Grand Opera

Episodes

First
Broadcast
Comments
20031222

The best of opera on record 2003, presented by Stephanie Hughes.

It's a golden age in the history of opera recordings - more are becoming available on CD than ever before: new recordings, reissues of classic recordings of the past, and first issues of some of the great performances of the twentieth century from opera houses across the world.

Over the Christmas and New Year fortnight, Stephanie presents complete recordings and highlights from the best of what's hit the shelves in 2003.

Today, Italian opera from Bellini to Puccini and beyond, featuring Maria Callas as Bellini's Norma, and Julia Varady and Jussi Björling in Verdi.

Plus brand-new recordings of an opera by Ponchielli that isn't La Gioconda; and the biggest nose on stage: Cyrano de Bergerac by the man most famous for finishing Puccini's Turandot - Franco Alfano.

20031223

The best of opera on record 2003, presented by Stephanie Hughes.

Featuring German opera, including Rhine maidens from Offenbach! Plus historic Wagner: Götterdämmerung, with the 'dream cast' of Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad, and Paul Hindemith's operatic Harmony of the World.

20031224

The best of opera on record 2003, presented by Stephanie Hughes.

Today's specially extended programme for Christmas Eve features a complete performance, in English, of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel - a much-loved recording from the 1960s by the Sadler's Wells company, featuring Rita Hunter.

Plus highlights from another delightful children's opera in English - Griffelkin, by the American composer Lukas Foss.

20031226

The best of opera on record 2003, presented by Stephanie Hughes.

Today's programme follows the exciting Baroque opera scene across Europe, with Vivaldi representing Italy and Rameau, France - a new recording of his Zoroastre by Les Arts Florissants.

Even Spain gets a look in, and as a boost to European unity there's opera in Italian by a famous German working in England: Handel, including his Giulio Cesare, starring Magdalena Kozena as the seductive Queen Cleopatra who distracts Julius Caesar from his military manoeuvres in Egypt.