Thursday, February 23, 2017
Placido Domingo has sung the young Verdi’s old king at Covent Garden and the Met at the age of 75. Running him close is Leo Nucci, the specialist Italian Verdi baritone, who is presently singing Nabucco at the Vienna State Opera. Nucci will be 75 in April. He shows no sign of strain. If the voice has lost a little lustre at the lower edge, there is no lack of voltage and the naturalness of his delivery is a delight. At full power, his is still an instrument of wonder. photo: Vienna Opera/Michael Poehn Guenter Kraemer’s 2001 production requires him to suffer a stroke during Abigaille’s coup and to make a miraculous recovery in the third act. He brings tears to the eyes with his disability and a little gulp of joy at his incredulous return to full health. You would not want to meet Anna Smirnova’s Abigaille without an armed escort. She is menacing, brutal and alarmingly lyrical with an apparently limitless top reach. Miro Dvorsky and Roberto Tagliavini were in fine fettle as Ismaele and Zaccaria, but the Tatar mezzo Ilseyar Khayrullova was colourless on her Vienna debut and dramatic tension went limp at the finale. Thielemann’s ex-understudy Guillermo Garcia Calvo conducted with a very long stick. The piccolo, flute and cellos solos from the Vienna Philharmonic deserved threee encores all their own. The abiding memory, though will be Nucci, a dictator defiant of age, struck down by a cruel disease and finding a stubborn way to cope with disability. Moving, at times, beyond words.
Plácido Domingo meets Plácido Flamingo on Sesame Street (screenshot from YouTube) There are many great opera scenes in films but we shouldn't forget that the small screen has also produced its share of operatic moments. Whether it's deriving comedy from the at-times-bizarre rituals of opera-going, providing thematic commentary or just creating magic, the world's most intoxicating art form has appeared over the airwaves in all manner of guises: The Simpsons - 'Homer of Seville' (2007) This long-running cartoon is famous for its pop culture references and in the episode ‘Homer of Seville’, opera gets The Simpsons treatment. In a typically bizzare opening, Homer hurts his back falling into an open grave, and his cry of ‘D’oh!’ upon hearing the cost of the X-ray reveals a hidden operatic talent . Before he knows it he’s a famous opera star performing in La bohème at the Springfield Opera House (which is remarkably similar to a certain iconic opera house down under). The only catch is that Homer has to lie on his back when singing to hit the right notes. This scene references the famous ascending shot in the Citizen Kane , however in this instance instead of stage hands it reveals Homer's pals Carl and Lenny complaining about their seats. Plácido Domingo, voiced by the great man himself, also makes a guest appearance encouraging Homer’s singing career in the 'locker room' and asking to be called P-Dingo (in a nod to the moniker of rapper Puff Daddy ). Doctor Who - 'Asylum of the Daleks' (2012) Daleks past and present return with a vengeance in the first episode of Series 7 of the BBC’s rebooted Doctor Who . This episode also introduces Oswin Oswald (Jenna Coleman ), who in a future incarnation would become the Eleventh Doctor’s companion Clara Oswald, Oswin’s calling card being the Habanera from Bizet ’s Carmen . Oswin, a former Junior Entertainment Manager on the Alaska star liner, is stranded on a planet where damaged Daleks are herded to be exterminated. She has barricaded herself in her spaceship against the marauding Daleks keeping herself busy by cooking soufflés and listening to Carmen. While evidently the Daleks are not fans of opera, the Doctor recognises it immediately and it seems fitting that he calls her Carmen with her fiery red dress and sassy attitude. Sesame Street - '20 years and still counting' (1989) Sesame Street introduced a whole generation of children to opera through the character of Placido Flamingo , a debonair tenor muppet – ‘the numero uno bird of opera’ – who regularly performed at the Nestropolitan Opera. Flamingo enjoyed many moments in the spotlight including as soloist with the Animal orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa , a duet with Ernie , and performing a scene from ‘The Dentist of Seville’ . But Flamingo’s greatest moment was meeting his famous namesake Plácido Domingo in a special 20th anniversary episode. The two perform a duet of ‘Look through the window’ with muppets from all races and nationalities, proof of opera's power to unite. See if you can watch this clip and not break into a smile. Domingo hasn't been the only opera star to make a special appearance on Sesame Street. Renée Fleming , José Carreras and Samuel Ramey also performed with Jim Henson's iconic creations. Seinfeld - ‘The Opera’ (1992) What do you do when you have free tickets to the opera, your girlfriend is running late and you feel uncomfortable in your ill-fitting tuxedo? If you’re George Costanza, you sell her ticket to a tout. In a classic Seinfeld episode where the irreverence shown to the high arts is only by topped by the time Jerry placed a PEZ dispenser on Elaine’s lap during a classical music concert , it’s opening night of Pagliacci and Kramer has free tickets. Elaine’s new boyfriend ‘Joey’ has mysteriously started calling her Nedda . Kramer has told everyone to wear black tie but refused to dress up himself. Jerry is being stalked by 'Crazy' Joe Davola who is obsessed with Pagliacci and likes to go around dressed as a clown . In true Seinfeld style, storylines collide as the gang finally settle into their seats and George has been replaced by an overweight opera fan. But who did Kramer sell his spare ticket to? Frasier - ‘Out with Dad’ (2000) Over 11 seasons of this Seattle-based sitcom, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer ) and Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce ) were known for their enjoyment of the finer things in life, so naturally they would have subscription seats to the opera. However on Valentine’s Day things get nasty when both Frasier and Niles want to use their opera tickets to woo women. When Frasier refuses to give up his opera ticket for Niles to have a date with his girlfriend, Niles threatens him with the most horrific fate one could possibly suffer at the opera: ‘May your box be filled with cellophane crinklers and the stage swarming with standbys!’. Unperturbed, Frasier drags his dad along to Rigoletto so he can pursue a fellow subscriber he’s had his eye on. This odd couple’s night out presents many opportunities for digs at opera story lines (‘more goofy stuff that never happens in real life’) and in-jokes for the opera fans. But it is not only Frasier who ends up with a date, the indomitable Martin unwittingly finds himself the object of an opera lover’s affection... Hannibal - ‘Sorbet’ (2013) Hannibal Lecter is well known in film, literature and television for his cannibalistic impulses so it's apt that the opera scene from TV episode ‘Sorbet’ exhibits a fascination with body parts. Beginning with a close-up of a quivering larynx, the camera follows the sound travelling from inside the human body past the uvula and tongue, making its way out through the singers’ mouth. The glorious sound of Cleopatra’s aria ‘Piangerò la sorte mia’ from Handel ’s Guilio Cesare travels across the room into the ear canal of Dr Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen ). It is the first time in the series that Hannibal shows any emotion and proves that even a remorseless serial killer can be moved by opera. Or is he fearful of the notion that the dead can return to haunt their oppressors? Hannibal is full of operatic moments punctuated with classical music . Each episode in Season 1 is named after a dish of French cuisine and this seventh episode of the series also reveals that Hannibal is a keen chef famed within opera-going crowds for his dinner parties. Unbeknownst to his guests, his speciality is meticulously prepared human offal . My Family - ‘Droit de Seigneur Ben’ (2000) Anyone who has ever battled to drag a reluctant spouse to the opera will sympathize with Susan (Zoë Wanamaker ) in this episode of the British sitcom My Family. Susan has tickets to Don Giovanni but being the grumpy misanthrope that he is, Ben (Robert Lindsay ) says he hates the opera, complaining that he never knows what’s going on and ‘it’s as boring as hell’. But Susan won’t be deterred, shrewdly presenting him with a vinyl and translated libretto of the opera so he can familiarize himself with the storyline before the performance. Despite himself Ben slowly becomes absorbed in the world of the opera, discovering that a 17th century Italian opera can in fact pertain to his own life as he realizes he has set up his daughter on a date with a modern day Don Giovanni. Mildred Pierce - ‘Part Four and Five’ (2011) In his five-part television mini-series about a tenacious mother and her bratty, narcissistic daughter set during the Great Depression, director Todd Haynes indulges in his favourite genre – melodrama. Operatic in its pace, themes and length, Mildred Pierce also includes a number of wonderful operatic moments . Always knowing she had a hidden talent that would help her rise above the humdrum, Veda's (Evan Rachel Wood) talent as a coloratura soprano is eventually discovered. The young woman's music teacher compares the coloratura with ‘a snake’ and Veda lives up to this description. Mildred (Kate Winslet ) watches on with mixed emotions – awe at her daughter’s talents, anguish at their estrangement and fear of the monster she knows lies underneath Veda's starry exterior. Veda’s performances are voiced by Korean soprano Sumi Jo and Wood trained with an opera expert to achieve the correct postures and breathing techniques. Veda’s arias provide a thematic commentary on goings-on in the Pierce household from Veda’s first radio performance of ‘the Bell Song’ from Lakmé which foreshadows Veda’s seduction of Mildred’s lover, to the presence of an overbearing opera mother as reflected in her rendition of The Magic Flute's ‘Der Hölle Rache ’.
In the photo above I have just arrived at the Coptic monastery of Dayr al-Sahib (Monastery of the Cross) on the East Bank of the Nile in Upper Egypt. The Trappist monk, mystic and author Thomas Merton wrote of le point vierge - the virgin point - and described how there is "at the center of our being a a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth... which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will". Le point vierge is found in different forms in the great wisdom traditions including the esoteric strand of Islam known as Sufism, and it is from this tradition that Thomas Merton developed his vision of a point of pure truth. In Zen Buddhism the vision is manifested in what Shunryu Suzuki famously described as 'beginner's mind'. This vision is also found in popular culture: for instance in John Lennon's Imagine, which - in an unashamed hymn to le point vierge - implores us to "imagine there is no heaven.. no religion... no countries.. no possessions". My personal search for this elusive point where something approaching pure truth can be glimpsed if only momentarily took me late in 2014 to the Coptic monasteries of Dayr al-Sahib (Monastery of the Cross) on the East Bank of the Nile and Dayr Mar Girgis (Monastery of St George) on the West Bank in Upper Egypt, where I took the photos. The Copts, who are the indigenous Christians of Egypt, believe that they are the direct descendants of the first pharaoh King Narmer, who ruled around the 31st century BCE. The Coptic lineage is remarkably resilient and St Mark, who founded the Coptic church in 42 CE, was the first of an unbroken succession of one hundred and seventeen Coptic popes and patriarchs. Elements of Coptic culture predate Christianity, and the Coptic language, which today survives only in the liturgy of the Coptic Church, evolved out of Ancient Egyptian, and once used the pictorial writing system of hieroglyphics. Coptic theologians have also pointed to parallels between the monotheism of the pharaohs - le point vierge of all the great wisdom traditions - and Christianity, and the Coptic Cross - seen below - is derived from the hieroglyph ankh symbol. The inherent conservatism of the Coptic Church means that its music tradition has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries. It is generally accepted that the Coptic Church practices not only the oldest form of Christian music, but also the oldest form of any music in the world. It is also thought that Coptic music predates Christianity and has its origins in the Ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies, with the distinguished Egyptologist Étienne Drioton explaining that “the key to the secret of the music of the pharaohs can be found in a good, modern-day rendition of Coptic liturgical music. In an impressive but overlooked exercise in speculative musicology the composer and musicologist Dr. Rafael Pérez Arroyo reimagined Egyptian music from the Old Kingdom (c3000BC) based on studying the iconography and hieroglyphics of the period, instruments of the period conserved in museums and the Coptic litany. One result of this project was the 2001 CD Ancient Egypt: Music in the Age of the Pyramids which used reconstructed period instruments including a seven-string curved harp and with musicians including Jordi Savall' percussionist extraordinaire Pedro Estevan. The sound is impressive with the choral sections recorded in the famous Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos where many great recordings of Gregorian Chant have ben made. Although the CD is deleted it lives on as a download. Sadly There has been a long history of persecution of Coptic Christians, starting with a pogrom by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the third century. In 639 CE the Muslims conquered Egypt, but the transition from a majority Christian to majority Muslim country took another eight hundred years. There are no accurate statistics on the number of Copts in Egypt today, and the alleged manipulation of data by the theoretically secular but actually Muslim biased government has generated considerable controversy. However it is generally accepted that an estimate of eight million Christians (10% of the population) is reasonably accurate. Persecution of Copts became widespread during the reign of the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in the eleventh century and has continued to this day. In July 2013 Salafist mobs killed five Coptic Christians in the area we visited recently. Monasticism is the most important contribution of the Copts to history. Cenobitic (communal) monasticism originated in Egypt, and Saint Anthony of Egypt (251-356 CE) is known as "the father of the monks". An early monastic rule was developed by Saint Pachom in the third century; this was subsequently translated into Latin and taken by travellers to Europe where the rule was adapted to form the basis of the great Catholic monastic orders including the Benedictine. Today there are twelve inhabited Coptic monasteries in Egypt at which more than six hundred monks lead a cenobitic life. My pilgrimage predated the destruction of the Russian Metrojet over the Sinai desert on a flight from Egypt, which made Upper Egypt a virtual no go areas for foreigners. But during my visit Egypt's already beleaguered tourist industry was totally focussed on its pharaonic heritage: if I had wanted to visit the famous temples at Luxor and Karnak, or the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, that was not a problem at all. But engaging with the rich Coptic heritage was really a struggle. When it comes to the Coptic tradition, collective amnesia afflicts the Muslim population. For instance, the generously staffed Luxor tourist office, which had absolutely no clients other than me, was unable to offer any advice or information about travelling to the nearby Coptic monasteries. You will search in vain on the internet for any information about the two monasteries that I visited - thankfully this is a TripAdvisor free zone! - and thanks go to the Coptic staff of the Gaddis Bookshop in Luxor for their valuable assistance. When I reached the Coptic monasteries there was the inescapable feeling of stepping into a war zone. Because of the continuing attacks on Copts, their monasteries have become fortified communities with massive gates and protecting walls - see photo below. In fact the entrance to Dayr Mar Girgis was protected by an armed soldier when I arrived, and I was the only visitor of any ethnicity at both monasteries. Coptic churches are celebrated for their art and architecture; below is the interior of the church at Dayr Mar Girgis. But these are also functional places where believers worship under constant threat of attack and in harsh physical - temperatures stay above 40 degrees celsius in the summer months. So sacred art mixes with defensive walls, air conditioners, and cooling fans. And some of the art is a little less sacred, as can be seen in the photo below advertising the monastic shop at Dayr al-Sahib. The monastery of Dayr Mar Girgis is just one of four in Egypt that venerate Saint George (Girgis = George). Saint George was a Roman soldier and Christian martyr who never visited England and who has absolutely no connection with the country other than being adopted at its patron saint. In the photo below taken at Dayr Mar Girgis the representation of Saint George could have been taken staight from an English pub sign. Saint George is venerated in many other countries including Romania, Lithuania, Iraq and the Ukraine, and is respected by Muslims as a manifestation of the mystical figure al-Khidr in the Qaran. In 431 CE a dispute over the Monophysite doctrine (the belief that the human and divine natures of Christ were fused into a single nature) caused the Coptic Curch and other Oriental Orthodox Churches (Armenian, Syriac, Goan and Eritrean) to split from the established churches of Rome and Constantinople. Despite this split there are clear visual links between the Coptic and Eastern Orthodox churches. These can be seen from the photos above and below taken at Dayr al-Sahib and Dayr Mar Girgis. In her book Sufism, Mystics and Saints in Modern Egypt Valerie J. Hoffman describes how the liberal Sufi mysticism of Islam has much in common with Christian Coptic spirituality. Examples of this common ground include the mosque built by monks for local Bedouins in the precints of one of the oldest continuously occupied monastery in the world, the Coptic monastery of Saint Catherine's on Mount Sinai. Another example is that the first spiritual master of the celebrated early Sufi saint Ibrahim ibn Adham was a Christian monk called Simeon. The visual common ground between Islamic Sufism and Coptic Christianity can be seen in the following photos. Look at the geometric decoration around the figure of Christ on this gate at Dayr al-Sahib. Then compare it with this decoration at the shrine of the thirteenth century Sufi saint Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj in nearby Luxor. The representation of living beings is, of course, forbidden in Islam. When the figure is removed the commonality between Islam and the Coptic tradition becomes even more striking. The photo below shows a doorway in a recent addition to the monastery at Dayr Mar Girgis. Compare it with the photo below taken by me the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech, Morocco 3500 miles to the west. Central to the visual language of both Sufi and Coptic architecture is the dome. The photo below shows the exterior of the church at Dayr Mar Girgis. Below is the eponymous Sufi shrine in Sidi Ifni on the western margin of Islam in Morocco. If such le point vierge exists it must be somewhere close to the heavens, and there is a striking resemblance between the minarets of Islam and the bell towers of the Coptic Church, both of which point towards the heavens. This mosque was photographed from the luxuriant gardens of the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor. While the photo below shows the entrance of the Coptic monastery of Dayr al-Sahib. My Egyptian search for a point of common truth uncovered some surprising common ground between Coptic Christianity and mystical Islam. Some of this commonality may well be tentative. But at a time of escalating tension between extreme elements in both traditions, any path that leading to the point that Thomas Merton described as "inaccessible to... the brutalities of our own will" demands exploration. Because as Hazrat Inayat Khan, who created an ecumenical Sufi order as his contribution to the search for le point vierge' told us: "“If people but knew their own religion, how tolerant they would become, and how free from any grudge against the religion of others”. Sources include: * The Churches of Egypt by Gawdat Gabra and Gertrud J.M. van Loon * Coptic Monasteries: Egypt's Monastic Art and Architecture by Gawdat Gabra * Sufism, Mystics and Saints in Modern Egypt by Valerie by J. Hoffman * Paths to the Heart: Sufism and the Christian East edited by James S. Cutsinger * Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki * Who are the Copts? by H.P. Rev. Fr. Shenouda Hanna * Ancient Egypt: Music in the Age of the Pyramids - CD * Liturgy of the Coptic Orthodox Church - CD This post is a revised version of one first published in December 2014. dAll photos (c) On An Overgrown Path 2017. My trip to Egypt was entirely self-funded. 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Sae Kyung Rim steps up for Adrianne Pieczonca as Tosca on January 31 and February 3, making her Vienna debut. She faces Aleksandrs Antonenko as Cavaradossi and Thomas Hampson as Scarpia, Placido Domingo conducting. Some debut.
Michaela Schuster as the Princesse de Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH/Catherine Ashmore, 2010 ‘Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura’ is an aria from Francesco Cilea ’s 1902 opera Adriana Lecouvreur . It introduces us to the Princesse de Bouillon, the about-to-be discarded lover of the opera’s hero Maurizio. This is one of Italian opera’s most vivid depictions of tormented passion, and also a rare example of a mezzo-soprano showpiece aria in fin de siècle Italian opera. Where does it take place in the opera? ‘Acerba voluttà’ opens Act II of Adriana Lecouvreur. The married Princesse de Bouillon has arranged a secret meeting with Maurizio at the villa of her husband’s actress-lover, Mademoiselle Duclos. As she waits for her lover, she gives vent to her troubled emotions. She would be still more troubled were she to know that her husband – who jealously believes the rendezvous to be between Duclos and her new lover – is on his way to the very same villa with the actors of the Comédie Française. What do the lyrics mean? The Princess first expresses her conflicting feelings: she luxuriates in her love, but is tormented by her lover’s absence and doubts his fidelity. She then anxiously anticipates Maurizio’s appearance, and imagines that he has arrived, only to realize that all she has heard is the wind in the trees by the river. Finally, she prays to the star of the orient to shine and bring her Maurizio – if he has remained faithful. Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura, lentissima agonia, rapida offesa, vampa, gelo, tremor, smania, paura, ad amoroso sen torna l’attesa! Ogn’eco, ogn’ombra nella notte incesa contro la impazïente alma congiura: fra dubbiezza e disìo tutta sospesa, l’eternità nell’attimo misura… Verrà? M’oblìa? S’affretta? O pur si pente?… Ecco, egli giunge!… No, del fiume è il verso, misto al sospir d’un’arbore dormente… O vagabonda stella d’Orïente, non tramontar: sorridi all’universo, e s’egli non mente scorta il mio amor! Bitter pleasure, sweet torture, slow agony, quick offence, burning, freezing, trembling, impatience, fear, are kindled in a loving breast by waiting! Every echo, every shadow in the ardent night conspires against my impatient soul. Everything is suspended between doubt and desire… Eternity is measured in moments… Will he come? Has he forgotten me? Is he hurrying? Has he changed his mind? He’s here!… No, it is the whispering of the river, mingled with the sighing of the trees… Wandering star of the East, do not fade: smile on the universe, and if he is not false, guide my love to me! What makes the music so memorable? While Adriana made a serene Act I entrance celebrating her art in ‘Io son l’umile ancella’, Cilea introduces the Princesse de Bouillon to us as a very different woman, emotionally volatile and entirely focussed on romantic passion. The ferocious first section of her aria, with its agitated orchestral introduction, fortissimo (loud) opening vocal outburst, dramatic forays into the chest register and slow crescendo to a climactic high phrase on the words ‘eternity is measured in moments!’ is histrionic, almost obsessively self-focussed. And yet the Princess is also vulnerable: the quiet, delicately textured music as she imagines Maurizio approaching conveys tenderness and girlish excitement. Moreover, the dreamy lyricism of her prayer to the evening star (the aria proper; the material up to this point is arioso, between song and recitative) makes us feel her love for Maurizio is sincere, even if the dramatic, richly scored climax as she soars to the vocal heights and the ferocious fanfare-like orchestral postlude have a menacingly imperious air. The Princesse de Bouillon is Adriana Lecouvreur’s villainess, but by depicting her romantic sufferings so vividly, Cilea invites us to sympathize with her even as we fear her ferocity. Adriana’s other music highlights The opera’s best-known highlights are Adriana’s two great arias: the radiant ‘Io son l’umile ancella’ in Act I and Act IV’s melancholy ‘Poveri fiori’. Both are beautiful – as are Maurizio’s arias, particularly Act I’s romantic ‘La dolcissima effigie’ and Act III’s swaggering ‘Il russo Mèncikoff’. And Michonnet’s Act I monologue, as he watches Adriana act, is one of opera’s greatest depictions of unrequited love. But there’s much more to Adriana Lecouvreur than arias. Particularly strong are its scenes depicting the world of theatre: the busy preparations of the Comédie Française team that open Act I; the charming neoclassical ballet on the Judgement of Paris in Act III; and Adriana’s chilling monologue, using melodrama (speech over orchestral music), that closes Act III. One mustn’t forget either the almost unbearably poignant end to Act IV, as Adriana hallucinates she is the Muse of Tragedy before she dies. Classic recordings Although performances of Adriana Lecouvreur were relatively rare until recently, several recordings exist due to the popularity of the title role with sopranos. James Levine ’s 1977 Sony recording has the dream team of Renata Scotto , Plácido Domingo , Elena Obraztsova and Sherrill Milnes in the principal roles. Alternatively, Decca offers a recording with another great soprano – Renata Tebaldi – and star mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato as the rivals for Mario del Monaco ’s Maurizio. Simoniato can also be heard on a 1959 recording re-released by Opera d’Oro with Magda Olivero in one of her favourite roles as Adriana and Franco Corelli as Maurizio. Among DVDs, particularly noteworthy versions include a 1976 production with Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras , a 1989 version from La Scala with the great soprano Mirella Freni as Adriana, and The Royal Opera’s very own David McVicar production , with Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann as the ill-starred lovers. More to discover Cilea’s best-known work aside from Adriana Lecouvreur was the opera L’arlesiana , with its beautiful ‘Lamento di Federico’ (a favourite among tenors). Otherwise his output was relatively small, though die-hard fans can find recordings of his piano and chamber music. Among Italian operas of the same period, Giordano ’s French Revolution opera Andrea Chénier is an absolute must for fans of Adriana – its musical style strongly influenced Cilea – while Puccini ’s Tosca likewise features a strong, performing-artist heroine. Mascagni ’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo ’s Pagliacci offer interesting contrasts and similarities to Adriana in terms of style and dramatic content. And listeners keen to explore fin de siècle Italian opera further will enjoy the discs of verismo arias released by Anna Netrebko , Jonas Kaufmann and Renée Fleming , among others, and maybe also recordings of relative rarities such as Giordano’s Fedora or Zandonai ’s Francesca da Rimini . Adriana Lecouvreur runs 7 February–2 March 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is a co-production with Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona , Vienna State Opera , San Francisco Opera and Opéra National de Paris , and is given with generous philanthropic support from The Friends of Covent Garden .
James Conlon has signed on again til 2021, which will be his 16th season with the company. Over the past 10 years he has conducted 50 different operas. Placido Domingo, LA Opera general director, said: ‘It is impossible to overstate what a profound impact James Conlon has made during his ten years in Los Angeles. The astounding energy and infectious enthusiasm that he brings to his work has made him a beloved figure for our audiences. Thanks to his prodigious musical talents, our magnificent orchestra sounds better and better every season. I myself have taken great pride in the numerous musical partnerships that James and I have shared-most recently in Verdi’s Macbethearlier this season-and I look forward to many more such collaborations.’
Great opera singers