Albums

$14.99
$12.99

Opera Extracts - Released November 23, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
This new Vivaldi album marks a double anniversary, the thirty-year anniversary of the close collaboration between Cecilia Bartoli and the famous English label Decca, and the twenty-year anniversary of the very successful first Vivaldian opus. This time leaving behind Giovanni Antonini and his Il Giardino Armonico ensemble, Cecilia Bartoli has selected French musicians well versed in Vivaldi’s music, as if to demonstrate the universal nature of the Red Priest’s compositions. In fact, Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his Ensemble Matheus have distinguished themselves with Vivaldi’s instrumental music since their early days. They started off their collaboration with five concerts, dedicated of course to the Venetian composer, in Munich, Prague, Baden-Baden and Versailles. For their first recording together they selected ten opera titles, nine of which weren’t featured on the 1999 album. The plethora of Vivaldi operas provides an endless supply to recitalists who can easily put together, as is the case here, an extremely lively programme featuring the most beautiful gems of an extraordinarily expansive composer whose melodic liveliness has been a constantly fascinating topic. This release is also beautiful in itslef (accessible on your Qobuz account), as it features a photo book containing beautiful portraits of Cecila Bartoli taken by Roman photographer Viviane Purdom, who has devoted her life to masterfully shooting great classical musicians. Happy anniversary indeed! © François Hudry/Qobuz
$17.49
$12.99

Opera Extracts - Released October 26, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Puccini love duets galore! That’s what the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and the tenor Roberto Alagna offer up here. Both are regulars on the world's greatest stages and their voices seem to have been tailor-made for this repertoire. The heroines - Mimì, Minnie, Tosca, Giorgetta, Butterfly and Manon - represent the absolute woman with a femininity that fascinates the composer, attracting him, inspiring him and making him fall in love. The male characters are undoubtedly a reflection of his own personality. Rodolfo, Mario and Calaf too, who is so besotted with Turandot that he risks his life for her: man, lover, seducer, villain, deceiver, poet, artist, knight or traitor... No doubt Roberto Alagna sees himself in these characters as well. Their traits are similar from one opera to the next, but Puccini knew how to make each vocal idiom wonderfully unique. © SM/Qobuz
$14.99
$12.99

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
$17.99
$14.99

Opera Extracts - Released October 5, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
$13.49
$8.99

Opera Extracts - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Qobuzissime
The first solo album from the excellent youngster Julien Behr, who has already played at the Paris Opéra, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Bordeaux and Lyon Opera Houses and cities such as Salzburg, Vienna, London, Cologne and many other great venues as well as making recordings of various lyrical works including L’Enfant et les sortilèges with Bavarian Radio. As debut albums go, he has made a daring choice in selecting some of the more unknown areas of French opera rather than the more popular pieces from Don José, Romeo, Faust and other big names. Instead, he has taken some gems from the Romantic repertoire (if we extend it up to the First World War for the sake of argument) which are little-heard of. From Gounod, he has selected Cinq-Mars ; from Bizet, La Jolie fille de Perth (one of Bizet's most exquisite passages); from Thomas, Mignon; and then, better-known but still uncommon, Léhar The Merry Widow; Godard, Jocelyn; and Delibes Lakmé. His diction is utterly impeccable; his transparent and airy voice evokes Heddle Nach or Jussi Björling, which serves the repertoire perfectly. The album closes with a few hits from the Romantic repertoire such as Vous qui passez sans me voir by Charles Trenet – well, the lyrics are from the Fou chantant, while the music is by Johnny Hess and Paul Misraki, and the song was originally written for Jean Sablon – evidence of Behr's love of lighter genres, for sure. . © SM/Qobuz

Opera Extracts - Released May 4, 2018 | PentaTone

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Download not available
A record made up entirely of prologues from operas and baroque oratorios: this album isn't short on spice. Prologues are completely different from the – purely orchestral – overtures of later operas, as in the baroque era, after a short instrumental introduction, we'd get right into the action, often with a sung allegorical exposition of the setting and the story. Soprano Francesca Aspromonte and Enrico Onofri have collected these allegories with il pomo d’oro (the ensemble has decided that its name will be all lowercase), taken from the late 16th century with Monteverdi and Caccini up to the first quarter of the 18th century with Alessandro Scarlatti, via the rich beauty of the middle 17th century of Cavalli, Rossi, Stradella and Cesti. The listener will have to come to terms with the fact that the opera will never really start, that these are only the premises, the first tremblings, tantalising tasters, aimed at captivating the audience. Don't forget that in those days, it wasn't the custom to remain silent before the start of a show, and it took all the talents of the allegorist to finally get the fans' full attention. We reckon that Francesca Aspromonte will have no trouble captivating her audience. © SM/Qobuz
$7.99

Opera Extracts - Released March 30, 2018 | Musical Concepts

Booklet
$17.49
$12.99

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
$15.49
$10.99

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

Opera Extracts - Released November 17, 2017 | Orfeo

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
Download not available
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
$17.49
$12.99

Opera Extracts - Released October 27, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
$14.99
$12.99

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.
$17.49
$12.99

Opera Extracts - Released October 6, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Juan Diego Flórez is undeniably among the most charismatic of the early 21st century crop of opera stars, and it's understandable that Sony wanted to snap up the charismatic Peruvian tenor for recital discs. Moreover, Mozart is a perennial program for such events. Flórez, however, admits up front that he hasn't had much experience with Mozart, and this is a rather offbeat release that depicts Mozart in a heroic mode. Flórez, to his credit, understands that this is where the strength of his voice lies, and he populates the album mostly with big songs of kings and emperors. These pieces from Idomeneo, La clemenza di Tito, and Il re pastore aren't heard so much, and you could sample the way the music starts with a bang in "Fuor del mar" from Idomeneo to hear the tenor in his comfort zone. The news is less good as he bulls through "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön," from Die Zauberflöte, and a certain aural fatigue sets in after a period of time listening to the limited range of vocal timbres on offer. Then again, he gets sensitive support from the Orchestra La Scintilla under Riccardo Minasi, and the final concert aria, Misero! O sogno, K. 431, both fits into Flórez's wheelhouse and isn't a terribly common item. The bottom line is that for Flórez fans this will be a satisfying outing, but those looking for a basic collection of Mozart arias might try elsewhere.

Opera Extracts - Released October 6, 2017 | BR-Klassik

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
Download not available
$8.99

Opera Extracts - Released April 7, 2017 | Musical Concepts

Opera Extracts - Released February 17, 2017 | Orfeo

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Download not available
$17.49
$12.99

Opera Extracts - Released February 3, 2017 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik

Opera Extracts - Released February 3, 2017 | BIS

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Download not available
$8.99

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.
$8.99

Opera Extracts - Released February 21, 2006 | Naive