The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
Over the course of three discs, VOYAGE neatly navigates the long, rich career of David Crosby. Though he's best known as one-third of Woodstock-era folk-rock harmonists Crosby, Stills & Nash, the man with the angelic voice and the walrus moustache boasts a resume whose high points extend well beyond that association. VOYAGE doesn't stint on CSN (and sometimes Y) material, but the journeys into his early days with the Byrds, his solo albums, duo recordings with Graham Nash, and latter-day work with CPR are equally telling. From the mid-'60s Byrds tracks up to the present day, Crosby's knack for close, complex vocal harmonies, unusual jazz-influenced chord structures, and raga-tinged melodic lines serves as a connecting thread. VOYAGE allows listeners to follow Crosby's winding path through disparate eras, stopping off to marvel at the gorgeous sonic scenery along the way.
Caterina Cornaro was written in the extremely productive last period of Donizetti's life (between Don Pasquale and Linda di Chamounix) and was the last of his operas to be premiered in the composer’s lifetime. Like every other work of this period, it is intensely original, in this case being unusually dark in both subject matter and general musical tone. This is the only opera of Donizetti’s later period not to have had a quality modern recording.
Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus, RV 807, was added to the Vivaldi canon only in 2005; it was long attributed to Baldassare Galuppi. That shows you how minor composers don't get their due; it's a marvelous work, but it's only getting recordings now that Vivaldi's name is attached to it. At any rate, it's well worth hearing in this excellent performance by the rising British group La Nuova Musica, which has both vocal and instrumental components. They move like a well-oiled machine, making possible the clear communication of such vivid details as the musical depiction of a stream in the strings in the countertenor aria De torrente in via bibet (track 8) and the unusually elaborate fugue that concludes the work.