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World of Opera
Saturdays at 6 p.m.

Lisa SimeoneWorld of Opera with host Lisa Simeone brings listeners compelling performances from top American and international opera companies. World of Opera encompasses the seminal operas of centuries past as well as today's masterpieces.
World of Opera is a production of WDAV Classical Public Radio, a service of Davidson College.

World of Opera Site     Lisa Simeone's bio

Program Schedule
May 3, 2015
Art Imitates Art in 'Goyescas'


Teatro Regio Orchestra, Chorus and Children's Chorus

Children's Chorus of the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory
Donato Renzetti, conductor

This unusual double bill features a mystical one-act drama from Puccini's Il Trittico, plus an opera that began life, literally, at the keyboard. Goyescas, by Granados, is based on music from a popular set of piano pieces inspired by the romantic paintings of Francisco Goya.

April 26, 2015
A Worthy Contender: Nicolai's 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'


Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Christian Zacharias, conductor

Successful Shakespeare-based operas are few and far between, and this gem is often overlooked. Using the same story that later inspired Verdi's Falstaff, Nicolai's colorful score combines the sparkle of Italian opera with the budding style of German romanticism.

April 19, 2015
First-Time Perfection: Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro'
Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus
Yutaka Sado, conductor

Deep down, as with many of Mozart's "comedies," Figaro isn't as funny as it first seems, with plenty of telling human foibles, weaknesses, heartbreak, and even treachery, all lurking beneath a slapstick veneer -- and illuminated by page after page of glorious music.
April 12, 2015
Treacherous Beauty, in Bellini's 'Norma'

Grand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Renato Palumbo, conductor

Perhaps the ultimate bel canto classic, Bellini's masterpiece features a powerfully emotional story and a title role that's among the most challenging in all of opera, sung here by one of today's most exciting sopranos, Sandra Radvanovsky.
April 5, 2015
Under the Rainbow: Rossini's 'Tancredi'


Popov Academy Chorus
Russian National Orchestra
Alberto Zedda, conductor

Tancredi was the opera that first established Rossini's international reputation, and it demonstrates that in the hands of a true master, even the well-worn traditions of opera seria could still produce both moving romance, and riveting spectacle.

March 29, 2015
Revolutionary Peril, in Giordano's 'Andrea Chenier'


Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
Antonio Pappano, conductor

In Giordano's revolutionary potboiler love and politics vie for the hero's soul, vividly demonstrating how both of those passions can be dangerous to one's health. This Covent Garden production features two of today's most highly-regarded stars, tenor Jonas Kaufmann and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek.
March 22, 2015
An Improbable Beauty: Bellini's 'La Straniera'
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

Arnold Schoenberg Chorus
Paolo Arrivabeni, conductor

Bellini has a well-deserved reputation as a master of bel canto opera. Yet, this fascinating drama, set in medieval Brittany, is in a different vein. Its highly expressive music explores Romantic territory then considered so radical and hard to pin down that one critic couldn't decide whether it was "sung declamation ... or declamatory song."
March 14, 2015
Exiled to Massachusetts: Verdi's 'Un Ballo en Maschera'
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
Daniel Oren, conductor

The original version of Verdi's A Masked Ball -- an opera about illicit love and backstabbing traitors at a European, royal court -- so offended Italian censors that Verdi eventually picked up the whole story and moved it all the way to Boston! No matter where it takes place, the story is bolstered by one of Verdi's most heartfelt scores, and a love affair that ranks among the most passionate in any of his operas.
March 7, 2015
Breaking the Mold: Gounod's 'Romeo and Juliet'
WOO 1510 Romeo and Juliet

Intermezzo Chorus, Madrid Symphony Orchestra
Michel Plasson, conductor

Gounod's popular Faust is far better-known than this, later opera. Still, of the scores, if not hundreds, of musical takes on the iconic Shakespeare tragedy, Gounod's version of Romeo and Juliet is one of a bare handful that still hold the stage today -- making it a remarkable opera in its own right.

February 28, 2015
Learning History's Lessons: Mussorgsky's 'Khovanshchina'


Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Semyon Bychkov, conductor

Mussorgsky followed up on his popular epic Boris Godunov with this colorful drama, which delves deeply into a complex and fascinating era of Russian history. Along with a number of striking characters, Khovanshchina also delivers some of the composer's most familiar orchestral numbers, including "Dawn Over the Moscow River."

February 22, 2015
Co-Starring with 'Carmen': Bizet's 'The Pearl Fishers'

Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Arnold Schoenberg Chorus

Jean-Christophe Spinosi, conductor

Yes, Bizet did write something besides Carmen! No less a critic than Hector Berlioz described The Pearl Fishers, Bizet's "other" opera, as "beautiful and expressive ... filled with fire and rich coloring."
February 14, 2015
Two for the Price of One: Strauss's 'Ariadne auf Naxos'

Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Chris Thielemann, conductor

You might think of this fascinating drama as a play-within-a-play ... within yet another play. On paper, the dramatic structure seems complex, with its tricky combination of opera seria and commedia dell'arte. Yet the opera reflects the simple, real-life truth that highdrama and low comedy can easily occupy the same moment.
February 7, 2015
Strife and Salvation: Beethoven's 'Fidelio'
WOO 1506 Fidelio

La Scala Orchestra and Chorus
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Beethoven spent as much time on his only opera as some composers did on their entire portfolios -- and it shows.  Fidelio is one of opera's greatest stories of salvation, both literal and spiritual.  It's heard here in the 2014-15 season-opening production at La Scala, in Milan, with soprano Anja Kampe in one of her signature roles.
January 31, 2015
Historically Seductive: Massenet's 'Cleopatra'
Sophie KochParis Opera Chorus
Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra

Not performed until two years after the composer's death, Massenet's final opera tells the powerful story of one of the ancient world's most intriguing historical figures, and her ill-fated romance with Rome's Mark Antony.  

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