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Opera Extracts - Released October 5, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
For her first recital with orchestra album, young Franco-Danish soprano Elsa Dreisig had the idea of presenting five pairs of songs in which each part of the pair is ambiguously related to the other, like a mirror’s reflection. This process leads to striking juxtapositions of different musical styles, dramatic moments, historical periods and contrasting voices; classicism and romanticism complement each other, terror answers joy, and the result is a view of the feminine soul all its facets. The first pairing involves two mirrors: the one in which Marguerite from Gounod's Faust admires herself and Thaïs's mirror in Massenet's opera (Thaïs). There follows Puccini's vision of Manon Lescaut, and then Manon (sans Lescaut) as imagined by Massenet. Following this we have Juliette, this is a rather daring pairing of the largely-forgotten early romantic German composer Daniel Steibelt with Gounod's Juliette. Elsa Dreisig then moves onto the two famous Figaros, one from Rossini's Barber (Rosina) and the other from Mozart's Marriage, with the gentle tones of the Countess. Finally, and more daring still, we end with the Salome of the Hérodiade by Massenet, a tender young woman who is not after anyone's head; and then Strauss's Salome, with her sanguinary madness. Probably in order to avoid the temptation of comparisons with other recordings, our singer has opted for the 1907 French version – note that this work by Oscar Wilde was itself originally written in French. This is the most extraordinary selection that one could hope for in a first recording from any artist, all accompanied by the Montpelier Orchestra, conducted by Michael Schønwandt. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released March 2, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Diapason d'or / Arte - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Nowadays it might seem rather strange to describe a composer as a “singing master”, but, during the eighteenth century, this was not the case at all. In Italy, almost every composer worthy of the name wrote opere serie (Porpora wrote at least forty- ve): serious opera was the dominant musical genre, glorifying the human voice above everything else. It was the maker or breaker of musical reputations, with its nest singers the rst superstars of music. Therefore composers, though generally eclipsed by the fame of their leading men and women, needed to understand the human voice and all its remarkable capabilities, both technical and histrionic, in order to be able to exploit the possibilities of the operatic form at a time when those “machines made for singing”, the castrati, had brought the vocal art to a pitch of perfection never known before, nor equalled since. Though this recording is bringing Porpora’s name to public attention again on the 250th anniversary of his death, his fame as a singing teacher has probably obscured, until recently, his remarkable qualities as a composer, quite simply because two of the most famous castrati were among his many pupils, namely Gaetano Majorano, known as Caffarelli, whom Porpora once called “the nest singer in Europe”, also famed for his amorous antics and arrogance on- and off-stage, and the even more celebrated Carlo Broschi, who, under his stage name of Farinelli, amazed audiences and set hearts a- utter for fteen years throughout Europe, before being called to Spain to heal a crazed King by the power of his voice. Max Cencic remarks: “Porpora was a severe teacher, I think, maybe almost sadistic in his demands — you need 120% control of breath, brain and voice”. Legend indeed has it that he taught Caffarelli one page of exercises, and those alone, for six years. The formal alternation of aria and recitative in opera seria conceals a great range of emotional expression, that varietas that Erasmus famously described as “so powerful in every sphere that there is absolutely nothing, however brilliant, which is not dimmed if not commended by variety”. In such forms as the orid aria di bravura or the lyrical aria di sostenuto, the composer’s fantasy only provided a framework for the singer to embroider: the performer’s skill in ornamentation and other emotional devices was of paramount importance. Porpora’s many years of both teaching and composing experience made him, in Max Cencic’s opinion, “one of the top ten composers of Italian Baroque opera. I chose the arias for this recording almost by instinct, by what ‘felt right’. There is no way one can encompass a composer of such quality in one album, and each piece is a treasure in its own right. Though technical display is everywhere — leaps, rapid scales, trills, long phrases — Porpora’s special and utterly captivating melodic gift always shines through.” The arias are all taken from works composed at the height of Porpora’s fame, from Ezio (Venice 1728; “Se tu la reggi al volo” is a semiquaver spectacular) to Filandro (Dresden 1747, with a ravishing siciliano in “Ove l’erbetta tenera, e molle”), including three of the operas he composed for London during the 1730s, in direct competition with Handel (Arianna in Nasso 1733, Enea nel Lazio 1734 — real reworks here in “Chi vuol salva” — and I genia in Aulide 1735). The Teatro San Carlo in Naples, perhaps the most famous of all opera houses at that time, saw the premiere of Il trionfo di Camilla in 1740, and the two arias recorded here show Porpora at his best: the music of “Va per le vene il sangue” evocatively matches its darkly suggestive text, while “Torcere il corso all’onde” combines rapid- re coloratura with elegance of line. In the three arias from Carlo il Calvo (Teatro delle Dame, Rome 1738) the singer is similarly called to match Porpora’s varietas with his own: from the scurrying oriture of “So che tiranno io sono” to the high-lying phrases of “Se rea ti vuole il cielo”, and the beguilingly hypnotic sostenuto of “Quando s’oscura il cielo”. Porpora’s orchestral writing is also remarkably varied, all the more so in that he generally uses only strings, nowhere better than in the elaborate lines of “Torbido intorno al core” from Meride e Selinunte (Venice 1726), where voice and violins entwine in an elaborate and emotionally suggestive web of divisions. However, sometimes he pulls out all the sonority stops, as in the martial “Destrier, che all’armi usato” where, at the rst performance in the Teatro Regio, Turin in 1731 trumpets and horns vied with the unmatchable power of the voice of Farinelli. As Max Cencic has said: “How can we emulate the great castrati? That is hard to pin down, but these voices were the very soul of Porpora’s music.” -Nicholas Clapton © 2018 – Decca Group Limited
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Opera Extracts - Released March 2, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
It's one of those fairy stories that the world of lyrical music likes to keep secret. Still an unknown and barely emerged from the La Scala Lyrical Academy, Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili was given the title role in Carmen by Baremboim, alongside Jonas Kaufman: an international career seemed to beckon for the young singer. And so here we will hear some of opera's great tunes, including, of course, the hits from Carmen, but also the two great arias from Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns, a pair from Verdi, a touch of Mascagni, some Rimski – less-frequently performed, it is true – and a rarity from his compatriot Dimitri Arakishvili (1873-1953) whose style is solidly anchored in the Russia of his day, with several, probably regional, twists. Since 2009, she has sung Carmen's role around three hundred times, and we can only hope that she never gets bogged down in it - and takes on Santuzza, Eboli, Dalil: in other words, the great characters of the dramatic mezzo repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diamant d'Opéra Magazine - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
With his ensemble Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon has written the listing for this album in the form of a "pastiche" of a Mass for the Dead, a Requiem both sacred and profane. While it is a long way from having all the defining traits, it does possess all the outlines: Introit, Kyrie, Gradual, Sequence, Offertory, In Paradisum... The idea came about after a recent discovery, in the Bibliothèque Nationale of an anonymous requiem mass from the 18th century, in which the writer constructed a "parody" based on musical extracts from Castor and Pollux and the Fêtes de Paphos by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Note that the term "parody" doesn't necessarily imply satire or mockery: it refers to the practice of taking up older music and setting new words to it. This fusion of sacred music (the mass) and profane music (lyrical tragedy), a common practice during the Enlightenment, was a procedure that Pichon wanted to take up. In French society at the time, when Catholicism was the norm, where the political system was monarchical rule by divine right, the representation of ancient pagan Hell on theatrical stages seemed to betray a fascination in the beliefs of the ancients. And so this programme melds together pagan fable with a Christian imaginary, where Hell takes on different faces. It is the place of unjust and eternal torment, a place of privation where a couple is separated, one half kept in Hades. But, in the lyrical tragedy, Hell is also a place of perdition: obscure forces unleashed in Sabbath rites, a Satanic vision which unearths the darkest depths of the human soul... Stéphane Degout is the author of this tragedy, bringing together such varied characters as Phaedra, Pluto, and the Parcae. The composers whose music is put to use are Rameau and Gluck, with a single borrowing from Rebel: it would have been a shame not to mention his singular Chaos (taken from Éléments), which starts with a dissonant chord containing the seven notes of the scale of D minor. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released January 12, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik - 5 étoiles de Classica
This album isn't just for fans of the counter-tenor's voice - Franco Fagiolo being one of the stars in the market - but also for lovers of the airs from Handel’s operas, and any serious baroque orchestra enthusiast, the orchestra here being Il Pomo d'Oro. When you unite all these elements together in a recording, the result is spectacular. This record includes the thrills of big hits like "Ombra mai fu" from Serse or "Cara sposa" from Rinaldo, as well as a number of no-less-interesting rarities, which have the advantage of shining a light on the lesser played works of the caro Sassone. After all, Ariodante, Partenope, Imeneo and Oreste (the album covers the composer's entire period of lyrical creativity) all have some great moments, and completely original airs, often loaded with the instrumental surprises that Handel arranged so well. And so, fans, if all three of the big elements are there - or if you are just curious to hear a very well made record - get stuck in! © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released December 22, 2017 | Musical Concepts

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Opera Extracts - Released November 17, 2017 | Orfeo

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
These are on-stage live recordings of various great Wagnerian moments of the great Swedish dramatic soprano Nina Stemme (born in 1963) made between 2003 and 2013, right during the opera singer’s time of glory, at the prime of her ability – it’s worth pointing out that a dramatic soprano’s voice, as opposed to a “classic” lyric soprano, reaches her full prime rather late in her musical life, considering the extravagant muscular stress required for the roles of Isolde, Sieglinde or Brünnhilde. The orchestra of the Vienna State Opera is conducted by either Seiji Ozawa or Franz Welser-Möst – at the time when they succeeded each other as Music Director of this honourable and particularly traditionalist institution. And let’s not forget that Nina Stemme won the Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Prize in 1993, and gained international recognition as Isolde at Glyndebourne in 2003, the year of the first recordings presented here. Since then, she has played all the legendary female icons such as Elektra, Turandot, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, and many other major roles in Bayreuth. A stellar career fully recognised in this album. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera Extracts - Released October 27, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released October 20, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
At 52, soprano Angela Gheorghiu has lost none of her bite, none of her character, and certainly none of her voice, as evidenced by this album of melodies from the Italian verist's repertoire. Some are the great hits: "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca, outstanding moments from Cavalleria rustincana, from Ponchielli's La Joconde, but also overlooked pearls like La Bohème… only not Pucchini's, but Leoncavallo's, which is no less fascinating and much closer to Murger's book; or indeed Giordano's Siberia, now fallen out of fashion, and many others. After a global career punctuated by great heights, superb successes, U-turns, upsets and about-faces, has the soprano arrived at a level of peace that allows her to plunge back into this repertoire with a new eye? It's for the listener to judge: but they will surely not be disappointed. She calls upon the tenor Joseph Calleja and bassist Richard Novak for two great duets.
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Opera Extracts - Released October 6, 2017 | BR-Klassik

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released October 6, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released January 1, 1954 | Universal Music Australia Pty. Ltd.

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Opera Extracts - Released April 7, 2017 | Musical Concepts

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Opera Extracts - Released February 17, 2017 | Orfeo

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
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Opera Extracts - Released February 3, 2017 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Opera Extracts - Released February 3, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The young Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva, trying to break out from a pack of singers of Eastern European or Russian origin, here takes on one of the black-belt level assignments: an album of Handel arias. The results draw on Yoncheva's previous experience in Baroque repertory (she was a protégée of conductor William Christie) and validate her signing by the major Sony label. Yoncheva has many things going for her, including an ineffable diva quality that serves her well with these substantial Handel heroines. Some of these roles were written for the powerful voice of the castrato (the opening "Se pietà di me non senti" was first sung by the greatest countertenor of the age, Senesino) and Yoncheva's rather metallic voice doesn't yet have that kind of depth. But her voice is growing, and she has something else to offer here: Handel's women call for dramatic intelligence, and Yoncheva has that in spades. Sample her work in the arioso "Pensieri, voi me tormentate" (Thoughts, you torment me), a torrent of panic and resolution from the fine early opera Agrippina, about the mother of Nero. That's one of two selections from Agrippina, and most of the arias are in pairs, giving Yoncheva the chance to inhabit each character a bit. The arias are mostly in Italian; with those in English you can tell that Yoncheva is not a native speaker, but you can't quite pin down her origin. The final "When I am laid in earth," by Henry Purcell, may seem tacked onto a program of Handel, but the long and the short of it is that Yoncheva's deliberate reading draws you into this aria as few of the hundreds of other recordings of it do. The recording benefits from live-wire sympathetic accompaniment from the Academia Montis Regalis under Alessandro De Marchi, and it fulfills one of the original functions of recordings: it makes you want to pay money to see the star live on-stage.
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Opera Extracts - Released May 13, 2008 | naïve Opus 111

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Part of the fun of following developments in Baroque music is that, while the press is reduced to trying to work up excitement for the merest scrap of music potentially by Mozart or Beethoven, unknown masterpieces by the likes of Vivaldi are still surfacing with regularity. This release by the energetic French label Naïve (check out the wild cover photo, apparently of contralto Sonia Prina) is a case in point. Conductor Ottavio Dantone and his Accademia Bizantina ensemble, prime exponents of the rocking and rolling school of Italian Baroque interpreters, here uncover a dozen arias drawn from little-known Vivaldi manuscripts, or inserted as alternate numbers into existing operas. These Arie ritrovate, or rediscovered arias, are anything but a completist grab bag of odds and ends. There are some bona fide masterpieces here (as indeed there are all through the still largely unmined corpus of Vivaldian opera), and plenty of music to challenge any singer. Prina's voice has an extremely attractive combination of power with a sort of woodwind quality; sample and enjoy. And hear what she can do in the flat-out careering virtuosity of "Per lacerarlo," an alternate aria from Teuzzone, or, by contrast, the emotional indecision and ambiguity of "Vedi le mie catene" from the same opera. The latter is the only work on the album possibly not by Vivaldi, but it's remarkable whoever may have composed it. A few pieces are reconstructions by Dantone and Frédéric Delaméa of arias whose music has been lost, apparently working from deductions that they represented contrafacta of arias with metrically similar texts; one of the few complaints that might be raised here is that it is not exactly clear how they reached their conclusions. The music is at a uniformly high level, however. The 12 arias are grouped into three sets of four, separated by a pair of concertos delivered in Dantone's trademark tumultuous style, and all in all this is as strong a collection of Vivaldi music as has appeared anywhere, with the added bonus that all the music is new. Notes and aria texts are in Italian, French, and English.
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Opera Extracts - Released February 21, 2006 | Naive

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Opera Extracts - Released June 14, 2005 | Naive

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Opera Extracts - Released April 29, 2016 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Karine Deshayes is one of the greatest Rossini singers on the international opera stage. In this first solo album, featuring excerpts from some of his most beautiful works, she traces the different stages in Rossini's life. She is accompanied by Raphaël Merlin (cellist of the Ébène Quartet) at the head of Les Forces Majeures, a collective bringing together musicians from prestigious chamber ensembles and top-flight orchestras. Discover this truly rare and intimate interpretation of Rossini - musically rich and at times meditative, loving, desperate, calm...