Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Gounod: Roméo et Juliette The cast of outstanding singers includes the following: Roberto Alagna (Roméo), and Angela Gheorghiu (Juliette). The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and Chorus of Prague, Anton Guadagno (conductor) and Barbara Willis Sweete (director). Shakespeare’s lovers never looked and sounded as good as in this romantic film adaptation of Charles Gounod’s beloved opera Roméo et Juliette, starring two of classical music’s most popular and successful couples, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. A spectacular medieval castle and its surrounding countryside provide the breathtaking setting for this timeless tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers. Conductor Anton Guadagno leads the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra through the opera’s beautiful arias and duets in this fresh interpretation of Gounod’s masterwork. Here is the marriage scene from this Opera:
Sofia Fomina, Christophe Mortagne and Vittorio Grigòlo in Schlesinger’s Les Contes d'Hoffmann, The Royal Opera © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore ‘Les oiseaux dans la charmille’, also known as the Doll Aria from Les Contes d’Hoffmann , is infamously difficult to sing. It is sung in Act I by Olympia, a mechanical doll who the hapless Hoffmann believes to be human. For much of the act, Olympia simply says ‘oui’ (yes) to anything asked of her, but Offenbach more than makes up for this in her aria. Written for the French soprano Adèle Isaac – a star of Paris’s Opéra-Comique known for her interpretations of challenging roles such as Marie (La Fille du régiment ), Isabelle (Robert le diable ) and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette ) – it is a virtuoso tour-de-force, packed with stratospheric coloratura. Where does it take place in the opera? The Doll Aria takes place in Act I, when the inventor Spalanzani hosts a party at his Paris home. In the previous scene, the gullible Hoffmann – deaf to the warnings of his friend Nicklausse – is duped by Spalanzani into believing that Olympia is the inventor’s daughter. Spalanzani is helped in his ruse by the fiendish scientist Coppélius, who sells Hoffmann a pair of magical glasses that make Olympia appear fully human. When Olympia performs her song for Spalanzani’s party guests, Hoffmann is so impressed that he determines to marry the doll. What do the lyrics mean? The words of Olympia’s two-verse aria are self-consciously sentimental and repetitive, as befits her mechanical state. In the first verse she sings of how the songs of birds awaken thoughts of love in her young soul; in the second of how her loving heart is moved by songs and sighs. Both verses end with the coy refrain ‘this is the lovely song of Olympia’. Read Jonathan Burton’s translation below, created for The Royal Opera: Les oiseaux dans la charmille, Dans les cieux l’astre du jour Tout parle à la jeune fille d’amour! Voilà la chanson gentille, la chanson d’Olympia!Les oiseaux dans la charmille, Dans les cieux l’astre du jour Tout parle à la jeune fille d’amour! Voilà la chanson gentille, la chanson d’Olympia! The birds in the bower, The sun in the sky To a maiden everything speaks of love! This is Olympia’s pretty song. Everything that sings and echoes and sighs in turn Stirs a maiden’s heart that trembles with love. This is Olympia’s sweet little song. What makes the music so memorable? Offenbach’s music perfectly characterizes a mechanical doll, with a pretty melody sung to a waltz rhythm, and delicate harp and flute accompaniment reminiscent of the sound of musical boxes (possibly mimicking the real musical clockwork dolls popular in late 19th-century France). However, Olympia isno ordinary automaton; her melody line becomes progressively more ornate during the aria’s first verse (particularly in the flamboyant vocalise that ends its refrain) and by the second verse she’s in full exhibitionist mode, decorating her melody with as many trills, flourishes, roulades and stratospherically high notes as any coloratura soprano could wish for. She pays the price for this display though – during both refrains her mechanics run down, causing her to collapse until Spalanzani winds her up again. The second time, he clearly does his job rather too well, as Olympia soars to new heights in the hyperactive closing cadenza. Hoffmann’s other musical highlights Les Contes d’Hoffmann contains a glut of wonderful arias, duets and ensembles. The protagonist’s solo numbers include the Prologue’s ‘Chanson de Kleinzach’ in which the poet moves from wit to romantic reverie and back, and the hedonistic Act II aria ‘Amis, l’amour tendre et reveur, erreur!’. The devilish villains naturally get plenty of good tunes, including Lindorf’s cynical and boastful ‘Dans les rôles d’amoureux langoureux’. Among the duets, the best known is perhaps the sensual Barcarolle ‘Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour’ that opens the Giulietta act; a lesser-known treat is Hoffmann and Antonia’s poignant ‘C’est une chanson d’amour’, one of the opera’s few genuinely romantic episodes. Other highlights include the Prologue’s ebullient drinking chorus, Act II’s dramatic septet (sung as Hoffmann realizes that Giulietta has stolen his reflection) and Antonia’s nostalgic aria ‘Elle a fui, la tourterelle’ that opens Act III. Classic recordings Les Contes d’Hoffmann doesn’t lack good recordings. EMI’s bargain box-set conducted by André Cluytens features Nicolai Gedda as Hoffmann, one of his greatest roles; his duet with Victoria de los Ángeles ’s Antonia is unforgettable. Domingo fans can enjoy the 1972 Decca recording with the inimitable Joan Sutherland as the three heroines; another Domingo option is the 1981 live Salzburg recording , with José van Dam in devilishly good form as the four villains, conducted by James Levine . Kent Nagano ’s 2011 recording (Erato) features Roberto Alagna as Hoffmann and Natalie Dessay on sparkling form as Olympia, among other delights. There’s a good choice of DVD recordings too, including The Royal Opera’s production with Domingo as Hoffmann . More to discover Offenbach’s only other opera (Die Rheinnixen ) hasn’t ever entered the repertory, but several of his operettas are easily available on CD and DVD. Orphée aux Enfers (with its famous can-can ) and La Belle Hélène offer a hilarious take on Greek myths, or you can luxuriate in the hedonistic Paris party scene with La Vie parisienne . La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein is worth a listen too, particularly for the heroine’s rousing arias. On a more serious note, Massenet ’s opera Werther offers another take on the romantic artist searching for the ideal woman, as does Gounod ’s Faust , where the hero is prepared to sell his soul to the devil for love and youth. And if you’re after operas about artists and their love affairs, there’s always Puccini ’s much-loved La bohème . Les Contes d’Hoffmann runs until 3 December 2016. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 15 November 2016. Find your nearest cinema . The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet and Mr and Mrs Christopher W.T. Johnston.
Il trovatore, Royal Opera House © 2016 ROH. By Clive Barda Following the announcement that French-Sicilian tenor Roberto Alagna has withdrawn from Verdi 's Il trovatore , the role of Manrico will now be shared between Uzbekistani tenor Najmiddin Mavlyanov (4, 7, 10 and 13 December) and Italian tenor Stefano Secco (16 December). Najmiddin Mavlyanov made his Royal Opera debut as Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca , during the 2015/16 Season. Elsewhere he has performed with the Stanislavsky Opera , Moscow, Opera Vlaanderen , Deutsche Opera am Rhein and Finnish National Opera , in roles including Alfredo Germont in La traviata , Manrico in Il trovatore, Don José in Carmen , Rodolfo in La bohème , Lensky in Eugene Onegin , Hoffmann in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and the title role of Werther . Stefano Secco made his Royal Opera debut as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore in 2007. His recent engagements include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Hamburg State Opera , Rodolfo in La bohème for Teatro Regio in Turin , Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore for Vienna State Opera and the title role in Don Carlo for Grange Park Opera . The rest of the cast remains unchanged. If you have a ticket please see terms and conditions of sale .
The French-Sicilian tenor Robert Alagna needs sinus surgery at the end of November, ruling him out of December’s blockbuster Trovatore. He was the big name in a revival cast. The Royal Opera has not yet found a replacement to sing Manrico. The rest of the cast is: ConductorRichard Farnes LeonoraMaria Agresta Manrico N.N. FerrandoGábor Bretz AzucenaAnita Rachvelishvili Count di LunaQuinn Kelsey InesJennifer Davis RuizDavid Junghoon Kim
Il trovatore, Royal Opera House © 2016 ROH. By Clive Barda French-Sicilian tenor Roberto Alagna has been forced to withdraw from singing the role of Manrico in The Royal Opera's production of Verdi 's Il trovatore on 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16 December 2016, as he has to undergo sinus surgery at the end of November. His replacement for the role will be announced in due course and ticket holders will be contacted via email with details of options open to them. The rest of the cast remains unchanged. If you have a ticket please see terms and conditions of sale .
The DVD of the month for September is told by two amazing established singers, performing the old tale of Romeo and Juliette: Gounod: Roméo et Juliette The singers are: Roberto Alagna (Roméo), Angela Gheorghiu (Juliette). Mercutio is played by Pavel Novák / sung by Vratislav Krˇíž, Capulet played by Jan Šváb / sung by Aleš Hendrych, Frère Laurent played by Daniel Lipnik / sung by František Zahradnícˇek & Paris played by Marcel Acquarone / sung by Zdeneˇk Harvánek The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Chorus played by members of the Czech National Opera / sung by Kühn’s Mixed Choir, Prague, Anton Guadagno (conductor). Shakespeare’s lovers never looked and sounded as good as in this romantic film adaptation of Charles Gounod’s beloved opera Roméo et Juliette, starring one of classical music’s most popular and successful couples, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. A spectacular medieval castle and its surrounding countryside provide the breathtaking setting for this timeless tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers. Conductor Anton Guadagno leads the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra through the opera’s beautiful arias and duets in this fresh interpretation of Gounod’s masterwork. Here is some of the music from this lovely opera:
Great opera singers