The DVD version of Turandot is based on an outstanding MET production from 1988: “A straightforward, spectacular and star-cast staging by Franco Zeffirelli that comes over extremely well. At the heart of it is James Levine’s massive, stormy reading. The Met orchestra are in tremendous form; so is the chorus. Eva Marton sings with stinging power and passion; Plácido Domingo is a superb Calaf, Leona Mitchell is a silvery-voiced Liu. It is superbly directed and recorded…A clear first choice.” (The Classical Video Guide)
Mention Giacomo Puccini's name and opera-lovers all over the world will think of grand opera and passionate love stories. One of the world's most famous arias comes from the composer's final opera, Turandot: "Nessun dorma" none shall sleep because by morning the Chinese princess is determined to have discovered the name of the unknown prince. The work is remarkable for its Chinese local colour, its opulent crowd scenes, its powerful choruses and its characters overwhelmed by their emotions. Enthusiastically acclaimed by its audiences, the present production combines spectacular and touching scenes on the Bregenz Festival's vast lakeside stage.
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.
The German stage director Jürgen Flimm – and his design team of Robert Israel and Florence von Gerkan – have set the opera in the second half of the 20th century and have costumed the action decidedly on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean. Such an approach follows the line of Flimm’s other contemporary opera successes – for example his current Bayreuth Ring (premiered in 2000) or his 2001 Otello at the Berlin Staatsoper. Modernising the period does not become updating for its own sake. Rather, the actions and behaviour of the characters cunningly align contemporary manners with the existing prescriptions of a “period” libretto.
In its 88th year, the prestigious Verona Arena Festival honoured the legendary Italian stage director Franco Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli delivered an opulent staging af the fairy-tale story of the Chinese Princess Turandot, who will only marry a prince capable of solving her riddles. The Russian soprano Maria Guleghina proved a brilliant Turandot, whilst tenor Salvatore Licitra’s trump card is his imposingly radiant voice of which he remains in sovereign control even in the role’s muchfeared tessitura. The soprano Tamar Iveri is a beautiful and sensitive Liù. The Orchestra and Chorus of the Verona Arena are conducted by Maestro Giuliano Carella.
Amilcare Ponchielli's sole operatic work La Gioconda made him a major figure in Italy. It was not just the title that made it such a success - 'La Gioconda' is the Italian term for the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting that is better known to the English-speaking world as 'Mona Lisa' - but rather its music and the poetic quality of Arrigo Boito's score. The production featured here was taken from a 1986 performance of the Vienna State Opera. Filippo Sanjust was responsible for production and set, Gerlinde Dill was in charge of choeography, whilst Adam Fischer conducted both choir and orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Internationally renowned stars Eva Marton and Placido Domingo, who play the leading roles in the performance, ensure an unforgettable operatic experience.
Recorded at the Vienna State Opera house in 1989, this staging of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Elektra is one of the glories of live opera on film, deserving of eternal availability. The DVD picture has great clarity, despite the darkness of Hans Schavernoch’s set design. Other than the cliché of a huge statue head, toppled on its side, the set manages to be suitably representative of a decaying palace as well as an imposing, theatrical space, dominated by the mammoth body of the statue from which the head apparently dropped, draped with the ropes that seem to have enabled the decapitation. Sooner or later most of the characters cling to and twist around those ropes, an apt stage metaphor for the remorseless repercussions from the murder of Agammenon by his unfaithful wife Klytämnestra and her paramour, Aegisthus. Reinhard Heinrich’s costumes capture a distant era while sustaining a creepily modern look — part Goth, part homeless, part Spa-wear.