Diana Damrau’s primacy as an interpreter of Violetta Valéry in La traviata can be inferred from the names of theatres where she has performed Verdi’s most popular opera: the Metropolitan, New York; La Scala, Milan; London’s Royal Opera House; the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Zurich Opera. Paris’s Opéra Bastille joined that list of leading houses in June 2014, when the German soprano appeared in a new production by the film director Benoît Jacquot. Conducted by Francesco Ivan Ciampa, it is presented on this DVD release from Warner Classics, which joins a DVD of Verdi’s Rigoletto, with Damrau as Gilda, recorded in Dresden and released in 2010, and the recent CD release of the soprano’s spine-tingling interpretation of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, recorded live in Munich.
"One of the few films of its kind which really does distil and epitomise the essence of the man and his music." ~David Kidman
Here is Death in Venice in high Visconti style, ravishingly designed in greys and silver blues, and inimitably Italian in the classical elegance of its settings. No other production of this opera has so successfully transported the audience through a series of fully conceived sets – starting out from a graveyard built of piles of books, along the Grand Canal, checking in to a black-and-white marble hotel, and then out on to the beach, where the games of Apollo take place under the gaze of the god’s giant statue.
Ever since the world premiere of Parsifal at Bayreuth on 26th July 1882, the meaning of Richard Wagner's last opera has been widely discussed. Nikolaus Lehnhoff's visionary staging of this emotionally charged opera reveals a masterpiece of existential drama about human existence. Christopher Ventris and Waltraud Meier lead an inspired cast in a high definition recording in true surround sound.
Il Turco in Italia is one of Rossini‘s wittiest but most neglected works. It is full of ingenious and freshly composed invention. It is Rossini‘s fi rst collaboration with Felice Romani - Bellini‘s librettist - on this opera and Romani understood perfectly Rossini‘s love of pastiche and parody. He provided a commedia dell‘ arte scenario that gave Rossini plenty of opportunity to mock traditions he had helped to cultivate in the first place. The plot is delightfully salcious and among the many jewels in the score, the duet for Geronio and Selim, in which the Turk tries to persuade the ageing husband to sell his wife to him, is widely considered one of the composer‘s masterpieces.
Stage Director Giancarlo del Monaco (the son of the famed dramatic tenor, Mario) flat-out rejects the notion that Cavalleria rusticana or Pagliacci should be performed with anything except each other. In an interview included on this Opus Arte Blu-ray release, del Monaco emphatically notes that these operas represent “the fundamental diptych of realist theater;” that they are “two sides of the same coin.” As with many other productions, del Monaco presents Pagliacci ’s Prologue before the Mascagni work, Tonio appearing in the midst of the audience to underscore that the verismo evening ahead is meant to connect to everyone’s real-world experience. A seamless integration of the two dramas is further highlighted when Turridu’s lifeless body is driven off the stage just as the first chords of Pagliacci are sounding.