The oratorio "The Creation" is one of the highlights of Joseph Haydn's late oeuvre. The work, first performed in 1798, is considered the most successful work by the great composer and, at the same time, a prime example of the classical oratorio. The present recording of the creation dates from 1975. In the leading roles will sing the award-winning American soprano Helen Donath, the German tenor Adalbert Kraus and the Swiss bass baritone Kurt Widmer. They will be accompanied by the alto Vera Scherr as well as the Süddeutsche Madrigalchor and the Festival Orchestra Ludwigsburg, under the direction of Wolfgang Gönnenwein, the longtime artistic director of the festival (1972 to 2004).
The knock-out concert event of 2006! Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo and Rolando Villazón came together for one unforgettable evening of opera arias and ensembles. This is not a cross-over concert, but a genuine collection of operatic gems, performed by three thrilling performers in front of an audience of 20,000 roaring fans. The excitement in the audience brings out the best in each performer. With selections from L'Arlesiana, Gianni Schicchi, Otello, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Giuditta, La Bohème, West Side Story and much more! Marco Armiliato leads the Deutschen Oper Berlin Orchestra.
Staged and directed by Richard Wagner's grandson Wolfgang at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1984, this production of Wagner's only comedy dispenses with the common cliches to reveal the humanity of each character. Here, Beckmesser is no longer a foolish caricature but a cultivated intellectual; Stolzing emerges as a thoughtful individual rather than aggressive aristocret; and Hans Sachs sheds his solemn patriarchal veneer to become a likeable middle-aged man. “Hermann Prey´s interpretation of Beckmesser as a cultivated intellectual is a triumph of dramatic and vocal artistry: a stunning performance . . . Brilliant . . . Bernd Weikl as Sachs – an almost unique combination of musical refinement and expressive power.” (Abendzeitung, Munich)
Rolando Villazón as Nemorino exhibits a real gift for comic acting, manipulating his rubber face into dozens of hilarious poses, flawlessly turning stock comic gestures into laugh-out-loud moments, and even juggling apples with the panache of a circus performer. More important, he uses his lyric tenor to sing the part with impressive subtlety, suggesting Nemorino's desperation while singing of his love for Adina. His big show-stopper, "Una furtiva lagrima," features melting pianissimos and a breathtaking decrescendo in its final phrase. Netrebko's Adina is every bit as good, with deft acting and a lovely lyric soprano voice that makes you understand why she's the only girl for Nemorino.
In 1976 French director Patrice Chéreau's cenentenary staging of Wagner's "Ring"-Cycle unleashed the greatest scandal in Bayreuth Festival history but, by the end of its last performance in 1980, this epoch-making production was acclaimed with an hour and a half of thunderous applause. "Götterdämmerung presents a world in which no values exist any more. The only refuge is in the past" (Chateau). "The videotaped Bayreuth Ring succeed triumphantly."
"The central part of the "Ring" tetralogy is precisely this: a hero has been created who would actually have had all the attributes of freedom, but nobody remembered to tell him…" (Patrice Chéreau). "One can only marvel at how enthrallingly Chéreau has made visible every ramification of this malignant idyll and bitter comedy. In its faithful service to this fabulously polished staging Brian Large's video direction is a model" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).
The second part of Patrice Chéreau's epoch-making Bayreuth "Ring" is a radical re-imaging of "Die Walküre", unprecedented in its psychological penetration. "This Wagnerian drama", says Chéreau, "which is at once classical theatre and domestic comedy, enables us to interpret the myths in terms that are both anecdotical and sublime … With Wagner one is dealing with a drama tuned virtually white-hot by the music." "Nothing ever seen before on television has given a better insight into Wagner's genius." (The New York Times)
In Patrice Chéreau's illuminating, violent Bayreuth production of Das Rheingold, Wotan wears the brocade coat of feudal times while the Rhine seems to be a reservoir with a modern power station - but, as Chéreau states, it "could also be many other things… a menacing construction, a theatrical machine to produce a river, an allegorical shape that today generates energy: perhaps a mythological presence, the mythology of our time… The gods' ascent to Valhalla (is) a defiant flight into the future."
This Bartered Bride ’s acting and singing is generally of a high level. Lucia Popp was caught at a perfect time for this role. She’d gradually been developing her voice into a larger, more dramatic instrument, and here displays a lyric’s warmth with the power of a spinto. She clearly enjoys the challenge of the only serious aria in the entire work (in act III; performed in German as “Wie fremd und tot”), providing many fine interpretative points and a great deal of tonal variety. The audience goes wild, as well they might.
The production and video direction are by British film-maker Ken Russell who puts his own stamp on the production. Russell told an interviewer he felt the plot was "silly" so he turned Marguerite into a young nun, eliminated the Walpurgis Night ballet, had Marguerite use sign-language for Valentin's deaf-mute children, and had Mephistopheles disrespectfully urinating in the stoup in church. However, the overall effect is visually engrossing, the vivid sets and costumes by Karl Toms are effective. And the singing is outstanding. Tenor Francisco Araiza handles the title role with confidence. Ruggero Raimondi, while he may not have the impressive lower register of many devils of the past, is a superb actor. Soprano Gabriela Benackova is in magnificent voice as the innocent Marguerite, and other major roles are impressively sung.