Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Women's Voices: a sung celebration of six eloquent and confident voices

The voices of six women composers are celebrated by baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and soprano Yunah Lee on this characteristically ambitious and valuable release by Lontano Records Ltd (Lorelt).

Rosa mystica: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir

As Paul Spicer, conductor of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, observes, the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary is as ‘old as Christianity itself’, and programmes devoted to settings of texts which venerate the Virgin Mary are commonplace.

The Prison: Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth’s last large-scale work, written in 1930 by the then 72-year-old composer who was increasingly afflicted and depressed by her worsening deafness, was The Prison – a ‘symphony’ for soprano and bass-baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Songs by Sir Hamilton Harty: Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn

‘Hamilton Harty is Irish to the core, but he is not a musical nationalist.’

After Silence: VOCES8

‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ Aldous Huxley’s words have inspired VOCES8’s new disc, After Silence, a ‘double album in four chapters’ which marks the ensemble’s 15th anniversary.

Beethoven's Songs and Folksongs: Bostridge and Pappano

A song-cycle is a narrative, a journey, not necessarily literal or linear, but one which carries performer and listener through time and across an emotional terrain. Through complement and contrast, poetry and music crystallise diverse sentiments and somehow cohere variability into an aesthetic unity.

Flax and Fire: a terrific debut recital-disc from tenor Stuart Jackson

One of the nicest things about being lucky enough to enjoy opera, music and theatre, week in week out, in London’s fringe theatres, music conservatoires, and international concert halls and opera houses, is the opportunity to encounter striking performances by young talented musicians and then watch with pleasure as they fulfil those sparks of promise.

Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players: a world premiere recording

“It’s forbidden, and where’s the art in that?”

John F. Larchet's Complete Songs and Airs: in conversation with Niall Kinsella

Dublin-born John F. Larchet (1884-1967) might well be described as the father of post-Independence Irish music, given the immense influenced that he had upon Irish musical life during the first half of the 20th century - as a composer, musician, administrator and teacher.

Haddon Hall: 'Sullivan sans Gilbert' does not disappoint thanks to the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Andrews

The English Civil War is raging. The daughter of a Puritan aristocrat has fallen in love with the son of a Royalist supporter of the House of Stuart. Will love triumph over political expediency and religious dogma?

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Choral Fantasy from Harmonia Mundi

Beethoven Symphony no 9 (the Choral Symphony) in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80 with soloist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi.

Taking Risks with Barbara Hannigan

A Louise Brooks look-a-like, in bobbed black wig and floor-sweeping leather trench-coat, cheeks purple-rouged and eyes shadowed in black, Barbara Hannigan issues taut gestures which elicit fire-cracker punch from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies (Vol.2) - in conversation with Adrian Bradbury

‘Signor Piatti in a fantasia on themes from Beatrice di Tenda had also his triumph. Difficulties, declared to be insuperable, were vanquished by him with consummate skill and precision. He certainly is amazing, his tone magnificent, and his style excellent. His resources appear to be inexhaustible; and altogether for variety, it is the greatest specimen of violoncello playing that has been heard in this country.’

Those Blue Remembered Hills: Roderick Williams sings Gurney and Howells

Baritone Roderick Williams seems to have been a pretty constant ‘companion’, on my laptop screen and through my stereo speakers, during the past few ‘lock-down’ months.

Bruno Ganz and Kirill Gerstein almost rescue Strauss’s Enoch Arden

Melodramas can be a difficult genre for composers. Before Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden the concept of the melodrama was its compact size – Weber’s Wolf’s Glen scene in Der Freischütz, Georg Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea or even Leonore’s grave scene in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gioacchino Rossini: Il Viaggio a Reims
24 Jun 2007

ROSSINI: Il Viaggio a Reims

Il Viaggio a Reims was a pièce d’occasion, part of the official tributes to Charles X of France on his coronation in 1825, but unlike most such creations – which tend to dreary platitudes of the Oscar speech variety – Viaggio has a cheeky personality and delicious music from Rossini at the top of his game, music he planned to recycle in subsequent operas – which he did.

Gioacchino Rossini: Il Viaggio a Reims

Madame Cortese - Anastasia Belyaeva; Baron von Trombonok - Vladislav Ouspenski; Contessa di Folleville - Larissa Youdina; Count Libenskof - Daniil Shtoda; Marchesa Melibea - Anna Kiknadze; Don Alvaro - Alexeï Safiouline; Corinna - Irma Guigolachvili; Belfiore - Dmitry Voropaev; Modestina - Olga Kitchenko; Lord Sidney - Edouard Tsanga; Don Profondo - Nikolaï Kamenski; Maddalena - Elena Sommer; Don Prudenzio - Alexeï Tanovitsky; Don Luigino - Andreï Iliouchnikov; Antonio - Pavel Chmoulevitch; The Academy of Young Singers of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre; The St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, Conductor. Alain Maratrat, Stage Director.
Recorded live at Le Châtelet, Paris in December 2005

Opus Arte OA0967D [DVD]

$29.98  Click to buy

Having just arrived in Paris (lured from Naples by a huge stipend), he wanted to convince the powers that be, from King Charles to the opera-goer in the street, that he was an excellent investment. In fact, after Charles’s downfall in 1830, he had to sue the next regime to keep his income, and he stopped writing operas altogether.

Viaggio has no plot to speak of. An inn-full of aristocratic tourists heading for Reims for the coronation are stranded (no horses) and decide to celebrate the event right where they are. We follow a series of amorous intrigues combined with political in-jokes – the Russian count suspects his Polish marchesa, but the Austrian baron (a student of harmony) reconciles these lovers; the English milord conceals his passion for the Roman chanteuse (that is, the possibility that Britain might return to Catholicism), and the Parisian cares more about the safety of her wardrobe than a lover’s doubtful fidelity.

But the stock political one-liners become delicious when turned into Rossini arias and duets. (Why isn’t this guy writing for Saturday Night Live?) To everyone’s surprise (including, no doubt, Rossini’s, wherever he is), Viaggio has lately become an international hit – perhaps because it gives so many singers a chance to shine, however briefly. Its huge number of more or less equal soloists makes Viaggio ideal for conservatories with bel canto studies – Rossini does not damage immature voices, as Wagner or Verdi easily may. Too, any Viaggio gives costume designers opportunities to be as silly as they like, and Mireille Dessingy has gone for it here: purple stripes, leather dusters, crazy bustles and hats, plaid suits of outlandish hue. Behind the action, Maestro Gergiev conducts “under cover” in a slouch hat and trench coat.

Though these performances were given at the Châtelet in Paris, the singers hail from the Academy of Young Singers at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre (aka Kirov), and since singers from Russia’s many nationalities are nowadays flooding west, we may glimpse here some of the stars of tomorrow. Gergiev clearly intends to train the next generation to a better feel for Italian style than Russian singers used to have, and the results are commendable if imperfect: while few of these youngsters screech or whine as older Russians often did, and their fioritura is often superb, many of them run out of breath before their melodies do, and bark rather than conclude the line musically. Most of them sing Italian clearly, though, all of them are agile comic actors, and the Parisian audience is appreciative.

The most attractive and able voices belong to Anna Kiknadze as the Polish marchesa, whose low mezzo, a ripe Rossini sound, resembles Borodina's, Irma Guigolachvili’s gracious lyric soprano as Corinna, Larissa Youdina’s flamboyant coloratura as the fashion-conscious Parisian, Anastasia Belyaeva’s pleasing light soprano as the chic innkeeper, Daniil Shtoda’s exciting but sometimes breathless tenor as the jealous Russian, and Alexei Safiouline’s castanetted “Spanish” bass.

John Yohalem

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):