Margherita d’Anjou was Giacomo Meyerbeer’s fourth opera in Italian and his first real success. After an absence from the stage of about 150 years, it returned at the 43rd Festival della Valle d'Itria in an outstanding production. Director Alessandro Talevi’s ironical setting - where the War of the Roses takes place at the London Fashion Week - is perfectly matched by the elegant direction of Fabio Luisi with the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia. The opera, which belongs to the semi-serious genre, moves from the warlike tones of Act One to the idyllic ones of Act Two, where both female protagonists appear: the queen, a soprano, and the wife, a contralto; both seek the love of an heroic tenor equally daring in battle and in music.
Giuseppe Verdi's first big Paris hit, Jérusalem is an 1847 rewrite of I Lombardi. Along with a new French text, the action is clarified, characters and scenes are dropped, the tenor role is beefed up, and the obligatory ballet is added, among other changes. It's a more coherent opera in this version, although Italian audiences have clung to I Lombardi, which is still mounted on the world's stages. The Philips team, however, makes a powerful case for this French grand opera story of betrayal, love, war and rescue, penitence, and vindication painted in primary colors on a canvas of Crusaders and villains, rousingly set to effective, if blunt, music.
Written almost two centuries ago by Saverio Mercadante, coveted by many theatres of the day, Francesca da Rimini was, in fact, never staged. Every time it was scheduled for performance, something happened and it got canceled. A long series of incidents prevented it from reaching the stage for as many as 185 years. Its forgotten manuscript, which was only known for its ill-starred fate, suddenly re-emerged five years ago in Madrid, teh city where it was to have been premiered in 1831. The soprano Leonor Bonilla is quite impressive in the part of the protagonist: she portrays the character's psychological frailty as well as her determination wtih a steely vocal technique, spinning out incredible modulations, displaying strong and dazzling vocalizations, easily soaring into the high register and flaunting such an attractive, casual and poignant stage presence that she even dares moving some dance steps with the corps de ballet. Aya Wakizono is an admirable Paolo: endowed with a superb mezzo voice, she seeks and achieves consistency throughout the range, is virtuosic in the coloratura, and fluent. No less demanding is the part of the tenor Lanciotto, with its fearful leaps and ornamentation worth of the Neapolitan Rossini: Mert Sungu might in time get rid of a touch of harshness here and there, but already now he can tackle all the difficulties of the part with a timbric quality and an expressively worth of note…
Mayr had established himself as a highly successful composer by the beginning of the 19th century. Medea in Corinto is one of his best-known operas, based on a libretto by Felice Romani. For decades after its 1813 première at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, it provided one of the speciality roles for Isabella Colbran and Giuditta Pasta. In this recording, Italian conductor Fabio Luisi gives an intense reading of Mayr’s music and masterfully underlines its deep psychological dimensions, enhancing the drama that unfolds on stage. Luisi, a Grammy Award-winning artist, is also principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and general music director of the Zurich Opera. Michael Spyres and Enea Scala, take the important roles of Jason and Aegeus. The role of Medea is entrusted to the Spanish soprano Davinia Rodriguez, who effortlessly delivers Act I’s demanding cavatina with obbligato violin, usually omitted in most productions.
Fabio Luisi conducts the Metropolitan Opera in this production of Verdi's work, based on Shakespeare's tragic play. Zeljko Lucic stars in the title role with Anna Netrebko as his wife, Lady Macbeth. The cast also includes Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo. New York Observer stated: “.. a superstar cast … the most potent: Anna Netrebko's ferociously exciting star turn as Lady Macbeth … a "demented" performance, one so exciting it propels both artist and audience figuratively to the brink of madness.”
A host of accomplished conductors including Daniel Harding, Daniele Gatti, Bernard Haitink and Eliahu Inbal lead the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in these performances of Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1-10. Recorded in Amsterdam over two seasons in 2010/11, the collection also includes 'Das Lied von der Erde'.
France's Naïve label has heavily promoted the career of the young pianist Lise de la Salle, who was 22 when this recording was made. Her fashion-spread good looks fit with Naïve's design concepts, and she has the ability to deliver the spontaneous, unorthodox performances the label favors. How does she fare in a field extremely crowded with Chopin recitals? Her performances certainly aren't derivative of anyone else, and this live recording from the Semperoper in Dresden (you get a one-minute track of just applause at the end) has a good deal of attention-getting flair. The standout feature of de la Salle's performance, in the four ballades at least, is her orientation toward slow tempos, inventively deployed.
Das Urteil der Musikgeschichte über den Komponisten Antonio Salieri schien eindeutig und wurde deshalb bis in die jüngste Zeit kaum überprüft: Ein solider Handwerker mit geringer Inspiration, der dem genialen jüngeren Mozart seinen Erfolg neidete, ihm gar nach dem Leben trachtete. Interessanterweise führte gerade der „Amadeus”-Film von Milos Forman, der an der alten Legende weiterstrickte, zu einer wenn auch bescheidenen Salieri-Renaissance, die in dem Salieri-Album Cecilia Bartolis, einer glanzvollen Rehabilitation des verkannten Meisters, ihren Höhepunkt fand.
Ekkehard Pluta (25.10.2007)