Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has gained a strong following with novel, even fearless programs, flawlessly executed. The stimulus for In War & Peace was extramusical: DiDonato temporarily shelved a different project in the wake of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. The concept is ambitious: the booklet includes quotes about finding peace from figures as varied as Patrick Stewart, Riccardo Muti, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and an inmate at New York's Sing Sing prison. Does it directly connect with DiDonato's program of Baroque arias? Listeners will have to decide for themselves, but the good news is that the program stands on its own. War and peace are among the most common themes in Baroque opera, but DiDonato has woven them together intelligently here. For one thing, the two interpenetrate, with elevated tragic arias in the War half of the program, and complex dramatic conceptions in the Peace half. Sample Handel's remarkable "Augelletti, che cantante," from Rinaldo, with its sopranino recorder part and discursive development. Added bonuses are some world-premiere arias from the still largely unexplored corpus of opera seria from the middle 18th century, represented by compositions of Leonardo Leo and Niccolò Jommelli. Equally good are the big hits, including a magnificent, deliberate "When I am laid in earth," from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, which shows the breadth of DiDonato's conceptualizations of war and peace. The accompaniment from the historical-instrument group Il Pomo d'Oro under Maxim Emelyanychev is ideal.(James Manheim)
Ricordi D'Infanzia is a real mystery group of the seventies Italian scene. The line-up is unknown but all tracks in the album liner notes are credited to Sica and Budano. Supposedly all members of the group were studio session men. Musically they were rather similar to better-known groups such as Metamorfosi and L'uovo Di Colombo. The only album "Io Uomo" was released in the pinnacle phase of Italian progressive in 1973. The music is heavy prog with great keyboard (Hammond and piano) work on top of that. The production quality is also very good. After the album the group released a single "Latte e Rhum" with two non-album tracks but after that it was sadly over.
Composed in 1783, Thrice Betrothed, Never Wed was the young Cherubini’s fifth opera and his first opera buffa. While it echoes its era—Paisiello, Cimarosa, Haydn, and early Mozart—it displays an almost Rossinian rhythmic bite and a few harmonic touches that look forward to the dramatic masterpieces of Cherubini’s Paris years (Lodoiska, Medée, Les deux journées, Anacréon, the C-Minor Requiem). Despite decades-long exploration of Cherubini, I have never encountered the opera before; this claims to be its first recording. The plot is filled with the expected inanities: disguises, mistaken identities, and Commedia dell’arte shenanigans. Don Pastacchio is the thrice-betrothed nobleman who is left standing when the music stops. After many false starts and red herrings, the other six characters finally match up into couples.