Ludwig van Beethoven
La Traviata: Teatro Real Madrid Act I
Runtime: 1 hr 39 minLa Traviata stands or falls on its lead singers and in Norah Amsellem and Rolando Villazon this 2005 Salzburg Festival performance has a pair whose electric interactions and brilliant singing are irresistible. If Amsellem can't quite provide the vocal bloom of the great Violettas of the past, hers is a lovely voice used with intelligence and dramatic intensity and she has the coloratura chops to deliver her Act I showpieces with flair. Villazon's tenor has ping on top, terrific color, and an impressive range of rubato, dynamic shadings, and interesting phrasing that makes Alfredo's music sound newly minted. The Germont is Thomas Hampson, no Verdi baritone but an astute singer and actor. Chorus and smaller roles are fine, the orchestra first-rate. Carlo Rizzi has odd notions about the music (usually too fast, sometimes way too slow) but this Traviata triumphs despite his conducting.
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor - The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Runtime: 1 hr 22 minAfter the two famous Mahler festivals in 1920 and 1995, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, presents a special two-season Mahler series, which includes Mahler’s ten large-scale symphonies, performed in chronological order by the world’s greatest orchestra under the direction of great conductors – all brought to life in the wonderful acoustics of the Main Hall of the Concertgebouw.
St. Matthew's Passion
Johann Sebastian Bach
Runtime: 1 hr 33 minJohann Sebastian Bach composed the St. John Passion in Cöthen during the winter of 1722/23. The text is drawn from chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel according to St. John, and includes some excerpts from St. Mathew and additional text from a Passion poem by the Hamburg town councillor Barthold Heinrich Brockes. The composer led the first performance at the Good Friday services on 7 April 1724 at St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, where he had since become municipal music director and cantor of the Thomasschule. This Passion is heard less often today than the St. Matthew Passion, perhaps because the St. John Passion is in some ways more raw and evokes the anguish of the Passion more painfully than the St. Matthew work. A musician’s musician, an occasional firebrand and a constant paradox – Nikolaus Harnoncourt (born in 1929) is one of the most profound and intriguing conductors of our time. Considered one of the world’s leading specialists of Baroque music, he has long since turned his attention to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and even to Jacques Offenbach and Johann Strauss. He spent many years as a cellist with the Wiener Symphoniker before founding the "Concentus Musicus Wien" with his wife Alice in 1953. It soon became one of the world’s most respected ensembles specializing in the performance of early music on original instruments. In the 1970s, Harnoncourt joined forces with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle to stage a series of Monteverdi operas at the Zurich Opera House. This universally acclaimed cycle contributed to a renaissance of Monteverdi’s music and set standards for early Baroque performance practice. He later began to turn his attention more and more to the music of Mozart, whom he considers "the most romantic of all composers". Harnoncourt did not make his official debut at the Salzburg Festival until 1992. He has been conducting there regularly since then and is a sought-after guest conductor of such reputable ensembles as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
The Ring of the Nibelung - Götterdämmerung - Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
Runtime: 1 hr 23 minTo honor Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, Latin America’s famous opera house in Buenos Aires hosts a one-of-a-kind project: Performing Wagner’s powerful music drama “The Ring of the Nibelung” on stage in a single day. Stage Director Valentina Carrasco, who has worked with the award-winning Catalonian theatre group “La Fura dels Baus” for the past ten years, transposes the “Colón Ring” into the 1970s – the period of Argentina’s military dictatorship. Symbols of that age are seen on the costumes, while the characters also make references to the period in their behavior and gestures.
Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music - Ravel - Bolero
Runtime: 25 minThe “Bolero”, originally composed as a ballet, is Maurice Ravel's most successful work at all. The world famous melody of the “Bolero” has been featured in popular music, motion pictures and even video games. Pianist and writer Paul Roberts vividly explains the music and its structure and also lets the audience know why Ravel was a stringent critic of his own work.