Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Camille Saint-Saens: Mélodies avec orchestra

Saint-Saëns Mélodies avec orchestra with Yann Beuron and Tassis Christoyannis with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Markus Poschner.

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

Mahler Symphony no 9 in D major, with Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, new from Harmonia Mundi. A rewarding performance on many levels, not least because it's thoughtfully sculpted, connecting structure to meaning.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia
23 Dec 2006

ROSSINI: Il barbeire di Siviglia

Rossini’s comic masterpiece premiered in 1816, which means a big anniversary lies just a few years ahead.

Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia

Joyce DiDonato, Roberto Sacca, Dalibor Jenis, Carlos Chausson, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Orchestre et Choeurs de l'Opera National de Paris, Bruno Campanella (cond.)

TDK DVWW-OPBARB [DVD]

$28.49  Click to buy

But with an evergreen crowd-pleaser such as Il barbeire di Siviglia, companies won’t wait to put on new productions. San Francisco Opera debuted its revolving house set in recent years, and the Metroplitan just inaugurated a new production, favorably reviewed, this season. TDK now releases a 2002 staging from the Paris Opera, directed by Coline Serreau and designed by Jean-Marc Stehlè and Antoine Fontaine.

Under the creators’ conception, the Seville of the story remains under Moorish rule. In fact, the city seems to have been transplanted to a North African desert. Arab nomads accompany the Count as he walks through a desert landscape to serenade Rosina outside Dr. Bartolo’s stone and wood dwelling. Later, the interior of Bartolo’s home brings some welcome color, of turquiose and then gold. The final tableaux has the happy young lovers wandering off into an oasis of sprouting palm trees.

Why? Perhaps just because it looks cool. At least the creators had the good sense not to make the Count a European who rescues Rosina from her oppressive Arab master, which would have been a troublesome interpretation in this day and age. However, they have made Figaro a ridiculuously anachronistic figure, with a beach-umbrella hat and cell phones of various colors hooked to his sleeve. In other words, don’t think about it. Just enjoy the show.

The show can best be enjoyed once Joyce DiDonato’s Rosina appears. An appealing stage presence, DiDonato in her short career has already made her Rosina a classic interpretation: lively, clever, and always beautifully sung. The only singer near her class here is Kristinn Sigmundson, whose handsome bass makes Don Basillio a more appealing figure than usual.

The three other major male roles get adequate performances, not much more. Roberto Sacca’s Almaviva has the right energy but the tone isn’t especially attractive. Dalibor Jenis needs to expend a more energy in a role such as Figaro if he is going to deserve having the opera’s title. As Bartolo, Carlos Chausson does well by the character’s comic villainy; once again, the voice is nothing special.

Jeanette Fischer, the Berta, throws a few wild “hip-hop” moves in her very funny solo number.

Bruno Campanella conducts the score with the kind of affection that matters — an appreciation for Rossini’s orchestral color and flexibility.

With a cast that could match DiDonato’s inspiration, this DVD would be a must-see. As it is, lovers of this opera can still find much to enjoy, including an amusing credit sequence (under the overture) . And perhaps a helpful Opera Today reader can explain to this reviewer why, when Figaro schemes to get the house key from Dr. Bartolo, the subtitle has him wishfully thinking that with the key, “We’d be home and hosed.”

Chris Mullins

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):