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).
Joyce Di Donato and Maite Beaumont are outstanding as the devoted couple tormented by Tiridate’s abuse of power. Their flexible and agile voices are ideally displayed in the opening scenes of Act 2 – Beaumont’s sublime ‘Quando mai’ followed by Di Donato’s powerful ‘Ombra cara’. Patrizia Ciofi is suited to the moods of the Tiridate’s long-suffering wife. Dominique Labelle is the most rounded and ideally equipped Handel soprano in the cast: the music effortlessly trips off her tongue in ‘Mirerò quel vago volto’… Alan Curtis directs with superb pace and judgement. He is a successful advocate for Handel’s first version of Radamisto, although in Act 3 he uses two pieces from the second version for dramatic reasons. I wonder how Polissena’s original climactic aria ‘Sposo ingrato’ might sound instead of the exclamatory ‘Barbiro, partirò’, but I cannot fault Curtis’s decision to opt for the more dynamic later aria. Il Complesso Barocco play neatly and sympathetically support the singers. The orchestra avoids forcing rhetorical effects too much but I wish it had mined the textural richness in Handel’s score a little deeper. However, this enjoyable performance lacks nothing essential in theatrical impact and musical drive. (David Vickers, Gramophone)
Alan Curtis, lauded by Opera as one of our finest conductors of Baroque opera, illumines Handel s masterpiece, Alcina, by casting, as heroine, the brilliant Joyce DiDonato. Since Alcina is historically dared by virtuosic sopranos like Sutherland and Battle, this innovative recording with a mezzo is a must-have not just for Alcina freaks but all who adore sensational vocalism. As Handel did in his time, Curtis arrays our era s finest Baroque singers such as Maite Beaumont and Karina Gauvin in supporting roles around his star. With this electrifying Alcina, first ever studio recording of the rarely heard Ezio and Rolando Villazón s new album, Handel Year 2009 is being exceptionally well feted by Deutsche Grammophon.
The eighteenth century is probably the most extraordinary period of transformation Europe has known since antiquity. Political upheavals kept pace with the innumerable inventions and discoveries of the age; every sector of the arts and of intellectual and material life was turned upside down. Between the end of the reign of Louis XIV and the revolution of 1789, music in its turn underwent a radical mutation that struck at the very heart of a well-established musical language. In this domain too, we are all children of the Age of Enlightenment: our conception of music and the way we ‘consume’ it still follows in many respects the agenda set by the eighteenth century. And it is not entirely by chance that harmonia mundi has chosen to offer you in 2011 a survey of this musical revolution which, without claiming to be exhaustive, will enable you to grasp the principal outlines of musical creation between the twilight of the Baroque and the dawn of Romanticism.
I Viaggi di Faustina is part of a series from Spain's Glossa label, with each album examining the legacy of a singer from the 18th century, re-creating the repertory sung and even the sound of the voice insofar as such a thing is possible. The title I Viaggi di Faustina refers to Faustina Bordoni, the Neapolitan singer who became famous for her onstage brawl with her rival Francesca Cuzzoni, shrewdly egged on by Handel's promoters in London. But her career was centered on Naples, where she married German-born composer Johann Adolf Hasse; the "viaggi" here are trips both to and from Naples, and the music consists of excerpts from operas she is known to have sung.