France's Naïve label has heavily promoted the career of the young pianist Lise de la Salle, who was 22 when this recording was made. Her fashion-spread good looks fit with Naïve's design concepts, and she has the ability to deliver the spontaneous, unorthodox performances the label favors. How does she fare in a field extremely crowded with Chopin recitals? Her performances certainly aren't derivative of anyone else, and this live recording from the Semperoper in Dresden (you get a one-minute track of just applause at the end) has a good deal of attention-getting flair. The standout feature of de la Salle's performance, in the four ballades at least, is her orientation toward slow tempos, inventively deployed.
Written almost two centuries ago by Saverio Mercadante, coveted by many theatres of the day, Francesca da Rimini was, in fact, never staged. Every time it was scheduled for performance, something happened and it got canceled. A long series of incidents prevented it from reaching the stage for as many as 185 years. Its forgotten manuscript, which was only known for its ill-starred fate, suddenly re-emerged five years ago in Madrid, teh city where it was to have been premiered in 1831. The soprano Leonor Bonilla is quite impressive in the part of the protagonist: she portrays the character's psychological frailty as well as her determination wtih a steely vocal technique, spinning out incredible modulations, displaying strong and dazzling vocalizations, easily soaring into the high register and flaunting such an attractive, casual and poignant stage presence that she even dares moving some dance steps with the corps de ballet. Aya Wakizono is an admirable Paolo: endowed with a superb mezzo voice, she seeks and achieves consistency throughout the range, is virtuosic in the coloratura, and fluent. No less demanding is the part of the tenor Lanciotto, with its fearful leaps and ornamentation worth of the Neapolitan Rossini: Mert Sungu might in time get rid of a touch of harshness here and there, but already now he can tackle all the difficulties of the part with a timbric quality and an expressively worth of note…
This studio recording was made in 1989 coinciding with a memorable production from the Metropolitan Opera, later captured on DVD. It's a delightful performance, and a wonderful highlight of Pavarotti's later career. Kathleen Battle's sparkling soprano is a brilliant accompaniment to Pavarotti's still-ringing tone.
"Pavarotti's voice was still beautiful and pliable, his phrasing exquisite. And he loved the role of Nemorino and always seemed happy with both its comedy and pathos–he steals every scene he's in, and no one minds…Kathleen Battle sings Adina with perfect, pearl-like tone, absolute fluency and commitment, and a trill to die for…Enzo Dara is an ideal Dulcamara, just the right combination of huckster and sentimentalist, with ease in every register and with fast music."
– Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Mayr had established himself as a highly successful composer by the beginning of the 19th century. Medea in Corinto is one of his best-known operas, based on a libretto by Felice Romani. For decades after its 1813 première at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, it provided one of the speciality roles for Isabella Colbran and Giuditta Pasta. In this recording, Italian conductor Fabio Luisi gives an intense reading of Mayr’s music and masterfully underlines its deep psychological dimensions, enhancing the drama that unfolds on stage. Luisi, a Grammy Award-winning artist, is also principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and general music director of the Zurich Opera. Michael Spyres and Enea Scala, take the important roles of Jason and Aegeus. The role of Medea is entrusted to the Spanish soprano Davinia Rodriguez, who effortlessly delivers Act I’s demanding cavatina with obbligato violin, usually omitted in most productions.
Rolando Villazón as Nemorino exhibits a real gift for comic acting, manipulating his rubber face into dozens of hilarious poses, flawlessly turning stock comic gestures into laugh-out-loud moments, and even juggling apples with the panache of a circus performer. More important, he uses his lyric tenor to sing the part with impressive subtlety, suggesting Nemorino's desperation while singing of his love for Adina. His big show-stopper, "Una furtiva lagrima," features melting pianissimos and a breathtaking decrescendo in its final phrase. Netrebko's Adina is every bit as good, with deft acting and a lovely lyric soprano voice that makes you understand why she's the only girl for Nemorino.
Fabio Luisi conducts the Metropolitan Opera in this production of Verdi's work, based on Shakespeare's tragic play. Zeljko Lucic stars in the title role with Anna Netrebko as his wife, Lady Macbeth. The cast also includes Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo. New York Observer stated: “.. a superstar cast … the most potent: Anna Netrebko's ferociously exciting star turn as Lady Macbeth … a "demented" performance, one so exciting it propels both artist and audience figuratively to the brink of madness.”
This black-and-white, wonderfully old-fashioned film of a live performance of L'elisir d'amore, complete with faded painted backdrops and no attempt to update or "make relevant" this delicious work, is, well, delicious–gorgeously sung and charmingly acted. The pedigree is impeccable. I can't recall a recent performance of an Italian opera with all-Italian forces, including conductor, and at the risk of sounding chauvinistically Italian, there really is something elegant and natural about an entire cast steeped in the language, rhythms, and idiom that keeps the Italian-opera tradition alive.–Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Das Urteil der Musikgeschichte über den Komponisten Antonio Salieri schien eindeutig und wurde deshalb bis in die jüngste Zeit kaum überprüft: Ein solider Handwerker mit geringer Inspiration, der dem genialen jüngeren Mozart seinen Erfolg neidete, ihm gar nach dem Leben trachtete. Interessanterweise führte gerade der „Amadeus”-Film von Milos Forman, der an der alten Legende weiterstrickte, zu einer wenn auch bescheidenen Salieri-Renaissance, die in dem Salieri-Album Cecilia Bartolis, einer glanzvollen Rehabilitation des verkannten Meisters, ihren Höhepunkt fand.
Ekkehard Pluta (25.10.2007)