ADÉS: The Exterminating Angel
Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of the Metropoitan Opera ' Thomas Adès, cond.
WARNER CLASSICD DVD TT: 128 min,+ 15 min. bonus

HANDEL: Xerxes
Gaëlle Arquez (Xerses). Lawrene Zazzo (Arsamene). Elizabeth Sutphen ( Romilda). Louise Alder (Atalanta) Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Amastre) Brandon Cedel (Ariodate). Thomas Faulkner (Elviro). Franfurt Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Constantinos Carydis, cond"

ROSSINI: Le Comte Ory
Philippe Talbot (Le Comte Ory). Julie Fuchs (La Contessa). Gaëlle Arquez (Isolier). Eve-Maud Hubeaux (Dame Ragonde). Patrick Bollier (Le Gouveneur). Les Èlèments Chorus. Champs-Elysées´Orchestra. Les élements. / Louis Langrée, cond.

Thomas Ádes' opera The Exterminating Angel was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera, Royal Danish Theatre, and the Salzburg Festival. It is based on Luis Buñuel film darkly comic film. It has a bizarre plot about a large group of people all of whom seem to be social misfits. A wealthy couple hosts an elaborated party for twelve of their associates including a prima donna, a pianist, a doctor and a duchess. For whatever reason, these guests are unable to leave the room and after several days they are hungry, dirty, disheveled and begin to turn on each other, hardly a pleasant view of humanity. It has been said that this symbolism represents a commentary on the vapidity of the elite. Here we have the Metropolitan Opera HD telecast of their acclaimed 2017 production. Host is Susan Graham, and her interviews are fascinating. The affable composer speaks of his fascinatio with the original film, we hear several of the cast members talking about the unusual music they must sing, and there is an interview with Cynhia Millar who plays the unusual Ondes Mrtinot, used frequently in the score to produce an appropriate eerie sound. The music surely is effective for its purpose; there are no arias or opportunities for vocal display—although all of the sopranos must sing in an unusually high register. Hildegard Bechtler designed the sets and costumes. The 128-nminute opera is quite spectacular visually, but most opera lovers surely will find it more than a challenge Production values are first rate, splendid video and audio A detailed plot summary is provided in three languages. Unfortunately there is no prited track list. The opera is sung in English; subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish and German. An intriguing, and important release!

Handel's 35th opera, Xerxes (or Serses) had its premiere in April 1738, and it was not a success. Over the yea, this tragic/comic opera has become one of Handel's best-known operas. This is primarily because of the aria Ombra mai fù sung by Xerxes at the beginning of the opera. It is one of the composer's most famous works, frequently performed in recitals and concerts in many varied arrangements. It is usually called "Largo from Xerxes," (although actually in the score it is identified as Larghetto .In this brief aria, which translates from the Italian as "Never was a shade," the Persian King Xerxes sings of his love for the shade of a tree. After that we have a series of generally brief arias and duets (there are 92 tracks). There have been a number of recordings including one with distinguished soloists conducted by Rafael Kubelik. This new issue is a superb performance with young mezzo Gaëlle Arquez in the title role. The recording was made at the Frankfurt Opera in January 2017. The opera has been updated, with sets by Karoly Risz, costumes by Susanne Uhl, and was directed by Tilmann Kohler. There are many effective projected images, and the stage area includes a narrow platform in front of the orchestra. The excellent period-style orchestra is ed by Constantinos Carydis. Video is outstanding and the multi-channel audio works well. A fine issue, the first DVD of this major Handel opera.

Here is an excellent presentation of Rossini's 1828 comedy Le Compt O'ry, with a strong cast led with infectious spirit by the remarkable Louis Langrée. It was recorded December 2017 at the Opéra Comique in Paris. The effective simple set is by Eric Ruf, costumes are by Christian Lacroix, and the production was directed by Denis Podaydès. I spite of its virtues it surely cannot match the dazzling Met production of a few years back featuring an all-star cast: Juan Diego Flórez, Joyce DiDonato and Diana Damrau (REVIEW). Competition is simply too much for this latest version. For some reason, producers have presented this on two disks when it easily would have fit onto just one.

R.E.B. (March 2019)