Opera

Opera
Los Angeles Opera
Giacomo Puccini
Grant Gershon, Woody Allen

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi premiered at the Metropolitan Opera New York in 1918. The third piece of his Il trittico is a comic opera after an episode in Dante’s Divine Commedy –the playful-amusing depiction of a shrewd glutton – that soon became a great success with the public. Its musical language is surely the boldest and most modern of the Trittico. This masterpiece of Italian Opera Buffa will be staged by none less than Woody Allen, whose mordacity and twisted sense of humor will make it truly special.

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Opera
Teatro Real
Giacomo Puccini
Paolo Carignani, Richard Jones

The starting point for La bohème and its entire creative process up until  the first performance of the opera in Turin’s Teatro Regio on 1 February 1896 is documented in minute detail in the abundant correspondence between Giacomo Puccini, his publisher and mentor Giulio Ricordi, and the librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The latter began their stormy, yet fruitful, collaboration with this opera and went on to write the librettos for Tosca and Madama Butterfly.

 

Starting with the book Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger (1882-1861), originally a series of autobiographical stories published in a magazine, the two librettists, closely supervised by Puccini, built an ensemble plot in which four young bohemian artists confront financial difficulties and bad weather with humour and good cheer, finding their way in an effervescent, bustling, wintry Paris.

 

A love affair between one of them, aspiring poet Rodolfo, and the seamstress Mimi is cut short by her death. We watch the story move from the pleasures and dreams of youth to the solidity of real life, with all its problems.

 

With his sublime orchestral palette, his mastery of poetic rhythm and his enormous talent for drama, Puccini builds the personalities of the young people with his usual skill, contrasting sparkling anecdotes and fun with deep and heartfelt passions. Their short, conversational phrases are interlaced with others of much greater melodic and dramatic power. The orchestration is expressive and effective, suggesting tiny details such as flickering flames or jingling coins, while setting scenes in an almost cinematic fashion, from the chilly garret to the busy streets of Paris at Christmas time, or the loneliness and deprivation of poverty.

 

Past moments are evoked like flashes of memory by a masterly use of musical motifs associated with emotions or even objects to which Puccini gives great symbolic significance: Mimi’s candle, the pink bonnet Rodolfo buys for her, Colline’s overcoat, or the muff which warms the heroine’s hands on her deathbed…These moments which come and go in our memory, concealed and then revealed in the everyday affairs which make up our lives, are the narrative thread running through this new production of La bohème, which was broadcast live.

 

The prestigious British stage director Richard Jones and the set and costume designer Stewart Laing present the opera as a series of scenes from bohemian life, without hiding the backstage work that usually goes on behind the scenes. The audience can see how the sets are changed, how different devices are used to create theatrical effects, and how props are piled up in the wings, like scraps of life crammed into our memory.

 

From their vantage point, the audience watches the past and present of the characters at the same time, unable to immerse themselves in the cold, bright Paris of the young bohemians because they will always see it depicted on stage. But this ‘play within a play’ device, which blurs real time and theatre time, the auditorium and the stage, drama and metaphor, will bring the audience to a richer interpretation of Puccini’s work, enhanced by viewing it from different angles, with all its images.

Opera
Torre del Lago Puccini Festival
Giacomo Puccini
Alberto Veronesi, Lorenzo Amato

Although one of his most consistently lyrical operas, La Rondine (The Swallow) remains one of Puccini’s least known. Dissatisfied with the results of his work, Puccini wrote three versions, with two different endings, and continued to make further revisions up to his death in 1924.

 

The innovative 2007 production at Torre del Lago Giacomo Puccini Festival, presented in this programme, is in effect a fourth version, which combines Act I and II of the first version (1917), with Lorenzo Ferrero’s 1994 orchestration of parts of the finale of Act III oft he incomplete third version (1921), some of which had survived only in piano score, as well as Ruggero’s Act I romanza "Parigi è la città dei desideri", from the second version (1920).

 

With the collaboration of Naxos

Opera
Teatro Real
Giacomo Puccini
Nicola Luisotti, Bob Wilson

World Opera Day | Register and enjoy this title for free on Saturday October 23.

 

Giacomo Puccini’s last opera needs no introduction. After a 20 year absence, Turandot returns to the Teatro Real in a new production by one of the greatest stage directors of the 20th and 21st centuries: Robert Wilson, the creator of unforgettable images in The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic and Pelléas et Mélisande.

 

In a cast led by Nina Stemme, Gregory Kunde and Yolanda Auyanet, the Associate Musical Director of the Teatro Real, Nicola Luisotti, conducts one of the greatest operas of Italian repertory.

 

ALL OPERA

Opera
Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Richard Wagner
Matthias Pintscher, Calixto Bieito

Bieito's interpretation of Wagner‘s Lohengrin deals with love, hate, jealousy and hope, but above all with man‘s imperative need to believe in something. To visualise these two contrasting worlds, Bieito creates two settings on stage: the world of fairy tales (the forest) and reality (the court room). According to Bieito, fairy tales are as relevant today as they once were and are not only fables we tell our children, but a necessity in adulthood as they mirror life itself by offering both good and bad. 

 

Opera
Los Angeles Opera
Giacomo Puccini
Grant Gershon, Woody Allen

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi premiered at the Metropolitan Opera New York in 1918. The third piece of his Il trittico is a comic opera after an episode in Dante’s Divine Commedy –the playful-amusing depiction of a shrewd glutton – that soon became a great success with the public. Its musical language is surely the boldest and most modern of the Trittico. This masterpiece of Italian Opera Buffa will be staged by none less than Woody Allen, whose mordacity and twisted sense of humor will make it truly special.

Opera
Teatro Real
Gaetano Donizetti
Evelino Pidò, Laurent Pelly

An opera where the prima donna is a baritone? Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali is an excessively long and daunting title for an opera of such unrestrained delight. That is likely what German film director Helmut Käutner thought when he renamed it Viva la mamma in the famous 1969 adaptation for the rococo Cuvilliés theatre in Munich, changing the history of this work forever. First seen in Naples in 1827, this farce of a “theatre within a theatre” narrates the mishaps of a second-rate opera company as it stages the great serious drama Romolo ed Ersilia in a provincial theatre. The unbearable tensions between the two lead singers are finally resolved with the decisive intervention of one of their mothers. The co-production by Ópera de Lyon shared with the Grand Theâtre de Genève and Teatro Real is brought to life by Laurent Pelly, a tireless champion of Donizettis comedies, as one recalls from his production of La fille du régiment which we enjoyed some seasons ago.

 

*Title only available in Spain

Opera
Giuseppe Verdi
Fabio Luisi, Nikolaus Lehnhoff

One of the world`s leading stage directors, Nikolaus Lehnhoff has presented an outstanding new production of Giuseppe Verdi's popular opera Rigoletto. With international stars like Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau and directed by the new chief conductor Fabio Luisi, this opera production demonstrates a convincing and highly qualified musical standard. A wonderfully timeless event, which took place in the marvellous atmosphere of Dresden’s Semperoper.

 

Opera
Teatro Real
P.I.Chaikovski / I. Stravinski
Teodor Currentzis, Peter Sellars

Peter Sellars, Teodor Currentzis, Ekaterina Scherbachenko and Dominique Blanc tell us about the work carried out until reaching the premiere of this production: An extraordinary double programme with two works which “represent an ideal of beauty, poetry and hope”. 

 

Iolanta and Perséphone tell stories of transformation; two dramas laden with symbolism which take a path from light to darkness and back again, where there is always a shadow of one’s self behind each person. Peter Sellars tells the story using a single setting with very intense, abstract visual images where everything changes, as in Russian symbolist drama.

 

Coproduction with Televisión Española (TVE)

Opera
Festival Castell Peralada
Granados, Händel, Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti
Sabina Puértolas, Rubén Fernández Aguirre

Sabina Puértolas is one of the most international Spanish sopranos, recognized and acclaimed for her interpretations of a wide repertoire of bel canto and baroque music. Her ever-increasing projection has led her to sing in venues such as the Royal Opera House in London, Teatro Real, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Seattle Opera House (USA), or the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing (China). In 2001 she made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan under the direction of Riccardo Muti, playing the role of Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, and has since developed an intense international career. Her interpretations, of great expressiveness and theatricality, unite her with the soul of her characters.

 

Together with the pianist Rubén Fernández Aguirre, the evening will offer songs, romances and arias from operas such as Alcina and Rodelinda by Händel, Il Turco in Italia by Rossini or Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti. Puértolas' elegant, musical and highly technical singing promises a night to remember.

Opera
Opéra National de Paris
Jules Massenet
Michel Plasson, Benoît Jacquot

Under the baton of Michel Plasson, a Massenet specialist, Jonas Kaufmann and Sophie Koch perform one of opera's most touching love stories.
In Massenet's masterpiece, tears never cease to flow from the very moment the moonlight idyll is revealed and destroyed. "My whole being cries at it" says Werther. We are a long way from opera's usual tears, be they furtive or violent. These tears flow slowly and inexorably, one by one. “Patient tears” as Charlotte puts it. In the space of four acts, they will have done their work. Charlotte cannot hold them back as she rereads Werther's letters, and her tears are the only part of her, the only sacrifice that he dares ask of her. They will flow in front of Sophie, the angel of consolation. They will flow when Werther reads Ossian. And finally they will flow at the sight of Werther's blood-soaked body. Yet he refuses these last tears: for now he is happy and free.

 

Werther is a long requiem, ‘lacrimosa dies illa’, a tearful day if ever there was – a requiem for a young poet ending in paradise.

 

Opera
Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
Giacomo Puccini
Sir Simon Rattle, Richard Eyre

The fact that the Berliner Philharmoniker turned to Puccini – this beloved yet ostracized composer – is symbolic. Here is someone who was thought to be outmoded for a long time, but there is really so much more to be discovered about him and his work. The tale of one who becomes a model but remains a girl, is very contemporary.

Opera
Teatro Real
Giuseppe Verdi
Maurizio Benini, Francisco Negrín

One of the most popular in all opera repertoire: Il Trovatore. In a new production of the Teatro Real, Maurizio Benini conducts two casts of renowned Verdi stars: Ludovic Tézier, Maria Agresta, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Francesco Meli and Roberto Tagliavini, among many others. The complicated story, based on the play by Antonio García Gutiérrez, is told here in a big production by Francisco Negrín, in which he highlights the dramatic and enormous tension in this Verdi masterpiece.

 

From the impenetrable – and often delirious plot of Il trovatore, the aspect that without a shadow of a doubt most attracted Giuseppe Verdi was the profound vital contradiction in which Azucenafinds herself immersed, as filled with love for her son as full of hate for her mother. At all cost, the musician looked for a way to reveal the overflowing passions of this woman, and as such he defended it to his librettist, reaching the extreme of suggesting that they abandon the story if he was not convinced (as an alternative, he proposed focusing on a section of the plot which would end in an ‘illumination’ as in La Traviata). It was not necessary. The opera was developed over three years of frenetic musical activity and serious personal problems, but Verdi achieved what he was looking for. With an almost rampant termperament and an overpowering impetus, Il trovatoreoverflows with dramatic tension and musical geniality, resulting in a story of love and revenge which increases in intensity throughout, irrepressible, leading to the final catastrophe. From the very moment of its première, the opera increased in popularity, and now over a century and a half later, it continues to be a resounding height of opera repertory

Opera
Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras
Georg Friedrich Händel
John Eliot Gardiner, Thomas Guthrie

It is ironic - and surely not coincidental - that the first great full-length opera in the English language was composed in 1743 by Handel, an emigré
German approaching the height of his powers, but in self-imposed retirement from the toxic London opera scene.

Semele was his defiant counter-blast to those who for years had sought to control him - the rival aristocratic theatre-owners and company directors.
Not surprisingly, Handel preferred to promote and organise his own annual concert season at Covent Garden free from interference, and with his own hand-picked soloists, orchestra and chorus. Semele caught his audience off balance: it was not a conventional Italian opera properly ‘staged’ (though it clearly was in Handel’s imagination and despite the presence of elaborate stage directions); nor was it a pious oratorio based on the Old Testament
tailored to the Lenten season. Far from it. Instead he chose a ‘profane’ story based on Ovid, in which gods and mortals operate on the same level, behaving badly and passionately but in ways that everyone - except the disgruntled audience of the time or, later, the sanctimonious Victorians - can relate to.

Opera
La Fenice
Giuseppe Verdi
Maurizio Benini, Arnaud Bernard

Based on Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love), Verdi’s tragic melodrama Luisa Miller revolves around the loves of the heroine of the title and Rodolfo, son of Count Walter, and the machinations of the Count’s steward, Wurm, who wants Luisa for himself, resulting in the death of all three. Directed by Arnaud Bernard, who took as his inspiration Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1976 film 1900, this La Fenice production is led by the outstanding Bulgarian soprano Darina Takova whose intense characterization of Luisa emphasizes the heroine’s inner torture, and Giuseppe Sabbatini who brings a thrilling theatricality to the rôle of Rodolfo, especially in the most famous aria from the opera, "Quando le sere al placido".

With the collaboration of Naxos.

Opera
Teatro Real
Giuseppe Verdi
Renato Palumbo, David Alden

David Alden approaches the setting of Othello from the point of view of Giuseppe Verdi’s adaptation of the Shakespeare text. In the first act of the play, which Verdi omits, we see the great love of Desdemona, a young, beautiful woman of the Venetian upper class, for the rough-mannered and hot-tempered foreign soldier Othello. Her father, the patrician Brabantio, opposes their love. In the first act he asks how his daughter could have chosen to “run from her guardage to the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou, to fear, not to delight.”

 

Desdemona’s love for Otello is even thought to be a thing of magic. In contrast, Otello’s love for Desdemona is perfectly logical: Desdemona is so refined, so white, so aristocratic and so devout that anyone could understand why Otello would fall in love with her. They love each other, but their difference in social standing is undeniable. And these differences will be how the resentful, devilish Lieutenant Iago is able to wreak his vengeance on his General, Otello, for not promoting him to Captain as he had hoped.

 

This vengeance requires a minimum of effort, because all he really has to do is convince Otello of what everyone else already believes: such a gentlewoman could never really love someone like him. Consequently, it is very easy for him to make Otello believe that Desdemona has fallen in love with a man of her own rank, Cassio, whom Iago describes as the antithesis of Othello. And so, despite Otello’s noble soul - even though Desdemona truly loves him, even though Cassio is loyal and honourable -, Iago’s insinuations take root and Otello believes that Desdemona is unfaithful to him.

 

In the play, Shakespeare explains the action through the theme of racism, this is the driving force of the tragedy. But both the librettist, Arrigo Boito, and Verdi understood that the drama could be even more intense if racism played a less prominent part.  The focus was put on the fragility of a character who physically differs little from any of the others; a vulnerable character who is dominated by inner turmoil. Thus Verdi reduces racism to a marginal issue which is scarcely mentioned. David Alden takes a similar approach: Otello is an outsider; he is “other” because that is how he feels inside. He need not be black or physically different from the other characters.

 

His conflict is internal: insecurity, that which has led so many men to commit the worst atrocities. We watch with horrified fascination the tragic disintegration of the hero, locked into the destructive cycle of destiny. The set design suggests a courtyard in Cyprus, but above all, this is a militarised, brutal world with dehumanised soldiers in a war which prevents them from responding to love or tenderness. In this context, Otello brings us face-to-face with one of the most secret human fears: to not feel worthy of what one loves most.

 

Renato Palumbo, who has conducted Les Huguenots, Tosca and La Traviata at the Real, returns with another Verdi classic with the Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, much acclaimed for her performance in La Traviata in 2014. She is accompanied by tenor Gregory Kunde, whose interpretation of the difficult role of Otello is one of the most highly regarded. He also opened the 2016 season at the Teatro Real to great applause for his Roberto Devereux. Alongside them as the cruel and crafty Iago is baritone George Petean, who brought the 2016 season to a close in the opera I puritani.