The singers are all good, the orchestra light, lively and evocative. But it is above all Patrice Chereau's direction that makes this production one of the best filmed opera experiences I have had. This is a fairly long opera (about 3 hours), but it flies by in this version with rapid and telling movement on stage and in the pit, and with a constantly moving camera. Chereau's is an expectedly dark interpretation, both modern and classical, that refuses to play up the buffo elements and achieves a remarkably heart-rending, bittersweet effect. The singers are all well-coached actors; we are never allowed to forget that we are watching a performance (occasional views of the conductor in the pit) but that doesn't mar the emotional impact of one of Mozart's most touching scores. Period costumes on what is made to seem to be a bare, ancient Italian stage..
Composed for the Carnival season in Verona in 1735, Bajazet is a ‘pasticcio’ opera based on the familiar story of the eponymous Turkish sultan’s imprisonment at the hands of the Tartar tyrant Tamerlane. As such, it openly uses arias by other composers, including Hasse, Broschi and Giacomelli, as well as re-cycled pieces from Vivaldi’s own operas (L’Olimpiade, Giustino, Farnace, Semiramide and Montezuma among them). But this is no mere patchwork of recycled numbers. All the ‘borrowed’ arias are expertly placed within the dramatic fabric of the work and are held together with richly composed recitatives. What we end up with is the best of the best in terms of Neapolitan-style opera – tuneful, virtuosic and passionate. Virtually every number in this recording is a highlight. What really lifts the recording is the quality of the performances. There are no holes or flaws among the experienced cast. David Daniels makes a fine Tamerlane – slippery and cruel – while Marijana Mijanovic’s Asteria packs a powerful dramatic punch. Top marks too for Vivica Genaux in the technically demanding role of Irene. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo makes a commanding Bajazet, although his tough dignity comes at the loss of some sensitivity.
Meditation, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca's 2014 release on Deutsche Grammophon, is an album of serene vocal and choral works that express religious feelings with an operatic touch and showcase the Latvian singer's warm and radiant voice. Choosing pieces from the early Baroque era to contemporary works, Garanca presents a soothing program that is consistent in its comforting tone and gentle treatment, though as a purely musical consideration, it tends to flow a bit too evenly and predictably. Insofar as the selections represent the Christian tradition, including settings of the Ave Maria, the Salve Regina, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, and the Regina Coeli, the character of the collection admits little variety, except for the general alternation between penitential and quietly ecstatic moods.
With her sensational role debut at the Vienna State Opera, superstar diva Anna Netrebko displays a performance of rare vocal and dramatic power. The Russian soprano sings the role of the unjustly accused second wife of British King Henry VIII, ‘veering between indignant fury and tender righteousness’ and demonstrating a new level of confidence in her technique with excellent ‘passagework, particularly in trills, and seamless runs even to the lowest notes’ (Opera News).
Rossini’s classic take on the “Cinderella” story is a comic opera full of thrilling arias, beautiful melodies and lots of laughs. The Metropolitan’s charming production was revived in 2009 for star mezzo, Elīna Garanča. The mezzo triumphs in the role and dispatches vocal fireworks throughout. She is joined by American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and a cast of bel canto singers.
Elīna Garanča’s personal choice of her greatest tracks, released to coincide with her receiving an Echo Award (6 October) & the publication of her memoirs in December. Ten years ago she made her sensational début at the Salzburg Festival, singing the role of Annio in Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito. Since then Elīna Garanča has become one of the greatest, most sought-after mezzo-sopranos in the world.