The greater part of Handel's working life as a composer was devoted to writing and performing operas. In many ways this was the genre to which he owed his international renown: performances during his period of study in Venice won him an audience far greater than could be expected in London. Italian opera reached England around 1710, and the staging of Rinaldo in 1711 confirmed Italian as the language of the future for such ventures. This exciting recording from Emma Kirkby presents nine arias, from nine of the most enduring of Handel's Italian operas, alongside four overtures.
Yes indeed, the Divine Miss Em has still got it. It was the late 1970s when Emma Kirkby first became the leading diva of the early-music revival. More than 20 years on, as this disc of mostly lesser-known Handel treats demonstrates–a follow-up to volume I–Kirkby remains a spectacular Handel singer. The pure tone, control over vibrato, astonishing agility, and immaculate delivery that made her world famous are all still in place; if anything, two decades of experience have made her even more brave and imaginative in the way she embellishes a da capo aria. It must be said that Kirkby also retains a somewhat restricted palette of vocal color. As Ted Perry of Hyperion Records has put it, "She sounds like a nice person, and she is."
The title is irresistible, and the compilation is clever. This disc includes duets and arias from the five operas - Alessandro, Admeto, RiccardoPrimo, Siroe and Tolomeo - that Handel wrote for the last three seasons of his opera company, the Royal Academy of Music, from 1726 until 1729. It was a time when those real-life rival queens (they were known by that label), the sopranos Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, trod the boards in the King's Theatre, Haymarket. It is by no means all jealous fury either. As one would expect of a composer of such subtle insight into character, there are other carefully nuanced emotions in this music.
This survey of Vivaldi kicks off with a gutsy yet articulate performance of the Concerto for two trumpets RV 537, featuring flamboyant playing from soloists Andrea Di Mario and Jonathan Pia; it serves as a thrilling overture that leads directly into the spectacular trumpet-laden aria ‘Con palme ed allori’ from Teuzzone (which features some extraordinary embellishments by Kristina Hammarström). A broad range of Vivaldi’s theatrical output for Venice, Mantua and Verona is represented by a pleasingly varied selection of six arias from four different operas and another two arias by Giacomelli from the pasticcio Bajazet (including the striking lament ‘Sposa son disprezzata’, perhaps the recital’s sentimental highlight).
Joseph Martin Kraus was one of the most talented and progressive composers of the 18th century, and regarded by Haydn as one of the only two geniuses he knew, alongside Mozart. Following the successful audition of his opera Proserpin, Kraus became closely associated with the court of Gustav III in Stockholm. The highly dramatic Begrafnings-kantat overture was the composer’s emotional response to the assassination of his sovereign. The vocal pieces include works performed for the first time in over two centuries, ranging from Italian concert arias to rare survivals from the Royal Dramatic Theatre.
Anyone who enjoys Mozart opera should hear this disc. Yet quite a few people who'd probably love it to death if they listened are going to pass it by. Why? Well, look at the selections - it's not exactly a 'greatest hits' selection in the truly popular sense. Lucio Silla, Il re pastore, Mitridate, Zaïde - hardly front rank Mozart operas in the public consciousness; with Die Entführung we're getting closer - and suddenly you spot track 2, Pamina's gorgeous lament to lost love from The Magic Flute: 'Ach, ich fühl's' - anyone who hears Sandrine Piau singing this famous number will want to experience the rest of the recording no matter what.
This disc of Mozart's opera arias manages to capture the perfection of Kathleen Battle's first disc of Mozart concert arias conducted under Previn. We are accorded the opportunity and privilege to hear Ms. Battle essay characters that she never did in the opera house, Constanze, Cherubino, and the Countess among them. In "Porgi amor," the CD's opening track, she negotiates the long passages of the Countess' aria with seeming ease. Hers is a smaller voice than we are used to hearing in the role but this is unimportant as her vocal acting is superb, bringing the heartache housed in the libretto fully to life…By M. Bish
Following acclaimed discs exploring some of the more fascinating byways of the Italian eighteenth century, Auser Musici and its founder-director Carlo Ipata turn to the man Beethoven regarded as the finest of his contemporaries, Luigi Cherubini. It’s not difficult to understand why Beethoven was so impressed: this is music full of character and seriousness of intent, from the strong-jawed Sinfonia for the opera Armida abandonnata, written when Cherubini was just twenty-two, to the dark drama of the Overture to Démophon (which unaccountably failed to wow the sniffy Parisian audiences). And there are vocal delights too, showcasing a virtuosity that looks forward to Rossini and sung here with effortless agility by Maria Grazia Schiavo.
Limited fourteen CD set. The Complete Collection of Operatic Recital Albums brings together for the first time all the recital and duet albums which Leontyne Price recorded between 1960 and 1982. Starting with her operatic d‚but with arias, it features not only her legendary Scenes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but also the famous complete Prima Donna Collection consisting of five volumes released between 1966 and 1980.