"Something special happens when she starts to sing," wrote an Opera News reviewer in 2001, commenting on Vivica Genaux's brilliant singing in a recorded performance of Handel's opera Arminio, -- "something that sets off a thrill, something that her warm, vibrant tone, razor-sharp diction, boldness of attack and sensational technique only begin to explain." Indeed, listening to a Genaux performance is a stunning experience. Defying the physical limits of the human voice, while finding the spiritual energy to sing demanding roles with exquisite taste and the right measure of passion, Genaux reminds listeners that the living instrument called the human voice is a great mystery. Of Swiss-Mexican parentage, Genaux was born in Alaska. Starting her voice studies as a soprano, Genaux eventually realized, thanks to a perceptive teacher, that she was a mezzo. Interestingly, Genaux, whose professional career started in 1994, establishing her early reputation by performing lesser-known Baroque and bel canto roles, a somewhat unorthodox career path in opera. However, her 1997 debut at the Met, as a scintillating Rosina in Rossini's Il barbière di Siviglia, brought her immediate fame, marking the start of a tremendous operatic career. In 1998, at the Dallas Opera, Genaux sang the title role in Handel's Ariodante, giving a deeply inspired and memorable performance. The following year, she was named Artist of the Year by the Dresden Festival in recognition of her success in European opera houses, where she gave stellar performance in operas by Monteverdi, Handel, Vivaldi, Hasse, Rossini, and Meyerbeer. Among the highlights of Genaux's 2001-2002 season, during which she sang many of her well-known roles and presented highly acclaimed concert recitals, was her Penelope in Monteverdi's Ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, a performance her audience at the 2001 Munich Opera Festival received with immense enthusiasm. Highlights of her 2002-2003 season include a recital of zarzuela arias in New York, and her debut in early 2003 at the Opera National de France, as Rosina in Il barière di Siviglia. Genaux's discography includes her sensational Farinelli disc (2002), which earned her a Grammy nomination, Handel's Rinaldo (2003) under the direction of Rene Jacobs, and Bel Canto Arias, her first solo disc (2003). Among her 2004 engagements was the role of Bradamante in a Paris production of Handel's Alcina.
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 9, 2012 | deutsche harmonia mundi
Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica
Classical - Released September 12, 2011 | Warner Classics
This charming disc showcases Vivica Genaux doing what she does best: tearing through highly florid music, often at breakneck speed, without seeming to break a sweat. Even Cecilia Bartoli -- arguably the reigning queen of fioritura -- has never handled the dizzying twists and turns of Rossini so gracefully. Of course, there is more to bel canto music than fireworks, and Genaux's singing occasionally lacks the focus and tonal variety to sustain interest during more lyrical passages; but it is hard to resist the urge to play certain tracks, like the opening "Nacqui all' affanno...Non più mesta" from La cenerentola, many times over just to enjoy the ride. Genaux's treatment of ornamentation, style, and the Italian language are world-class. John Nelson and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris deliver a sharp, colorful performance that brings the different sounds and styles of Rossini and Donizetti, the two featured composers, into relief. The varied program includes one especially rare number: "Popolo, amici...Ah! Sì, da tanti affani" from Donizetti's early Alahor in Granata, which only received its first modern performance in 1998. Other highlights include "Il segreto per esser felici" from Lucrezia Borgia, which is just a great tune, and of course Rosina's "Una voce poco fa" from Il barbière di Siviglia; it would be hard to find a better performance of that favorite anywhere.
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