Bellini, unlike many of his colleagues - among them Donizetti - did not have to endure the disappointments and difficulties of rising from the ranks. His Bianca e Gernando , in 1826, was well received at Naples's Teatro San Carlo, and one year later, at the age of twenty-six, the composer triumphed at Milan's La Scala with Il Pirata . Norma is not only the high point of Bellini's artistic parabola but also the quintessence of Italian belcanto.
This video was recorded at the Massimo Bellini theatre of Catania, native town of the great Sicilian composer, and features, in the title role, the famous Greek soprano Dimitra Theodossiou, one of today’s best interpreters of Norma.
On 10 October 2004, the Teatro Regio celebrated the birthday of Giuseppe Verdi by holding a concert featuring some of the most important artists and singers of the international music scene. The performance was part of an intended annual series in which extracts from each of Verdi's operas would be performed in chronological order to offer an analytic and comprehensive panorama of his output, and the concerts would bring to the stage the most acclaimed stars of the operatic world. The great baritone Leo Nucci and the famous tenor Jose Cura are featured in this video, and Renato Palumbo, musical director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, conducts.
With the release of this Maria Stuarda, recorded live in 2001, Dynamic makes an historic move, becoming the first Italian label to produce a DVD opera.
This very high quality production by Teatro Donizetti di Bergamo features, in the roles of the two queens, Carmela Remigio (Maria Stuarda) and Sonia Ganassi (Elisabetta), two great artists here making a fine display of their excellent vocal and acting skills. Francesco Esposito's direction and costumes and Italo Grassi's sets are very effective and superbly highlighted by the filming.
What makes this release even more interesting is the use of a new critical edition made by the renowned Swedish musicologist Anders Wiklund for Casa Ricordi.
- Interviews with Carmela Remigio, Sonia Ganassi, Fabrizio Maria Carminati, Francesco Esposito, and Italo Grassi.
In recent years not only music festivals but also important opera theatres have turned their attention towards the neglected masterpieces of the lyrical repertoire. Thus also Venice's Teatro La Fenice, in a commendable effort, staged this Pia de' Tolomei by Donizetti, with some of the best singers available today for this type of repertoire. Initial response to this opera, which was performed for the first time in 1837, was ambiguous, so much so that Donizetti re-worked it as many as three times. The version here recorded is that of the critical edition recently published by Ricordi, with the tragic finale originally conceived by the composer. The listener will undoubtedly wonder, once more, at Donizetti's wealth of melodic inspiration, especially when it comes to the character of Pia, wonderfully interpreted here by Patrizia Ciofi.
Agrippina was staged for the first time in late December 1709 - or possibly at the beginning of 1710 - at Venice's Teatro San Grisostomo and met with enormous success, as testified by twenty-seven following performances, a record number even for 18th-century standards. Agrippina 's triumph sanctioned Handel's definitive investiture as an operatic composer. After nearly 300 years this opera appears as a masterpiece of 18th-century music and an innovative work, considering that when Handel composed it he was just twenty-four years old. The composer's melodic creativity and sense of theatre are quite remarkable. The cast, conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire, includes Véronique Gens in the title role.
A journey in the fascinating world of a famous international violin competition, where heart and technique are needed to succeed. Follow the participants step by step till the exciting final stage. Hear the advice given to the young musicians by world-renowned violinists such as Gyorgy Pauk and Massimo Quarta, who won the competition in the past and are now members of the jury.
An opera with a rich vein of musical ideas, sumptuous and original sets, a little-known German Romantic composer, high-level interpreters (among them Anna Caterina Antonacci): these are the ingredients of Hans Heiling, staged in 2004 in Cagliari under the scrupulous and refined baton of Renato Palumbo. There is no doubt that this timeless story of gnomes and spirits, love and suffering, supernatural powers and mortal beauty will captivate many opera lovers.
Every operatic composer has a title that marks a turning point, one that raises him from being almost unknown to sudden fame. For Bellini, in 1827, this was Il Pirata , for Verdi, in 1842, Nabucco . For Massenet this opera was Le Roi de Lahore . Performed for the first time in 1877 at the Palais Garnier to a resounding success - the opera ran to no fewer than 57 performances in the great Paris opera house within two years - this work contains all the characteristic elements of grand-opéra: marches and solemn processions, a ballet, use of countless extras, spectacular choral scenes, concertante sections of great length, a general exotic tint that was much appreciated at the time and a great wealth of melodic invention. The present Venetian production features a high quality cast and documents the last performance of the late conductor Marcello Viotti, who had made the critical edition of the score.
In some respects, Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607) is to the history of Italian opera what Dante's Divine Comedy is to the history of Italian literature: a masterpiece that stands at the very beginning of the journey. With Orfeo and the operas that followed it, Monteverdi had the substantial merit of immediately demonstrating the infinite possibilities of this new genre, which would leave an imprint on three centuries of European culture. In the present edition the French conductor Jean-Claude Malgoire is at the head of a cast of Baroque opera specialists.
Even though in recent years Idomeneo has been staged more frequently, this Mozart masterpiece can hardly be counted among the operas (the Da Ponte trilogy in primis) that made of the Salzburg composer one of the greatest operatic composers of all times. Yet Idomeneo was, in its day, a revolutionary work, animated by music that appears remarkably innovative and profoundly theatrical.
Les Contes d'Hoffmann is a great, unfinished masterpiece. In 1880 Offenbach's health began to deteriorate rapidly. Les Contes d'Hoffmann had already been programmed for the 1880/81 season of the Opéra-Comique, but Offenbach was having a hard time finishing it and worked only in the moments of respite from his illness. He died on 5 October, leaving the opera incomplete (we still do not know to what extent). And so Ernest Guiraud, a "specialist" who had already transformed into recitatives the spoken parts of Bizet's Carmen , was called to finish the task. The opera was first staged at the Opéra-Comique on 10 February 1881 and met with great success. Soon it was being performed in the most important theatres of the world.
This edition has an Italian cast of exceptional quality, in which stand out the amazing voice of Desirée Rancatore, the extraordinary artistry of Ruggiero Raimondi and the fascinating direction of Pier Luigi Pizzi, one of today's most creative directors.
On the anniversary of the first success of Madama Butterfly in Brescia on 28 May 1904, Placido Domingo conducted, from the podium of Torre del Lago Puccini, Daniela Dessì, Fabio Armilato and Juan Pons in a new production by Stefano Monti with sets designed by Arnaldo Pomodoro and costumes of Maison Gattinoni.
It was customary for Rossini to modify his scores and develop second and third versions for theatres that wanted to stage his operas. The Maometto II here recorded corresponds only in part to the original score (Naples, 1820), which is the version generally performed nowadays; it is, instead, the revision made for Venice's Teatro La Fenice staged on 26 December 1822 as opening title of the 1823 Carnival season, the same season which, on 3 February 3, would also see the debut of Semiramide . For Venice Rossini tried to soften the monolithic character of his Neapolitan score, introducing an opening symphony, making changes - some of them quite substantial - to the score and, especially, giving the plot a happy ending. The title role is sung by the young Italian bass Lorenzo Regazzo; Claudio Scimone, on the podium, is responsible for the revision of the score.
Most of Schubert's operas were written without a specific commission, in the hope that, once completed, some theatre might find them interesting simply by virtue of their musical value. This unrealistic optimism proved almost always wrong and Schubert suffered bitter disappointments, very often working for nothing. Begun on 20 September 1821, Alfonso und Estrella was completed on 27 February 1822 but was first staged, on the initiative of Franz Liszt, only in 1854, after Schubert's death. Alfonso und Estrella has the characteristic climate of a romantische Oper. If it is true that Schubert lacks the sense of theatre which is typical of the best operatic composers of his day (for example Weber), the power of his creativity and beauty of many arias cannot be denied.
The creation of Daphne was not a simple affair, especially for what concerned the poetic text (due to the modest talent of the librettist Joseph Gregor), but on 15 October 1938 the opera was finally premiered at Dresden's Staatstheater. On the podium was the young conductor Karl Bohm. Daphne is a masterpiece of early 20th-century vocal music. Structured in a single act, this opera is a solid work with a rich musical vein. Strauss's orchestration appears, as always, remarkably refined. The vocal writing is demanding for all the main characters, but especially so for the protagonist, here interpreted by a magnificent June Anderson. Filmed in high definition at Venice's La Fenice, the present production is directed by Paul Curran.
Il Corsaro is still one of Verdi's less known and performed operas. Chronologically speaking, it belongs to the famous "years in the galley", even though it dates from a period (the autumn of 1848) when the composer's name, in Italy, could already be considered established. Although this is considered one of Verdi's minor works, there are many exciting and poignant passages in it, and the tight dramatic action makes for music that has a pressing and incisive rhythm. The renowned baritone Renato Bruson and conductor Renato Palumbo stand out in the cast and this recording makes the most of Lamberto Puggelli's beautiful sets.
The premiere of Ernani at Venices' Teatro La Fenice in 1844 failed to come up to Verdi's expectations, primarily because of the poor health of some of the singers. Both critics and audiences, however, soon warmed to Ernani , especially after the following performances. The opera contains some of Verdi's most successful, impassioned arias (first and foremost Elvira's cavatina and Silva's cantabile) and clearly denoted an evolution in terms of dramatic structure, more cohesive and with lesser use of blocks of closed numbers. Despite a turbulent 'premiere', Ernani became a real international success, beginning with the felicitous Vienna productions of May/June 1844. The cast of this Teatro Regio of Parma production features some of today's best singers for this type of repertoire.
Parsifal, Wagner's last opera, was premiered in Bayreuth in 1882. In the fifty years of his artistic life Wagner did not only mature and outline more and more clearly the aesthetic ideals that formed the intellectual substratum of his composing activity but definitely upset the course of the history of music and of the music theatre. The wide range of his cultural interests, his operational daring, ability to blend elements of different origin, complete rejection of any form of operatic routine and grandiosity of conception make of each and every opera that he wrote a sort of artistic case in its own, where the experiences of previous works are salvaged or abandoned according to the expressive needs, which are never subordinate to contingent necessities. Performing this complex work is no simple task, but the cast on stage at Teatro La Fenice in Venice did so with flying colours.
After his success with Freischütz , Weber wanted to write a grand romantic opera and in the end the subject of Euryanthe was chosen, a tale inspired by a legend going back to the thirteen century. Euryanthe is music of inspiration and originality such as is rarely found in the history of German opera in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Italianisms that are occasionally glimpsed in Freischütz are eliminated almost completely. Euryanthe is set to music in its entirety, with accompanied recitative passages that are often of great beauty. We may say that in an opera that has many experimental features Weber sought for the first and only time in his life to overcome the traditional dichotomy between spoken and sung parts, between recitative and closed numbers, creating a highly supple musical structure. The present production features a cast of specialists of German opera and the outstanding direction of Pier Luigi Pizzi.