CD and Other Review

Review: HAYDN: L’Anima del filosofo, Orpheus and Eurydice (Pinchgut Opera)

Haydn’s much-feted sojourn in London in 1791 was the occasion for the writing of his final opera, based on Ovid’s treatment of the Orpheus myth. Alas, operatic politics at the Haymarket meant that the first staging had to wait until 1951 with no less a leading lady than Maria Callas. Since then, revivals have been patchy so we must thank Sydney-based Pinchgut Opera for this live recording. Antony Walker and the excellent Orchestra of the Antipodes give the best reading of the score since Doráti. Dramatic pacing is spot on with sprightly tempi and fine instrumental contributions to Haydn’s ambitious orchestration, while Cantillation offer characterful singing. Elena Xanthoudakis has a light, pretty voice, able to cope with the flashy coloratura in both her roles – the Sybil’s showcase aria rightly brings the house down. It’s a pity that in her lower register she falls short of her recorded rival, Bartoli. Derek Welton offers fine support as her father, Creonte; his vengeance aria is particularly effective. Only the fluttery tenor of Andrew Goodwin lets the side down, struggling with coloratura and lacking power low in the voice. The CD also misses a certain depth, perhaps a consequence of the live recording. Nevertheless,…

January 9, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: Gioia! (soprano: Aleksandra Kurzak; Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Wellber)

Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak is the real and dazzling deal. Her choice of repertoire for Gioia! may be on the conventional side, but if she invites comparison with the greats, she well and truly lives up to it, with performances whose technical brilliance is matched by stylish, sensitive artistry. The arias here represent some of the mainstays of Kurzak’s career – Violetta, Lucia, Susanna and so on – and her mastery of them is thrillingly apparent. Flawless coloratura and silvery top notes are underpinned by a timbre of surprising warmth and depth, and by a vivid and versatile vocal presence. She’s remarkably good at teenagers and coquettes, but a full-blooded and ferociously well-sung rendition of Violetta’s Act I aria proves they’re far from the limit of her talents, and as Musetta and Lauretta, she manages Puccini’s lyrical legatos as perfectly as any of the fireworks. Having aced all these repertoire favourites, Kurzak concludes with a rare treat from her native land: an aria from Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor, sung with radiant beauty. Omer Meir Wellber’s leadership of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana is strong and dramatically astute, but the laurels here belong overwhelmingly to Kurzak. A sensational début.  

January 9, 2012
features

Rise, Sir Antonio

Maestro Antonio Pappano is knighted for his services to opera in the UK. Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from $3 per month Subscribe Already a subscriber? Log in

January 4, 2012