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 Coming Soon  Renée Fleming's final Marschallin and other forthcoming vocal and operatic releases

Renée Fleming's final Marschallin and other forthcoming vocal and operatic releasesThe coming weeks bring four fascinating new productions on DVD and Blu-ray: Robert Carsen's Der Rosenkavalier from the Metropolitan Opera (featuring Renée Fleming's final performance of the Marschallin), a compelling contemporary staging of Der fliegende Holländer (with Pablo Heras-Casado making a hugely impressive Wagner debut), Mariame Clément's recent Paris production of Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse, and Kasper Holten's spectacular open-air Carmen from the Bregenz Festival. Looking further ahead, January will see the CD release of Jake Heggie's new comic opera about the opera world Great Scott, starring Joyce DiDonato in the title-role.

Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (DVD)

Renée Fleming, Elīna Garanča, Günther Groissböck, Erin Morley; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Sebastian Weigle, Robert Carsen

The Marschallin’s bitter-sweet monologues on renunciation and the passage of time gain a special poignancy here as Fleming bids farewell to one of her signature-roles, whilst Elīna Garanča's Octavian is the stuff dreams are made of; Robert Carsen’s decision to update the action to the year of the opera’s composition plays up the sense of impending darkness throughout.

Available Format: DVD Video

Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Blu-ray)

Renée Fleming, Elīna Garanča, Günther Groissböck, Erin Morley; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Sebastian Weigle, Robert Carsen

The Marschallin’s bitter-sweet monologues on renunciation and the passage of time gain a special poignancy here as Fleming bids farewell to one of her signature-roles, whilst Elīna Garanča's Octavian is the stuff dreams are made of; Robert Carsen’s decision to update the action to the year of the opera’s composition plays up the sense of impending darkness throughout.

Available Format: Blu-ray

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Samuel Youn, Ingela Brimberg, Kwangchul Youn, Nikolai Schukoff, Kai Rüütel, Benjamin Bruns; Teatro Real de Madrid, Pablo Heras-Casado

A taut, thrilling Wagner debut from Heras-Casado coupled with a truly spectacular production by the Catalan director Àlex Ollé, who makes stunning use of video-projections and sets the opera in contemporary Chittagong, where the central themes of arranged marriage and ‘ghost’-ships play out rather more convincingly than it might sound on paper…

Available Format: DVD Video + Blu-ray

Bizet: Carmen - Bregenz Festival 2017 (DVD)

Gaëlle Arquez, Daniel Johansson, Scott Hendricks, Elena Tsallagova. Wiener Symphoniker; Paolo Carignani, Kasper Holten, Es Devlin

Complete with an orienteering Micaëla and a swimming Carmen, this has to be one of the most breath-taking opera productions of 2017: Es Devlin’s extraordinary set suspends a hand of giant playing-cards above the lake (which itself plays a crucial role in the staging, though I won’t drop any spoilers here!), whilst the vibrant young cast ensure that the sensational visuals enhance rather than overshadow the drama.

Available Format: DVD Video

Bizet: Carmen - Bregenz Festival 2017 (Blu-ray)

Gaëlle Arquez, Daniel Johansson, Scott Hendricks, Elena Tsallagova, Wiener Symphoniker; Paolo Carignani, Kasper Holten, Es Devlin

Complete with an orienteering Micaëla and a swimming Carmen, this has to be one of the most breath-taking opera productions of 2017: Es Devlin’s extraordinary set suspends a hand of giant playing-cards above the lake (which itself plays a crucial role in the staging, though I won’t drop any spoilers here!), whilst the vibrant young cast ensure that the sensational visuals enhance rather than overshadow the drama.

Available Format: Blu-ray

The Wagner Project

Matthias Goerne (baritone). The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding

This anthology of Goerne's Wagner roles past, present and (hopefully) to come is simply outstanding, both for the depth and intensity of his characterisations and the sympathetic orchestral playing. The glimpses of his Hans Sachs and Dutchman in particular whets the appetite for his possible future assumption of the complete roles...

Available Format: CD

Piazzólla: Maria de Buenos Aires

Valentina Montoya Martínez, Nicholas Mulroy, Juanjo Lopez Vidal (narrator) & Victor Villena (bandoneón); Mr McFall’s Chamber

The intrepid Scottish ensemble join forces with Chilean diva Valentina Montoya Martínez and several star tango specialist for the first major recording in decades of Piazzólla’s surreal ‘tango operita’ of 1968, in which the elusive protagonist (‘born on a day when god was drunk’) dies, haunts the Argentine capital and eventually gives birth (posthumously!) to a supernatural child...

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria

Rolando Villazón, Magdalena Kožená, Katherine Watson, Kresimir Spicer; Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm, Mariame Clément

Filmed at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées earlier this year, Mariame Clément's staging of Monteverdi’s 1640 opera blends contemporary and Classical elements, with Magdalena Kožená on riveting form as the stoical Pénélope; Villazón perhaps won’t be to all tastes in this music, but there’s no denying his commitment and fervour as the conquering hero.

Available Format: DVD Video

Rimsky Korsakov: The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Albina Shagimuratova, Irina Churilova, Edward Tsanga, Mikhail Vekua, Elena Vitman Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus, Valery Gergiev

Though it’s immensely popular in Russia, Rimsky-Korsakov’s operatic fairy-tale of 1900 is relatively unknown in the West beyond its famous Flight of the Bumble-Bee: it gets suitably fantastical treatment for its first complete outing on DVD in this lavish Mariinsky production, with coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova a dazzling Swan-Princess.

Available Format: Blu-ray + DVD

Vivaldi: Dorilla in Tempe

Romina Basso, Serena Malfi, Sonia Prina; I Barocchisti, Diego Fasolis

After a two-year break, Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition is back underway with this 1726 ‘melodramma eroico pastorale’ - given here in the pasticcio version performed in Turin in 1734, which also includes arias by composers such as Johann Adolf Hasse, Leonardo Leo and Geminiano Giacomelli. The rustic scene is set by quotations from Spring in the sinfonia and opening chorus!

Available Format: CD

Henri Marteau: Lieder

Vesselina Kasarova (mezzo), Galina Vracheva (piano)

For her first lieder recording in almost two decades, the idiosyncratic Bulgarian mezzo explores the little-known songs of violinist and composer Henri Marteau (1874-1934), born to a French father and German mother; the set of French-language songs here was written whilst he was in ‘protective custody’ in Switzerland during World War One.

Available Format: CD

Bellini: I Puritani (DVD)

Diana Damrau, Javier Camarena, Ludovic Tézier, Nicolas Testé, Annalisa Stroppa; Teatro Real Madrid, Evelino Pidò, Emilio Sagi

Reviewing this starrily-cast revival of Sandro Sequi’s forty-year old production of Bellini’s English Civil War opera, the New York Times praised Damrau’s ‘gleaming sound, volatile intensity and fearless execution of florid coloratura runs’ as well as Camarena’s ‘melting warmth, clarion ardor and legato phrasing’.

Available Format: DVD Video

Bellini: I Puritani (Blu-ray)

Diana Damrau, Javier Camarena, Ludovic Tézier, Nicolas Testé, Annalisa Stroppa; Teatro Real Madrid, Evelino Pidò, Emilio Sagi

Reviewing this starrily-cast revival of Sandro Sequi’s forty-year old production of Bellini’s English Civil War opera, the New York Times praised Damrau’s ‘gleaming sound, volatile intensity and fearless execution of florid coloratura runs’ as well as Camarena’s ‘melting warmth, clarion ardor and legato phrasing’.

Available Format: Blu-ray

Heggie: Great Scott

Joyce DiDonato (Arden Scott), Ailyn Pérez, Frederica von Stade, Nathan Gunn, Anthony Roth Costanzo; Dallas Opera, Patrick Summers

Self-styled ‘Yankee Diva’ DiDonato (a regular collaborator and muse for Jake Heggie) takes centre-stage as Arden Scott, a (fictitious) star opera-singer who returns to her hometown in contemporary America to appear in an exhumed bel canto rarity with the struggling regional company with which she first made her name.

Available Format: CD