NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Classical, in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera, proudly presents the first in a line of CD and DVD releases drawn from both the storied Met broadcast archive and the acclaimed series "The Met: Live in HD." On January 25, 2011, Sony Classical issues four multi-disc sets that represent the first official release on CD of historic Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts from 1947 to 1962, with complete live opera performances freshly remastered from the original sources. All-star vocal greats like Licia Albanese, Carlo Bergonzi, Jussi Bjorling, Franco Corelli, Giuseppe di Stefano, Lily Pons, Leontyne Price, and Bidu Sayao at the height of their careers. Also on January 25, Sony Classical releases four DVDs capturing some of the most acclaimed and requested recent productions from the award-winning, groundbreaking series "The Met: Live in HD": Puccini's Madama Butterfly, John Adams' Doctor Atomic, Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, and Richard Strauss's Salome, each featuring some of today's top opera talents, including Placido Domingo, Karita Mattila, Patricia Racette, and Gerald Finley.
"Opera lovers should be very pleased to have these historic gems available, as well as some of our most recent high definition transmissions," said Peter Gelb, the Met's General Manager. "We are committed to serving our public with the greatest possible range of operatic artistry."
Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical said: "The Met broadcast archive is one of the ultimate treasure troves of recorded music. We're happy to be able to make some of its most legendary tapes available for the first time in the way they should be presented. Today, the Met's work of course gets preserved in a much different way, and so we also look forward to releasing some of the most spectacular recent productions in glorious HD video."
FIRST OFFICIAL, REMASTERED CD AND DIGITAL RELEASE: These historic performances originally broadcast via the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday afternoon radio series have never before been available internationally in authorized versions from original sources. Now, Sony Classical is presenting the first commercial releases of this material, newly remastered from the original sources and with the imprimatur of the Met.
ROSSINI: IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, December 16, 1950 (two CDs). This live broadcast from the Met of the Rossini favorite features the legendary Lily Pons in the role of Rosina, with the sterling young tenor Giuseppe di Stefano as Count Almaviva, a role he never recorded commercially, and baritone Giuseppe Valdengo, well known for his recordings with Toscanini, as Figaro. Alberto Erede conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, with the cast also including Salvatore Baccaloni as Don Bartolo and Jerome Hines as Don Basilio.
PUCCINI: LA BOHEME, February 15, 1958 (two CDs). This classic performance of one of the repertory's most popular operas stars the passionate singing of two paragons of Italian style, soprano Licia Albanese as the doomed seamstress Mimi and tenor Carlo Bergonzi as the poet Rodolfo. The conductor is Thomas Schippers, with the cast also including Mario Sereni as Marcello and Laurel Hurley as Musetta.
GOUNOD: ROMEO ET JULIETTE, February 1, 1947 (two CDs). The star-crossed lovers in this version of Shakespeare's tale are the celebrated Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling and the sweet-voiced Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao, both in roles they never recorded commercially. Emil Cooper conducts, with the cast also including John Brownlee as Mercutio and Nicola Moscona as Frere Laurent.
PUCCINI: TOSCA, April 7, 1962 (two CDs). Live from the Met, Leontyne Price sings Puccini's tragic title heroine – in the prime of her career, opposite the thrilling tenor of Franco Corelli as Cavaradossi. Baritone Cornell MacNeil sings the evil Scarpia, one of his most famed portrayals. Kurt Adler conducts the Met Orchestra and Chorus.
"THE MET: LIVE IN HD" ON DVD: Hugely popular worldwide, "The Met Live in HD" series – which has won both Peabody and Emmy awards for excellence – captures recent productions from the Metropolitan Opera with the highest possible production values, including high-definition visuals, innovative camera work and surround sound. Four of the most requested recent productions debut on DVD via Sony Classical, featuring some of today's top singers, conductors and directors. The DVD packages include bonus features on the operas and their productions.
PUCCINI: MADAMA BUTTERFLY (March 7, 2009). This stunning production by the late Anthony Minghella of Puccini's perennial crowd-pleaser opened the Met's 2006-07 season, launching Peter Gelb's first season as general manager. This 2009 revival was seen by hundreds of thousands of people around the world as part of the company's "Live in HD" series. Soprano Patricia Racette stars as Cio-Cio San, the innocent, trusting young geisha of the title; she falls disastrously in love with American Navy lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, played by tenor Marcello Giordani, only to be abandoned by him. Dwayne Croft plays Sharpless, the sympathetic American consul who does all he can but is unable to avert tragedy. Patrick Summers conducts. Running time: 2 hours, 26 minutes.
JOHN ADAMS: DOCTOR ATOMIC (November 8, 2008). John Adams, perhaps today's pre-eminent American composer, teamed with librettist Peter Sellars to create a gripping, mesmerizing work that depicts a pivotal moment in human history – the invention of the atomic bomb. This very 21st-century opera presents the human face of technological change, as scientists, politicians and military men wrestle with the implications of their work. The "Live in HD" DVD captures the potent stage production by Penny Woolcock, as well as the Met conducting debut of Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic. Baritone Gerald Finley gives a haunting, star-making performance the title role of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Running time: 2 hours, 46 minutes.
VERDI: SIMON BOCCANEGRA (February 6, 2010). When this sumptuous production by Giancarlo Del Monaco opened in 1995, iconic tenor Placido Domingo gave a riveting performance as the romantic lead tenor, Gabriele Adorno. In the 2010 revival, Domingo made history by taking on the baritone title role, a feat no other singer in Met history has done. The great Spanish tenor's Boccanegra is seconded by a strong cast that includes Adrianne Pieczonka as the doge's long-lost daughter Amelia, Marcello Giordani as Gabriele Adorno, and James Morris as Jacopo Fiesco. Met music director James Levine conducts the company's great orchestra, bringing out all the color and surging emotion of Verdi's score. Running time: 2 hours, 29 minutes.
RICHARD STRAUSS: SALOME (October 11, 2008). Met audiences have gone wild over the sizzling Salome of Karita Mattila, who is indisputably one of the greatest exponents of the role in our time. The Finnish soprano embodies Oscar Wilde's petulant, willful, lust-driven heroine. With Strauss's harmonically lush music magnifying the degenerate atmosphere and building erotic tension, this is an opera that generates as much of an impact today as it did at its 1905 premiere. Mattila caused a sensation when she sang Salome at the Met for the first time in 2004, and this DVD captures her reprise of this stunning interpretation. Patrick Summers conducts a performance by the Met Opera Orchestra that is both gloriously intense and ravishingly subtle. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.
For more information on the Metropolitan Opera, please visit www.metopera.org.
Sony Classical is the label group in charge of classical music within Sony Music Entertainment, based in New York and Berlin and responsible for the international productions of Sony Classical, RCA Red Seal and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, as well as a vast catalogue that goes back to Enrico Caruso. Sony Classical is the home of artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Murray Perahia and Vittorio Grigolo, as well as containing the musical legacy of Glenn Gould, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein. In the USA, Sony Classical is represented by the Sony Masterworks label group. For email updates and information please visit www.SonyMasterworks.com.
SOURCE Sony Classical