Volume 2 of EMI's comprehensive Herbert von Karajan centenary edition gathers virtually all of the conductor's operatic and vocal output for the label in one place, taking up 71 CDs (Disc 72 contains complete librettos in the form of PDF files). I use the word "virtually" because the package omits four posthumously issued archival items taped live during the 1957-60 Salzburg Festivals (Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, Bruckner's Te Deum, and Verdi's Requiem). Otherwise, it's all here.
Modest Mussorgsky's opera in prologue and four acts is performed by the Kirov Opera with performances from Olga Borodina, Alexei Steblianko and Sergei Leiferkust. Boris Godunov has obtained the throne of Russia by murdering the rightful heir Dmitry. An old monk, Pimen, witnessed this, and convinces his apprentice Grigory to avenge Dmitry's death. In the following years Grigory poses as Dmitry, raising an army against Boris, who is now convinced that he is being punished for the murder.
The opera is based on the play La Bataille de Toulouse by Joseph Méry.
The performance is conducted by Boris Brott, who served as Assistant Conductor to the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, and Music Director and Conductor for the Royal Ballet.
With a world-beating roster of exclusive opera singers including Luciano Pavarotti, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming and Joan Sutherland, Decca Classics has always invested infinite energy and enormous care on its productions, blending the greatest casts with experienced opera orchestras and great conductors. The result of this mix of world-beating artists, unrivalled technical skill and know-how is an opera catalogue of matchless artistry and superb sound, garlanded with award around the world.
This magnificent Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake is an unforgettable experience. Anthony Dowell’s interpretation of Petipa and Ivanov’s 1895 St Petersburg version set a standard and style that made it a ‘yardstick for others’ (New York Times). Wonderful choreography for the entire company includes the coveted double role of the gentle and vulnerable swan queen Odette and her predatory alter ego, the black swan Odile. It is a challenge relished by principal ballerinas, and is danced here in a spellbinding performance by Natalia Osipova, partnered by Matthew Golding as a powerful and empathetic Prince Siegfried. Tchaikovsky’s glorious score shines, given the full force of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Boris Gruzin, and Yolanda Sonnabend’s detailed, Fabergé-inspired designs evoke the atmosphere of Imperial Russia in the era of the ballet's creation.
Boris Godunov is the story not only of a troubled leader but of an entire nation, and its history is as eventful as that of Mother Russia herself. In this new production, the legendary director Andrei Konchalovsky presents a personal vision of the opera that takes Mussorgsky’s bare and monumental first version as its basis, while adding the final scene from the composer’s revision, in which not only the Tsar but the people themselves reveal their fatal flaws.