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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 co-production of WDAV Classical Public Radio, a service of Davidson College and South Carolina Public Radio.

World of Opera Site     Lisa Simeone's bio

Program Schedule
February 6, 2016

Giuseppe Verdi's ErnamiRoyal Opera of Wallonie Orchestra and Chorus
Paolo Arrivabeni, conductor

After his first few operas Verdi was marked as a composer with a political message, speaking out for Italian unity and freedom.  When it came time for opera number five he tried something different, dipping into Romantic literature for Ernani, after a play by Victor Hugo.  It touches on politics, but at its heart the story is pure passion, with a title character choosing love over life itself.

January 30, 2016
P. I. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades
Piotr Ilyich TchaikovskyRome Opera Orchestra and Chorus
James Conlon, conductor

Compulsive gambling has gotten plenty of people in deep trouble, but few more dramatically than the unfortunate Hermann in Tchaikovsky's opera. Based on a chilling story by Pushkin, the operatic version is no less disturbing than the original.
January 23, 2016
GAETANO DONIZETTI: Lucia di Lammermoor

woo-160123squareGrand Liceu Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Marco Armiliato, conductor 

It's hard to think of a heroine with a fate more heartbreaking -- or more shocking -- than that of Donizetti's Lucia, whose famous mad scene is one of the greatest moments in any opera. This production from Barcelona features one of today's most acclaimed tenors, Juan Diego Flórez, with the brilliant Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc in the title role.

January 16, 2016

Hamburg State Philharmonic
Hamburg Opera Chorus
Kent Nagano, conductor

Berlioz had a lifelong enthusiasm for Virgil's Aeneid, and brought that passion to life in his most ambitious opera. It's presented here in a new production from Hamburg, marking conductor Kent Nagano's first production since becoming the Hamburg State Opera's new music director.

January 9, 2016
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woo-160109Mozarteum Orchestra, Salzburg
Alejo Pérez, conductor

This one might be considered Massenet’s "other opera."  His Manon is more famous, but Werther is beginning to get the wider attention it surely deserves.  Based on a trendsetting novel by Goethe, the opera is the story of a man whose lost love leads him to the ultimate act of desperation.

January 2, 2016
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woo-160102squareLausanne Opera Chamber Orchestra and Chorus
Stefano Ranzani, conductor

Based on the fairytale favorite "Cinderella" La Cenerentola is one of Rossini's most delicate and delightful comedies.  But in this version of the story, it's not magic slippers and fairy godmothers that carry the day, but rather the strength of love and the resiliency of the human spirit.

December 26, 2015
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El NinoWestminister Choir and Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra 
Joe Miller, conductor

John Adams, Pulitzer Prize-winner and arguably America's best-known living composer, describes El Niño as, “my way of trying to understand what is meant by a miracle."   This sweeping setting of the Christmas story is both freshly 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 19, 2015
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woo-151219State Symphony Capella of Russia Orchestra and Chorus
Valery Polyansky, conductor

Based on a Ukrainian story by Gogol, Rimsky's opera is one of the few that are specifically set at Christmas time.  The same story was also set by Tchaikovsky in The Slippers, with Rimsky's version putting greater emphasis on the tale's more fantastic and mystical elements.

December 12, 2015
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Mariella Devia (Elisabeth, Queen of England) in Roberto Devereux at the Teatro Real Madrid.Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus
Bruno Campanella, conductor

Donizetti had a well-known affinity for historical stories of the English monarchy.  This time, he takes on a tale of intrigue and jealousy in the court of Queen Elisabeth I, including her supposed entanglement in a regal love triangle, involving Devereux, the Earl of Essex, and Sara, Duchess of Nottingham. 

December 5, 2015
ARRIGO BOITO: Mefistofele
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woo-151205squareBavarian State Orchestra and Chorus
Omer Meir Wellber, conductor

Arrigo Boito is best-known by far as one of Verdi's favorite librettists; he wrote the texts for both Otello and Falstaff.  Yet, Boito was also an accomplished composer in his own right and Mefistofele, based on Goethe's Faust, is far and away his most successful opera.

November 28, 2015
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woo-1548-falstaff-300px.jpgZurich Opera Chorus and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Jonathan Nott, conductor

Verdi's final two operas, Otello and Falstaff, were both based on Shakespeare.  Together, they may be the finest valedictory in the history of opera, and Falstaff may also be the most optimistic.

November 21, 2015
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Hans Heiling Arnold Schoenberg Chorus and ORF Radio Symphony
Constantin Trinks, conductor

Marschner's work seldom appears in today's theaters, despite playing an important historical role in operatic history.  His operas fill the musical gap between the early, German Romantic operas of Weber, and the revolutionary music dramas of Wagner. Hans Heiling tells a folk-based tale of a clash between two worlds, the mortal and the spiritual.

November 14, 2015
SIMON MAYR: Medea in Corinto
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Medea in CorintoTransylvania State Philharmonic Chorus and Italian International Orchestra
Fabio Luisi, conductor

Not widely known today, Simon Mayr was among the most important opera composers of the early 19th-century, bringing German harmonic language and orchestral color to the world of Italian opera.  His Medea tells the gripping mythological story of a woman so obsessed with revenge that she destroys her own children.

November 7, 2015
W. A. MOZART: Don Giovanni
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W. A. MOZART:  Don Giovanni Royal Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Alain Altinoglu, conductor

Few operas have stories as perfectly suited to a composer as this one.  It's hard to imagine a more complex weave of antic comedy, shocking violence and emotional betrayals than librettist Lorenzo da Ponte's incisive adaptation of the Don Juan legend -- or a composer better equipped to handle it than Mozart.

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