Category Archives: opera lists

ROH 2016-2017 confirmed, let’s talk!

So, it’s finally out!

Let’s start with Mozart:

Mitridate (26 June–7 July 2017) 

Mitridate – Michael Spyres
Aspasia – Albina Shagimuratova
Farnace – Bejun Mehta
Ismene – Lucy Crowe
Marzio – Andrew Tortise
Sifare – Anett Fritsch
Arbate – Jennifer Davis

Shagimuratova, then. I won’t be expecting complex characterisation, just very precise singing in an alluring voice, which is what people seem to endlessly equate Aspasia with (super difficult singing – yea, but so what?). Don’t know Anett Frisch but Spyres and Mehta are (same old) known quantities in their respective roles. Excuse me while I stand bitterly disappointed after the definitive-looking Paris production. Doesn’t mean I won’t go see it for Mozart.

Così fan tutte (22 September–19 October 2016)

Conducted by Byckhov, of all people! I loved his Die Frau ohne Schatten, what will he do here?

Fiordiligi – Corinne Winters
Dorabella – Angela Brower
Ferrando – Daniel Behle
Guglielmo – Alessio Arduini
Don Alfonso – Johannes Martin Kränzle
Despina – Sabina Puértolas

Brower is known to me as the multitalented Annio from the circus/cult Tito (Munich) production. The one with unicorn hair 😉 and the lovely tone, who accompanied himself for the Act II intro recit with Sesto. Will they have her do something out of the ordinary here as well?

We have dates for Adriana Lecouvreur (7 February–2 March 2017), woohoo! Must start saving now (sigh). I have never heard of the alternative soprano. But yay Finley as Michonnet!

Adriana Lecouvreur – Angela Gheorghiu (except 21 Feb, 2 Mar) / Hrachuhi Bassenz (21 Feb, 2 Mar)
Maurizio – Brian Jagde
Abbé di Chazeuil – Krystian Adam
Princesse de Bouillon – Ksenia Dudnikova
Prince de Bouillon – Bálint Szabó
Michonnet – Gerald Finley (except 27 Feb; 2 Mar) / Alessandro Corbelli (27 Feb; 2 Mar)
Mlle Jouvenot – Vlada Borovko
Mlle Dangeville – Angela Simkin
Poisson – Thomas Atkins
Quinault – Simon Shibambu

And now for something I didn’t expect: Röschmann returns! In an opera I severely dislike but such is life. I will follow the Röschmann compass:

Otello/Verdi (21 June–15 July 2017)

Otello – Jonas Kaufmann (21, 24, 28 Jun, 2, 6, 10 Jul) / Gregory Kunde (8, 12, 15 Jul)
Desdemona – Maria Agresta (21, 24, 28 Jun, 2, 6, 10 Jul) / Dorothea Röschmann (8, 12, 15 Jul)
Iago – Ludovic Tézier (21, 24, 28 Jun, 2, 6, 10 Jul) / Željko Lučić (8, 12, 15 Jul)
Cassio – Frédéric Antoun
Roderigo – Thomas Atkins
Emilia – Kai Rüütel
Montano – Simon Shibambu
Lodovico – In Sung Sim

So no JK for me then (boohoo 😉 ). Might as well see how Kunde sounds live. My recent discovery Simon Shibambu (King of Scotland in the RCM Ariodante) will be there too. Please cross your fingers for me, last time I tried to sit through this one I couldn’t cope with more than 1 1/2 acts. It was a few years back…

Der Rosenkavalier (17 December 2016–24 January 2017)

Marschallin – Renée Fleming (17, 20 Dec, 8, 11, 14 Jan) / Rachel Willis-Sørensen (22 Dec, 17, 24 Jan)
Octavian – Alice Coote (17, 20 Dec, 8, 11, 14 Jan) / Anna Stéphany (22 Dec, 17, 24 Jan)
Sophie von Faninal – Sophie Bevan
Baron Ochs – Matthew Rose
Faninal – Jochen Schmeckenbecher
Valzacchi – Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke
Annina – Helene Schneiderman (except 8, 11, 14 Jan) / Angela Simkin (8, 11, 14 Jan)
Italian Singer – Giorgio Berrugi
Marschallin’s Major Domo – Samuel Sakker
Faninal’s Major Domo – Thomas Atkins
Marianne – Miranda Keys
Inn Keeper – Alasdair Elliot
Police Inspector – Scott Connor
Notary – Jeremy White

New production by Carsen but apparently it’s the one from Salzburg? Or something. Anyway, it’s the ‘kavalier, I’m going no matter who’s in it (within reason and mostly depending on Octavian. I’d like a more adventurous choice for Die Marschallin but, hey, big house. And if its the one time I’m seeing Fleming live this is probably the best bet).

Speaking of other choices, has Catherine Naglestad ever sung Die Marschallin? I know she won’t be putting bums on seats in the way Fleming does (because the world is funny like that) but I’m having a bit of a Naglestad fest in my little world and I thought her Salome was way fine. And you might remember that semi-legendary (but severely cut) Alcina with Naglestad and Coote (daydream moment).

The customary belcanto bit – Il barbiere di Siviglia (13 September–11 October 2016)

Rosina – Daniela Mack
Count Almaviva – Javier Camarena
Figaro – Vito Priante (Sept) / Florian Sempey (Oct)
Doctor Bartolo – José Fardilha
Don Basilio – Ferruccio Furlanetto (Sept) / Carlo Lepore (Oct)
Berta – Madeleine Pierard
Fiorello – Gyula Nagy

For those like me who don’t habitually watch Cardiff Singer of the World (perhaps we should), here’s Daniela Mack singing obvious morsels like Pensa alla patriaVerdi prati and Amour, viens rendre a mon ame three years ago:

She’s agile but I’m not wowed by that voice. Too big too full too early? Not enough lyric quality. I guess Rossini fits her best out of that medley. She’ll be throwing babies into the fire before you know it.

More obvious belcanto – L’elisir d’amore (27 May–22 June 2017) 

Adina – Pretty Yende (May, 3, 6, 11 Jun) / Aleksandra Kurzak (13, 16, 19, 22 Jun)
Nemorino – Rolando Villazón (May, 3, 6 Jun) / Ivan Magrì (11 Jun) / Roberto Alagna (13, 16, 19, 22 Jun)
Dulcamara – Alex Esposito
Belcore – Paolo Bordogna (May, 3, 6, 11 Jun) / Adam Plachetka (13, 16, 19, 22 Jun)
Giannetta – Vlada Borovko

But it’s Kurzak and hubby1 (cheers, no Villazón for me, though I would like to hear Yende) and enough with the Esposito, I bet he’ll make Dulcamara all menacing and whatnot. Eh. It’s a bloody comedy. Anyway, Kurzak!

Les Contes d’Hoffmann (7 November–3 December 2016)

Hoffmann – Vittorio Grigolo (except 28 Nov, 3 Dec) / Leonardo Capalbo (28 Nov, 3 Dec)
Four Villains – Thomas Hampson
Olympia – Sofia Fomina
Giulietta – Christine Rice
Antonia – Sonya Yoncheva
Nicklausse – Kate Lindsey
Spalanzani – Christophe Mortagne
Crespel – Eric Halfvarson
Four Servants – Vincent Ordonneau
Spirit of Antonia’s Mother – Catherine Carby
Nathanael – David Junghoon Kim
Hermann – Charles Rice
Schlemil – Yuriy Yurchuk
Luther – Jeremy White

Conducted by “my homie” Evelino Pidò. I recently had a weird moment with Hoffmann: I felt like it would be something I could sing. Not as in I can actually sing it, because I can’t even “actually sing” Row, row, row your boat, rather I could easily get into the spirit/rhythm/chord progression/Frenchness of it. A bit weird – French opera, of all things. Ok, let’s see Kate Lindsey in something she’s properly well known for. There’s a shitload of big names in it = more saving, and Yurchuk as well, lovely tone ex-Young ROH Squad baritone.

The Nose (20 October–9 November 2016)

Platon Kuzmitch Kovalev – Martin Winkler
Ivan Iakolevitch/Clerk/Doctor – John Tomlinson
Osipovna/Pretzel Seller – Rosie Aldridge
The Nose – Alexander Lewis
District Inspector – Alexander Kravets
Old Lady – Susan Bickley
Iaryzhkin – Peter Bronder
Pelageya Podtotschina – Helene Schneiderman
Podtotschina’s daughter – Ailish Tynan

You know I said I was going to go although I thought the music was unbearable because I’m a not so secret Gogol fan. Also Rosie Aldridge is in it and I really liked her in local Monteverdi and Handel. This is neither, I know, but I’m (and will be) very happy to see her on a big stage.

Now onto more Verdi, because ROH = big opera house and big opera house = trad repertoire until the cows come home:

Il trovatore aka Babies into the fire (4 December 2016–9 February 2017)

Leonora – Maria Agresta (Dec) / Lianna Haroutounian (Jan, Feb)
Manrico – Roberto Alagna (Dec) / Gregory Kunde (Jan, Feb)
Count di Luna – Quinn Kelsey (Dec) / Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Jan, Feb)
Azucena – Anita Rachvelishvili
Ferrando – Gábor Bretz (Dec) / Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Jan, Feb)
Inez – Jennifer Davis (Dec) / Francesca Chiejina (Jan, Feb)
Ruiz – David Junghoon Kim (Dec) / Samuel Sakker (Jan, Feb)

Ok, I want to hear Kelsey live so that settles it – though I liked Tsymbalyuk’s Commendatore and I’d like to hear Haroutounian just because her name is badass… but twice with the pirotechnic babies? A bit much.

Don Carlo (12 May–29 May 2017)

Don Carlo – Bryan Hymel
Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa – Ludovic Tézier
Elizabeth of Valois – Krassimira Stoyanova
King Philip II – Ildar Abdrazakov
Princess Eboli – Ekaterina Semenchuk
Grand Inquisitor – Paata Burchuladze
Frate – Andrea Mastroni
Voice from Heaven – Francesca Chiejina
Tebaldo – Emily Edmonds
Count of Lerma – David Junghoon Kim
Flemish Deputies – James Cleverton, Gyula Nagy, Simon Shibambu, David Shipley and Yuriy Yurchuk

Good chance to hear Stoyanova and Tézier (don’t know why I should hear him other than his name has been around for a while), also Abdrazakov (tongue twister ftw!). Heard Semenchuk’s Eboli on zetube, wasn’t that impressed. Maybe she’ll be better this time around.

The Exterminating Angel (24 April–8 May 2017)

Thomas Adès conducts a huge ensemble cast of world-class singers in the UK premiere of his latest opera, inspired by Luis Buñuel’s iconic film.

Leonora – Anne Sofie von Otter
Blanca – Christine Rice
Nobile – Charles Workman
Lucia – Amanda Echalaz
Raúl – Frédéric Antoun
Doctor – John Tomlinson
Roc – Thomas Allen
Francisco – Iestyn Davies… and many others

Look at the fine cast but ugh, Buñuel? I don’t know, I’m really unfamiliar with Adès.

Oreste (Wilton’s Music Hall) (8 November–19 November 2016)
George Frideric Handel

See the opera stars of tomorrow in a blackly comic production of Handel’s masterful pasticcio, in the atmospheric setting of Wilton’s Music Hall.

Ermione – Vlada Borovko
Ifigenia – Jennifer Davis
Oreste – Angela Simkin
Pilade – Thomas Atkins
Filotete – Gyula Nagy
Toante – Simon Shibambu

Whoa, look! ROH has sort of caught on to the Baroque craze for its young singers. Sounds like it could be fun. More chance to hear Shibambu’s deep bass voice and let’s see if these yougins measure up to our local baroque talent.

Tuesday lunchtime recital – 4 October at 1.30pm

Francesca Chiejina and Thomas Atkins perform art songs, accompanied by David Gowland.

Francesca Chiejina was the young and very promising soprano who made an impression in JDD’s Masterclass at Guildhall last year. Worth checking her out in recital.

…and of course there are other things that I am not interested in, though I may go see Barbara Hannigan in Written on Skin in a somewhat similar way I’ll put up with Otello for Röschmann.

  1. Though isn’t it a bit weird having real life couples sing lovers on stage? 

Good times at the opera in 2015


Chez dehggi, 2015 shall go down as the year of smashing opera trips abroad and the full Monteverdi. I’ve also visited new (to me) local venues such as the Roundhouse and Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe. I had a boatload of Baroque and recitals from some of my top favourites but all periods were included. Also I had the chance to catch Operalia in its first stop to London. The one glaring miss this year was Glyndebourne.


L’Orfeo | Roundhouse: very moving performance and surprisingly fitting venue. It’s not for nothing I started the year on a Monteverdi high, I went on to see live his other two great works, in chronological order no less.


Farinelli and the King | Wanamaker Playhouse: a play with music, kinda like an opera but with less music, though the music got the most applause, so… 🙂

L’Ormindo (Cavalli) | Wanamaker Playhouse: not quite Monteverdi but silly as hell


VK Handel Recital | Karlsruhe Handel Fest: when the Baroquemobile shifts into turbo gear

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny | ROH: film noir meets mezzos

Semele | London Handel Festival: if I persist in listening, Sem’le I shall adore

Catone in Utica | London Handel Festival: new gen gets whimsical with pasticcio


St Matthew Passion | Barbican: the Passion of Mr Oboe and the Coughing Squad

Ben Johnson | Wigmore Hall: Mr Oronte sings zany stuff

JDD Masterclass | Milton Court/Barbican: shut up and learn to trill!

Adriano in Siria (JC Bach) | Britten Hall, RCM: a traditional production!

Il turco in Italia | ROH: introducing Aleksandra Kurzak’s chutzpah


Roschmann/Uchida | Wigmore Hall: when very serious and not so serious meet

VK’s Cleopatre | Stadscasino Basel: in which la forza del cleavage defeats dehggi

La forza del destino | Bayersiche Staatsoper: la forza del bad libretto vs. the Temple of Music

Krol Roger | ROH: mesmerising stuff

Sara Mingardo | Wigmore Hall: wrist slashing music done with elegance and… calm

Jessica Pratt | Wigmore Hall: major fun but should come with silencer


La voix humaine/Bluebeard’s Castle | Wiesbaden: women battling demons on a hot, sunny day

Queen of Spades | ENO: the least suspected mezzo tour de force (thanks (I think?!), David Alden)

Don Giovanni | ROH: all hail La Roschmann’s Donna Elvira!


Guillaume Tell | ROH: Gerry Finley acting mighty morose

JPYA Summer Performance | ROH: mixed bag with young singers

Operalia | ROH: high quality contestants

Roberta Invernizzi | Wigmore Hall: finally fearless Invernizzi


Daphne | Grimeborn: unplugged Strauss


La voix humaine/La dame de Monte Carlo | Wigmore Hall: la voix de la merveilleuse dame Antonacci

Adriano in Siria (Pergolesi) | Cadogan Hall: Farnaspe in love

Orphee et Eurydice | ROH: the Monteverdi Choir tames the furies

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria | Barbican: il triunfale ritorno d’AAC to Barbican


Ariadne auf Naxos | ROH: Mattila does it again

Leo Nucci | Cadogan Hall: old skool Italian

Xerse (Cavalli) | Theater an der Wien: Emmanuelle Haim and Le Concert d’Astrée at work

L’incoronazione di Poppea | Theater an der Wien: Metastasio, tornado of concepts and chatting about opera


Franco Fagioli recital | Wigmore Hall: sweetly done and Dopo notte!


Orontea (Cesti) | Wigmore Hall: shambolic early Baroque

Hard to wish for more excitement after this romp but, as usual, you never know. What I do wish is to hang out again with the fine folks I had such good opera times this year. Half the fun was you 🙂

ROH’s 2014/2015 Season

Al long last, the new Season is announced. What took so long?

The Wolfie challenge

A week or two ago I was asking myself if I should make a point of going through the entire operatic work of my favourite composers. Well, the one good think about Mozart not writing that much is that I could already go through most of it. Generally I liked what I heard, even beyond the works firmly established in the repertory. The early works are hit and miss but there’s usually an aria or two worth remembering and only a couple of total stinkers. Everything from Entfuhrung on is gold to pure gold.

On to the operas

Good times at the opera in 2013


It’s the time of the year to reminisce about the good things that happened in the past 12 months and to let the less good ones go. So on to the good things relevant to this blog:

April: Verdi, Nabucco (Nucci, Monastyrska, Pizzolato)ROH – “Stamford Hill” regie production with excellent singing. I’m not a great Verdi fan but I have a weak spot for Nabucco so that’s with what I kicked off the operatic year.

May: R. Strauss, Ariadne auf Naxos (Isokoski, Lindsey, Claycomb, Allen), Glyndebourne – a much criticised production that was thoroughly enjoyed (twice) by yours truly. Waiting for the DVD. Unlike Verdi, I generally like R. Strauss and I specifically like Ariadne’s quirky mix of irony and high drama. Will also see ROH’s own production in the Summer of 2014.

June: Rossini, La donna del lago (DiDonato, Florez, Barcellona), ROH – a somewhat fussy production featuring consummate Rossinians in great voice and a loud mobile ringing out during one of DiDonato’s quiet moments. Rossini is also one of my favourite composers (who knew!) and whilst I’m not in love with La donna, who can say no to that cast?

August: Rameau, Hippoliye et Aricie (Connolly et al.), Glyndebourne – a very fun and inventive production of a not very entertaining opera. I went mainly because I had so much fun at Glyndebourne in May and because I wanted to see Sarah Connolly in anything Baroque. She most certainly didn’t disappoint, although I wasn’t so taken with the other singers or with the opera in general, save for the fast bits.

September: Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro (Pisaroni, Bengtsson, Pokupic), ROH – good times at ROHigh with their 2006 production. Will see it again in May with a different cast. Does anyone need a reason to see Nozze?

September: Monteverdi, L’Orfeo (John Mark Ainsley et al.), The Barbican – gangster Orfeo with gorgeous singing by JMA. I was so impressed with this version of Possente spirto, I was compelled to see L’Orfeo live. Lo and behold, The Barbican had it on.

October: Strauss II, Die Fledermaus (sorry, don’t know the cast), ENO – lively and well sung but not entirely successful production. They made Orlofsky weird to the max but the mezzo singing him coped rather well with the weirdness. This was my first time seeing opera in English live and I figured a comedy would work better in translation than something serious. I was right.

December: Handel recital (Sonia Prina & Ensemble Claudiana), Wigmore Hall – fun ending to the year with one of the cutest singers on the scene today. The woman is one of my favourite low-voiced singers so, naturally, I wanted to hear her live when she was in town.

A good, pretty varied year opera-wise, although lacking in foreign trips. Here’s hoping I’m going to be able to squeeze something next year. Either way, I’ve booked three so far at ROH and I’m waiting for Damrau’s Traviata and Die Frau ohne Schatten to go on general sale in on 14 January and Der Rosenkavalier on 10 March – along with more about which I have not made up my mind yet. Also coming up in March is Brigitte Fassbaender’s Masterclass which sounds tempting and of course Ann Hallenberg’s recital in late April.

A bunch of even less known operas (200-272)

listsAt this point there are so many operas that I either have never heard of or didn’t care to explore, that I’m mostly being silly (I’m shooting for funny but I think sometimes I give myself too much credit…).

I had a long moment there where the futility of going on with this project if all I was doing was talking out of my backside came glaringly into view. Eventually I found something positive: the act of having to think of something to write, even for a few moments, gives me the opportunity to acknowledge the existence of these works. And since I’m made of curiosity, I’ll get around to most of them in the next 50 or so years. Promise.

201 King Arthur (Purcell)

Pass the meade, fair wench. Speaking of which, I do indeed like meade drunk out of a cow’s horn. If I believed in reincarnation I’m sure I’d think I lived a life back in ye olde. Come to think of it, I kinda had a ball at the Viking Museum up in York town Jorvik. That’s exactly how this opera sounds.

202 Der Vampyr (Marschner)

I went to it with great hopes and I found out it’s a lot less cool than I thought. The idea of the sexy vampire seems to have only emerged in the 20th century.

203 Zoroastre (Rameau)

Remember when I said French Baroque is like smelly cheese? No subject is safe from librettists.
on to 204-272

A bunch of not so well known operas (151-200)

listsStarting to get to the rarefied zone now:

151 Hamlet (Thomas)

To sing or not to sing?

152 Tamerlano (Handel)

Tamerlano and Bajazet were pretty cool medieval rulers and the 18th century was aware of it, seeing as how they were well represented in opera. But is this good? Yes.

153 Mitridate Re di Ponto (Mozart)

Mitridate was another cool ruler from Caesar’s time. He did quite well resisting and generally fucking with Rome. Unfortunately, Rome was just getting into its own, and he was ultimately (after about 30-35 years) crushed. His son Farnace, who’s the villain in this opera, was also an interesting character, and fought the Romans best he could until he, too, was crushed (by his son-in-law, of all people, but that’s how they rolled back then – hey, he himself offed his dad so he couldn’t really complain).

on to 154-200

A bunch of not so well known operas (101-150)

listsWe’re half way there:

102 Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi)

Haven’t heard this one yet.

103 Die Frau ohne Schatten (Strauss)

Very lovely music. Will see it soon at ROH.

104 Hercules (Handel)

Mythologial thingamagig. Will get around to it one day.

105 Dialogues des Carmelites (Poulenc)

More nuns. One of the most hilariously serious sounding titles in opera. I have no idea what it sounds like but I’m sure it’s not about a talk show.

on to 106-150

A bunch of well known operas (51-100)

listsNow on to the second installment of this list, which contains some of my very favourites. In fact, it starts with one:

51 Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss)

One of my favourites. The Prologue is comedy gold: the many faces of the artist. It’s clever and moving and a it pokes fun at itself a and brings together contemporaneity and the 18th century (which I find closer to us that the morose and buttoned-up 19th).

52 Manon (Massenet)

The frivolous bint what dies in a desert just outside NOLA, haha (which desert is that in the Mississippi delta?). Or is that a different take on the same subject? They liked their moralising tales back then. This is not the kind of 18th century tale I go for.

53 Pelleas et Melisande (Debussy)

Pretty good conversation piece. The music is quite lovely but the singing is so… un-dramatic, it’s a shock when you learn what they’re on about.

54 La Damnation de Faust (Berlioz)

I read Goethe’s Faust when I was at Uni and I always hated Faust the character. He’s one of them geeks that thinks he’s deeper than everybody else. I’ve always rooted for the devil. But Berlioz comes up with some wicked music.

on to 55-100

A bunch of well known operas (1-50)

listsIn 2010 Talk Classical was hard at work compiling a list of best rated operas by its (operatically minded) members. For better or worse, list making and ranking is a beloved past time for TC-ers. Ranking beyond “I really like this, this and this, of which this is my favourite” is not my forte. But since I’m itching to start this blog yet I’m braindead from working nights, I thought it would be an acceptable compromise to go through this list with some of my own comments. So here are the first 50 spots as per 23/12/10:

1 Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wagner) 
2 Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

At the risk of appearing a boob, I don’t care about Wagner. The libretti deal with my least favourite topic – mythology – and the music sounds kind of ridiculous and plodding at the same time. The singers shouters shout. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that one of Wagner’s inspirations for T&I was Bellini’s I Capuleti. That seems to me so strange as to not trust that I actually read it anywhere but that it was some sort of weird flight of imagination.

3 Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)

When I saw it here at ROH a couple of weeks ago the thought hit me during the final act finale that “this is the best opera ever written”, although I don’t know that in normal circumstances (ie, now, at home, sat on the sofa) I care one way or another. What is important is that It’s always great fun and it lends itself to any revival provided the humour is not drained out of it by Guth.

4 Giulio Cesare (Handel)

Another one that’s fun to watch and listen to. What can I say? I like Handel, I like elaborately decorated da capo arias and I’m nuts about Ancient world settings (but not so Ancient they fall off history). This has got it all.

on to 5-50