Bel Air present Don Pasquale, a true masterpiece from Donizetti. It's one of the funniest operas ever composed, but it also shines with Donizetti's trademark touch of gentle pathos and some of his finest music. The production is from the Grand Theatre of Geneva, with soprano Patrizia Ciofi as Norina and baritone Simone Alaimo in the title role.
Dynamic, which has already in its catalogue a few neglected operas by Massenet, has the pleasure to offer another rarity by this composer, this Chérubin recorded live in Cagliari in 2006 year. The old Mozartian Cherubino of Le nozze di Figaro is no longer the young lad in his first naive contacts with women: his age moved on from 13 to 17 years and, of course, takes on more adolescent connotations. Massenet brings these aspects out well as he characterises Chérubin with vocal scoring that favours ample, intensely cantabile phrases, with leaps towards the acute register that give full vent to the lyrical soprano voice, with moments of sudden emphasis and equally rapid disappointments - a real tempest of hormones, light years away from the Voi che sapete of Mozart’s page boy.
…Both Banchini and Bovi deliver exceptionally refined performances throughout the album. Bovi's voice is pure, elegant, and perfectly suited for music of this time. Banchini's tone on the Baroque violin is, appropriately, every bit as vocal and singing as the soprano arias. Taken all together, this album is much more than an ordinary CD that is popped in the player and listened to from beginning to end, but rather, an all-encompassing experience that truly transports listeners to another place and time. Unconditionally recommended.
Donizetti composed Pia de’ Tolomei during the summer and autumn of 1836 in Naples, where he was living at the time. In December he set out for Venice, where the premiere was planned for February the next year at the Teatro La Fenice He travelled via Livorno and Genoa but when he arrived in Genoa he was met by the news that the theatre had been destroyed by fire on the night of 12/13 December. He realized that there was a great risk that the premiere would be jeopardized. However the production was moved to Teatro Apollo and the premiere took place on 18 February 1837 as planned. Fanny Persiani, who had been the first Lucia di Lammermoor a couple of years earlier, took the title role. The opera was not an immediate success and Donizetti reworked it twice. The second time was for Naples in 1838, where the censors enforced important changes and a happy ending. The present production is based on the critical edition published by Ricordi, where the original tragic finale is restored…
This opera marks a turning point in two ways. It sets the direction for Italian opera after Rossini and it's international success leads to Meyerbeer's Paris operas. Indebted to Rossini, yes - but it in a distinct voice - Meyerbeer's. It's a leaner Meyerbeer than Paris - no "effects without causes" here, although the plot is not the finest. Not much action. More about revelations between characters…By Richard (Minneapolis, Mongolia).
There is no complete surviving score for Vivaldi's Ercole su'l Termodonte, but there is enough existing material that modern scholars have been able to reconstruct it primarily by making new settings of the lost recitatives. The first production of the opera since Vivaldi's time was at Spoleto in 2006 in a version by Alessandro Ciccolini, which was released as a DVD. Conductor Fabio Biondi made a version introduced in Venice in 2007, which is recorded on this 2010 Virgin CD. Biondi's recording has the advantage of two international superstars in the leading roles, tenor Rolando Villazón and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and soprano Diana Damrau is nearly in their league. Villazón's earthy voice is usually associated with 19th century and verismo Italian repertoire, but he has an acute sensitivity to Baroque vocal style, and his robust, almost baritonal tenor is entirely appropriate for a larger-than-life character like Hercules. DiDonato excels as Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, singing with her characteristic brilliance and warm humanity.
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.
Led by Christopher Hogwood, the Academy of Ancient Music has made many renowned recordings of Handel's music-particularly the oratorios. The beloved Messiah heads up this 8-CD set, followed by Esther; La Resurezzione , and, making its return to the international catalog after an absence of several years, the 1985 recording of Athalia -with none other than Joan Sutherland in the title role! Recorded in London, 1979-85.