Special Features

Bayerische Staatsoper: Un Ballo in Maschera
March 9
Bayerische Staatsoper: Un Ballo in Maschera(2017)
Praise for Munich’s new Ballo in Maschera: “A formidable vocal feast” (Bayerische Staatszeitung). “The singers sent the audience into raptures (Südwestpresse). “A total triumph” (La Razón). “This production shows what a utopia opera can be” (Abendzeitung). The Bavarian State Opera’s former music director Zubin Mehta returned to the fabled house (where his image in bronze adorns one of the foyers) to celebrate his 80th birthday conducting Verdi’s middle-period masterpiece for the first time in a staged production. His remarkable cast includes soprano Anja Harteros singing Amelia for the first time and “filling every note with Verdian intensity”, tenor Piotr Beczala as a “visually and vocally dashing Riccardo” and George Petean as an “exemplary” Renato (Neue Musikzeitung). In director Johannes Erath’s musically super-sensitive new production, this historically-based tale of illicit love, conspiracy and betrayal unfolds in a surrealistic, shadowy setting transformed by lighting and projections. Special praise was showered by the enthusiastic critics on Maestro Mehta, who “creates concentrated musical connections, miraculously guiding his orchestra and unsurpassable voices the way a thermal lifts a paraglider [...] Musically the performance was a dream” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

Vakhtangov Theatre: Anna Karenina
March 23
Vakhtangov Theatre: Anna Karenina(2017)
Directed and choreographed by Angelica Cholina, this internationally award winning Vakhtangov Theatre production of ANNA KARENINA is a choreographed interpretation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel. Cholina strives to find the equivalent of Tolstoy's words in harmony and movement, with every gesture holding meaning. The music of Alfred Schnittke helps to reveal the characters and their depth, together with elegance and mood corresponding to the amplitude of the novel. A crowd favorite in Moscow which plays to sold-out houses month after month, this meticulously detailed and gorgeous ANNA KARENINA is an example of the new Russian theater scene, fearlessly focusing on the visceral, allowing audience members to form their own interpretations. Winner of the "Villanueva Award", Best Foreign Performance, International Havana Theatre Festival; Winner "Crystal Turandot", Best Debut Performance, Olga Lerman. Presented without dialogue or subtitles.

Teatro alla Scala: I Due Foscari
April 13
Teatro alla Scala: I Due Foscari(2017)
“Plácido Domingo is the definitive Francesco of recent times” - Financial Times “To see him again on stage is a joy. From here to eternity” - La Stampa “One can only marvel at his enormous musicality, his ageless vocal quality, his enviable stage presence” - Il corriere musicale Here is Plácido Domingo’s latest conquest: the leading baritone role of Francesco Foscari in Verdi’s darkly atmospheric, melodically generous early opera, based on Lord Byron’s play. Set in 15th-century Venice, I Due Foscari is the forerunner of Simon Boccanegra, and Domingo’s triumph as the Doge set the seal on this critically lauded new production from Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the ultimate Verdi shrine. Declaring the legendary singer “the definitive Francesco of recent times”, the Financial Times’s reviewer also had high praise for the rest of La Scala’s superb cast, from “Andrea Concetti’s solid Loredano, to the immaculate Francesco Meli in a perfect match for Jacopo. Anna Pirozzi makes a triumphant house debut as Lucrezia. She wins hearts and minds through fearsome dramatisation and thrilling vocal power. But the revelation of the night is [conductor] Michele Mariotti. Here is an interpretation of unbridled elasticity [...] There is the whiff of Venice’s sea breeze and a surge in its lagoon. The well-drilled chorus of patricians sends a chill down the spine. Mariota is the wunderkind of the Italian repertoire.” Opera in three acts. Sung in Italian with English subtitles. From Teatro alla Scala, Milan Recorded in 2016 CREATIVE TEAM Conductor Michele Mariotti Stage Director Alvis Hermanis Set Designer Alvis Hermanis Costume Designer Kristīne Jurjāne Lighting Designer Gleb Filshtinsky Teatro alla Scala Chorus and Orchestra ARTISTIC TEAM Francesco Foscari Plácido Domingo Jacopo Foscari Francesco Meli Lucrezia Contarini Anna Pirozzi Jacopo Loredano Andrea Concetti Barbarigo Edoardo Milletti Pisana Chiara Isotton Foot Soldier Azer Rza-Zade Servant Till von Orlowsky

Salzburg Easter Festival: Cavalleria Rusticana/Pag
April 27
Salzburg Easter Festival: Cavalleria Rusticana/Pag(2017)
Described by Salzburger Nachricten as “Opera as Great Romantic Cinema”, the two short operas, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci brought record attendances to the Salzburg Easter Festival. No wonder, for Jonas Kaufmann, in his debut performances as both Turiddu and Canio, was “stellar” (Daily Telegraph) and sang “both parts so lyrically, with such italianità, mellow with impeccable highs… a pure delight” (Kurier). Equally impressive are Thielemann – “the uber-conductor” (Telegraph) – and the Dresdeners, who “take time for sensitive, melodious soul portraits, while delivering consummate drama at just the right moment. What we hear from the pit is sensational in its nuances” (Kurier). The scene is set by film and opera director Philipp Stölzl, a director whose fascinating vision brings these popular operas to new heights. Stölzl divides the stage into several levels, staging crowd scenes below, private feelings above – the latter projected with filmic close-ups – doubling and tripling the action. This production, insists Kurier, “simply must be described as world-class”. “Thrilling” concludes the Telegraph. Two Operas Sung in Italian with English subtitles From the Salzburg Festival Recorded Easter 2015 Running Time: 2 h 41 min 20 – 2 short operas Cavalleria Rusticana: 1h 14min 31sec | Pagliacci: 1h 26min 49sec

Gran Teatre del Liceu: Macbeth
May 11
Gran Teatre del Liceu: Macbeth(2017)
General of the victorious Scottish armies, Macbeth hears a prophecy from three witches that predict he will be the next King of Scotland. Believing this premonition, his wife encourages him to kill the King. His divine right drives Macbeth to be bloodthirsty with friends and opponents alike but alone and racked with guilt, he faces his last battle and death. Giuseppe Verdi felt inspired by Shakespeare’s work and his devotion led to the first opera based on one of the writer’s texts. Verdi’s enthusiasm gave him the will of achieving “something extraordinary” with the iconic writers work. In this version, Christof Loy directs the action in a classic timeless space with surrealistic touches dominated by blacks and whites, adding to the great dramatic intensity. Opera in 4 acts Sung in Italian with English subtitles. Recorded October 20th, 2016 From the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, ) Approximate Running Time: 220 min., one intermission Introduction: 15 min CREATIVE TEAM Conductor Giampaolo Bisanti Stage Director Christof Loy Coreografia Thomas Wilhelm Sets Jonas Dahlberg Costumes Ursula Renzenbrink Lighting Bernd Purkrabek Corus Master Conxita García ARTISTIC TEAM Macbeth Ludovic Tézier Banquo Vitalij Kowaljow Lady Macbeth Martina Serafin Macduff Saimir Pirgu Malcolm Albert Casals Dama Anne Puche Doctor David Sánchez Servant, herald and assassin Marc Canturri Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu

Opera national de Paris: A Midsummer Night's Dream
June 8
Opera national de Paris: A Midsummer Night's Dream(2017)
Numerous choreographers have delved into Shakespeare to find dramatic material for their ballets, beginning with Jean-Georges Noverre, an ardent defender of the “action ballet” and Marius Petipa, who was the first to use Mendelssohn’s stage music. George Balanchine, who also loved the score, would prove no exception. In 1962 he created his version of Shakespeare’s comedy for New York City Ballet. Faithful to the Bard’s vocabulary whilst adding a subtle touch of pantomime, he portrays a complex love story in two acts and six scenes. Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, become caught up in a domestic quarrel between the king of the elves and the queen of the fairies which results in the intervention of the mischievous Puck and his magic potion along with a troupe of amateur actors. The denouement is celebrated in the form of a grand virtuoso entertainment. One of George Balanchine’s rare narrative ballets, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is entering the Paris Opera Ballet’s repertoire. The sets and costumes for this production have been designed by another magician of the stage, Christian Lacroix. Ballet in 2 Parts Opera de Paris (Opéra Bastille) Recorded March 2017 Presented by Aurélie Dupont, Directrice of Dance at the Opéra National de Paris Total Running Time: approximately 100 min CREATIVE TEAM Composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Choreographer George Balanchine Conductor Simon Hewett Chorus Master José Luís Basso Solists Pranvera Lehnert and Anne-Sophie Ducret Sets and costumes designs Christian Lacroix Lighting design Mark Stanley ARTISTIC TEAM Étoiles, Premiers Danseurs and Corps de Ballet With the participation of the Ballet School

Opera national de Paris: Così fan tutte
July 27
Opera national de Paris: Così fan tutte(2017)
Prompted by Don Alfonso, a cynical old philosopher, two young idealists decide to put their lovers’ fidelity to the test. But love will teach them a bitter lesson: those who believe themselves phoenixes and goddesses will discover the desires of the flesh… In 1790, one year after the French Revolution, in what would be their final collaboration, Mozart and Da Ponte conduct a scientific investigation of love. The music of Così fan tutte is truly extraordinary – complex in its symmetry, jovial and yet infused with an almost sacred melancholia. An extraordinary score where each note seems intended to make us accept a loss – lost paradise, lost youth, or a lost loved-one – and portray a world where all is in a constant state of flux. This laboratory of eroticism could but inspire choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, who excels in revealing a work’s innermost geometry on stage. With six singers doubled by six dancers, she depicts the desire which unites and separates human beings, like the interactions between atoms that, once broken, make new bonds possible. Opera in two acts Sung in Italian with English subtitles Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte From Opéra de Paris (Palais Garnier) Recorded February 16, 2017 Running Time: 3h 40min (including an intermission of 30 min) CREATIVE TEAM Conductor Philippe Jordan Staged by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Choreography Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Sets and lighting Jan Versweyveld Costumes designs Dries Van Noten Chorus Master Alessandro Di Stefano Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra de Paris ARTISTIC TEAM Singers Fiordiligi Jacquelyn Wagner Dorabella Michele Losier Ferrando Frédéric Antoun Guglielmo Philippe Sly Don Alfonso Paulo Szot Despina Ginger Costa-Jackson Dancers Fiordiligi Cynthia Loemij Dorabella Samantha van Wissen Guglielmo Michaël Pomero Ferrando Julien Monty Despina Marie Goudot Don Alfonso Boštjan Antončič