Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo in Il Trovatore at the Berlin Staatsoper
Opera Now’s pick of operas online2:47, 12th February 2021
In Travels From My Armchair (see page 43 of Opera Now’s March/April issue), Professor Anthony Ogus has given his recommendations of operas to watch online. Click onto the links to view the complete performances. The videos are free to stream, except for Persephone (5) which requires a subscription to Medici TV.
1 La gazza ladra
La Scala, Milan
This production celebrates the 200th anniversary of Rossini’s La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie), filmed at La Scala. With its odd mixture of comedy, tragedy and fantasy, this work poses problems for performance and – beyond its famous Overture – it has not achieved the popularity which is its due. Riccardo Chailly in the pit, with his sensitive, well-accentuated, delivery of the score shows what we had been missing. And Gabriele Salvatores’ astute, entertaining production solved the staging problem by using an acrobat to represent the eponymous thieving magpie, swinging in different postures throughout. There are particularly strong vocal contributions from soprano Rosa Feola and bass Michele Pertusi.
2 Il Trovatore
Berlin State Opera
Anna Netrebko made her debut in Verdi’s Il Trovatore in 2013 in a performance filmed live at the Staatsoper Berlin which really makes you realise what all the fuss is about: immaculate technique, variety in volume and tone, above all a feeling for the Verdian line. Plâcido Domingo brings a heroic ring to the baritone role of Il Conte di Luna. Daniel Barenboim conducts.
3 The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh
Dutch National Opera
The neglect of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh is inexplicable. A late piece in the composer’s output, it reveals a maturity of style and creativity. The plangency of typically Russian vocal melody is combined with exotic orchestral colours but also softened with much lyricism. In his 2012 production at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, director and designer Dmitri Tcherniakov made it dramatically compelling by turning it into a political fable. Conductor Marc Albrecht excels in music of this kind and his sensitive playing brought out all the originality in the score. In a strong cast, Svetlana Ignatovich and Vladimir Vaneev are outstanding.
Dutch National Opera
Directed in Amsterdam by David Alden with Paul Steinberg’s colourful sets and Constance Hoffmann’s eccentric costumes, this is a highly entertaining, stylised version of the Greek myth, never detracting from the brilliance of Handel’s score.
Teatro Real, Madrid
Even if you’re not usually a fan of Peter Sellars’s iconoclastic style, you should watch his production of Stravinsky’s music melodrama Persephone filmed at the Teatro Real in 2012. Prepare to be blown over by the beauty of his restrained, classical realisation of this rarely staged piece, with mesmerising designs by George Tsypin.