In contrast to the very great and granitic Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Sorochintsi Fair gives us Mussorgsky in a rare, delightful and thoroughly convincing comic mood. Based on a tale by Gogol and taking place in Ukraine, this opera is full of lilting melodies and comic ensembles, delivered by a cast full of fine voices in pungent folk characterizations. The great centerpiece of the third act is a big choral ensemble based on Mussorgsky's early orchestral piece St. John's Night on Mount Triglav, best known to us in Rimsky -Korsakov's smoothed out, beautifully orchestrated arrangement "Night on Bald Mountain." Here, as Mussorgsky wrote it in complete vocal score it is a wild, scary and thoroughly thrilling experience. Otherwise Anatoly Lyadov and, principally, Vissarion Snebalin put Mussorgsky's finished pieces and sketches together and orchestrated them in Mussorgsky's style.
Composer Michael William Balfe composed 29 operas, and around 250 other pieces. He is best known for his opera The Bohemian Girl. Balfe’s opera Satanella was his 23rd opera, and was premiered at Covent Garden in 1858. The work is a hybrid of classical opera tradition and stand-alone songs. This release is performed by the John Powell Singers and the Victorian Opera Orchestra under the direction of Richard Bonynge.
In spring 2011, the first-ever performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera of Rossini's Le Comte Ory brought standing ovations and critical-acclaim. The spectacular trio of Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato ignited vocal and theatrical fireworks. Le Comte Ory tells the story of a libidinous and cunning nobleman who disguises himself first as a hermit and then as a nun ("Sister Colette") in order to gain access to the virtuous Countess Adele, whose brother is away at the Crusades. The 2011 Met production was directed by the Tony Award-winning Broadway director Bartlett Sher, who in recent years has also staged Il barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffman for the Met. Sher presented the action as an opera within an opera, updated the action by a few centuries and giving the costume designer, Catherine Zuber, the opportunity to create some particularly extravagant headgear. Juan Diego Florez starred as the title role while Diana Damrau plays his love interest, Countess Adele, and Joyce DiDonato was in breeches as his pageboy Isolier. The trio had appeared in Sher's production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.
The third in the Glass’ trilogy of operas about men who changed the world in which they lived through the power of their ideas, “Akhnaten”‘s subject is religion. The Pharaoh Akhnaten was the first monotheist in recorded story, and his substitution of a one-god religion for the multi-god worship in use when he came to power was responsible for his violent overthrow. The opera describes the rise, reign, and fall of Akhnaten in a series of tableaus. Libretto (Egyptian, Arcadian, Hebrew, and language of the audience) by the composer in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel and Richard Riddell. Vocal text drawn from original sources by Shalom Goldman.
Not being a lifelong Wagner devotee, I'm not sure if this particular performance has been released before or not, but I do know that it was included in a 2013 9-title release of Wagner operas recorded live from The Met from 1937 through 1954.
Why this performance? 3 words: Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn. I would add to that Leinsdorf, especially since the recording quality is so bad; his faster-than-the-norm tempi help cut through the densely muddy sound quality.
Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi is the only opera Woody Allen has ever staged. The 2015 version on this release is a revival of Woody Allen’s 2008 production for L.A. Opera, a hilarious parody of classical Italian cinema stereotypes. Features Plácido Domingo in the leading role as Gianni Schicchi.
Plácido Domingo accomplishes the rare feat of singing both lead roles on the same night in opera's most popular double-bill. James Levine conducts the tenor in Franco Zeffirelli's classic production, opposite the superb singing actors Tatiana Troyanos, Teresa Stratas, and Sherrill Milnes.
"This Grammy winner, one of the most successful versions of Puccini's final opera, offers Nilsson's first recording of the title character, and Bjoerling's last operatic portrayal on disc, including a heroic, for-the-ages "Nessun dorma". The extraordinary orchestration, befitting a story set in ancient China, benefits from the new DSD remastering."
Leading the enormous forces to bring Puccini's huge vision to life in this now-legendary performance, James Levine presides over an evening of three one-act operas that cover the full spectrum of human experience. The great singing actress Renata Scotto is featured in all three operas, perhaps most memorably in her searing portrayal of Suor Angelica - a nu whose extreme atonement for he sin ultimately wins her redemption.