Offering supporting information for some of the productions in our opera collections, through programmes and synopses, this collection of supplementary materials serves as an enriching learning resource for students of opera.
Teatro Real's majestic production of Handel's vivid tragedy, Tamerlano, stars a Lear-like Plácido Domingo as the Turkish Sultan Bajazet, caught between pride, love and loyalty. Displaying the uniquely heroic quality of his voice, Domingo heads a superb cast, including Sara Mingardo, Monica Bacelli and Ingela Bohlin, all magnificently responsive to Paul McCreesh's authentic and luminous interpretation of the score. The stunning theatrical staging by Graham Vick provides a splendid setting for the characters and for designer Richard Hudson's extravagant Baroque-Islamic costumes, emphasising the brilliance of one of Handel's finest dramatic achievements.
Il Barbiere requires youth and inventiveness, and this production presented by the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées has it in spades thankful to the verve of conductor Jérémie Rhorer and his ensemble Le Cercle de l'Harmonie and the poetry of Laurent Pelly. The cast brings together some of the finest performers of this repertoire, notably Florian Sempey as Figaro (the undisputed expert in this role), Michele Angelini as an elegant Count, Catherine Trottmann as a mischievous Rosine, and Basilio performed by Robert Gleadow.
Commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II in Prague, Mozart's last opera is a deep, humane reflection on relationships, power and forgiveness. With the composition of some of the most beautiful passages in his oeuvre, Mozart has succeeded in giving this opera seria both a noble sobriety and transparent instrumentation, to which this commanding production by the Hermann partnership does full justice on all levels. Susan Graham's most extraordinary Sesto and Christoph Prégardien's superb Tito set the standard for this riveting Opéra National de Paris performance, conducted by the outstanding Sylvain Cambreling.
Alain Maratrat's highly original and clever production of Il Viaggio a Reims, developed over several seasons by the Théâtre du Châtelet and the Mariinsky Theatre, took both theatres by storm. A radiant Valery Gergiev whips up a cast of brilliant young singers from the Academy of the Mariinsky Theatre to unbelievable heights in a colourful, witty rendering that reinvigorates Rossini's last Italian opera. Captured in High Definition video, the detail of this vigorous celebration of music and singing almost bursts from the screen, as fresh as it was when premiered in Paris in 1825.
The Theater an der Wien production of Der Fliegende Holländer, staged by Olivier Py and conducted by Marc Minkowski reveals the original version of the work, composed in 1841 and never performed since then, and is presented without any interval fulfilling Richard Wagner's intention to make the opera a one-part breathless and swirling tempest. The Theater an der Wien production features Wagner's fourth clearly romantic opera as a “triumph of darkness” (kurier.at).
East meets West with devastating consequences in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Antonio Pappano conducts an impressive cast led by Ermonela Jaho in Puccini's deeply poignant opera.
Giacomo Puccini was entranced by David Belasco's play Madame Butterfly (based on a popular short story by John Luther Long) when he saw it in London in 1900. He harnessed the talents of librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (with whom Puccini had created La bohème and Tosca) to adapt Cio-Cio-San's tragic tale for the operatic stage. Madama Butterfly quickly became a hugely popular opera with performers and audiences alike, and remains one of Puccini's most performed works.
This 2008 production from the famous Teatre la Fenice is Schoenberg's first twelve-tone opera, and Schoenberg's only comedy. The main prop of Andreas Homoki's vividly directed production is a white leather sofa, which plays a key role in the opera's final moments. Frank Philipp Schlössmann's décor also includes blackboard-like flats covered with words and figures, principally the word “modern” in various languages.
With its combination of enchanting love story and broad, burlesque comedy, Cendrillon is one of the great operatic fairy tales - a Cinderella that looks back to Charles Perrault's original story in all its richness and ambiguity. Massenet's sensuous Belle Époque fairy tale is gilded with lavish orchestral textures and glittering vocal writing, drawing on everything from baroque dances to Wagner-inspired chromaticism to bring its story to colourful life, conjuring a world of infinite musical and emotional variety.
In this celebrated Glyndebourne Festival production, David Hockney's designs for director John Cox reinterpret the Hogarth etchings that inspired the opera's libretto, written for Stravinsky by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman. In 2010, this revival under Glyndebourne's Music Director, Vladimir Jurowski, again captured the opera's neo-Classical spirit and its juxtaposition of whimsy, cynicism and compassion, prompting the Daily Telegraph to call it “the classic version of the opera against which all others will inevitably be measured.”
Melly Still's Rusalka is a Glyndebourne classic - a magical contemporary reimagining of a much-loved fairy tale. Light and darkness, beauty and danger come together in this passionate tale of love against the odds.
At once evocative and unsettling, this production collides two contrasting worlds in Rae Smith's elegant designs. Rusalka's forest home is a dappled space of sunshine and shadows, full of strange woodland creatures, while the Prince's court is a world of sleek modernity and sophistication - a world of man.
An operatic thriller from the age of Hitchcock, Samuel Barber's Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera boasts one of the 20th century's most beautiful scores. Poised constantly on the edge of song, Vanessa unfolds in generous swathes of melody, rich in filmic strings and soaring brass, with echoes of Puccini, Berg and Strauss. It climaxes in a final quintet of Mozartean poignancy - one of the great ensembles of the contemporary repertoire. Olivier Award-winning director Keith Warner makes his much-anticipated Glyndebourne debut with this production, which promises to bring out the psychological tensions that sit just below the surface of this charged work.
Premiered just months before Mozart's death, Die Zauberflöte in many ways represents a new departure for the composer. Catching the spirit of revolution in the air, Mozart turned his attention for the first time from court opera to popular opera, writing this singspiel (“sungplay”) for a new and much broader audience. Celebrated Canadian directing duo Barbe & Doucet make both their British and Glyndebourne debuts here with their new Die Zauberflöte, a veritable “theatrical feast of eccentricity.” (The Guardian). Ryan Wigglesworth conducts an outstanding cast including Russian soprano Sofia Fomina as Pamina, David Portillo as her beloved Tamino, Brindley Sherratt as Sarastro, and the ebullient Björn Bürger as Papageno.