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Opera - Released October 2, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Gaetano Donizetti drew inspiration from the Tudor queens and their sad fates to compose three operas that are considered some of the best works of bel canto: Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux. It is a great opportunity for a singer of Diana Damrau’s calibre who, like her colleague Beverly Sills has done in the past, uses the Italian composer’s sumptuous melodies to express the femininity and determination of these heroines who fell victim to either machismo or raison d'état.The final scenes presented in this album detail terrible demises, even though Donizetti and his librettists don’t strictly stick to historical truth. Poor Mary Stuart is beheaded by her cousin while Queen Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn’s heads are chopped off by Henry VIII. Elizabeth is plunged into despair after the love of her life, Roberto, the Earl of Essex, is executed. Stricken with grief, she starts hallucinating and sees the crown of England bathed in blood and a man running around the palace wearing her own head. One hundred years after Donizetti, cinema has been able to explore these macabre situations even more vividly.Diana Damrau is particularly fond of Donizetti's characterisation of the three women. He gives them, she says, “the capacity to love, an enormous tenderness, an insatiable desire, vulnerability, a grandiose appearance, strength, conviction, vanity, pride, greed, ruthlessness, determination and harshness, a sense of responsibility and power, anger, rage, despair, helplessness, distress, sadness... and an underlying anxiety of death”. At the lectern we find Maestro Antonio Pappano, heading the Choir, Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome and six vocal soloists. He has chiselled away at the accompaniments, elevating the tragedy of these three heart-breaking fates. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Opera - Released January 15, 2021 | Opera Rara

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Gaetano Donizetti wrote some 80 operas, but only a few remain in the repertory. Il Paria (The Pariah), as recorded here with care by the specialist label Opera Rara, may make a good place to start with the rest. Composed in Naples in 1829, it dates from just before Donizetti's first enduring hit, Anna Bolena. It bombed when it first appeared, closing after just six performances; it's unlikely setting in India might have been just the ticket 50 years later, but in what was still Rossini's day, it probably mystified audiences, and the story is dramatically unsatisfying and falls apart at the end. None of these complaints, however, apply to the music, which shows many aspects of Donizetti's mature style already in place, with pregnant orchestral scene-setting, arias that turn dramatic corners, and a highly varied vocabulary in the recitatives. The orchestra has a lot to do in the arias as well, as in Zarete's "Notte, ch'eterna a me parevi" from Act II, where the soloist doesn't appear at all until halfway through. There is a splendid love duet, "Da sì caro e dolce istante," and many other fine moments. The singers are very strong, none stronger than René Barbera as the heroic soldier Idamore, who has a perilously high tenor range. Unlike many of the Opera Rara albums, this one has big names; Sir Mark Elder leads the Britten Sinfonia, and the sense of urgent forward motion he brings to the music is another reason for the recording's success, which has been both artistic and commercial. The opera is short, and this recording could easily inspire further productions and recordings, with the tenor part being the only impediment to university productions and the like. Opera Rara's studio sound is ideal. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 25, 2011 | Mariinsky

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Opera - Released September 19, 2014 | Warner Classics

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Opera - Released July 6, 2018 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released October 11, 2010 | Warner Classics

Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Opera - Released September 19, 2014 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Opera - Released June 1, 1996 | Warner Classics International

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Classical - Released August 28, 2015 | RCA Red Seal

Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released January 1, 1999 | Almaviva

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Opera - Released January 1, 2004 | Dynamic

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Opera - Released March 22, 2019 | Opera Rara

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Gaetano Donizetti’s Ange de Nisida has had a strange history. It is never included in the composer’s list of operas for a very simple reason: Escaping Italian censorship, Gaetano Donizetti decided to have it performed in French in Paris (libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz). Rehearsals began in 1840, but stopped when the company went bankrupt. Donizetti ended up using some of this work in La Favorite, similar to the way Rossini used Il Viaggio a Reims in Le Comte Ory.Sir Mark Elder’s record is therefore a world premiere. The maestro is surrounded by outstanding soloists in this recording made in July 2018 at Covent Garden in London. The concert was made in collaboration with the label Opera Rara, dedicated to opera premieres. The opera’s libretto had never been printed before. At the French National Library, the piece required major archival research using three different manuscripts for it to be to put together. Candida Mantica worked as an archeologist carefully exploring and comparing numerous versions including the composer’s own manuscript. The scenes that were discovered were not in the right order and often not fully orchestrated.Though it was written for France and in French, the opera is a 100% Italian in its style. It shines as a wonderful discovery, even if it never changes our idea of Donizetti. Now that the record is out, we are looking forward to its rendition on stage. The plot takes place in the 15th century on a desert island, the way opera lovers liked at that time. The king of Naples is keeping his mistress a prisoner when a young and fiery tenor falls in love with her. The story goes through many twists, featuring the pope, between comedy and tragedy before its tragic ending for poor Sylvia, who dies, creating one more female martyr in the history of opera. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2015 | Opera Rara

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Gaetano Donizetti's Les Martyrs began life as an Italian-language opera called Poliuto, dealing with the life of the martyred early Christian saint Polyeuctus, a Roman soldier whose head was sliced off after he converted to Christianity, disregarding the protests of his wife and children. Italian censors, backed by the Neapolitan king, forbade the performance of the work on the grounds that the sacred subject matter was unsuitable for opera. The outraged Donizetti took the work to more liberal Paris, where it underwent wholesale revision into a French grand opera; new text was added by the king of French dramatists, Eugène Scribe, and Donizetti supplied choruses and instrumental interludes to fill out the four-act structure. The original Italian version was later revived, and the work is more often performed in that version than in the hybrid French form. Recordings of Les Martyrs are not common, but Donizetti fans will be interested to discover the nimble ways in which he revised the work. The big new ensembles with multiple characters and chorus are quite effective, partly because they form a sharp contrast with the ravishing Donizetti melodies that are still in abundant supply. The performers, including Michael Spyres as Polyeucte and Joyce El-Khoury as his despairing wife, Pauline, are solid, and the whole is nicely held together by Mark Elder, leading the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The booklet, with a detailed investigation into the work and, among other things, a really delightful caricature of Donizetti, is a major attraction in itself. Strong recommendation for Donizetti fans. © TiVo
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Opera - Released October 16, 2020 | Dynamic

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Overwhelmed by commissions, Donizetti used his opera L'Ange de Nisida - which was abandoned after the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris went bankrupt in 1840 - as a source of inspiration. He drew large excerpts from it for his opera La Favorite. All that remained of the original work were scattered manuscripts that the musicologist Candida Mantica took eight years to piece together like a puzzle. The compositions were dispersed around several European libraries, especially in Paris, the United States and were again used in later works.The world premiere of this re-enactment took place in London on 18th July 2018 in a concert version intended to be published by Opera Rara (the main sponsor) conducted by Mark Elder (available on Qobuz).The work was still waiting for its stage premiere. This took place the following year at the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo, the composer’s birthplace, and was conducted by Francesco Micheli. We find the echoes of these performances under the skilled command of Jean-Luc Tingaud, with a non-French-speaking cast that has clearly been well-trained. Now it just needs to be brought to a stage in Paris where it’s been eagerly awaited since 1840... © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera - Released June 7, 2019 | Opera Rara

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