WFMT Radio Network Opera Series Overview

The WFMT Radio Network is pleased to announce the first half of an exciting new season of opera productions in the 2024 WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, beginning  June 15 and running through November 30, 2024. This first portion of the season spans through September 7, and features thrilling performances from many of the great opera houses and theaters of Vienna, France, London, Italy, and more, with world-renowned artists.

The 2024 series commences with Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Vienna State Opera. This production stars Roberto Frontali in the title role of the Swiss folk hero, with John Osborn as Arnold and Lisette Oropesa starring as Mathilde. Under the skilled direction of Bertrand de Billy, the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus deliver a riveting performance of Rossini’s final opera, which tells the story of Tell’s fight for Swiss freedom. We will stay in Vienna to hear Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten. With Andreas Schager, Elza van den Heever, and Tanja Ariane Baumgartner leading the cast, and Christian Thielemann at the helm, audiences will be transported into the heart of a mystical narrative. This opera, renowned for its intricate psychological depth and lavish score, weaves a tale of a fairy empress on a quest to gain a shadow—symbolizing her desire for motherhood and human connection.

Then, we travel to the Netherlands for Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, performed by Les Arts Florissants as part of the Utrecht Early Music Festival. This production, conducted by William Christie, features a dynamic cast including Paulina Francisco and Georgia Burashko. A baroque interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this semi-opera combines Purcell’s exquisite music with spoken drama and dance, celebrating the enchantment and complexities of love in a fantastical setting.

Then Opéra de Lille presents Mozart’s Don Giovanni, featuring Timothy Murray as the licentious nobleman Don Giovanni, alongside James Platt as the Commendatore and Emőke Baráth as his daughter Donna Anna. Emmanuelle Haïm leads the Lille Opera Chorus and Le Concert d’Astrée in this timeless tale of seduction and retribution.

Next, we’re in London for the majestic story of Das Rheingold, from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Christopher Maltman is Wotan, the god of battle, Christopher Purves sings Alberich, with Sean Panikkar as Loge. Sir Antonio Pappano conducts the first of the four chapters that make up Wagner’s Ring Cycle. We will stay at Covent Garden for our next broadcast, Elektra by Richard Strauss. Aušrinė Stundytė takes the lead, with notable performances by Sara Jakubiak as Elektra’s sister Chrysothemis, and Karita Mattila sings the role of their mother in this intense drama.

The opulent Palais Garnier in Paris is the location of our next broadcast, Médée by 18th century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. This opera delves into the dark and tragic tale of Médée, portrayed by Lea Desandre, who uses her sorceress powers in vengeful acts against her unfaithful lover, Jason, played by Reinoud Van Mechelen. Opéra de Paris is conducted by William Christie, this production offers a riveting exploration of love, betrayal, and revenge, weaving a powerful emotional tapestry that is both captivating and heart-wrenching.

As part of their 90th anniversary season in 2023-24, the French National Orchestra and music director Cristian Măcelaru bring a gripping production of the Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Berlioz explores Faust’s existential despair, his pact with the devil, and his tragic descent into hell in profound music that contemplates the human condition, blending elements of love, ambition, and the supernatural into an unforgettable spectacle. John Irvin sings the title role, with Stéphanie d’Oustrac as Marguerite.

Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi, presented by La Scala at Teatro alla Scala in Italy, brings to life the intense drama and heartbreaking conflicts within the court of King Philip II of Spain. This grand opera delves deep into themes of power, love, and betrayal, as the title character, performed by Francesco Meli, finds himself in a love triangle that threatens not only his happiness, but also the stability of an empire. Anna Netrebko, and Michele Pertusi grace the stage with their formidable presence, and the great Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly leads the performance.

Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Liège, presents Rusalka, a captivating fairy tale steeped in Slavic mythology. This performance is conducted by Giampaolo Bisanti and explores Rusalka’s tragic love for a human prince and her desperate quest for a soul. Corinne Winters sings the title role of the water nymph Rusalka, with Anton Rositskiy and Jana Kurucová completing the principal cast. This lyrical journey, composed by Antonin Dvořák, weaves a tale of love that resonates long after the curtain falls.

Hercules Hall in Munich is the location of a stunning performance of Mozart’s Idomeneo with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Andrew Staples and Magdalena Kožená star, and the legendary Sir Simon Rattle leads the forces in this work exploring the ancient Greek myth of Idomeneo, King of Crete, who is caught in a dire vow to Neptune, the god of the sea.

We then hear two performances presented by the Bavarian State Opera. Tosca by Giacomo Puccini tells the intense and dramatic love story of the singer Tosca (Eleonora Buratto) and the artist Cavaradossi, (Charles Castronovo) set against the backdrop of political unrest in Rome. Ludovic Tézier, Milan Siljanov, and Martin Snell join the cast in a thrilling ride through love, jealousy, betrayal, and the quest for freedom. Andrea Battistoni conducts this recent performance.

The Queen of Spades takes the stage at The National Theater of Munich under the direction of Aziz Shokhakimov. This opera navigates the dark and obsessive tale of Hermann, performed by Brandon Jovanovich in a story of desire, gambling, and the supernatural. Asmik Grigorian and Roman Burdenko join in the performance of what some say is Tchaikovsky’s greatest work.


Stay tuned for more episodes to come! The second half of the season will be announced in early July, 2024


Category: Operas
Duration: 2-hour / Varies by Opera
Frequency: Flexible
Availability: 06/15/2024 - 11/30/2024

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