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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
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.  
January 24, 2015
Rossini Turns 21, with 'Aureliano in Palmira'

WoO 1504 AurelianoG. Rossini Symphony Orchestra, Chorus of the Teatro Comunale, Bologna 
Will Crutchfield, conductor

This story of romantic intrigue among warring leaders of the ancient world is rarely heard in modern opera houses, though it is home to some of Rossini's best-known music: Its rousing overture was later recycled to kick off his comedy, The Barber of Seville.

January 17, 2015
Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans
WOO 1503 Maid of OrleansBolshoi Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Tugan Sokhiev, conductor

This neglected gem is Tchaikovsky's moody, Romantic take on one of history's most compelling and inspiring stories -- coming to us from the legendary theater that staged world premieres of several Tchaikovsky operas.
January 10, 2015
Brilliance in Darkness: Verdi's 'Simon Boccanegra'
Verdi Simon Boccanegra

La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus 
Myung-Whun Chung, conductor

Verdi himself once described the story of this brooding masterpiece as "too sad, and desolate," and then made a complete revision of the score before he was satisfied. Now, it's counted among his most powerful and compelling dramas. It comes to us from one of opera's most glamorous destinations, La Fenice in Venice.
January 3, 2015
Handel's Julius Caesar in Egypt
Pictured Sonia Prina (Julius Caesar) and Jud Perry (Tolomeo); photo by Ramella and Giannese; Teatro Regio Torino

Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus
Alessandro de Marchi, conductor

Not too long ago, many people were surprised to learn that Handel was among the most acclaimed opera composers of his time.  By now, he's quickly becoming a favorite of our own time, as well.  This colorful drama is one of the many Handel operas being heard more and more often in the world's theaters.
December 27, 2014
Donizetti's The Elixir of Love

Elixir of LoveRoyal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus
Daniele Rustioni, conductor

There's not a lot to be taken seriously in this comic romp by Donizetti -- unless, of course, you count the music! It's some of Donizetti's finest, and takes the opera beyond the world of farce to a place where simple confidence leads to life-changing revelations.

December 20, 2014
'El NiƱo' by John Adams: The Nativity in Verse and Music

Adams Nino

Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra Westminster Choir
Joe Miller, conductor

This sweeping setting of the Christmas story is both compellingly contemporary and filled with ancient traditions, including medieval carolers, Latin American poets, and an ethereal children's chorus. As the New York Times put it, "El Niño bears so many gifts that the senses stagger under the load."

December 13, 2014
Special Event, Special Music: Rossini's "The Voyage to Reims"

ReimsVirtuosi Brunensis Poznan Bach Chorus
Antonio Fogliani, conductor

This score by Rossini is alternately called a dramma giocoso and a "scenic cantata." Either way, it's right at home in the theater, and contains some of the composer's most brilliant vocal writing.

December 6, 2014
Grim and Grimmer: Tchaikovsky's 'The Queen of Spades'

The Queen of SpadesBavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Mariss Jansons, conductor

Gambling has gotten lots of folks in trouble, but few more dramatically than the unfortunate character Herman in Tchaikovsky's opera. Based on a chilling story by Pushkin, the operatic version is no less disturbing than the original.

November 29, 2014
Mozart's Idomeneo

IdomeneoVienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Idomeneo is a masterpiece that’s only beginning to gain its rightful place in Mozart’s canon. The opera does have an outlandish plot -- complete with conniving gods and a carniverous sea monster -- but it’s also blessed with some of Mozart’s most beautiful music and a troupe of opera’s most touchingly human characters.

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