Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent staging of Puccini's final opera, captured here in High Definition Widescreen, is one of the most opulent of all Met productions. A fairy-tale set in a mythical China, the opera tells of the icy Princess Turandot, whose fatal riddles test princes who seek her hand in marriage. Maria Guleghina takes the demanding title role and Marcello Giordani is Calàf, the unknown prince. Young Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya and veteran American bass-baritone Samuel Ramey co-star. Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons makes his Met debut conducting Puccini's great score which includes the best-loved of all tenor arias - Nessun dorma.
Hans Neuenfelss striking new production of Wagners fairytale opera gives this medieval story of doomed love and sorcery the Bayreuth treatment. As controversial as it is stimulating, this production was the talk of the 2011 Festival, and showcases a new generation of Wagnerian singing talent including soprano Annette Dasch and tenor Klaus Florian Vogt. Lohengrin is staged by the enfant terrible Hans Neuenfels, and offers a thought provoking production of brilliant visual clarity. The performance by Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role is staggering and impressive. There is beauty and purity in his voice, but in this role in particular, one truly senses something unheimlich, other-worldly, which fits superlatively both with work and production. Conductor Andris Nelsons brings out the best in the festival chorus and orchestra. It is a Lohengrin one does not easily forget and puts Bayreuth back in the vanguard of Wagner interpretation.
For the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin, the renowned Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen invited the Staatskapelle Berlin to give a truly special program: the rare combination of Chopin‘s two piano concertos in one concert. For this purpose Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra‘s principal conductor, handed over the reins of „his“ ensemble to up-and-coming young conductor Andris Nelsons, assuming the role of piano soloist instead. The press raved: „Storms of applause for a dream couple: Daniel Barenboim and Andris Nelsons won over the audience […] with their rousing Chopin interpretations“.
The "Under Stalin's Shadow" subtitle of this release may be confusing inasmuch as the opening Passacaglia from the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District dates from before the period when Stalin made Shostakovich's life a living hell, and the main attraction, the Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93, was finished ten months after Stalin's death. Actually the album is the first in a set of three; the others will cover the symphonies No. 5 through No. 9, all written during the period of Stalinist cultural control. But even here the theme is relevant: the pieces are linked by a dark mood that carries overtones (of a feminist sort in the case of the opera) of repression. And the Symphony No. 10 is decidedly some kind of turning point, with repeated (and finally triumphant) assertions of the D-S-C-H motif (D, E flat, C, B natural in the German system) that would appear frequently in the composer's later work.
John Copley’s enduring production of one of the most famously melodious and popular of all operas is a classic of the Royal Opera repertory. With historically accurate designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and an excellent cast headed by Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai, this 2009 revival, in which conductor Andris Nelsons makes a distinguished Royal Opera House debut, does full justice to Puccini’s masterpiece. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound.