March 13 Ariadne auf Naxos   Strauss - Baden-Baden 2012 more >>

This production of Richard Strauss's great drama stars three of opera's leading Strauss interpreters: Renée Fleming as Ariadne, Sophie Koch as the Composer and conductor Christian Thielemann, directing the Staatskapelle Dresden. "Fleming's creamy high notes, dark bewitching mezzo hues and a full, warm mid-register reveal Ariadne's inner world."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

April 17 The Barber of Seville   Rossini - Paris 2002 more >>
Bring-a-Friend Night

Joyce DiDonato shines as Rosina, here singing the role for the first time. Dalibor Jenis, seen recently in Auckland for the 2016 APO concert performance of Puccini's Manon Lescaut, gives an interesting portrayal of the smart young Figaro. Bruno Campanello conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Paris Opera in this delightful production.

May 22 The Tales of Hoffmann   Offenbach - ROH 2016 more >>

From Covent Garden, a revival of the much acclaimed John Schlesinger production from 35 years ago. The sets and costumes are a feast for the eye. Vittorio Grigolo sings Hoffmann and Sofia Fomina, Sonya Yoncheva and Christine Rice, the women he has loved and lost. Kate Lindsey is Hoffman's friend while Thomas Hampson portrays several of the dark characters. Evelino Pidò conducts the Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

June 12 Turandot   Puccini - La Scala 2015 more >>

Turandot has sworn that no man shall marry her unless he can answer three riddles. Captivated by her beauty, Prince Calaf takes up the challenge. Nina Stemme is magnificent as the 'ice princess'. Riccardo Chailly conducts a team of excellent singers including Maria Agresta as Liù and Aleksandrs Antonenko who sings a very exciting Nessun Dorma. Nikolaus Lehnhoff is the director.

July 10 Jenůfa   Janáček - Madrid 2009 more >>

The vulnerable young woman at the heart of the composer's breakthrough opera is an ideal role for the English soprano Amanda Roocroft. She is partnered by the Slovak tenor Miroslav Dvorsky, as the man through whom she finds redemption, love and hope. The complex character of the Kostelnička, played by the great dramatic soprano Deborah Polaski, becomes both tormentor and tormented in this fearless tale.

August 7 Hamlet   Faccio - Bregenze 2016 more >>

An opera by Verdi contemporaries Franco Faccio and librettist Arrigo Boito based on Shakespeare's great tragedy, composed around 1864. It was lost for some 150 years until rediscovered and revived by conductor Anthony Barrese. This production, by Oliver Tambosi, has been mounted to celebrate Shakespeare's 400th anniversary.

September 11 Doktor Faust   Busoni - Zurich 2006 more >>

Ferruccio Busoni began working on this score in 1916 from numerous musical studies, ranging from unfinished piano pieces and lieder to substantial published works. It follows the story of Goethe's Faust. Unlike Gounod's Faust, in this production the role of Faust is sung by a baritone, namely Thomas Hampson and Mephistopheles by tenor Gregory Kunde. The Zurich Opera chorus and orchestra are conducted by Philippe Jordan.

October 9 Norma   Bellini - Barcelona 2015 more >>

Every great soprano will want to add this opera to their repertoire and the first that must surely come to mind would have to be Maria Callas. Sondra Radvanovsky is powerful and elegant in this production from the Gran Teatre de Liceu. Adalgisa is sung by Ekaterina Gubanova and the duets especially between these women are second to none. Gregory Kunde, whom we heard last month, is tonight's tenor.

November 6 Falstaff   Verdi - La Scala 2001 more >>

This colourful production was filmed in Busetto, Verdi's birthplace, to mark the 100th anniversary of his death. Ambrogio Maestri sings the title role, with the young tenor Juan Diego Flórez and internationally acclaimed singers such as Barbara Frittoli and Anna Caterina Antonacci. The chorus and orchestra from Milan are conducted by Riccardo Muti. Verdi composed Falstaff at the age of 84. It is a masterful comic opera, filled with wit, humour and sheer joie de vivre, making a fun way to finish our year.