Originating by way of an Aix-En-Provence Festival staging, William Christie and his Arts Florissants bring dramatic flair and musical panache to Mozart's great late Singspiel in equal measure. To begin with, there's a dream cast led by the alluring pairing of Hans Peter Blochwitz as Tamino and Rosa Mannion as Pamina. Anton Scharinger makes for an earthy Papageno, Reinhard Hagen is a commanding Sarastro, whilst Natalie Dessay's input as Queen of the Night comes over in both her showpiece arias as steadfast and electrifying. The casting in depth continues: rare is a Magic Flute that can boast singers of the calibre of Willard White and Linda Kitchen in the relatively small roles of Speaker and Papagena. Then, the uniformly warm vocal blend is homogeneously matched, note for note, with the gut strings and less aggressive winds of Les Arts Florissants. Not that there's anything limp or lacklustre about Christie's brisk tempi; whilst sharp editing maintains the theatrical urgency. The melliflously played "magic" flute and exact keyed glockenspiel input for Papageno's bells are further examples of the care which has gone into this state of the art "authentic" interpretation. With a work like The Magic Flute, recorded choices are voluminous. Neville Marriner with his Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields on Phillips puts in a brave showing, but William Christie maybe wins out in a thorough interpretation which simultaneously celebrates the opera's joy and mystery. –Duncan Hadfield
"It's possible to recreate everything about an eighteenth century opera except the audience,’ says director Robert Carsen in a documentary included with this DVD. ‘My work is for modern audiences.’ And how…In this brilliant production, Carsen goes to the heart of the drama…Michael Levine's stylised, bold designs allow the story to unfold with gripping clarity and, remarkably, some of the spectacular set-pieces (especially the storm in Act III) work even better on DVD than in the theatre itself. Barbara Bonney is vocally and dramatically stunning as Alphise…Conductor William Christie responds to Rameau's varied and colourful score with élan, and Édouard Lock's choreography – a version of classical ballet deconstructed and then pumped with amphetamines – is breathtaking."– Classic fM - DVD Best Buy
The libretto, written by Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi (the future Pope Clement IX), tells the story of saintly sacrifice: on his wedding night Alessio departs alone for the Holy Land in search of sanctity. Years later he returns unrecognised as a beggar to his family home, where his father, mother and wife still mourn him. A demon tempts Alessio to reveal his true identity and so end his family’s grief, but an angel keeps him on the sacred path. The dying Alessio leaves a letter explaining the truth and an angelic chorus bids his family to rejoice rather than mourn, since he has been received into heaven. This strange, solemn and elevated story is leavened with comic scenes in the commedia dell’arte vein, adding to the rich musico-dramatic variety of the entire opera.
The culmination of a three-year Monteverdi project led by conductor William Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi at Madrid's Teatro Réal, L'incoronazione di Poppea brings a potent blend of sex and politics, high drama and comedy. Leading the cast are Danielle de Niese, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic and Anna Bonitatibus.
William Christie, who most recently started 2012 at New York's Metropolitan Opera, conducting The Enchanted Island, is joined by the Les Arts Florissants as he evokes a veritable orgy of nuances, subtly creates atmosphere and shows a perfect sense for the accents of the piece. It took Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi three years to mount Monteverdi's three operas together. The result was a production full of elegance and beauty.
This album of Baroque cantatas and chamber duets grew out of a 2007 performance of Stefano Landi's 1631 opera Il Sant'Alessio starring Philippe Jaroussky and Max Emanuel Cencic (among the eight countertenors in the cast) with William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants. Christie was so impressed with the blend of Jaroussky and Cencic's voices that he brought them together to explore the vast and rarely performed repertoire of late 17th and early 18th century Italian duets for equal voices.