"Die Sängerinnen und Sänger haben allesamt sehr intensiv an den Koloraturen gearbeitet und sind den teils horrenden Schwierigkeiten der Arien gut gewachsen … Außerdem sind die Rezitative mit hohem Konversationstempo und fantasievoller Generalbass-Improvisation umgesetzt." ~FonoForum
This is a full recording of the original Italian version (the “Vienna version” from 1762) of Gluck’s beloved take on the Orpheus myth, Orfeo et Euridice PLUS extra music written by Gluck for later performances of his opera. It includes virtuoso arias for Fagioli and as such represents a brilliant showcase for him and a collectible item for connoisseurs. This is Franco Fagioli’s first ever recording of a complete opera in which he sings the title role and since, the role has become one of Franco’s calling cards in recent seasons. It is known for its absolutely gorgeous music, including one of opera’s most audience-pleasing tunes, the uber-famous aria “Che farò senza Euridice”. This version of the opera (by far the most popular one) appears for the first time ever on period instruments on DG / Archiv, hence filling a major gap in our catalogue and is a substantial project featuring one of our exciting new signings in one of his finest roles.
Once you listen to this account, it's easily understandable just why Orfeo ed Euridice has become the most famous opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck. Based on the well-known story from antiquity, Gluck composed a varied, engrossing music full of melodious arias, stirring dances, and dramatic duets and choruses. Conductor René Jacobs has decided here to eschew countertenor casting, with the result that we can enjoy mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink as Orfeo. She interprets the part of the lovesick hero with vocal precision, stylistic assurance and admirably clear articulation. Her voice radiates warmth and resonates beautifully but at the same time with strength–especially in the highly dramatic Act III, which she, together with Veronica Cangemi (Euridice), shapes with an almost stormy emotional fervour. Maria Christina Kiehr sings with angelic beauty as Amore, while Jacobs leads the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Rias Chamber Choir with verve and sweep in a recording that conveys limber beauty under the aegis of the historically-informed practice movement.
‘The 5 Countertenors’ draws together five of the world’s most renowned countertenors, who bring the rich world of baroque opera to life.
Described in their heyday as “beyond all creatures upon earth.” (William Congreve, 1700), countertenors are once again firmly established on concert platforms, opera stages, the covers of music magazines - and the subjects of heated on-line debate and of fan-pages on social media.
These world-class performers showcase the expressive variety of this unique genre. This album also celebrates the individuality of each singer’s voice and in turn the art of the countertenor. The countertenors are accompanied by the brilliant, ECHO-Klassik winning baroque group, Armonia Atenea, under George Petrou.
"Once the head conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and as the principal guest conductor with the Deutschen Staatsoper (German State Opera) in Berlin since 1995, Hartmut Haenchen (originally spelled Hänchen) is noted for the clear, precise phrasing and sumptuously sonorous tones he evokes from his musicians. (…) Since 1980, Haenchen has acted as the artistic director of the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in Berlin and has presented revivals of C.P.E. Bach's music from re-discovered manuscripts. The ensemble has appeared in many television productions, has received awards for several recordings, and regularly tours…"
Frieder Bernius began his career primarily as a conductor of choral music, focusing largely on repertory from the Baroque and early Classical periods. Gradually he took a greater interest in orchestral music while still maintaining a preference for choral works. He has favored authentic performance practices and has become one of the leaders in the historically informed performance (HIP) movement. (…) Bernius began recording with Sony Classical in 1989, and among his most successful early recordings for that label was that of Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1992), with Nancy Argenta and Michael Chance. Along with his successes in the recording studio in the 1990s and first decade of the new century, Bernius continued to lead many highly acclaimed concerts at home and abroad with his three Stuttgart ensembles.
Rebelling against the increasingly formulaic operas of the time, Christoph Willibald Gluck's "reformist" opera Alceste (1767) was a successful attempt to return to a purer form of musical drama. It is highly appropriate that this 1999 production of the revised 1776 Paris version should be conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, the same forces responsible for many fine Bach performances equally emphasizing character and text. In setting the tragic story of the profound love between Queen Alceste and her husband King Admète, Gluck provided a score of austere, rending beauty… By –Gary S. Dalkin
Admirers of Gluck the reformer may be surprised by this thoroughly Baroque, extremely florid opera composed by him in 1765 (three years after Orfeo ed Euridice changed the landscape of opera forever). La corona , Gluck's setting of Metastasio's one-act azione teatrale (the master librettist's own term for a serenata with a plot), was commissioned by Queen Maria Theresa as a name-day gift for the emperor. Though is also styled an azione teatrale , the two operas could hardly be more different. Considering that La corona contains as treacherously difficult a collection of florid arias as can be found in any score of the period, it's hard to credit that it was created specifically to be sung by the three royal princesses; even the most adept prime donne of the period would have struggled to master its score. Due to the sudden death of the emperor, La corona was shelved and never performed in Gluck's lifetime. Atypically for a score of this quality and complexity, the composer mined relatively little of it for future works, with a notable exception in his transformation of the second part of the overture into the love duet in Paride ed Elena .
Though Gluck is recognised as one of the pivotal figures in opera, his output is still under-represented on disc. This recording of L'Innocenza Giustificata (Innocence Justified) fills one of the gaps; it has only been released once before, in a live performance from Italy that is comprehensively superseded by this new studio version, played on period instruments with a specialist chorus and a line-up of soloists every one of whom seems to understand this musical world instinctively.