This disc of Mozart's opera arias manages to capture the perfection of Kathleen Battle's first disc of Mozart concert arias conducted under Previn. We are accorded the opportunity and privilege to hear Ms. Battle essay characters that she never did in the opera house, Constanze, Cherubino, and the Countess among them. In "Porgi amor," the CD's opening track, she negotiates the long passages of the Countess' aria with seeming ease. Hers is a smaller voice than we are used to hearing in the role but this is unimportant as her vocal acting is superb, bringing the heartache housed in the libretto fully to life…By M. Bish
Kathleen Battle and Placido Domingo delight the listener from start to finish in this complilation. Most notable are the duets from La Traviata and The Merry Widow. In my experience of soprano/tenor performances, one voice usually is stronger or more powerful than the other, thus disappointing to that listener who is seeking a perfect blending of voices. Ms. Battle and Mr. Domingo achieve that perfect blend on each duet on this CD. Their solo performances are equally outstanding. It is no wonder they are in such demand with audiences in Japan where this CD was recorded live, as well as throughout the world.
This fabulous 2000 production of Don Giovanni is the best - bar none. I have seen many, many productions of this greatest of all operas and none come even close to this brilliantly cast production. Outstanding are Solvieg Kringelborn, who nearly (but not quite) steals the show as a very funny! Donna Elvira and Paul Groves, much more sympathetic than usual in the role of Don Ottavio. Fleming, Hong, Relyea and Koptchak are terrific. But, Don Giovanni lovers literally haven't lived until they see and hear the matchless pair of Bryn Terfel as the Don and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Leporello. They both possess wonderful voices and first-class acting chops. In fact, IMO, Furlanetto is a comic genius and the best actor in opera. The fact that both Terfel and especially Furlanetto are very attractive men doesn't hurt either,I could watch them forever..
Verdi's brilliant final masterpiece Falstaff, in its first new Met production in 50 years – and conducted by Met Music Director James Levine in his first new production since his return to his podium at the Met. When it comes to theatrical flair, captivating costumes, stage antics and imagination, there are not many shows on Broadway to rival the Met s new Falstaff. “Ambrogio Maestri is made for the title role, with the apt physique, nimble acting and superb vocal presence that make him the leading Falstaff of the day. There is no weak link in a finely balanced, comically-attuned cast (the women are especially impressive) and Levine’s conducting is pitch-perfect. The show fizzles from start to finish and is tremendous fun” (Classical Music).
Noah Levine (born 1971) is an American Buddhist teacher and the author of the books Dharma Punx: A Memoir and Against the Stream. As a counselor known for his philosophical alignment with Buddhism and punk ideology, he identifies his Buddhist beliefs and practices with both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. He holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from CIIS.
James Levine's viennese recording of Smetana's famed masterpiece is one of the best performances of the work around today. With clear, full-bodied digital recording and ripe, rich and opulent playing from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, it presents a performance that is as comporable to Kubelik as any other. Despite Levine's roots in the theatre (Metropolitan Opera), he manages to grasp a clear sense of drama in the work, and while some might argue that he is mainly concerned with orchestral effect for its own sake, he certainly does not do this but presents every minute detail in this musical kaliedascopic picture.
The Met's first production in more than 60 years is "treated with a keen appreciation for the special requirements of verismo and a practically vanished performing tradition. Scotto has found her ideal role…a great performance… Domingo sang glamorously… Levine's affectionate concern for the music told in every measure… The massive sets by Ezio Frigerio serve the work exquisitely … Piero Faggioni’s graceful direction strikes a perfect balance” (New York Magazine)
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener