Festival d'Aix-en-Provence has firmly established itself as France’s preeminent summer festival and is a key fixture on the international festival calendar. It is particularly in the field of opera that the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence continues to break new ground and this release from the 2016 festival demonstrates that. In this new staging – a coproduction with the Opéra de Lille, Théâtre de Caen – Emmanuelle Haïm directs Le Concert d’Astrée with a star-studded cast including Franco Fagioli, Sara Mingardo, Michael Spyres, and exclusive Erato artist Sabine Devieilhe.
Based on Gogol’s fantastical and comic story of the Devil’s antics on Christmas Eve, this magical blend of opera and ballet is brought to vivid life in Francesca Zambello’s colourful production. Magnificent set designs (Mikhail Mokrov) and costumes (Tatiana Noginova), and an excellent, largely Russian cast provide authenticity. Splendid dancing by The Royal Ballet and Cossack dancers completes the spectacle.
In 1974, British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan in turn decided to focus on the two protagonists for an ambitious ballet that could translate the feelings and emotions of two souls abused by the accidents of life and their own personal weaknesses. In short, how a young girl on her way to a convent manages to elope with the young student with whom she has just fallen in love, only to leave him to escape destitution and finally allow herself to be persuaded by her brother Lescaut to yield to the advances of wealthy “protectors”. Accused of prostitution and deported to Louisiana, Manon is rescued by Des Grieux. Driven to murder by Manon’s jailer, he escapes with her into the marshes where the young girl ultimately succumbs. Although sincere, the love that Manon and Des Grieux share for each other cannot stand up to the vagaries of existence. As a result, neither is able to escape moral or social decline. Rather than reuse the score of Massenet’s opera, MacMillan entrusted Leighton Lucas with the task of arranging a series of extracts taken from a selection of the French composer’s operatic, symphonic and vocal scores… The end result was a huge success from its debut performance in London in 1974 onwards.
Opera lies at the heart of Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful idiom, but performances are few and far between; this realisation of his penultimate and grandest stage work is a very rare and special experience. Kitezh is known as ‘the Russian Parsifal’, which encapsulates its mystical flavour and steady unfolding of a legend of redemption. A largely Russian cast (headed by the stunning Svetlana Ignatovich) and production team works within a set that moves from opulent naturalistic scenery to some startling theatrical coups worthy of Rimsky’s underrated dramatic instincts.
Recorded Live at Wolf Trap National Park For The Performing Arts, July 25, 2004. The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap may not be the entire Doobie Brothers story, but it's a really fun and musically brilliant tour through some of the band's best material. One of the great ironies of The Doobie Brothers' history is how the early days were kind of shunted off to the sidelines once Michael McDonald came on board, and so it's nice to revisit some of those storied early hits, especially since there's such camaraderie between Johnston and Simmons especially. This live concert is further aided by some great supporting musicians, and a superior video and audio presentation.
With Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jonas Kaufmann bringing rare erotic intensity to the drama of Carmen and Don Jose, this Royal Opera production is a darkly passionate reading of one of the world's favourite operas. Under the baton of Music Director Antonio Pappano, Bizet's irresistible score drives the tragedy forward - powering a landmark staging of a musical masterpiece.