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Full Operas - Released September 4, 2020 | Chandos

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‘The burly Aussie tenor is now even more identified with this ill-fated protagonist than Peter Pears, the first Grimes. And everywhere Skelton has sung the part, whether at English National Opera, the Proms, the Edinburgh festival or now on this international tour of a concert staging mounted by the Bergen Philharmonic, the conductor has been Edward Gardner. Theirs is one of the great musical partnerships, and they continue to find compelling new depths in this tragic masterpiece.’ – Richard Morrison (The Times) This studio recording was made following the acclaimed production at Grieghallen, in Bergen, in 2019 (repeated in Oslo and London and reviewed above). Luxuriant playing from the Bergen Philharmonic and a stellar cast under the assured direction of Edward Gardner make this a recording to treasure. © Chandos
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Full Operas - Released June 5, 2020 | Parnassus Arts Productions

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The composer Leonardo Vinci, no relation to the artist and polymath, was born in 1690 and died in 1730, apparently after being poisoned by a jealous husband. He was thus 20 years older than Pergolesi, but his music was nearly as progressive as that of the better-known younger composer. At the turn of the century, he was known mostly to musicologists, but his scores, often fresh and action-packed, are percolating out to the general operatic public. This is the world premiere of Vinci's 1727 opera Gismondo, Rè di Polonia. The presentation is a bit musicological, with a massive booklet delving into, among other things, why Italians should have wanted to take up a Polish subject, but the music itself is lots of fun. The opera, with its tale of power at the medieval Polish court, could be classified as an opera seria, but the story is told through a series of romantic entanglements that, although not exactly comic, keep the action moving along through intrigue rather than through splendid arias, aided by fast-moving dialogue. On top of this, the recording, based on a 2018 production at the Theater an der Wien, serves as a star vehicle for countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic, who brings no fewer than three other countertenors on board, as well as three sopranos. The result is a sort of festival of the soprano voice, male and female, in shades running from creamy to slashing to billowing to powerful, and more. The singers, led by Cencic as Gismondo, and the {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna, have a sense of fun that is attractive even for the listener who knows little of this repertory, and the album is likely to attract further performances of the opera, of different kinds. © TiVo
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Full Operas - Released April 5, 2019 | Glossa

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With Les Indes galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau, György Vashegyi – along with his Orfeo Orchestra and Purcell Choir – makes a further dazzling addition to their Glossa series of French dramatic masterpieces from the Baroque, and in the company of a luxurious line-up of vocal soloists. The version of this “ballet heroïque” – supplied with an anti-colonial, anti-clerical manifesto by librettist Louis Fuzelier – selected by Vashegyi is the 1761 revision, a mere decade or so before the irruption onto the Parisian musical scene of the likes of Gluck and Grétry. Rameau’s score had undergone frequent adjustments and improvements since its première a quarter of a century earlier, and the performing edition for this recording, prepared for the Rameau Opera Omnia by Sylvie Bouissou (who also provides a booklet essay here), offers a vision of this work which is more theatrical, fluid and concise than hitherto. Just in themselves, the names of Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Katherine Watson, Véronique Gens, Reinoud Van Mechelen, Jean-Sébastien Bou and Thomas Dolié (sharing out the dozen solo roles) augur well for a glorious exploration of the prologue and three entrées ahead. Recently, they have also, in conjunction with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, been working on questions of tempo and how to perform Rameau’s sequences as the composer intended. Vashegyi brings a consummate understanding of Rameau’s galante style to the proceedings, following two previous Ramellian Glossa outings (Naïs and Les Fêtes de Polymnie). © Glossa
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Full Operas - Released April 5, 2019 | CapriccioNR

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Full Operas - Released March 15, 2019 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
As a casual victim of circumstances – jealousy, denigration and low blows − Johann David Heinichen’s opera Flavio Crispo was never performed during its composer’s life; during repetitions in Dresden, insults flew back and forth between him and some Italian singers, which led the piece to be removed from the programme and never completed. Although in reality, only a few pages of music are missing from the integral score... Consequently, this is the first discographic publication of the opera, with the complete music composed in 1720. It reveals a composer at ease in both the sharp and complex language of Germanic tradition, and the formal and vocal freedom of Italian opera – which Heinichen had studied closely during a long stay in Venice. There, he met the Elector of Saxony (Frederick Augustus II of Saxony) and future King of Poland (Augustus III of Poland), who hired him to his court in Dresden, at the time one of the largest hubs in European culture. Heinichen soon took up the torch from Antonio Lotti who had composed Italian operas for the court of Dresden for a few years, and his Flavio Crispo was meant to be his contribution to the genre. But unlike Lotti, Heinichen called upon a highly-flavoured orchestra: horns, oboes, flutes, in addition to strings and continuo, and winds to which he gives a fair amount of highly-virtuosic movements. Unfortunately for the composer, he was never able to hear his masterpiece, as the King of Poland dismissed the few Italian singers who had risen up against the partition under a futile pretence; no one else was able to sing these roles, and the score fell into obscurity. This was until it was rediscovered and showcased by the ensemble Il Gusto Barocco and its music director Jörg Halubek, in a 2015 live recording. At long last, Herr Heinichen! © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released March 8, 2019 | LSO Live

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“This is Rattle” is the name of a ten-day festival organised in 2017 at the Barbican Centre in London to celebrate Sir Simon Rattle’s return to the country and his debut at the elm of the London Symphony Orchestra. One of the high points was the presentation of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, performed twice, a piece Rattle knows in fact very well and also conducted in Berlin. Half opera, half cantata, the work wasn’t intended to be performed on stage. Very much like in the Symphonie fantastique, written fifteen years earlier, and his upcoming opera Benvenuto Cellini, La Damnation de Faust is largely autobiographical; Berlioz identifies with Faust’s metaphysical suffering, between disillusioned idealism, forbidden love and internal demons. The London Symphony Orchestra is very familiar with Berlioz, having performed his work many times since the 1970s under the lead of its former conductor, the late Sir Colin Davis. Standout performances include American tenor Bryan Hymel as Faust and British mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, radiant in the role of Marguerite, once again displaying the excellent French diction of international singers. Replacing Gerald Finley at the last minute, Christopher Purves plays a particularly elegant Mephisto. Yet another contribution to the discography put together on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the bubbling French composer’s passing. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released January 11, 2019 | Decca

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Full Operas - Released November 16, 2018 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
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Full Operas - Released November 16, 2018 | Dynamic

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Full Operas - Released November 9, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Lady Macbeth's introduction alone, "Vieni t'affretta", sung by the formidable Shirley Verrett is enough to make this an immortal record! But there's a lot more to come. Recorded in the middle of a 1975 anthology performance at La Scala in Milan and superbly produced by Giorgio Strehler, this album possesses a theatricality that is difficult to recreate in a studio. Claudio Abbado directs with great subtlety and eloquence. Domingo, Cappuccilli, and Ghiaurov are all on top form. It's rare that this blend of Shakespeare and Verdi is performed with such a perfect sense of the dramatic. This is a brilliantly unique record. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released November 2, 2018 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Alessandro Stradella’s place in the annals of the history of music is not only due to the adventurous circumstances that marked his brief existence, but also to the reputation as a opera composer he has acquired since the 18th century. Inaccessible for many decades to specialists and scholars, La Doriclea is definitely the least known of all Stradella’s operas. However, it constitutes a particularly significant chapter in his overall output: composed in Rome during the early 1670s, to our knowledge La Doriclea represents the first opera entirely composed by Stradella. From the dramatic point of view, La Doriclea belongs to the comedy of intrigue genre typical of the 17th century Spanish theatre tradition. Refined and amusing, it alternates touching lamentos with irresistibly comic scenes, in which the character of Giraldo, a veritable precursor of the basso buffo, allows us to glimpse Rossinian atmospheres. Emőke Baráth (Doriclea) and Xavier Sabata (Fidalbo) alongside Giuseppina Bridelli (Lucinda) and Luca Cervoni (Celindo) and the comic couple of Delfina (Gabriella Martellacci) and Giraldo (Riccardo Novaro) bring a complex and fascinating role-playing game to life. This world premiere release of La Doriclea is a major achievement for "The Stradella Project", which here reaches its fifth volume. © Arcana
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Full Operas - Released October 12, 2018 | B Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Full Operas - Released September 14, 2018 | Bru Zane

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Full Operas - Released September 14, 2018 | Naxos

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Full Operas - Released September 7, 2018 | CPO

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Full Operas - Released August 31, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Ever since Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the subsequent film by Milos Forman, the operas of Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri have enjoyed a revival: historians determined that not only did Salieri not poison Mozart, he admired him, and Mozart at least respected the older Italian. Indeed, Les Horaces (1786) represents several accomplishments that were not on Mozart's résumé: it is a full-scale French opera, and its recitatives are orchestrally accompanied and contribute elegantly to the action. Berlioz, always an astute critic, numbered himself among the admirers of Salieri's French operas of the 1780s; this one was not as successful as the others, but that could have been due to any number of factors. The plot deals with a woman, Camille, whose romantic life is caught between factions in a war in early Roman times, and Rousset's live reading here benefits from a strong soprano lead, Dutch singer and French Baroque specialist Judith van Wanroij. Other singers likewise step up, but the real credit goes to Rousset, who gets the strengths of Salieri's score: the grand intermèdes, and the exciting finale of Act 1, where the joining-together of action and music is in Mozart's league even if the tunes are not. Also praiseworthy is the engineering work of the curiously named Little Tribeca team, who obtain the best possible sound from none other than Versailles. Highly recommended to those who have dismissed Salieri: this is a sympathetic and enthusiastic performance of his music. © TiVo
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Full Operas - Released July 6, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Recorded in July 2017 in the sumptuous Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, this La clemenza di Tito follows albums which had come out previously in the Mozart series with Nézet-Séguin, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and tenor Rolando Villazón, who is the only singer to appear in all these productions. It should go without saying that the music is extremely finely-chiselled: none of the singers take the slightest liberty with either the score or the style – there are no unruly Italianisms like glissandos, individual showing off, clownish high-Cs, parasitic ornamentations, warbling, trilling, sobbing – which means that we are left with one of the purest and finest performances of this work. Note that this was Mozart's final opera, first performed just two months before he passed away; and that the recitatives were written by the faithful Sussmayr, who would go on to "complete" the Requiem. In the same period Mozart was also putting the final touches to his Magic flute and only had a few weeks to finish the work; and yet, what perfection in the arias, ensembles and choruses! And that in spite of the fact that the subject probably was not a source of tremendous interest to the composer, especially since his explosive collaboration with Da Ponte. But when given a performance like this, the work absolutely passes with flying colours. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released June 29, 2018 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Audiences have their own favorites among the operas of John Adams, but Doctor Atomic (2005) has the advantage of being inarguably suited in its subject matter to the dimensions of grand opera: it takes for its topic the detonation of the first atomic bomb, with its first act occurring a month before the event and the second just before the successful test in New Mexico. The libretto by Peter Sellars, largely based on declassified documents, has been criticized as too choppy, but to these ears its shifts are what makes the work: it called forth an extraordinarily varied score from Adams. The music includes settings of poetry by Baudelaire, Donne, and Muriel Rukeyser, as well as the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and a traditional Tewa Native American song. Adams responded with a score that encompasses all these and never interrupts the sense of gathering doom the listener feels. Female characters -- scientist Robert Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty, and Pasqualita, a Tewa maid -- are introduced, and they only increase the variety. The work has been recorded, but this version conducted by Adams may be regarded as definitive. It is drawn mostly on a live concert performance in London that clearly made a strong connection with the audience. Gerald Finley is a gripping Oppenheimer, and all the singers put the text across immediately. You might think that British singers would be an impediment in text that often talks about American national aspirations, but it's not so: what has been called the transatlantic theatrical accent is close to the one singers of both nationalities tend to use, and after a brief suspension of disbelief you won't even think about it. Adams gets from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers an intense, overwrought, kaleidoscopic performance that is just what the music ordered, and Nonesuch patches together the several performances here expertly. Bravo. © TiVo
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Full Operas - Released June 22, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Why yes, it is still possible to discover Bernstein scores, or in this case the chamber version of A Quiet Place, adapted by Garth Edwin Sunderland, conducted and recorded for the first time by Kent Nagano, at the Montreal Symphony House. The final stage score by the American composer, first performed at the Houston Grand Opera in 1983, it was revisited by the librettist Stephen Wadsworth, and the composer who added several fragments from the one-act piece Trouble in Tahiti, from 1951; this addition would see two new performances (the Scala in Milan, and Washington). Another draft – this one definitive – was performed at the Vienna Opera House, conducted by the composer, in 1986. Fascinating in more ways than one, rather like a modern-day Intermezzo by Strauss, the work depicts American society by way of an existential crisis faced, first by one couple, (Trouble in Tahiti) and then by one family. Bernstein borrowed from Mahler for the structure, with a final movement whose "grave nobility" recalled the final movements of the Third and NinthSymphonies by his much-admired forebear. As is often the case with this composer, Bernstein's mix of styles (jazz, chorale, Broadway, Mahler, Berg, Britten, Copland…) provides an explosive cocktail, which has about it more of a musical conversation than grand opera – and, paradoxically, that's what makes this work so unique... And so charming. This is well worth a re-discovery, this time under the baton of Bernstein's faithful former pupil, Kent Nagano, at the head of top-flight solo singers, who point the way to that "quiet place", where "love will teach us harmony and grace". © Franck Mallet/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released June 15, 2018 | Profil

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or