5 DVDs & 5 CDs We Recommend For Your Black Friday Shopping
Jonas Kaufmann, Plácido Domingo, & Renée Fleming Produce Some of Year’s Top AlbumsBy Francisco Salazar
The holiday season is officially underway. For many, that means going out and buying a plethora of gifts for loved ones. But what about that opera lover in your life? What do you buy him or her?
There’s a ton to choose from and this year featured a plethora of amazing recordings to choose from. So to give you a little help, OperaWire has put together a list of five DVDs and CDs that we recommend as the perfect holiday gift.
The Riccardo Chailly Edition
The Teatro alla Scala released two incredible DVDs this year that are must-buys, especially if you’re looking for a rarity. The first was “Giovanna d’Arco” with Anna Netrebko and Francesco Meli and as OperaWire noted, it is an “amazing” production. This release marks the fourth DVD of this work and in this version, the critical edition is used.
The series also released “Madama Butterfly,” which opened the 2017-18 season with Maria Jose Siri and Bryan Hymel. What is special about this version is that Chailly opted for the original version Puccini wrote without the edits that he would implement later on. The production is also highly recommended as it features Chailly’s consistently beautiful conducting.
“Otello” from the Royal Opera House
Jonas Kaufmann is the reason to get this DVD. Released by Sony Classical, the interpretation captures the tenor in his role debut alongside Antonio Pappano conducting Verdi’s masterpiece. OperaWire was at the performance and said, “Jonas Kaufmann cements His Legacy As One of History’s Great Otellos.” The release also stars Maria Agresta and Marco Vratogna.
“Iolanta” from the Opéra de Paris
Sonya Yoncheva leads Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production, which also showcased “The Nutcracker.” The double bill intertwines Tchaikovsky masterpieces flawlessly as they were originally commisioned in 1892. It is also a chance for audiences to experience Yoncheva’s interpretation before she returns to the role at the Metropolitan Opera. Alain Altinoglu conducts the production which OperaNews called, “remarkable.”
“Hamlet” from the Glyndebourne Festival
Brett Deann and Matthew Jocelyn’s new opera “Hamlet” was the toast of Glyndebourne this past summer and as a result, Opus Arte has released the opera on DVD. The cast includes Allan Clayton in the title role, Barbara Hannigan, Sarah Connolly, and Rod Gilfry. The Times raved about the opera, stating that it was “magnificent.”
“Madama Butterfly” From the Royal Opera House
Ermonela Jaho is known as the greatest modern interpreter of Cio-Cio San and the Royal Opera House, alongside Opus Arte, has immortalized her account of the tragic heroine in a production by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. When Jaho sang the role at the Metropolitan Opera, OperaWire said, “Jaho created a magical evening” and this DVD is definitely a great addition to any Puccini collection.
The Spanish CDs
Sony Classical has released two albums featuring some of Latin America and Spain’s greatest songs. First Juan Diego Flórez recorded “Besame Mucho,” featuring everything from Tango, Boleros to Salsa. The album encapsulates Florez’s heritage and his musical roots. Meanwhile, Plácido Domingo, joined by Pablo Sainz-Villegas, gives tribute to Spain and traditional Spanish song, as well as many Latin American songs. Both albums have similar songs, but each artist gives them something special and different.
Jake Heggie’s latest opera was a hit at the Dallas Opera and as a result, Erato has released the world premiere recording. Featuring a stellar cast headlined by Joyce DiDonato, Ailyn Pérez, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Frederica Von Stade, and Nathan Gunn, the work combines the Bel Canto style with the modernistic opera form and creates a delightful listening experience.
Marina Rebeka’s latest album by Prima Classic is the essential Bel Canto album. Featuring Jader Bignamini conducting the Teatro Massimo Di Palermo, the new album contains arias from “Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda,” “Norma,” “Il Pirata” and “La Vestale.” In this album, Rebeka displays a clear understanding of each piece and brings clarion coloratura that makes for an incredible listening experience.
Puccini in Love
Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak bring their Sony Classical debut album featuring duets from every great Puccini opera. The album shows Kurzak exploring new territory while solidifying Alagna as one of the foremost exponents of the verismo repertoire. With great chemistry and beautiful singing, this is a must-buy album.
For over a year Renée Fleming has been dominating the Broadway scene singing “Carousel” and next up she will be making her theater debut in London. To give all her fans a taste of her love for the art form, Fleming has recorded an all-Broadway album for Decca featuring some of the most beloved show tunes in musicals. As OperaWire noted, the album is a “hit overall.”