Where Netrebko shines is in the sheer beauty of her voice, her physical loveliness, her innate sense of where a phrase should go, absolute comfort on stage, and ability to express pathos . . . Her shading of the opening phrases is masterly, with portamento used expertly; later her mood swings seem spontaneous. Throughout the opera she has an inner glow and sweetness that helps to define this frequently confused character, and it is nowhere clearer than it is in this long scene…
This 1979 Norma features Renata Scotto in one of her very best recordings. She is in gorgeous vocal estate, with much exquisite pianissimo singing above the stave. Surprisingly, Scotto is one of the few native Italians to essay this most difficult bel canto role, and she brings an innate understanding of the text and music .
An important figure in the history of Romantic guitar music, Giulio Regondi was widely admired during his lifetime but unfairly neglected and forgotten for decades after his death. Most of the poetic, captivating works recorded here were rediscovered in the late 20th century and edited by eminent guitar scholar Simon Wynberg (who is also the author of the booklet notes for this disc).
The fourth Queen album released in the late 1975 has long been regarded as a classic. The brilliant mix of hard rock, pop, opera, music hall camp and traditional folk, utilising multi layered guitars, crunching riffs, vocal harmonies, piano flourishes, a harp, a ukulele and 'no synthesisers' all combine to make it one of the great albums of the last three decades. Their faultless musicianship, with the 'Sonic Volcano' rhythm section of Roger Taylor and John Deacon, Brian May's guitar virtuosity and the spectacular Freddie Mercury up front, led to Queen being crowned as one of the greatest rock acts of all time.
Vincenzo Bellini’s third opera, Il pirata, marked an important step in his career. Not only was it the 27 year old’s first score for the brand leader of Italian opera houses, La Scala, Milan, it also represented his first collaboration with Felice Romani, the leading librettist of the day, who was to become his regular artistic partner. Based (via a French translation) on an English play by the Anglo-Irish Gothic writer Charles Maturin, Il pirata describes how Gualtiero (José Bros) is shipwrecked during a storm on the Sicilian coast, where his former love, Imogene, (Carmen Giannattasio) has been forced into an unwilling marriage by Ernesto, the local duke (Ludovic Tézier). Tensions build between the three until Gualtiero kills Ernesto in a duel, causing Imogene to go mad with guilt. David Parry conducts this exceptional example of early romantic opera at its most dramatically potent.
In Vincenzo Bellini’s last opera, Elvira’s love for Arturo overcomes the power games in Puritan England, staged with darkly dramatic flair by Francisco Negrin as a world of blind dogma. Mariola Cantarero is compelling as the heroine on the verge of insanity in one of the greatest mad scenes in the history of opera. One of the leading lyric tenors today, John Osborn sings Arturo with fearless commitment and some spectacular top notes. In the pit is the bel canto specialist Giuliano Carella.