La Fanciulla del West by Puccini @Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich – New Production

photo felix loechner - La Fanciulla del West by Puccini @Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich – New Production

Gold rush, poker and gunfights at the foot of the Sierra Nevada: Puccini’s naturalistic opera based on the drama, The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco, has everything that makes the classic American western so irresistible. It is therefore also a great love story: Minnie, the landlady of the gold digger’s saloon, the “Polka”, has given her best years to the rough fortune seekers of the Sierra Nevada as a barmaid, teacher, figure of authority and beloved. Now she herself seeks happiness and finds it in the person of Dick Johnson, a newcomer to the gold digger camp. The dark secret he hides is a problem, which only first becomes toxic through another conflict. Jack Rance, who has long announced his interest in Minnie, is also the local sheriff. Andreas Dresen, who with The Girl of the Golden West presents his second work as a director at the Bayerische Staatsoper following  Arabella (2015), focuses justifiably on the “hardness” of the material – and on the almost Utopian promise of love in the middle of an inhospitable world.

Photo © Felix Löchner

 In Italian with German and English surtitles

Conductor James Gaffigan
Production Andreas Dresen
Stage Mathias Fischer-Dieskau
Costumes Sabine Greunig
Light Michael Bauer
Choir Stellario Fagone
Dramaturgy Rainer Karlitschek

• Minnie Anja Kampe
• Jack Rance John Lundgren
• Dick Johnson Brandon Jovanovich
• Nick Kevin Conners
• Ashby Alexander Milev
• Sonora Tim Kuypers
• Trin Manuel Günther
• Sid Bálint Szabó
• Bello Milan Siljanov
• Harry Galeano Salas
• Joe Long Long
• Happy Christian Rieger
• Larkens Andrea Borghini
• Billy Jackrabbit Markus Suihkonen
• Wowkle Noa Beinart
• Jake Wallace Sean Michael Plumb
• José Castro Oleg Davydov
• Ein Postillon Ulrich Reß

Il Trittico by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

photo by ken howard metropolitan opera - Il Trittico by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

Jack O’Brien’s epic production of Puccini’s triple bill features first-class casting: tenor Marcelo Álvarez and soprano Amber Wagner are the illicit lovers of Il Tabarro; soprano Kristine Opolais sings the shattering title role of Suor Angelica, and the ageless Plácido Domingo takes an unusual comedic turn in the baritone title role of Gianni Schicchi. The performances mark the centennial of the work’s world premiere at the Met. Bertrand de Billy conducts.

Puccini’s longest and most ambitious evening of theater, Il Trittico is a triptych of one-act operas that together present a unique overview of the human experience. Taking a cue from Dante’s Divine Comedy and its three-part journey from desperation to light, Il Trittico offers a modern glimpse at ordinary people striving for happiness. Shortly after the work’s world premiere at the Met, opera companies began producing the individual operas in combination with short works by other composers, but the full evening as Puccini intended it is a profound and refreshing experience from one of opera’s most popular composers.

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his mature works continue to form the foundation of almost every opera company in the world. His operas are celebrated for their mastery of detail, sensitivity to everyday subjects, copious melody, and economy of expression. Giuseppe Adami (1878–1946) provided Puccini with the libretto for La Rondine and Il Tabarro and would later work with him on Turandot. Giovacchino Forzano (1884–1970) was a stage director and playwright as well as a prolific librettist. His libretti for Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi are original creations.

Il Tabarro begins among laborers on the Seine River in Paris. The bleak lives depicted form an implicit critique of contemporary reality. Suor Angelica takes place entirely within an austere convent. Gianni Schicchi is set in Florence, cradle of ideas and urban testament to the power of human creativity. In this production, the three operas are set in three different decades of the 20th century.

Photo by Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera

PRODUCTION – Jack O’Brien

SET DESIGNER – Douglas W. Schmidt

COSTUME DESIGNER – Jess Goldstein

LIGHTING DESIGNERS – Jules Fisher, Peggy Eisenhauer

REVIVAL STAGE DIRECTOR – J. Knighten Smit, Gregory Keller

CONDUCTOR – Bertrand de Billy

GIORGETTA – Amber Wagner / Tatiana Melnychenko

FRUGOLA – Stephanie Blythe

LUIGI – Marcelo Álvarez

MICHELE – George Gagnidze / Lucio Gallo

TALPA – Maurizio Muraro

SUOR ANGELICA – Kristine Opolais / Elena Stikhina

SISTER GENOVIEFFA – Maureen McKay

LA PRINCIPESSA – Stephanie Blythe

LAURETTA – Kristina Mkhitaryan

ZITA – Stephanie Blythe

RINUCCIO – Atalla Ayan

GIANNI SCHICCHI – Plácido Domingo

SIMONE – Maurizio Muraro

 

Tosca by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

Tosca @Metopera Cover  - Tosca by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

Met favorite Sondra Radvanovsky and rising star Jennifer Rowley share the title role of the volatile diva at the heart of Puccini’s operatic thriller. Joseph Calleja brings his stylish tenor to the role of Cavaradossi, Wolfgang Koch is the nefarious police chief Scarpia, and Carlo Rizzi conducts Sir David McVicar’s resplendent production.

Puccini’s melodrama about a volatile diva, a sadistic police chief, and an idealistic artist has offended and thrilled audiences for more than a century. Critics, for their part, have often had problems with Tosca’s rather grungy subject matter, the directness and intensity of its score, and the crowd-pleasing dramatic opportunities it provides for its lead roles. But these same aspects have made Tosca one of a handful of iconic works that seem to represent opera in the public imagination. Tosca’s popularity is further secured by a superb and exhilarating dramatic sweep, a driving score of abundant melody and theatrical shrewdness, and a career-defining title role.

No opera is more tied to its setting than Tosca, which takes place in Rome on the morning of June 17, 1800, through dawn the following day. The specified settings for each of the three acts—the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, Palazzo Farnese, and Castel Sant’Angelo—are familiar monuments in the city and can still be visited today. While the libretto takes some liberties with the facts, historical issues form a basis for the opera: the people of Rome are awaiting news of the Battle of Marengo in northern Italy, which will decide the fate of their symbolically powerful city.

The score of Tosca (if not the drama) itself is considered a prime example of the style of verismo, an elusive term usually translated as “realism.” The typical musical features of the verismo tradition are prominent in Tosca: short arias with an uninhibited flood of raw melody, ambient sounds that blur the distinctions between life and art, and the use of parlato—words spoken instead of sung—at moments of tension.

PRODUCTION – Sir David McVicar

SET & COSTUME DESIGNER – John Macfarlane

LIGHTING DESIGNER – David Finn

MOVEMENT DIRECTOR – Leah Hausman

REVIVAL STAGE DIRECTOR – Jonathon Loy

CONDUCTOR – Carlo Rizzi

TOSCA – Sondra Radvanovsky / Jennifer Rowley

CAVARADOSSI – Joseph Calleja

SCARPIA – Wolfgang Koch

SACRISTAN – Patrick Carfizzi / Philip Cokorino

La Fanciulla del West by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

still from la fanciulla del west met opera - La Fanciulla del West by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings Puccini’s gun-slinging heroine in this romantic epic of the Wild West, with the heralded return of tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the role of the outlaw she loves. Tenor Yusif Eyvazov also sings some performances. Baritone Željko Lučić is the vigilante sheriff Jack Rance, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

Puccini’s “American” opera, based on David Belasco’s play The Girl of the Golden West, had its glamorous and highly publicized world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, with the composer in the audience. The drama is set during the California Gold Rush, and the girl of the title is one of Puccini’s most appealing heroines—a strong, independent woman determined to win the man she loves. Although it fell out of favor with audiences for a few decades following its original success, Fanciulla has rebounded in popularity in recent years and is now counted among Puccini’s best works.

CONDUCTOR – Marco Armiliato

MINNIE – Eva-Maria Westbroek

DICK JOHNSON – Yusif Eyvazov / Jonas Kaufmann

NICK – Carlo Bosi

JACK RANCE – Željko Lučić

SONORA – Michael Todd Simpson

ASHBY – Matthew Rose

JAKE WALLACE – Oren Gradus

 

Tosca by Puccini @San Francisco Opera – New Production

photo source san francisco ballet - Tosca by Puccini @San Francisco Opera - New Production

All of Rome trembled before him. Except her. Corruption permeates every corner of Rome under Scarpia, the chief of police. When the fiery diva Tosca finds herself the target of his lust, she takes a stand in the name of all she holds sacred—art, freedom and a boundless commitment to love. Experience Puccini’s melodrama with fresh eyes in this monumental new San Francisco Opera period production.

CREATIVE
Conductor Leo Hussain
Director Shawna Lucey
Production Designer Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting Designer Michael James Clark
Chorus Director Ian Robertson
CAST
Floria Tosca Carmen Giannattasio
Mario Cavaradossi Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia Scott Hendricks
A Sacristan Dale Travis
Spoletta Joel Sorensen
Sciarrone Andrew G. Manea
A Jailer Christian Pursell

La Bohème by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

still from la boheme metopera - La Bohème by Puccini @Metropolitan Opera, New York

Puccini’s timeless masterpiece of love and loss features two casts of young stars. Sopranos Nicole Car (in her highly anticipated Met debut) and Ailyn Pérez share the role of the ill-fated Mimì, opposite tenors Vittorio Grigolo and Michael Fabiano as the ardent poet Rodolfo. After a celebrated Met debut as Mimì in 2017, Angel Blue returns as the spitfire Musetta, and Etienne Dupuis and Simone Piazzola make debuts as Marcello. James Gaffigan conducts.

CONDUCTOR – James Gaffigan

MIMÌ – Nicole Car / Ailyn Pérez

MUSETTA – Angel Blue / Susanna Phillips

RODOLFO – Vittorio Grigolo / Michael Fabiano

MARCELLO – Etienne Dupuis / Simone Piazzola

SCHAUNARD – Davide Luciano / Javier Arrey / Duncan Rock

COLLINE – Matthew Rose / Christian Van Horn

BENOIT/ALCINDORO – Donald Maxwell

 

Madame Butterfly by Puccini @Santa Fe Opera

still from madame butterfly santa fe opera - Madame Butterfly by Puccini @Santa Fe Opera

Puccini’s Madame Butterfly follows a beautifully traced arc for the title character, from the child bride who renounces her religion in embracing of all things American to the strong young mother who returns to her culture and the code of honour which governs her tragic destiny. Featuring Puccini’s longest and most passionate love duet, much of his most lyrical music, including the “Humming Chorus” and “Flower Duet,” a justly famous soprano aria in “Un bel dì,” and a spine-tingling climax.

In 1898, a dapper Philadelphia lawyer named John Luther Long wrote a short novel called “Madame Butterfly,” about a callous American naval lieutenant who marries a 15-year-old Japanese geisha and then deserts her. Two years later, legendary impresario David Belasco created a Broadway sensation with his stage adaptation. Puccini saw Belasco’s London production later that summer, loved its theatricality and pathos, and sought the rights to use it for his next opera. “The more I think of Butterfly the more irresistibly I am attracted,” he wrote in November of 1900. “If only I had it here so I could start work on it!”

CIO-CIO-SAN – KELLY KADUCE / ANA MARIA MARTINEZ 
 

B.F. PINKERTON – A.J. GLUECKERT /JOSHUA GUERRERO 

 

SUZUKI – MEGAN MARINO

 

Sharpless – NICHOLAS PALLESEN

 

THE BONZE – SOLOMAN HOWARD

 

GORO – MATTHEW DIBATTISTA

 

STAGE DIRECTOR – MATTHEW OZAWA

 

CONDUCTOR – JOHN FIORE

 

SET DESIGN – JEAN-MARC PUISSANT

 

COSTUME DESIGN – BRIGITTE REIFFENSTUEL

 

LIGHTING DESIGN – RICK FISHER

 

La bohème by Puccini @Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London

still from la boheme roh - La bohème by Puccini @Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London

The first revival of Richard Jones’s production of Puccini’s passionate opera, conducted by Nicola Luisotti and with two wonderful casts including Maria Agresta and Ekaterina Siurina as Mimì and Matthew Polenzani and Atalla Ayan as Rodolfo.

Acclaimed director Richard Jones (Boris GodunovIl trittico) directs a new production of Puccini’s La bohème. Irresistible in its witty, passionate blend of comedy and tragedy, the opera focusses on the lives of a group of young artists as they eke out an existence on the bohemian fringes of Paris. Jones brings his characteristically acute insight to this much-loved classic, visualized in Stewart Laing’s spectacular, stylized designs.

Puccini’s romantic depiction of bohemian Paris, with wonderful music and a love story drawn from everyday life, has captivated audiences around the world, making La bohème one of the best-loved of all operas. It was first performed in Covent Garden in 1897 and has had more than five hundred performances here since.

Director Richard Jones
Designer Stewart Laing
Lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin
Movement director Sarah Fahie
Conductor Nicola Luisotti
Mimì Maria Agresta
Rodolfo Matthew Polenzani
Marcello Alessio Arduini
Musetta Danielle de Niese
Schaunard Duncan Rock
Colline Fernando Javier Radó
Benoît Jeremy White
Alcindoro Wyn Pencarreg

Photo: Still from La bohème at Royal Opera House

 

Manon Lescaut by Puccini @Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona

manon lescaut liceu laura ferrari - Manon Lescaut by Puccini @Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona

Inspired by the eponymous novel by the Abbé Prévost, Puccini achieved his first major success with Manon Lescaut. The story of the rise and fall of the courtesan Manon was written with captivating music, true to the principles of verism and with the right amount of heart-rendering emotion in passages such as the famous aria “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” of act four.

Two acclaimed tenors share the role of Des Grieux, America’s Gregory Kunde and Spain’s Jorge de León. They are joined by two internationally reputed sopranos in the leading role, Ukraine’s Ludmyla Monastyrska and Italy’s Maria Pia Piscitelli.

The Liceu welcomes a new co-production between the Liceu, the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. The action takes place in the context of early 20th-century immigration with the memory of Ellis Island as the background.

CONDUCTOR

Emmanuele Villaume
STAGE DIRECTOR
Davide Livermore
SET DESIGN
Davide Livermore and Giò Forma
COSTUME DESIGNER
Giusi Giustino
LIGHTING DESIGNER
Nicolas Bovey
Manon Lescaut Ludmyla Monastyrska
Maria Pia Piscitelli
Lescaut David Bižić
Jared Bybee
Renato Des Grieux Gregory Kunde
Jorge de León
Rafael Davila
Geronte di Ravoir Carlos Chausson
Edmondo Mikeldi Atxalandabaso

Photo © Laura Ferrari

 

Madama Butterfly by Puccini @Glyndebourne Festival Opera, England

still glyndebourne cover - Madama Butterfly by Puccini @Glyndebourne Festival Opera, England

East meets West with devastating consequences in Puccini’s tragic romance.

Madama Butterfly makes its Festival debut in Annilese Miskimmon’s thought-provoking production.

When an innocent young Geisha meets an American naval officer she falls instantly and deeply in love. Giving up her family and her faith, she risks all in marriage to the dashing Lieutenant Pinkerton. But her fragile happiness cannot last. Soon love turns to abandonment and betrayal, and Butterfly is forced to make one final, agonising sacrifice.

Bursting with exotic colour and memorable melodies, Puccini’s seductive score conceals a dramatic blade that cuts to the heart. Compressing ‘great grief into small souls’, as the composer himself described it, Madama Butterfly is a classic love story that never fails to move, a tragic romance that sweeps you along in the intensity of its action. Blending authentic Japanese music with luscious European harmonies and orchestration, the opera is an irresistible fusion of East and West.

Puccini’s opera makes its Festival debut in Annilese Miskimmon’s thought-provoking production that updates the original turn-of-the-century setting to the 1950s, confronting the darker political and emotional currents of a work that acknowledges that there are some barriers too great for even love to conquer.

A revival of the Tour 2016 production. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Conductor Omer Meir Wellber / Ben Glassberg (12 July)
Director Annilese Miskimmon
Designer Nicky Shaw
Lighting Designer Mark Jonathan
Movement Director Kally Lloyd Jones
Projection Designer Ian William Galloway

Cio-Cio-San Olga Busuioc
Suzuki Elizabeth DeShong
Lieutenant B F Pinkerton Joshua Guerrero
Sharpless Michael Sumuel
Goro Carlo Bosi / François Piolino