Meditation, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca's 2014 release on Deutsche Grammophon, is an album of serene vocal and choral works that express religious feelings with an operatic touch and showcase the Latvian singer's warm and radiant voice. Choosing pieces from the early Baroque era to contemporary works, Garanca presents a soothing program that is consistent in its comforting tone and gentle treatment, though as a purely musical consideration, it tends to flow a bit too evenly and predictably. Insofar as the selections represent the Christian tradition, including settings of the Ave Maria, the Salve Regina, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, and the Regina Coeli, the character of the collection admits little variety, except for the general alternation between penitential and quietly ecstatic moods.
The singers are all good, the orchestra light, lively and evocative. But it is above all Patrice Chereau's direction that makes this production one of the best filmed opera experiences I have had. This is a fairly long opera (about 3 hours), but it flies by in this version with rapid and telling movement on stage and in the pit, and with a constantly moving camera. Chereau's is an expectedly dark interpretation, both modern and classical, that refuses to play up the buffo elements and achieves a remarkably heart-rending, bittersweet effect. The singers are all well-coached actors; we are never allowed to forget that we are watching a performance (occasional views of the conductor in the pit) but that doesn't mar the emotional impact of one of Mozart's most touching scores. Period costumes on what is made to seem to be a bare, ancient Italian stage..
As well as triumphant successes as Carmen in London, Vienna and Munich, Elīna Garanča, “the Carmen of our day” (News, Austria), took New York’s Metropolitan Opera by storm in this ‘Met Live in HD’ performance, transmitted to cinemas around the world and now available for the first time on BluRay. Starring alongside her is star tenor Roberto Alagna as Don José, Barbara Frittoli as his first love Micaëla and New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the toreador Escamillo. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is conducted by rising star Canadian maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
A Verdi Requiem with a dream line-up of soloists and the forces of La Scala, Milan, directed by one of the greatest maestros of our time. Preceding acclaimed performances at the Lucerne and Salzburg Festivals, Barenboim and his magnificent partners recorded this masterpiece around a live performance at La Scala, Milan, in 2012. This marks the first audio recording by Barenboim in his role as La Scala’s Music Director.
With her sensational role debut at the Vienna State Opera, superstar diva Anna Netrebko displays a performance of rare vocal and dramatic power. The Russian soprano sings the role of the unjustly accused second wife of British King Henry VIII, ‘veering between indignant fury and tender righteousness’ and demonstrating a new level of confidence in her technique with excellent ‘passagework, particularly in trills, and seamless runs even to the lowest notes’ (Opera News).
Rossini’s classic take on the “Cinderella” story is a comic opera full of thrilling arias, beautiful melodies and lots of laughs. The Metropolitan’s charming production was revived in 2009 for star mezzo, Elīna Garanča. The mezzo triumphs in the role and dispatches vocal fireworks throughout. She is joined by American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and a cast of bel canto singers.
Arthaus presents the Vienna State Opera’s outstandingly cast new production of Werther on DVD. The production was the Vienna State Opera debut for the young Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan - the Argentinian tenor Marcelo Álvarez, took the title role. Although he had already secured an international reputation through his performances in leading opera houses all over the world, this was his first appearance in the premiere of a production in Vienna. His Charlotte, on this occasion the young Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca, joined the Vienna State Opera in 2003. Her performances have been enthusiastically received and she has already been labelled as the new mezzo wonder alongside Vesselina Kasarova and Magdalena Kožená. Staged by internationally sought-after Rumanian director, Andrei Serban, the apparently sentimental love story – normally presented in 18th century period costumes - reveals a study of personal relationships and a close observation of a woman, who comes of age too late. Serban’s aim was to rid the opera of the unjustifi ed reputation of banality that clings to it despite its underlying tragic mood. By setting the production in the stiff, claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town in the 1950s, he aimed to make the audience more aware of its deeper levels of self-denial. by Peter Pabst.
Right from the first bar you know you are in for an exhilarating Carmen. In his Met debut, Conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin clearly relishes driving the Ferrari that is the Met Orchestra, and while his speeds are sometimes dangerously fast, they are thrilling and never out of control. The revolving set is strongly evocative without being literal, cleverly and smoothly shifting the mood and context between scenes. The crowd scenes have all been exceptionally well choreographed and the unscripted dance interludes between certain scenes are a nice touch that set an appropriate mood… By Operaholic