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Marie-Nicole Lemieux|Rossini: Opera Arias & Duets (Live)

Rossini: Opera Arias & Duets (Live)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux

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Marie-Nicole Lemieux triumphantly defies the frequent assertion that the contralto is a dying breed. Moreover, with this live recital of Rossini arias and duets, the Canadian singer proves that a deep, rich, voluminous female voice can move with the same dazzling agility as a light, bright soprano.

Since she first came to the world’s attention in 2000, when she won the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition for Opera in Brussels, Lemieux, who has been praised by Gramophone for her “velvet-like voice and generosity in phrasing and thought”, has established herself in a wide variety of operatic roles. Among these are Rossini’s Tancredi and Isabella (L’italiana in Algeri), Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Polinesso (Ariodante), Gluck’s Orphée, Verdi’s Mistress Quickly (Falstaff) and Azucena (Il trovatore) and Saint-Saëns’ Dalila (Samson et Dalila). She is also renowned as a recitalist and concert singer.

This Rossini album, recorded in December 2015 in the southern French city of Montpellier, is the first fruit of her exclusive recording agreement with Erato, announced in Spring 2016. She is joined by Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi, the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra National Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and conductor Enrique Mazzola in a fascinating programme comprising excerpts from Tancredi (which Lemieux, Ciofi and Mazzola performed at the Opéra Berlioz - Le Corum in Paris in Montpellier in 2015), L’italiana in Algeri, Semiramide, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Matilda di Shabran, La gazza ladra and La pietra del paragone. In addition, Lemieux and Ciofi sharpen their claws in the famous Duetto dei gatti, which is attributed to Rossini (probably spuriously) because it draws on his opera Otello.

“Rossini has been a revelation for me,” says Lemieux. “It was such a joy when I first sang L’italiana in Algeri, [at the Opéra National de Lorraine in 2012]. As in Baroque music, you have to display virtuosity, but Rossini allows you to breathe … Strangely, with Rossini, you sing twice as much, but you’re half as tired at the end of the performance! Rossini is organic and well crafted, and he understood the voice perfectly.” (It is worth remembering that Rossini had a long-term relationship with the celebrated Spanish singer Isabella Colbran, for whom he wrote a number of operas.) When Lemieux’s Erato contract was announced, she asked: “Who better than Rossini to celebrate with in all his musical splendour and generosity?”

Rossini is clearly very much the right choice. When the contralto sang Tancredi in Paris, La Croix praised “a generous artist with a voice that is both ample and easily produced across its entire tessitura … from the depths to top notes that flash like a cavalier’s sabre,” while Les Echos described her vocal line as “noble, fluid and displaying myriad colours” and Le Monde, citing her “rich, substantial timbre”, lauded a performance that ended in “a death scene of great beauty.” As for her collaboration with Patrizia Ciofi, La Croix spoke of “two magnificent singers who, as a team, raise their art to the peak of opera’s Olympus.”

Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s performance in Montpellier was greeted enthusiastically by Opéra Online, which cited “incredible breath control, vertiginous leaps between registers and above all a voice equipped with a sonorous lower register that can caress a line or blaze virtuosically,” before observing that “her generosity … her exuberant, communicative vitality and the relationship that she builds with the listeners, the conductor and the instrumentalists – all this completely won over the audience in Montpellier.”

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Rossini: Opera Arias & Duets (Live)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux

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1
L'Italiana in Algeri, Act 1: "Cruda sorte!" (Isabella)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
00:04:38

Gioachino Rossini, Composer - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Choeur de l'Opéra national de Montpellier Occitanie, Chorus - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

2
Tancredi, Act 1: "Oh patria!... Tu che accendi questo core... Di tanti palpiti" (Tancredi)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
00:08:55

Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Gaetano Rossi, Poet - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

3
Tancredi, Act 2: "Fiero incontro!... Lasciami - non t'ascolto" (Tancredi, Amenaïde)
Patrizia Ciofi
00:10:55

Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Patrizia Ciofi, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Gaetano Rossi, Poet - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

4
La Pietra del Paragone, Act 1: "Quel dirmi, oh Dio!" (Clarice, Echo)
Julien Véronèse
00:06:20

Gioachino Rossini, Composer - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Julien Véronèse, Bass Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra - Pascal Scheuir, Horn, FeaturedArtist

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

5
Semiramide, Act 2: "In sì barbara sciagura" (Arsace)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
00:09:48

Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Gaetano Rossi, Poet - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Choeur de l'Opéra national de Montpellier Occitanie, Chorus - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

6
L'Italiana in Algeri, Act 2: "Amici, in ogni evento... Pensa alla patria" (Isabella)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
00:08:34

Gioachino Rossini, Composer - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Choeur de l'Opéra national de Montpellier Occitanie, Chorus - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

7
Matilde di Shabran, Act 2: "Sazia tu fossi alfine... Ah! Perché, perché la morte" (Edoardo, Raimondo)
Julien Véronèse
00:11:03

Gioachino Rossini, Composer - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Julien Véronèse, Bass Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra - Sylvain Carboni, Horn, FeaturedArtist

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

8
La gazza ladra, Act 2: "Deh, pensa che domani... E ben, per mia memoria " (Pippo, Ninetta)
Patrizia Ciofi
00:09:50

Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Patrizia Ciofi, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

9
Il barbiere di Siviglia, Act 1: "Una voce poco fa" (Rosina)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
00:05:53

Cesare Sterbini, Poet - Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company

10
Duetto buffo di due gatti (Cat Duet)
Patrizia Ciofi
00:03:40

Gioacchino Rossini, Composer - Patrizia Ciofi, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Contralto Vocals, MainArtist - Enrique Mazzola, Conductor - Orchestre national de Montpellier Occitanie, Orchestra

© 2017 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company A Warner Classics/Erato release, ℗ 2017 Parlophone Records Limited

Album Description

Marie-Nicole Lemieux triumphantly defies the frequent assertion that the contralto is a dying breed. Moreover, with this live recital of Rossini arias and duets, the Canadian singer proves that a deep, rich, voluminous female voice can move with the same dazzling agility as a light, bright soprano.

Since she first came to the world’s attention in 2000, when she won the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition for Opera in Brussels, Lemieux, who has been praised by Gramophone for her “velvet-like voice and generosity in phrasing and thought”, has established herself in a wide variety of operatic roles. Among these are Rossini’s Tancredi and Isabella (L’italiana in Algeri), Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Polinesso (Ariodante), Gluck’s Orphée, Verdi’s Mistress Quickly (Falstaff) and Azucena (Il trovatore) and Saint-Saëns’ Dalila (Samson et Dalila). She is also renowned as a recitalist and concert singer.

This Rossini album, recorded in December 2015 in the southern French city of Montpellier, is the first fruit of her exclusive recording agreement with Erato, announced in Spring 2016. She is joined by Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi, the orchestra and chorus of the Opéra National Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and conductor Enrique Mazzola in a fascinating programme comprising excerpts from Tancredi (which Lemieux, Ciofi and Mazzola performed at the Opéra Berlioz - Le Corum in Paris in Montpellier in 2015), L’italiana in Algeri, Semiramide, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Matilda di Shabran, La gazza ladra and La pietra del paragone. In addition, Lemieux and Ciofi sharpen their claws in the famous Duetto dei gatti, which is attributed to Rossini (probably spuriously) because it draws on his opera Otello.

“Rossini has been a revelation for me,” says Lemieux. “It was such a joy when I first sang L’italiana in Algeri, [at the Opéra National de Lorraine in 2012]. As in Baroque music, you have to display virtuosity, but Rossini allows you to breathe … Strangely, with Rossini, you sing twice as much, but you’re half as tired at the end of the performance! Rossini is organic and well crafted, and he understood the voice perfectly.” (It is worth remembering that Rossini had a long-term relationship with the celebrated Spanish singer Isabella Colbran, for whom he wrote a number of operas.) When Lemieux’s Erato contract was announced, she asked: “Who better than Rossini to celebrate with in all his musical splendour and generosity?”

Rossini is clearly very much the right choice. When the contralto sang Tancredi in Paris, La Croix praised “a generous artist with a voice that is both ample and easily produced across its entire tessitura … from the depths to top notes that flash like a cavalier’s sabre,” while Les Echos described her vocal line as “noble, fluid and displaying myriad colours” and Le Monde, citing her “rich, substantial timbre”, lauded a performance that ended in “a death scene of great beauty.” As for her collaboration with Patrizia Ciofi, La Croix spoke of “two magnificent singers who, as a team, raise their art to the peak of opera’s Olympus.”

Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s performance in Montpellier was greeted enthusiastically by Opéra Online, which cited “incredible breath control, vertiginous leaps between registers and above all a voice equipped with a sonorous lower register that can caress a line or blaze virtuosically,” before observing that “her generosity … her exuberant, communicative vitality and the relationship that she builds with the listeners, the conductor and the instrumentalists – all this completely won over the audience in Montpellier.”

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