This month's new audiovisual releases include two distinctly contrasting productions from the Opus Arte label, with the gripping story of courage and struggle for fulfilment central to the Royal Opera's new production of Janáček's Jenůfa finding a lighter counterpart in Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, his fairy tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, brilliantly performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
There's further contrast in the choice between Scarlatti's opera Griselda on the Dynamic label, performed by a superb team of Baroque specialists, and Naxos' production of Rimsky-Korsakov's satirical opera The Golden Cockerel, staged by Australian director Barrie Kosky, a specialist in Russian opera.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (Le Coq d’or) is based on a Pushkin folk tale, but the opera’s Orientalism, comedy and sultry elements go far beyond its original influence. The composer saw in the story of a Tsar, punished for his cowardice and despotism, an opportunity to employ satire to condemn Russia’s autocratic ruler, Nicholas II. This new production premiered in May 2021 and was staged by the Australian director, Barrie Kosky, a specialist in Russian opera. Critics hailed the ‘glorious’ singing of Dmitry Ulyanov and the ‘exquisite’ performance of Nina Minasyan calling the event ‘a triumphant evening for all concerned’ (Bachtrack.com).
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0150V)
Alessandro Scarlatti is one of the key figures of Italian Baroque opera and the influential Neapolitan school in particular. Griselda is the last of Scarlatti’s operas to have survived intact to the present day. Its narrative is set in motion by the marriage of the King of Sicily to a poor shepherdess, the ensuing complications of love and the tensions between country and court delivering an entertainment full of lyrical charm and lively action. Performed by a superb team of Baroque specialists and acclaimed singers, this production is set in Puglia’s magnificent Palazzo Ducale and celebrates the 300th anniversary of Griselda’s premiere.
Award-winning director Claus Guth’s acclaimed production of Jenůfa is a striking representation of an oppressed society ‘infused with heart-warming humanity’ (Evening Standard ★★★★★)
Two courageous women struggle for fulfilment against the backdrop of a claustrophobic rural community. With music inspired by the traditional folk melodies of his native Moravia, Janáček’s score movingly captures Jenůfa’s progression from hope to despair to eventual radiant happiness, while her stepmother, the Kostelnička, is one of opera’s most complex maternal figures.
Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási conducts Asmik Grigorian in her much-anticipated Royal Opera House debut in the title role, alongside Karita Mattila as the Kostelnička and a star cast.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7302D)
A father ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel. A lonely son, while searching for his brother, loses himself. Across town a wife starts to realise her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). Will anything ever be the same again?
Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, a fairy tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen.