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Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara -
Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.
It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered
and makes an enormously favorable impression on today’s listeners. That has
happened, unexpectedly, with Herculanum, a four-act grand opera by
Félicien David, which in 2014 was recorded for the first time.
This recording, made in the Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music in June 2014, is the fourth disc in SOMM’s series of recordings with Paul Spicer and the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir.
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.
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”
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.
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.
Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au
bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc
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.
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’.
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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
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.
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.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
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 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’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.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
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.
14 Nov 2006
BELLINI: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
It only takes a few moments for the overture to Vincenzo Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi to establish that this opera takes a very different approach to the classic story than does Shakespeare's play.
Indeed, though most of the plot elements remain the same, this bel canto treasure springs from a different source than that used by Shakespeare. Sprightly and melodic, even as the story moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, composer Bellini's music focuses on the beauty in the pathos. And where the first audiences for Shakespeare's play would have seen male actors as both Romeo and Juliet, Bellini makes Romeo a pants role, bringing to the writing the same exquisite combination of female voices employed in his greatest work Norma, with the title character and Adalgisa.
In a brief note in the booklet of this Dynamic set, Sergio Segalini (director of the Festival della Valle d'Itria di Martina Franca where this production was staged) posits that Bellini's later revision of this opera (for La Scala) deserved staging, and so the front cover proclaims this CD a "first recording." Segalini points to the major difference, a revision that moves Romeo from a mezzo-ish Romeo to a more feminine soprano sound. For this staging the festival chose for Giulietta Patricia Ciofi, who has established herself well in Europe, if less so in the US. Carla Polito sings the soprano Romeo. The live audience came primed for the performance, by the sound of things - Dynamic has included extensive applause throughout the recording, peppered with fervent cries of brava.
Ciofi shines, if occasionally hard metallic glints burst through at the top of her range. Polito, no less distinctive, manages to differentiate her performance so that the ear does not become confused as to which of the two lovers is singing at any given moment. In the tenor role of Tebaldo, Danilo Formaggio impresses most in his recitative, delivered with force yet still attractively presented. In his arias the legato could be smoother.
Luciano Acocella conducts the Orchestra Internazionale D'Italia. Dynamic's sound does not favor the orchestra, which comes off as unsubtle, especially in the overture. As accompaniment for the singers, they serve well enough.
After initial success in its 1830 debut, I Capuleti e i Montecchi gradually sank below Bellini's three mature masterpieces, Norma, La Sonnambula, and I Puritani. In recent years the opera has enjoyed reemergence, for both its familiar story and many opportunities for lovely, florid singing. Fans of the composer will want this set for the fresh take of this edition. For others, the extra edge of excitement of a live recording may make this set preferable to the small number of studio sets, if they can be located. Dynamic continues to be a resourceful and interesting label for opera lovers.