13 Recommended Opera CD and DVDs That Will Make Great Holiday Gifts

Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Are you stuck and have no ideas on what to buy? OperaWire has compiled a list of some of the best new releases from 2016 that will make for a great gift.

CDS

Anna Netrebko’s New Recordings 

Two of the best recordings this year are from Anna Netrebko. Her new Verismo album features some of the most popular arias from Puccini, Catalani, Leoncavallo and Ponchielli. The album was nominated for the Grammy and it is spectacular to hear Netrebko in this new repertoire. And if you want to add a bonus, her new “Manon Lescaut” from Salzburg is also a treat. The final act with her husband Yusif Eyvazov, which is also featured on the Verismo album is just one reason to listen to this moving recording that Operawire called an “Intelligent Performance.”

Elina Garanca’s “Revive”

Garanca is one of the most intelligent artists of our time and her new album “Revive” sees the mezzo soprano exploring new territory from some of the most beloved composers. It also sees her experimenting with unknown works like Leoncavallo’s “La Boheme” and Saint-Saens’ “Henrie VIII” as well as with soprano arias from Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur” For those who have followed her career for years this will be a great addition to the collection.

Jonas Kaufmann’s “Dolce Vita”

Every time Jonas Kaufmann has a new album it is a must buy. This one is no exception as it features some of the most popular Italian songs. It may even be a great gift for those not exposed to opera as it is a great gateway into one of the most popular tenors currently singing. It’s also a great gift for those currently waiting to hear Kaufmann back on stage after three months of vocal rest.

Pretty Yende’s “A Journey”

A debut album is always hard to put together as it is a way of introducing opera fans to new artists. Yende’s album is a great way to explore the South African’s journey to the opera stage. The album includes some of her breakout pieces including Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory” and some of her future roles including Bellini’s “I Puritani.” The album features spectacular coloratura and vocal fireworks as well as an intimacy in this bravura music.

Joyce Didonato’s “In War and Peace” 

Joyce Didonato always crafts special albums as they are emotional experiences as well as educational ones. There is always a sense of exploration in her voice as well as in the choice of repertoire and this one is no exception. This album explores the music of Handel, Purcell and Monteverdi, three composers that Didonato has recorded numerous time. It also also includes music of rarely heard composers, Jommelli and Leo. Interestingly enough the Jommelli pieces are world premiere recordings.

Franco Faggioli’s “Rossini” album 

The Latin American countertenor is still not a household name in most of the world. However, this new album will surely make people familiar with him. In his new album for Deutsche Gramophon, the countertenor explores music arias from Rossini’s music. Originally all of the arias on this album were  written for mezzo sopranos so it is an enlightening experience to listen to them in the voice of a man.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s “In War, Peace, Love and Sorrow”

Amid Hvorostovsky’s recent cancellation, this recent album reminds listeners of the baritones artistry and range. The album features music by Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein and Prokofiev and is a great addition for fans of the beloved baritone. His frequent collaborator Constantine Orbelian conducts the recording.

DVDs

Sonyas Yoncheva’s “Otello”

The Metropolitan Opera opened its season last year with Verdi’s “Otello” and while the production received mixed reviews, the singers made an impression. This DVD recording is a chance to see the powerhouse soprano Sonya Yoncheva in one of her stand out performances. It also stars Aleksandrs Antonenko in his signature role and Zeljko Lucic as the villainous Iago.

“Andrea Chenier” at the Royal Opera

Jonas Kaufmann’s first Andrea Chenier was the talk of the town a few years ago when it premiered at the Royal Opera House. Thankfully Warner Classics released his interpretation in David McVicar’s acclaimed production. Eva Maria Westbroek also stars alongside Zeljko Lucic with Antonio Pappano conducting.

Joseph Calleja’s “Mefistofele”

This new recording is a chance to see Boito’s rarely staged opera with an all star cast. Joseph Calleja stars as Faust in his role debut alongside Rene Pape as Mefistofele and Kristine Opolais as Margarita. Live from the Bayerische Staatsoper, the production was hailed when it opened last season as it took a modernistic spin on the classic tale.

“Roberto Devereux” with Mariella Devia

Over the last few years Devia has been making the rounds with Donizetti’s third queen. Acclaimed as one of the legendary bel cantos sopranos our time, this new recording is an important document of the Devia’s dramatic work as well as of her vocal qualities. Two recordings were released this year one from Teatro Real and the other from the Teatro Carlo Felice. Both are recommended as they show different aspects of the character. One from a modern point of view and the other from a more traditional setting.

Marlis Petersen’s “Lulu”

Petersen has been hailed as the greatest Lulu of this century and the Met Opera has made sure to preserve the interpretation. Petersen retired the role after this run so if audiences missed it, this is a chance to see it. And what is more unique is that it stars an all star ensemble that includes Susan Graham and Daniel Brenna. The visually appealing production is by William Kentridge and it is yet another reason to get this DVD.

Barcelona’s “Norma” 

After Radvanovsky’s marathon at the Met Opera in Donizetti’s three queens, every listener needs to watch this stunning performance of Radvanovsky’s “Norma.” The soprano, who is slated to open the Met season next season in the role, triumphs in this production that also stars Gregory Kunde and Ekaterina Gubanova. Renato Palumbo conducts the acclaimed production.

About the Author

Francisco Salazar
FRANCISCO SALAZAR, (Publisher) worked as a reporter for Latin Post where he has had the privilege of interviewing numerous opera stars including Anita Rachvelshvili and Ailyn Perez. He also worked as an entertainment reporter where he covered the New York and Tribeca Film Festivals and interviewed many celebrities such as Antonio Banderas, Edgar Ramirez and Benedict Cumberbatch. He currently freelances for Remezcla. He holds a Masters in Media Management from the New School and a Bachelor's in Film Production and Italian studies from Hofstra University.

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