In spring 2011, the first-ever performances at New York's Metropolitan Opera of Rossini's Le Comte Ory brought standing ovations and critical-acclaim. The spectacular trio of Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau and Joyce DiDonato ignited vocal and theatrical fireworks. Le Comte Ory tells the story of a libidinous and cunning nobleman who disguises himself first as a hermit and then as a nun ("Sister Colette") in order to gain access to the virtuous Countess Adele, whose brother is away at the Crusades. The 2011 Met production was directed by the Tony Award-winning Broadway director Bartlett Sher, who in recent years has also staged Il barbiere di Siviglia and Les Contes d'Hoffman for the Met. Sher presented the action as an opera within an opera, updated the action by a few centuries and giving the costume designer, Catherine Zuber, the opportunity to create some particularly extravagant headgear. Juan Diego Florez starred as the title role while Diana Damrau plays his love interest, Countess Adele, and Joyce DiDonato was in breeches as his pageboy Isolier. The trio had appeared in Sher's production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Fabio Luisi conducts the Metropolitan Opera in this production of Verdi's work, based on Shakespeare's tragic play. Zeljko Lucic stars in the title role with Anna Netrebko as his wife, Lady Macbeth. The cast also includes Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo. New York Observer stated: “.. a superstar cast … the most potent: Anna Netrebko's ferociously exciting star turn as Lady Macbeth … a "demented" performance, one so exciting it propels both artist and audience figuratively to the brink of madness.”
Hard on the heels of a triumphant Lohengrin, Decca follows up with an equally astonishing debut performance from Jonas Kaufmann: Goethe’s love-lorn hero Werther, in Massenet’s romantic opera. His premiere appearance in the role, in Paris in January 2010, took the French operatic world by storm, his performance being hailed by Le Monde: “Werther is portrayed by the tenor of the moment, the German Jonas Kaufmann. He brings to the part a sublime timbre (warm, at times “baritonal” and musky), exceptional musicality, a very wide palette of tonal shadings and immaculate diction. Add to that his histrionic gifts and matinée-idol appeal and you’ve got a cocktail of qualities that rarely all come together at the opera.”
Miyako Yoshida dances the title role originally created for Margot Fonteyn in the hauntingly beautiful underwater world of Ondine, vividly brought to life by The Royal Ballet. Frederick Ashton's shimmering choreography, Lila de Nobili's impressionistic designs and Hans Werner Henze's specially commissioned, vibrant and inventive score, memorably combine to evoke the many moods and colours of the sea.
Ever since it’s triumphant premiere in January 1960, Frederick Ashton's La fille mal gardée has been esteemed as one of his happiest creations. This is a charming piece, elegantly performed, a village love affair set in the idyllic Constable landscape of Ashton's imagination. Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta would be show-stoppers in almost any suitable role, but as Lise and Colas they are superb. William Tuckett and Jonathan Howells, in the comic roles of Simone and Alain respectively, are every bit as arresting, both displaying a certain genius for knockabout. The luminously colourful Osbert Lancaster designs, together with the vitality of The Royal Ballet’s dancing and vibrant playing from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Anthony Twiner, serve to augment the harmless good fun at which Ashton excels.
This is a star-led performance of one of the most popular romantic operas with the unrivalled pairing of Fleming and Hvorostovsky as the doomed lovers. Their onstage chemistry, emotional singing and outstanding acting make this a truly special and unique production. Thousands of movie-goers watched this production live in cinemas across Europe and the US in February 2007, when the production and the singing of the central characters met with great critical acclaim. Valery Gergiev, Russia's greatest living conductor, leads Russia's classic opera, with a thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's most intense and passionate score.