“This is something of a find – a production produced in Milan's television studios in 1973 that does more than justice to Giordano's verismo work about personal conflicts at the time of the French Revolution. It's directed, with considerable imagination, by the Czech Vaclav Kaslik, at the top of his profession in the 70s. In realistic period sets he unerringly creates the milieu of a degenerate aristocracy in Act 1 and of the raw mob-rule of the Revolution in the succeeding acts. The only drawback is the poor lip-synch. Conductor Bruno Bartoletti makes certain we're unaware of the score's weaker moments and releases all the romantic passion in Giordano's highly charged writing for his principals.
Andrea Chénier presents a fictionalized account of the last years of the French poet André Chénier, guillotined during the Reign of Terror in 1794. It is the greatest of Giordano’s operas and shows why Puccini sometimes feared Giordano as a rival. Taking the starring role of Chénier, with its three marvellous arias, is Jonas Kaufmann. Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the role of Chénier’s beloved Maddalena and baritone Željko Lučić stars as Carlo Gérard – the servant-turned-revolutionary who is Chénier’s rival for the love of Maddalena. David McVicar brings Giordano’s thrilling historical drama back to the Royal Opera House for the first time since 1985 in a stunning new production.
Philippe Jaroussky as Ruggiero is in thrall to Patricia Petibon as the sorceress Alcina in Katie Mitchell’s virtuosic production of Handel’s opera from the 2015 Aix-en-Provence Festival, described by Bachtrack as “a night of a thousand delights”. Conducted by Andrea Marcon, this was, in the words of Opera News, “musically … a performance of the highest festival level”. The production of Alcina, by the British director Katie Mitchell, was welcomed by the Financial Times as “meticulously executed …, rich in detail, consummately polished”. Like Mitchell’s Aix-en-Provence staging of George Benjamin’s hugely successful Written on Skin (first seen in 2012), it offers simultaneous action in multiple zones of the stage, with Alcina’s elegant boudoir taking pride of place. As the New York Times wrote: “It involves a huge sorcery machine for turning people into animals (or whatever). And Ms. Mitchell works magic of her own onstage, constantly showing the enchantresses Alcina and Morgana alternating between glamorous public personas and their ‘real life’, older, private selves …There are also bits of simulated sex, mingling genders and suggesting, among other things, inventive new ways to hit high notes.”