It’s the holiday season and that means gift buying and making difficult choices. As a result, OperaWire has lightened the task as we chose albums from some of our favorite artists and our key recommendations from the hundreds of releases from 2017.
If you are going to spend money this year, Maria Callas: The Live Recordings is OperaWire’s number one recommendation. Featuring 42 discs, this box sets features the first release of the legendary artist’s “Parsifal’ and also features many of Callas’ greatest live performances like her “Lucia di Lammermoor” with Herbert Von Karajan and her historic “Aida.” There are also a few DVDs which were remastered and an index with all the performances of each opera. Furthermore, this is a collector’s item that all opera fans should have.
For Plácido Domingo fans there is always something to look for. For those who missed his “Macbeth” at the LA Opera, Sony Classical has an incredible DVD featuring Ekaterina Semenchuk in what is one of the singer’s greatest recent roles. And for those who already have this one, C Major released “I Due Foscari” featuring Domingo at La Scala alongside Francesco Meli and the acclaimed Anna Pirozzi.
It was the comeback year for Jonas Kaufmann and with it were two incredible CDs that are worth the purchase for a holiday gift. For those looking for something experimental try the Mahler “Das Lied von der Erde,” in which Kaufmann records both parts. For those looking for something a bit more standard, there is always the fabulous French album “L’Opera,” which features the tenor alongside Sonya Yoncheva and Ludovic Tezier.
Anna Netrebko fans are also in for a treat with her acclaimed Lohengrin DVD with Piotr Beczala and the phenomenal Evelyn Herlitzius. The soprano also released her first crossover album “Romanza” dedicated to the works of Igor Krutoy and also starring Yusif Eyvazov.
Easily one of the biggest sopranos of our time, Yoncheva has three CDs and DVDs for fans this holiday season. For those who missed her Handel performances, her Handel album, released in the first months of 2017, is a great way to hear the soprano in early music. For those interested in her operatic performances Sony Classical has her “Les Contes d’Hoffman” with frequent onstage partner Vittorio Grigolo from the Royal Opera. There is also “Norma,” which will be released by Opus Arte. The performance features Joseph Calleja and Antonio Pappano from the Royal Opera House.
For Diana Damrau fans this holiday season has a lot to offer from five 2017 releases. For Meyerbeer lovers and admirers, there is her latest solo album Grand Opera which shows an extraordinary exploratory journey of the composer’s French, German and Italian repertoire. There are also four new DVDs from 2016 performances including her revelatory “Lucia di Lammermoor” from the Royal Opera House as well as her “I Puritani’ with Javier Camarena from the Teatro Real. There is also the star-studded “Le Nozze di Figaro” with Carlos Alvarez and rising star Golda Schultz. Finally, from the Metropolitan Opera, there is the acclaimed “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” with Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien.
This year was a banner for Elina Garanca making role debuts and moving into heavier repertoire. “Revive,” her latest solo album featuring music from Verdi, Cilea and Saint-Saens, among others, is also an option for those interested in this kind of repertoire. There is also “La Favorite,” which also features Matthew Polezani and Maurisz Kwiecien and “Der Rosenkavalier” from the Metropolitan Opera featuring her final turn in a pants role.
Fans of the Mexican tenor can engage with two releases. First up is Duets for Deutsche Grammophon, which marks his second collaborative album. It features Ildar Abdrazakov and Yannick Nézet-Séguin and duets from “L’Elisir d’Amore,” “Don Pasquale,” and “Simon Boccanegra,” among others. There is also a DVD of “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse” which should intrigue his fans. The performance also features Magdalena Kozena.
Fleming may have made headlines for retiring the majority of her operatic roles this year but she did release a new album “Distant Light,” which featured new works, a great gift for fans of the diva. There is also the “Der Rosenkavalier” from the Metropolitan Opera, which features her farewell to the Marschallin and, as mentioned, Garanca.
For those looking to other artists, Juan Diego Flórez released his first CD for Sony Classical dedicated to the work of Mozart, while Ramón Vargas’ “Ernani” from Monte Carlo is an option for those looking for another lyric tenor. Klaus Florian Vogt has a new “Parsifal” on Deutsche Grammophon while Paul Appleby is featured on “Beatrice et Benedict” from Glyndebourne. Piotr Beczala can be seen in “Faust” while John Osborn has a new album dedicated to Gilbert Duprez.
Also worthy noting is Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s final release, a full studio recording of “Rigoletto.”
Those looking for different artists might find comfort in Aida Garifullina‘s first album or Pretty Yende’s second album “Dreams.” There is also Kristine Opolais’ “Tosca” from Baden-Baden or María José Siri’s “Norma.” Marina Rebeka also has a new album dedicated Rossini as well as “La Traviata” on DVD. Joyce DiDonato is featured on a new “Les Troyans” and Regula Muhlemann dedicates a new album to Cleopatra.
Olga Peretyako’s “Russian Light” is also a recommended choice while Angela Gheorghiu has “Eternamente” for Erato. Nina Stemme’s “Turandot” from La Scala is another option for those who may have missed it at the beginning of the year, as is Anja Harteros’ recent “Die Walkure” from the Salzburg Easter Festival.