Renée Fleming and Andreas Scholl lead a superb cast in Stephen Wadsworth’s celebrated production of Handel’s Rodelinda from the Metropolitan Opera – based on the "Live in HD" transmission to cinemas worldwide. The title role is unique in featuring no less than eight magnificent arias. Renée Fleming’s triumph in the first run of the production was hailed by The New York Times, "Ms Fleming draws on every resource of her artistry in this portrayal: luminous sound, exquisite ornamentation, floating high notes, emotional volatility."
Ever since the operas of Handel started to return to the stage in the 1920s, Giulio Cesare has been one of the pieces held in high regard. Always known by name through the most famous of Cleopatra’s arias (”V’adoro, pupille” and “Piangerò la sorte mia”) and often produced successfully in Germany, it has gathered a reputation as the best of the composer’s operas-the reasons for which can now be verified by anyone who acquires RCA Victor’s current release of the highly successful New York City Opera production.
The recording-the first opera to be taped in New York for longer than local musicians care to remember-is the City Opera’s production in every detail. Unless I am mistaken, the orchestra has been augmented at one or two points, but the cast is identical with that of the production’s opening night, and the conductor is none other than the company’s director, Julius Rudel. The performance makes an excellent case both for the opera and for the company.
PentaTone's live recording of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles is billed as the world premiere recording, though it was preceded by the 1991 video recording of the Metropolitan Opera's production, which was conducted by James Levine and starred Teresa Stratas. Even so, this 2016 audiophile presentation of the LA Opera production, conducted by James Conlon, is a major event for opera lovers, especially since the Met's recording is difficult to find and performances of The Ghosts of Versailles are rare.
Volume 2 of EMI's comprehensive Herbert von Karajan centenary edition gathers virtually all of the conductor's operatic and vocal output for the label in one place, taking up 71 CDs (Disc 72 contains complete librettos in the form of PDF files). I use the word "virtually" because the package omits four posthumously issued archival items taped live during the 1957-60 Salzburg Festivals (Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, Bruckner's Te Deum, and Verdi's Requiem). Otherwise, it's all here.
Cimarosa’s opera, which reuses some items from the composer’s Il matrimonio in ballo of 1776, exists in two versions. The first – the holograph manuscript of which is preserved in the Conservatorio di Musica SW. Pietro a Majella, in Naples – was entitled Il credulo and consists of two acts – although the second contains only one scene and a chorus. The second version is in one act and is entitled Il credulo deluso. The manuscript of this version is in London, British Library Add MS. 16001. The one-act version omits a few items, particularly some in Neapolitan dialect.
Max Emanuel Cencic accurately describes himself as a mezzo-soprano rather than a counter tenor. His tone, while pure, is colorfully nuanced, nothing like the blanched purity that was once (but is thankfully no longer) stereotypical of counter tenors. A lifetime of singing the most advanced repertoire has given him a confident technique, exceptionally sure intonation, astonishing vocal power, and an effortless-sounding flexibility; at the age of six he sang the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache on Zagreb" television, and he went on to become a soloist with the Vienna Boys' Choir. On this album he tackles some of Handel's most virtuosic and demanding mezzo arias, most of them relatively unfamiliar. /quote]