Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Recordings

A Prize-Winning Rediscovery from 1840s Paris (and 1830s Egypt)

Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century. In recent days,

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

John Taverner: Missa Corona spinea

This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their 40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.

Honegger: Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher

Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne dArc au bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc

Far in the Heavens — Choral Music of Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Donizetti: Les Martyrs

As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

A worthy tribute for a vocal seductress of the ancient régime

Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Bernarda Fink Sings Mahler Lieder

Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Amore e Tormento

Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’ 



Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz
26 Oct 2006

Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz

Those familiar with Antoni Wit’s fine recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony will have encountered some Polish singers in the solo parts, and among them is the baritone Wojtek Drabowicz.

Opera Arias - Wojciech Drabowicz

Wojciech Drabowicz, baritone, Poznań Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Grzegorz Nowak (cond.)

Dux 0494A11904 [CD]

29.90 Zlotych ($9.79)  Click to buy

With much concert and stage experience to his credit, Drabowicz has recorded a number of well-know baritone arias that demonstrate not only facility with various works and styles. Among the highlights of this recording are the idiomatic interpretations of music from two Russian composers, Alexander Borodin and Peter Tchaikovsky.

The extended aria from Borodin’s Prince Igor is memorable for its almost flawless execution and solid interpretation. Taken from the scene in which Prince Igor recognizes his vast losses and yet retains his sense of duty. The aria is essentially a scena for baritone, and a critical point in the work. It is a telling moment from the opera, and Drabowicz captures the spirit of the music well and sustains not only the musical line, but also the emotional pitch of the excerpt.

Likewise, the excerpts from several of Tchaikovsky’s operas are notable for the arioso style he employs to bring across the musical line and also to present the text. The lyrical passages demonstrate Drabowicz’s fluid sound. Not only is his voice appealing, but he colors it well in shaping the line, as at the end of the excerpt from The Queen of Spades. Onegin’s aria is another fine example of Drabowicz’s command of Tchaikovsky’s style and his understanding of the musical and emotional demands of his particular number.

Drabowicz’s voice is quite effective in performing Verdi’s music, where the baritone roles demand equally lyricism and declamatory expression. His approach to Germont’s aria reflects a sense of melodrama through the inflection of various phrases and, at the same time, Drabowicz has colored his voice to fit the character. It differs in style from his more dramatic approach to the aria from Rigoletto, “Cortigiani,” which shows another aspect of the baritone’s voice.

With the inclusion of two almost obligatory arias from Mozart’s operas, the “Champagne” aria from Don Giovanni that opens the recording, and the Count’s aria from Le nozze di Figaro, the CD demonstrates Drabowicz’s abilities to cover most the standard repertoire for this voice. Added to it is a finely lyric interpretation of the Toreador’s aria from Carmen, which he executes well. In the final selection, Drabowicz demonstrates his facility with Wagner, repertoire that would seem demanding because of the scoring, not for the vocal line itself. Yet Drabowicz’s lyricism is never lost in the famous “Song to the Evening Star,” here presented in a somewhat subdued manner. It is welcome not to hear this delicate music not taken in the stentorian fashion that some used for this music. Moreover, the lingering sound suggests a promising Wolfram on stage for Tannhäuser

While Drabowicz’s credits do not yet include Wagner’s operas, his experience is notable for the number and variety of roles he has performed. In addition to the traditional bass-baritone roles in Mozart’s main operas, Drabowicz has performed in Il barbiere da Siviglia, I Puritani, The Queen of Spades, and such Verdi operas as Don Carlos and La forza del destino. In addition, he has also been part of productions as such works as Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Szymanowski’s King Roger, and Martinů’s Epic of Gilgamesh. Moreover, he has been part of various festivals in Europe and worked with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Antoni Wit, and Sir Charles Mackeras.

This CD offers a fine introduction to a baritone who has much to offer. Yet of criticism can be leveled, it must be directed to the length of the recording, which is just about fifty minutes. With such an effective voice and a performer with Drabowicz’s experience, the ten selection s found on this recording do not seem like quite enough and, in a sense, it may be praise to want to hear more from this fine singer, whose accomplishments merit attention as he continues to perform repertoire roles and create new ones in recent compositions.

James L. Zychowicz

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):