This recording of lute music may be of most interest to fans of the lute and of the Renaissance-Baroque transition era, but it will be of considerable interest to them: it marks the first recording of the Libro d'intavolature di liuto, or Book of Lute Tablatures, of Vincenzo Galilei (1584). Galilei was the father of none other than astronomer Galileo. The work is given the title The Well-Tempered Lute here; that was not Galilei's title, but the music was apparently the first collection intended to demonstrate the possibilities of equal temperament that Bach would exploit so dramatically a century and a half later. Some scholars have opined that this was a primarily theoretical work; as music, it is both technically difficult and a little monotonous, consisting of groups of dances that may or may not have been danced to. Lutenist Žak Ozmo makes a good case for these little pieces as performer's music, differentiating learned counterpoint from works of a more expressive character.
Johann Kuhnau owes his fame today mainly to the fact that he was Bach's predecessor as cantor at St. Thomas's in Leipzig. The 17th and 18th centuries meet in Kuhnau's cantatas, where a heavily text-bound musical language following on from the Schütz tradition is combined with Italian melodies and a late-baroque spaciousness – a combination especially delightful to today's ears. Rounding off the CD are cantatas by Kuhnau’s close friend Vincenzo Albrici.
Donizetti's great tragedy is his undisputed masterpiece of melancholic romanticism, with the doomed love between Lucia and Edgardo retold from Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor. The 1992 production heightens the story’s powerful libretto with its dramatic visual design and first class musical performances.
Bellini's "Norma" is a classic of the bel canto tradition, combining lavish vocal splendor with a story of great passion and nobility. The title character in "Norma" is a role with emotions ranging from haughty to desperately passionate to vengeful and defiant. Italian soprano Fiorenza Cedolins is one of the most thrilling Normas of the younger operatic generation. Along with a distinguished supporting cast, including Sonia Ganassi as Adalgisa and Vincenzo La Scola as Pollione, this psychologically staged production by Francisco Negrin, conducted by Giuliano Carella, makes the belcanto tradition vivid and exciting.
Sonia, a beautiful gold digger, mistakes Antonio, a waiter in a Neapolitan hotel, for the Arab prince Bey of Agapur and makes an appointment with him for the following day in Capri. Antonio goes there behind his wife and mother in law's back. Due to a lucky series of circumstances he really does becomes the prince of the island.