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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.
12 Mar 2012
Netrebko and Garanča in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena
The cinema world has given us “star vehicle,” a term used to describe a movie that may not have the best script or direction but which suits a popular actor’s persona so well the film can fairly be called a successful entertainment.
Gaetano Donizetti’s first big success, Anna Bolena, serves as a
“star vehicle” in the 2011 production from the Vienna State Opera, with
Anna Netrebko in the title role and Elīna Garanča as Giovanna Seymour,
Bolena’s rival for the attention of King Enrico VIII. As one of the
composer’s longer operas, Anna Bolena tends to be something of a
drag. The title character is unhappy from start to finish, and while the tragic
conclusion has real power, too much of the rest of the score fails to rise
above the workmanlike.
The female leads easily overshadow the two male leads, both very capable
(Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Enrico and Francesco Meli as Bolena’s supposed
partner in royal infidelity, Lord Percy). The male roles only help to set up
the opera’s other highlight, the confrontation between the doomed Queen and
Seymour. In that scene Netrebko and Garanča bring a production to fierce life
that, to that point, had been gliding along in somewhat perfunctory, if
glamorous, fashion. For Netrebko, the role requires some of the bel
canto dexterity that many critics find her lacking in. She shines in long
lines and soaring passion, where her large voice can dominate the orchestra.
Dramatically, she seems disengaged until the opera’s last scenes, however.
Garanča’s Seymour earns the audience’s sympathy with her initial
reluctance to accept the King’s favors, and the singer’s beauty helps as
well, of course. While her voice certainly has a darker tinge than that of a
soprano, Garanča is a careful, almost inhibited singer and not the sort of
mezzo voice exhibited by a Marilyn Horne or Dolora Zajick. Those who want a bit
more heat or even grit to the voice will be disappointed.
The production is either all meat, no potatoes, or vice versa,
depending on one’s gustatory disposition. For some reason it took two
designers (Jacques Gabel and Claire Sternberg) to come up with the stark and
simple sets. The visual attraction all comes from Luisa Spinatelli’s
luxurious period costumes. Eric Génovèse’s direction offers nothing new,
even ending with Netrebko’s preferred pose of lying on her back (with a
descending wall partition symbolizing the ax, one supposes).
Singer’s conductor Evelino Pidò maintains a strong pulse, and the female
chorus at the start of act two is particularly beautiful. The only bonus
features the set offers are brief spoken act summaries from Ms. Garanča. As a
“star vehicle” then, Anna Bolena is done fine service by this
Deutsche Grammophon DVD. Those who adjust their expectations will have a fine