), Tom Randle (Orlando), Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Alcina), Pietro Spagnoli (Rodomonte), Sunhae Im (Eurilla) and Victor Torres (Pasquale) performed under the musical direction of period-music specialist René Jacobs. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra completed this high-class production giving the music a beautiful sound and lively swing.
Director David McVicar's original-period vision for this Mozartian gem allows its genius to speak for itself, offering a mesmerising, sensitive outstanding portrayal of Enlightenment-era fascination with the East that is both exquisitely acted and sung, featuring a Konstanze and a Belmonte sung with finesse and bravura and a sensationally voiced Osmin (The Guardian *****). Comic relief in Glyndebourne's brilliant production is provided by beautifully sung live-wire performances of Pedrillo and Blonde, and Robin Ticciati leads the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment through a restored, authentic rendition of the critical score with lovely fizz and poignant gravitas (The Independent).
Glyndebournes Saul stole the summer and had critics raving. The Guardian (****) applauded virtuoso stagecraft from director Barrie Kosky in his debut production there, calling the show a theatrical and musical feast of energetic choruses, surreal choreography and gorgeous singing. For The Independent, which ranked it amongst five top classical and opera performances of 2015, there was no praise too high for the cast. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Ivor Bolton sparkles from the pit with period panache, and designer Katrin Lea Tags exuberant costumes (The Times ****) set the Old Testament story in Handels time, with a witty twinge of the contemporary.
La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini. This 2008 production was staged by Hugo de Ana at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. The references to 17th century Romantic painting and refined visual projections are a tribute to Luchino Visconti. Visconti produced the memorable performance of La Sonnambula at the Scala di Milano with the magnificent Maria Callas.
Simone Alaimo is one of Italy’s best bass-baritones and Antonino Siragusa is a very experienced performer of Rossini and Bellini operas. The role of Amina is sung by the rising star of the International world, Eglise Gutierrez.
Handel’s oratorio Theodora, in its first-ever staging at the Salzburg Festival ,was among the highlights of the Handel year in 2009. Great cast that features Christine Schäfer and Bejun Mehta, conducted by Ivor Bolton. Acclaimed stage director Christof Loy presented Theodora as the profoundly moving tale of a woman who prefers death to denying her own faith.