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.
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
Leading the enormous forces to bring Puccini's huge vision to life in this now-legendary performance, James Levine presides over an evening of three one-act operas that cover the full spectrum of human experience. The great singing actress Renata Scotto is featured in all three operas, perhaps most memorably in her searing portrayal of Suor Angelica - a nu whose extreme atonement for he sin ultimately wins her redemption.
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..
Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747) was a gifted cellist and a rival of Handel's; he wrote more than 30 operas and 300 cantatas. I approached this "serenata a tre" with trepidation, fearing something coy and intermezzo-like; in fact, it's simply beautiful. The not-riveting plot concerns soprano nymph Cloris' refusal of love for countertenor shepherd Tirsi, and her subsequent turnaround. Baritone Fileno, a satyr, loves her but convinces her that love is cruel because he is jealous of her love for Tirsi. In the end, Fileno vows vengeance and departs, and the lovers unite, praising fidelity and love. Bononcini manages to capture truly felt moments of love, anger, warmth, happiness, and heartbreak with minimal forces–just a few strings, all played stunningly (as usual) by Ensemble 415–and fine melodies. The prominent, delicately played theorbe in the opening sinfonia is a hint of niceties to come; a solo violin winds around Cloris' "Tortorella inamorata" and adds to its meaning… –Robert Levine
James Levine's is a more recent entry in the realm of Dutchman recordings, and sonically the recording is absolutely stunning, with great attention having been paid to the recording process. The casting for this Metropolitan Opera effort is also uniformly first rate, even in the less grateful roles of the hapless Erik, sung by the impressive Ben Heppner, and the scolding nurse, Mary, sung by Birgitta Svendén. Morris's brooding Dutchman is hard to match on any other available recording, and Deborah Voigt is a ravishing Senta. The chorus work is quite good, though not quite as rich as that heard in the Solti/Chicago recording. Overall, Levine does a workmanlike job of conducting these impressive forces, though there are passages in which his tempi seem to drag. This recording is a must for anyone who needs a completely up to date version of Wagner's first major opera.