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Bellini: Norma

In the bel canto masterpiece set during the Roman occupation of England, Adalgisa is a novice Druid priestess who is devoted to her leader, Norma. But she has also fallen in love with the proconsul Pollione and is about to run off with him to Rome when she learns that he has secretly fathered two children by Norma. Horrified, she rejects her lover and reaffirms her loyalty to the high priestess.

To open the Met’s 2017–18 season, powerhouse soprano Sondra Radvanovsky tackled one of opera’s most fearsome roles, the title druid priestess of Bellini’s Norma, and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sang Norma’s friend and rival, Adalgisa, in Sir David McVicar’s evocative production.

 

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Bellini: Norma

“If we weep from emotion on hearing it, it’s nothing to be ashamed of” Richard Wagner on Bellini’s most famous opera Norma, the most successful work by the last and greatest composer of bel canto. This new production of Norma, directed by Grammy Award-nominated opera, theatre and film director Kevin Newbury (winner of the Irish Times Theatre Award 2010) and starring Sondra Radvanovsky as a “powerful, elegant” Norma (New York Times) and Gregory Kunde as Pollione, is “something very special. The word ‘historic’ is used perhaps a little too often but tonight there really is no other adjective to describe the sensational performances offered to us by Sondra Radvanovsky and Gregory Kunde.” (operatraveller.com)

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Verdi: Il Trovatore

Four extraordinary singers star in one of Verdi’s most popular operas. Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano and Leone Emanuele Bardare, based on the play El trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez.

Acclaim for this Trovatore: “Álvarez made a stalwart, passionate, masculine figure … Radvanovsky has all the technical devices necessary for Leonora, and she is, moreover, a passionate actress … Hvorostovsky sang with superb, flawless line, total control and long, flowing high notes … Zajick held down Azucena powerfully, lacking nothing obvious of the mad gypsy’s force of character … The opera’s end I have never seen staged or acted more convincingly” (Opera Today).

Extras: Backstage at the Met with Sondra Radvanovsky, Marcelo Álvarez and others.

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Hvorostovsky in Moscow

With Guest star Sondra Radvanovsky
Constantine Orbelian, conductor
Philharmonia of Russia

A Magical Match Made in Moscow.
In June 2008, Dmitri Hvorostovsky invited Sondra Radvanovsky to be his guest star in the prestigious Moscow concert series ‘Hvorostovsky and Friends,’ with conductor Constantine Orbelian and the Philharmonia of Russia. This glamorous occasion, captured on film for Russian television, marked these artists’ first-ever musical collaboration – and proved to be a historic event that documented for posterity one of those all-too-rare instances of magical artistic alchemy between two great opera stars. Their electrifying performance was an instant sensation, and a potent preview of the two stars’ effusively acclaimed later appearances together in Il Trovatore at Covent Garden, The Met and The San Francisco Opera.

Delos recorded the live concert, to be released later as the critically-acclaimed CD, ‘Verdi Opera Scenes’. The Russian TV show, featuring their national baritone hero and his dazzling guest, was broadcast throughout the Russian Federation. Upon obtaining that film footage, Delos collaborated with California film editor Steve Scoville, who expertly synched the footage with Delos’s concert audio. The result, available for the first time on this DVD, takes the viewer/listener to Moscow’s Great Hall for the concert’s most unforgettable moments, with stunning ‘you are there’ sonic and visual impact. Bonus feature interview with Maestro Orbelian.

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Verdi Opera Scenes

Two of opera’s biggest stars, on the crest of solo album triumphs, team up for this long-awaited duet album of Verdi Scenes.

It is high drama and great Verdi, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, widely recognized as “the Verdi baritone of our time” (Los Angeles Times), and Sondra Radvanovsky, the fastest-rising “true Verdi soprano” (Opera News) in international opera today. The electricity is palpable in the emotional duet scenes from Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera, and Simon Boccanegra. Dmitri sings a favorite among his signature arias, “O Carlo, ascolta,” from Don Carlo; and Sondra gives us a memorable glimpse of her Tosca in “Vissi d’arte.” We are treated to delightful Mozart and tender Dvorak. Dmitri’s favorite conductor, Constantine Orbelian, leads the Philharmonia of Russia in masterful fashion.“Opera’s reigning hunk” and “La Rad” team up again in April 2011 to sing Il Trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera, complete with HD telecast.

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Verdi: Arias

Sondra Radvanovsky has been hailed as one of the great Verdi singers of the new generation, and this magnificent debut album from the American soprano demonstrates what all of the excitement is about. As George Loomis puts it, “At a time when genuine Verdi sopranos seem rarer than heldentenors, Sondra Radvanovsky is cause for joy. Her brightly lustrous voice of generous proportion can amply fill out Verdi’s arching phrases and is backed by an interpretive flair that brings the composer’s heroines to life.” Sondra has been called “the ‘Leonora’ of our time” (San Francisco Sentinel), “today’s most exciting Verdian spinto” (Opera Canada), and “a true Verdian, with a big, juicy, vibrato-rich sound” (London Times). “The evening’s stand-out performance came from Sondra Radvanovsky, an impassioned, big-voiced Leonora,” wrote Edward Seckerson in London’s The Independent. “Firstly, it’s a real Verdi colour, plangent, open, with bags of reach. But she’s not all about big notes, this singer (though heaven knows she has them); her way with Verdi’s expressively exacting hairpin dynamics was arresting and affecting in both her big arias.”

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Alfano: Cyrano de Bergerac

While best known today for having composed the ending to Puccini’s unfinished Turandot, Franco Alfano wrote some dozen operas, including Cyrano de Bergerac (1936) with a libretto by Henri Cain based on Edmond Rostand’s drama of the same name. It is a moving tale of romantic misunderstanding, swashbuckling bravado and heartbreaking loyalty, in which the eloquent Cyrano feels unable to express his love for Roxane because of his famously protuberant nose except on behalf of his handsome but inarticulate friend, Christian. When Domingo and Radvanovsky sang Cyrano and Roxane at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Andante magazine wrote: ‘Incredibly, Cyrano is his 121st role. And it suits him splendidly … Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky was luminous as Roxane, her passionate outbursts showing off her powerful upper register to good effect’.

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