Angela Gheorghiu stars in LPO’s Operatic Gala

Angela Gheorghiu – photo courtesy London Philharmonic Orchestra

Angela Gheorghiu is the star of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Operatic Gala in which the Romanian soprano sings a selection of lovely songs and arias interspersed with some wonderful pieces of symphonic music. The London Philharmonic is led by Gergely Madaras.

The programme features arias such as Puccini’s Un bel di, vedremo from Madame Butterfly and Boito’s L’altra notte in fondo al mare from Mefistofele, as well as pieces of music like Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor.

Angela Gheorghiu – described by the New York Sun as “The most glamorous and gifted opera singer of our time” – has been delighting audiences since she debuted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1952. That was the year in which she also made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the Vienna State Opera. In 1994 Angela Gheorghiu made her first appearance as Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata – a performance for which the BBC cleared its schedules in order to broadcast the opera live, the first time this had taken place in television and operatic history.

According to The Sunday Times, she is “…. the most instantly recognisable and interesting soprano voice of our time, a liquid instrument of great lyrical beauty with gleaming ‘spun gold’ high notes, but a dark, vibrant contralto range ….”. Ms Gheorghiu has appeared in opera houses and concert halls the world over during her career, her next performance being the role of Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème at the Royal Opera House in January 2024.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra with Emeritus Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
© Benjamin Ealovega

Conductor Gergely Madaras, currently Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, was formerly Music Director of the Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne, and Chief Conductor of the Savaria Symphony Orchestra in his native Hungary, having held both positions for 6 years. He has appeared with many of the major symphony orchestras in Europe, as well as with the BBC Symphony and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Future plans include appearances with the the City of Birmingham Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Hungarian State Opera, Oslo Philharmonic and Gürzenich Orchestra Köln.

Gergely Madaras leads Angela Gheorghiu and the London Philharmonic in an Operatic Gala on Saturday, 2nd December at the Southbank Centre. Tickets and information on forthcoming events at the LPO may be obtained on the LPO website.

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Monte-Carlo Opera stages new production of Verdi’s ‘Don Carlo’

Post courtesy Monte-Carlo Opera

Monte-Carlo Opera presents Don Carlo, in a new production by Davide Livermore of Giuseppe Verdi’s dramatic and moving story of passion, betrayal, political intrigue and conflict between father and son.

The opera stars Russian tenor Sergey Skorokhodov in the title role, with Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov as his father, Filippo II, king of Spain. Elisabetta di Valois, with whom Don Carlo has fallen in love, is sung by Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury, and the role of La Principessa Eboli who is in love with Don Carlo, is taken by Armenian mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan. Polish baritone Artur Ruciński is Rodrigo, marquis of Posa and Carlo’s friend, and Russian bass Alexey Tikhomirov is Il Grande Inquisitore. The production is led by Massimo Zanetti.

Verdi started writing his five-act opera in 1867, with a French libretto by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle, based on Friedrich Schiller’s play Don Karlos, Infant von Spanien, which Schiller completed in 1787. The opera was commissioned and produced by the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra, Paris, and premiered at the Académie impériale de musique on 11th March 1867. Don Carlos – as it is known in the French version – was then translated into Italian as Don Carlo, in the first of a number of revisions set to both French and Italian librettos. This is the second version of the opera, compressed into four acts, and sung in Italian. It premiered at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on 10th January, 1884.

Set in France and Spain between 1567 to 1568, the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the opera is largely fictional, although it features actual historical figures. Don Carlo is the son of King Philip II of Spain and therefore heir to the Spanish throne. Carlo is in love with Princess Elisabetta di Valois of France, but his hopes of marrying her are thwarted by his father, who – as part of a peace treaty signed between Spain and France – takes Elisabetta as his own wife. Undaunted, Carlo comes up against the conspiracies and intrigues of the royal court, and – with everyone under the watchful eye of the Grand Inquisitor – tension and paranoia abound, leading the king to suspect his wife of infidelity with Carlo.

Ultimately, Carlo has to make a choice between loyalty to his father and his love for Elisabetta. In actuality, Philip and Elizabeth apparently had a happy marriage, and the love story between Elizabeth and her stepson was invented by writer Friedrich von Schiller and exploited by Verdi for maximum dramatic impact.

The four acts of this drama are all located in Spain, however Monte-Carlo Opera has placed the prologue of the original version in Fontainebleau, and this is sung in French.

Sergey Skorokhodov comes to Monte-Carlo directly from the Bolshoi Theatre where he appeared in the title role in Don Carlo at the end of October. With a repertoire which includes those of Lenski in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Nemorino in Donizetti’s Lelisir d’amore, Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth, Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata, Cavarodossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Calaf in Puccini’s Turandot and the tenor role in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, he has also appeared on the stages of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, most of the major opera houses in Europe, and in the Glyndebourne and Edinburgh festivals. He was last seen in Monte-Carlo in Tchaikovsky’s Ioalanthe in 2015. Future appearances include a concert performance of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at Carnegie Hall and the role of Ivan in The Nose – both works by Shostakovich – at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Ildar Abdrazakov, regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of the role of Filippo II, has become a firm favourite at the Metropolitan Opera, and is also a regular visitor to the Paris National Opera, the Vienna State Opera and Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. The Independent refers to him as a “sensational bass … who has just about everything – imposing sound, beautiful legato, oodles of finesse”. Having recently appeared as a soloist with Monte-Carlo Opera in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, he will also participate this season in the Gala Verdiano at the Ravenna Festival, appear as Mustafa in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri at Opernhuis Zurich, and at another performance in Verdi’s Messa da requiem at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

According to Presto Classical, Joyce El-Khoury is “Blessed with old-school vocal and physical glamour and a richly coloured flexible soprano that shines particularly brightly in Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti.” Immediately following this performance of Don Carlo, Joyce will appear in an Italian Opera Gala with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester in Berlin, as Christine, Queen of Sweden in Julien Bilodeau and Michel Marc Bouchard’s La Reine-garçon with Opéra de Montreal, and Maria Boccanegra in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at Finnish National Opera.

Following Varduhi Abrahamyan’s performance in Handel’s Ariodante in 2016, Plays to See wrote that as Polinesso, she “…. was sinister and chillingly violent while demonstrating a vocal mastery that was terrifyingly precise”. She last appeared with Monte-Carlo Opera in January of this year as Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina and also in concert in Rossini’s oratorio Stabat Mater. Following this appearance in Don Carlo, Ms Abrahamyan will perform the title role in Bizet’s Carmen at Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona and at Oper Frankfurt, and in concert in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Cité de la Musique-Philharmonie in Paris.

Having seen Artur Ruciński in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burina, the late music journalist Karl Löbl wrote: “Baritone Discovery at Vienna Musikverein – take note of the name Artur Ruciński and go to every opera in which you can hear this singer…”. Future plans include appearances at the Italian Opera Gala with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester in Berlin, as Renato/Count Ankarström in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschero at Teatro Regio di Parma in Barcelona and as Lord Enrico Ashton in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Alexey Tikhomirov, he of the “…powerful vocal volume and the impressive interpretation”, according to Bachtrack, has appeared on the stages of many European and wider Asian concert halls and opera houses. Following these performances in Monte-Carlo, he returns to the Helicon Opera in Moscow where he will sing the role of Timur in Puccini’s Turandot, then to Frankfurt for performances as Chub in Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Christmas Eve.

Also in the cast are Reinaldo Macias as Il Conte di Lerma, Madison Nonoa as Voce Dal Cielo, Salvo Vitale as Frate and Mirjam Mesa as Tebaldo.

Davide Livermore has been artistic director of the Teatro Baretti in Turin since 2002 where he focuses on experimental music theatre. He describes this production of Don Carlo as “A show that displays historical aesthetics with all modern technology”. Before returning to Monte-Carlo to direct a production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, he will fly to Brisbane where Opera Australia will stage his production of Verdi’s Aïda for which he will also do the choreography.

Massimo Zanetti has worked regularly with the Staatskapelle Berlin, for whom he will lead performances of Don Carlo and La bohème in the new year. Codelario describes him as an “electrifying and energetic conductor, who also understands how to charm with the most evocative lyricism”.

Maestro Zanetti leads the Monte-Carlo Opera Choir (choirmaster Stefano Visconti) and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra in three performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo on 22nd, 24th and 26th November, at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. For further information and booking details, see the Monte-Carlo Opera website.

Information sourced from

Monte-Carlo programme notes

A version of this article first appeared in Riviera Buzz

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New production of Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ for San Francisco Opera

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera closes its Fall Season with a new co-production, with Lyric Opera of Chicago, of Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. The West Coast Premiere of this opera buffo stars tenor Pene Pati as the young peasant Nemorino who is in love with Adina, soprano Slávka Zámečníková as the cool and aloof object of his love, baritone David Bizic as Belcore, the sargeant who hopes to marry Adina, baritone Renato Girolami as the charlatan Dulcamara, and soprano Arianna Rodriguez as Giannetta, Adina’s friend.

The production was conceived by Director Daniel Slater with Associate Producer and Choreographer Tim Claydon, who have brought this delightful romance of 1832 forward to an Italian village in the early 19th century. The conductor is Ramón Tebar, making his Company debut.

Donizetti wrote L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) in 1832 on commission from Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan – an opera in two acts which he completed in six weeks. The libretto was written by Felice Romani after a French libretto by Eugène Scribe for Daniel-François-Esprit Auber’s Le Philtre, which was written in 1831. The opera premiered in Milan on May 12th 1832.

Pene Pati as Nemorino in Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Samoan tenor Pene Pati’s international career began at San Francisco Opera with his debuts as ll Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto in 2017, and as Richard Percy in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at Opéra National de Bordeaux. He returned to San Francisco in 2019 as Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and debuted as Nemorino in the Paris Opera staging of L’elisir d’amore in 2021. Pati was selected as the Opera Awards Reader’s Choice Award Winner in 2022, and Opera-Online hailed him as “the most exceptional tenor discovery of the last decade”. Much in demand this season, his appearances include those of Germont in Verdi’s La traviata at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Orombello in Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda at Opéra de Paris, des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon at the Staatsoper Hamburg, and Il Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto with State Opera Berlin.

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ with Slávka Zámečníková as Adina.
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Slovak soprano Slávka Zámečníková makes her American debut in the role of Adina. Having frequently appeared with the Vienna State Opera and Berlin Staatsoper, her roles during the past season include Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen and Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio in Vienna, at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin and Poppea and Dircé Cherubini’s Médée. In concert, she has performed in Haydn’s Creation with the Orchestre national de France. Future appearances include those of Musetta in La bohème at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, and Donna Anna for Vienna State Opera where she will also sing the roles of Micaëla in Carmen and Donna Anna at Théâtre de Champs-Elyseés in Paris.

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ with Slávka Zámečníková as Adina and David Bizic as Belcore.
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Serbian baritone David Bizic celebrated his 50th performance for the Met last year with his appearance as Marcello in La bohème. Recent performances include the roles of Escamillo in Carmen for Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège, Marcello in La bohème for the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy in Tokyo and Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte for Opéra de Saint-Etienne in Toulon.

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ with Renato Girolami as Dulcamara.
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Renato Girolami received critical praise for his portrayal of Dulcamara earlier this year at Glyndebourne, and following this appearance with San Francisco Opera, he appears as Don Bartolo in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviligia for the Staatsoper Berlin and Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola for Den Norske Opera in Oslo.

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’ with Arianna Rodriguez as Giannetta
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Soprano Arianna Rodriguez takes the role of Adina’s friend, Gianetta. As a first-year Adler Fellow soprano, she adds this role to her repertoire. American tenor Jonah Hoskins, an ensemble member of the St. Gallen Theater in Switzerland, makes his house debut at San Francisco Opera at the November 29th performance. He sings Nemorino, a role in which he will appear at Santa Fe Opera next year.

Donizetti’s ‘The Elixir of Love’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Spanish conductor Ramón Tebar, of whom Opera World wrote that he “… once again demonstrated the material from which good directors are made”, leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director John Keene) in these performances of The Elixir of Love. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, it will be staged at the War Memorial Opera House between November 19th and December 9th. For performance tickets and further information, visit the San Francisco Opera website.

This co-production of San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago was originally created by Opera North in the United Kingdom.

The production on Sunday, November 26th will be live-streamed, and the opera will also be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Monday, November 27th at 10.00 am PT. For tickets and more information about livestreams, visit sfopera.com/digital.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

Artists’ websites

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