New Year’s Day Concert, Vienna
January (single performance)
Romeo and Juliet by Gounod
March (three performances)This 1994 performance from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, was conducted by Charles Mackerras with Roberto Alagna as Romeo and Leontina Vaduva as Juliette. Back in ’94, Alagna was a lean and virile young man with a tenor voice to match. He was ideally matched by Vaduva with similar youth and beauty of appearance and voice. Both perfectly capture the blind passion of doomed youthful love, while Mackerras teases out the romantic beauty of Gounod’s orchestral score.
La Cenerentola by Rossini
June (three performances)From the Salzburg Festival of 1982 we have Riccardo Chailly conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in this faultless production. Ann Murray is Angelina (La Cenerentola) with Francisco Araiza as Don Ramiro and Gino Quilico as Dandini. The action catches the comedy perfectly without becoming pantomime, while the voices (and performances) of Murray, Araiza and Quilico are each a delight. Naturally the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is Rossini to the last note.
Lohengrin by Wagner
July (single performance)1990 Vienna State Opera, conductor Claudio Abbado. Placido Domingo takes the title role.
Rigoletto by Verdi
September (three performances)Directed by the great Jean-Pierre Ponelle in 1983, again with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Riccardo Chially. Luciano Pavarotti is the Duke, Edita Gruberova Gilda and in the title role of Rigoletto is Ingvar Wixell. Filmed on actual Italian locations, this is a dark and powerful production, yet one which does not stray into the gross vulgarity of some modern renditions! Pavarotti was in his ‘prime’ and acted convincingly. Gruberova conveyed the love and determination of the character while Wixell gave a defining performance as Rigoletto.
Grafin Maritza (Countess Maritza) by Emmerich Kalman
December (three performances)A Morbisch production from 1994. You may not be familiar with this work but if you like the Czardas from Fledermaus, you will love Kalman’s music with its Hungarian gipsy flavour. Naturally being from Morbisch, all aspects of the operetta are of the highest order with some memorable tunes which may be new to you.