Opera isn’t all that different from movies and TV in that it has too many streaming platforms that are just as difficult and expensive to navigate.
Established organizations such as Medici.tv and Met Opera’s On Demand operate on a subscription model.Deutsche Grammophon’s stage+ works just as well and is the only platform available to stream the latest rendition of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ from home courts at the Bayreuth Festival. Building your own digital library of operas on video is even more frustrating. Metropolitan Museum of ArtFor example, non-subscribers are only permitted to rent, but not purchase, individual titles for $4.99.
The Naxos label has wisely acquired the rights to various operas in recent years and released video recordings on DVD and Blu-ray. And now that catalog, which includes shows from Europe’s leading house shows, is starting to be available for digital purchase ($19.99) and rental ($5.99) on Amazon Prime Video. Here are five of Naxos’ best products.
‘Tosca』(Dutch National Opera, 2022)
Barry Kosky is one of the most popular directors on the international circuit. He’s made a name for himself in rare works of both comedy and seriousness, but this recent take on Puccini’s gory shocker shows that his punchy style works well in classics as well.
The intrigue and romance of the first act are conspicuously lacking in landscape embellishment. I don’t even know what the painter Cavaradossi is working on. But Kosky caps off the act with an imaginative coup. And it’s a powerful depiction of Scarpia’s villainy like nowhere else. Conducted by Lorenzo Viotti and sung by a youthful cast, Puccini’s thriller moves with the speed of a slasher movie. And it will arrive within 2 hours.
‘Attis(Opera Comic, 2011)
Well, it’s French Baroque luxury. The mythological tales told here, along with the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, captivated Louis XIV and his love became synonymous with this music. After that, this work became almost unknown, but it was staged in comics in the 1980s and attracted attention again. And in 2011, when a wealthy philanthropist funded his revival of this stoutly directed international tour, high-definition cameras were ready.
Conductor William Christie and his ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, perform a score with a courtly edge that reinforces the power (and vengefulness) of Stephanie Doustrac’s interpretation of the goddess Cybert. increase. And the Christie’s player likewise illuminates the lovestruck (or insane) exhilaration of the main character played by Bernard Richter.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s operas have struggled to establish themselves in the public repertoire, even after their rapid start during the composer’s early stardom in the 1920s. But recent years have given us gorgeous recordings of the composer’s rich musical drama, including “Die Tote Stadt” (documented) produced by Simon Stone. on Blu-ray from the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, but not yet streamed).
‘Das Wunder der Heliane’ is even better than the very famous film scores that followed Korngold’s foray into America and inspired John Williams and others. This recording is full of nearly three hours of orchestral frenzy thanks to the work of the Deutsche Oper Orchestra conducted by Marc Albrecht. American soprano singer Sarah Jacquebiak is no slouch either. Shine in the title roll. The production is easy, but the music and acting are crackling.
‘Matisse der Mahler‘ (Theater an der Wien, 2012)
First appeared was Paul Hindemith’s symphony “Matis der Mahler”, a nearly half-hour work that provoked the Third Reich’s wrath and defended Wilhelm Furtwängler. Then came the full opera, which premiered in Switzerland in 1938. Symphonic music was brilliantly integrated throughout the stage show, but concert pieces were never left out of the repertoire, partly due to the prohibitive cost of a three-hour opera performance. On the role of art in wartime.
In Hindemith’s libretto, the title painter is forced to choose whether or not to participate in the 16th-century “peasant wars.” The seriousness of the subject matter may seem forbidden, but Hindemith’s imagination of sound language—sometimes dissonant, but always frenzied and carefully conceived—is very engaging, and indeed sells this philosophical content. Keith Warner’s simple but memorable rendition is probably the only chance many people have of seeing this work, so its inclusion in the Naxos catalog is cause for celebration.
How about immersing yourself in a Weimar operetta? Here you can see the last operetta from the Weimar Republic. This operetta premiered in his January 1933. This operetta came just before the Nazis did all they could to erase the Jewish, gender-fluid, black-American music-influenced theatrical tradition of the day.
This time it’s directed by Barry Kosky. This was not the best operetta work in the long and famous ten years he directed at the Komische Opera. This isn’t even the best Jaromir Weinberger show this theater has put on. (That is Shwanda the Bagpiper, directed by Andreas Homoki in 2022.)
However, Frühlingsstürme remains a valuable document of Kosky’s efforts to revive his Weimar-era work. His playful renditions bring stylish flair to reversal of fortunes and comedic stakes of mistaken identity. You can hear excerpts that star singers like Jonas Kaufman would love to have in their showtune sampler, but the show as a whole has a fizzy euphoria that doesn’t match excerpts.