The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
PentaTone's live recording of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles is billed as the world premiere recording, though it was preceded by the 1991 video recording of the Metropolitan Opera's production, which was conducted by James Levine and starred Teresa Stratas. Even so, this 2016 audiophile presentation of the LA Opera production, conducted by James Conlon, is a major event for opera lovers, especially since the Met's recording is difficult to find and performances of The Ghosts of Versailles are rare.
Max Emanuel Cencic accurately describes himself as a mezzo-soprano rather than a counter tenor. His tone, while pure, is colorfully nuanced, nothing like the blanched purity that was once (but is thankfully no longer) stereotypical of counter tenors. A lifetime of singing the most advanced repertoire has given him a confident technique, exceptionally sure intonation, astonishing vocal power, and an effortless-sounding flexibility; at the age of six he sang the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache on Zagreb" television, and he went on to become a soloist with the Vienna Boys' Choir. On this album he tackles some of Handel's most virtuosic and demanding mezzo arias, most of them relatively unfamiliar. /quote]
Decca, the opera company, presents a premium collection of the 100 most beautiful opera tracks on 6 CDs. Enjoy classic arias and overtures, performed by the greatest opera stars of all time. This is a fine compendium of opera's "greatest hits" by great singers including Pavarotti, Bartoli, Caballe, Horne and Sutherland from opera's latest "golden age" in the last decades of the 1900s. They're all there on six CDs, from Pavarotti's great "Nessun Dorma" to Sutherland's "Casta Diva."
The young Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca makes her recital debut on the label with a delightful programme of Mozart arias, interweaving five of Mozart’s brilliant and demanding concert arias, including the supremely taxing ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te’ with extracts from La finta giardiniera, La clemenza di Tito and Così fan tutte. Well-known for her engaging stage performances as Dorabella Elina has chosen also to include Fiordiligi’s dazzling ‘Come scoglio’.
Joyce DiDonato celebrates the rich dramatic variety of the mezzo-soprano voice in this collection of arias for different characters – of both sexes – from a single opera, or from different operatic treatments of the same story.
Composers: Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hector Berlioz, Charles Gounod, Vincenzo Bellini, Jules Massenet, Gioachino Rossini, Christoph-Willibald Von Gluck.
This "Paris" is special because it shows Eccles trying to shunt musical theater in an all-English direction, and move it out of the shadow of the dominant Italian and French traditions. As Lindsay Kemp points out in verbose but thorough liner notes, the word settings, or underlay is for English speech rhythms and the score focuses more on line and melody that decoration and ornamentation. This is a Maske, so it feels much more like music from a play than an opera. The score is a theatrical and musical treat, lived up to in this vibrant and energized performance, conducted by Christian Curnyn and sung by the Early Opera Company. The soloists are well cast, lucid and each of them really grasp the difference between this and opera. The Three Mad Songs that end the program are just that, set pieces from various English plays where the heroin loses it, usually because a man has done her wrong. One song each is given to our Paris soloists, Lucy Crowe, Claire Booth and Susan Bickley, so Curnyn presents the listener with a latter day "Judgment," with us playing Paris. I'm awarding the apple to Ms. Crowe for her rendition of "Restless in Thought…" from "She Ventures, and He Wins.– Hugo Munday
LA Opera's latest production of Verdi s Macbeth (2016) features Plácido Domingo in the title role and Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Lady Macbeth. The opera is staged by Darko Tresnjak, who won a Tony Award for his direction of the Broadway musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder.
The aria Ombra mai fu at the start of Act I of Handel's opera seria Serse (Xerxes) is likely to be its best-known asset. Serse was written in 1733-38, at the end of Handel's career as an opera composer: he concentrated on oratorio after 1741. It is a great achievement. Not least because it uses the music, and the marriage of words and music, to evoke in the audience pathos, sympathy, delight, and as much tempered ridicule as tempered tenderness.