With Joyce DiDonato as Cinderella capturing all hearts – not just Prince Charming’s – Massenet’s enchanting, sophisticated retelling of the classic fairytale makes its debut at Covent Garden in a charming and witty production by Laurent Pelly.
The Cinderella story seen through the eyes of the belle époque, Massenet’s Cendrillon was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1899 and its gorgeous score embraces pathos, pastiche, broad humour, subtle eroticism and sheer magic.In Summer 2011, its debut at London's Royal Opera House was built around mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who first took on the title role at the Santa Fe festival in 2006.
Arthaus presents the world première of the unabridged version of Don Carlos at the Vienna State Opera, in a staging by the worldrenowned German director Peter Konwitschny. This staging in its unabridged version remains true to Giuseppe Verdi’s originally vision of his grand opera, when it was premiered in Paris in 1867. However, during the rehearsals it soon became clear that Don Carlos would not fi t within the convention of duration, and Verdi was forced, against his will, to make cuts. Over the next 20 years, he would repeatedly turn out new versions of the opera, none of which ultimately left him satisfied. Therefore it was not until October 2004 that his original work – without cuts and sung in the original French - received its world première, now available for home viewing on DVD. Led by French conductor Bertrand de Billy the singers were hailed by audience and critics. The international cast were all renowned soloists on the world’s opera stages and also long-term stalwarts of the Vienna Opera.
In the dense forest planted on the stage of the Haus für Mozart by director Claus Guth is the home of the rugged macho Don Giovanni. Assisted by his unsavory accomplice Leporello, he lures the ladies with the heady scent of danger. Christopher Maltman embodies Don Giovanni as an almost reluctant seducer - a man fated to bring misery to women and, ultimately, to himself. He heads an outstanding cast for a production that, by its very originality, demonstrates the strength of Mozart's original conception.
Oscar-nominated director Robert Dornhelm lends the story a darker glow, with Bertrand de Billy's soft-centred but warm conducting and two superb star performances. Villazón as Rodolfo, less… sings with a focused intensity which at time recalls Caruso, and makes a scruffily credible hero… Netrebko's creamy-voiced Mimì is no naïve little seamstress; her scarlet satin and glamour-girl make-up suggests she's been around… but her anguish in Act III is no less heartfelt. Dornhelm's sombrely sumptuous images capture a credibly chilly, squalid, yet defiantly romantic milieu.
In many ways, Debussy’s piano music finds its rightful home on the harp. Apart from the distinctive textural and colouristic elements in the writing itself, we have contemporary accounts of Debussy’s piano-playing that refer to his ability to make you forget a piano even had hammers. Of course, this doesn’t allow for dreamy, “impressionistic” interpretations; rather, it makes clarity and precision absolute imperatives – which qualities we find in abundance in this recital by Xavier de Maistre and friends.