Join us Saturdays at noon for opera from around the world from the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, June 17 - December 2, 2023.
We begin the Opera Series with a set of operas from abroad. Vienna State Opera kicks off the series with two productions: Beethoven’s Fidelio, and Strauss’s Salome. Vienna’s production of Fidelio stars Brandon Jovanovich as Florestan, alongside a vast that includes Anja Kampe as Leonore. Philippe Jordan leads the ensemble in Strauss’s Salome, with Malin Byström in the titular role, alongside Gerhard Siegel (Herod), Wolfgang Koch (John the Baptist) and more.
First week in July, we’re pleased to present Paris Opera’s production of John Adams’s Nixon in China, with a star-studded cast that includes Thomas Hampson as Richard Nixon and Renée Fleming as Pat Nixon, with John Matthew Myers as Chairman Mao. You won’t want to miss this stunning performance!
Next up, we are beyond thrilled to welcome London-based Opera Rara to the Opera Series. Specializing in lost and forgotten works from composers of the past, Opera Rara works in a unique intersection of opera company, recording label, and live operatic archeologist—through their work, they strive to expand the operatic repertoire and encourage the opera world to explore new and little-known rediscoveries. Found in the archives of the Naples Conservatory Library in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Opera Rara has restored the score to Saverio Mercadante’s Il Proscritto, a story set in Edinburgh at the time of Oliver Cromwell. Unheard since its premiere in 1842, conductor and Artistic Director Carlo Rizzi leads the Britten Sinfonia and Opera Rara Chorus alongside an exceptional cast including Ramón Vargas, Irene Roberts, Elizabeth DeShong, Iván Ayón-Rivas, and more. We’re delighted to bring this rediscovered work to this year’s opera series, and we know listeners will be enchanted and excited to be a part of this history-in-the-making.
Then we travel to the Prinzregententheater in Munich, Germany to hear a production of Verdi’s I Lombardi alla prima crociata with the Munich Radio Opera, featuring Galeano Salas as Arvino, Andreas Burkhart as Acciano, Nino Machaidze as Giselda, and Réka Kristóf as Viclinda.
After Munich, we travel back to London for an exquisite production of Berg’s inimitable Wozzeck by the UK’s Royal Opera. Christian Gerhaher stars in the title role, with Anja Kampe returning to the series as Marie. Peter Hoare stars as the Captain, Rosie Aldridge as Margret, and more. The illustrious Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
The world-famous La Scala returns to the series for another season with a new production of Leonardo Vinci’s Li zite ‘nglera, a part of La Scala’s project to rediscover and reinvigorate Italian baroque repertoire. Written in the Neapolitan dialect with a libretto by Bernardo Saddumente, this engaging comedy is sure to be a hit with listeners. Andrea Marcon leads the La Scala Orchestra and Chorus to support a cast that includes Francesca Aspromonte, Chiara Amarù, Marco Filippo Romano, and more.
Benjamin Britten’s mysterious and spellbinding ghost story-turned-opera The Turn of the Screw is next, presented by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under the baton of Iván Fischer in the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall. With a complex and compelling form, Britten’s work is brought to life by an excellent cast that includes Andrew Staples as Peter Quint, Allison Cook as Miss Jessel, Miah Persson as the Governess, and more.
New to the series this season, Liège, Belgium’s Opéra Royal de Wallonie takes the stage for a stunning production of Bellini’s La sonnambula. This bel canto favorite stars Jessica Pratt as Amina, Marko Mimica as Count Rodolfo, René Barbera as Elvino, and more. We’re delighted to welcome this exceptional company to the series for the first time!
Following our trip to Belgium, we voyage to sunny Barcelona for two productions from the Gran Teatre del Liceu. First up is Massenet’s Manon, under the baton of Marc Minkowski. Performed in May, 2023, this fresh production features Amina Edris, Pene Pati, Albert Casals, and more. Then, we stay to hear Monteverdi’s last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea led by none other than Jordi Savall, with members of Le Concert des Nations and the Gran Teatre del Liceu Orchestra. David Hansen stars as Nero, with Julie Fuchs as the empress-to-be Poppea, alongside a long cast of exceptional singers. Not to be missed!
From Europe, we traverse continents to land in China to hear four operas from Beijing’s exceptional National Centre for the Performing Arts. Following on their success last season, we’re honored to bring these exceptional productions to listeners across the United States. First up is Rossini’s audience-favorite William Tell, with a cast of Chinese and Western artists including Giovanni Meoni, SONG Yuanming, Antonino Siragusa, SHI Yijie, and many more. Next up is an exciting production of Chinese composer YIN Qing’s The Ballad of the Canal, presented here for the very first time on US radio. This beautiful opera celebrates the ups and downs of life on the canal, full of joy and sorrow, life and death, righteousness and evil—all sung in a virtuosic and stunning style.
Otello, Verdi’s setting of Shakespeare’s tale of love and loss, passion and revenge, follows, with another fabulous cast that combines the talents of Western and Chinese artists. Gustavo Porta stars in the titular role, with Lana Kos as Desdemona, John Lundgren as Iago, GUAN Zhijing as Lodovico, and WANG Chuanyue as Cassio. And finally, the first part of the 2023 Opera Series ends with a bang, featuring an epic production of Wagner’s masterwork, the exceptional Tannhäuser. Endrik Wottrich stars as Tannhäuser, with Barbara Haveman as Elizabeth, Giuseppina Piunti as Venus, Markus Werba as Wolfram, and many more. Internationally acclaimed conductor LÜ Jia leads the NCPA Orchestra and Chorus for these exciting productions from China’s leading opera house.
And the music continues! Stay tuned for more information on the 2023 WFMT Opera Series, featuring productions from American companies, including LA, Chicago, New Mexico, and more! Further information on the Opera Series will be released in the coming months, spanning until early December before the MET Opera broadcasts resume.