‘Semele’ is presented in Robert Carsen’s stylish modern dress production, originally seen in London, and most recently staged at the Zurich Opera in 2007. The drama tells of the ambition of the beautiful mortal, Semele, who, not satisfied with being Jupiter’s mistress, strives with fatal results to supplant Jupiter’s wife, Juno. Conceived as an oratorio but nowadays presented as a stage drama, it is a superb vehicle for all the principals, not least the substantial title role, which includes such popular arias as ‘Endless pleasure’ and ‘Myself I shall adore’.
inaugurated Cecilia Bartoli’s first season as Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 2012. “Bartoli’s Dream Start with Dream Voices” wrote the Vienna Kurier of this uproarious Moshe Leiser/Patrice Caurier in which Bartoli heads a hand-picked cast including Andreas Scholl, Philippe Jaroussky and Anne Sofie Von Otter with Il Giardino Armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonini. “[Andreas Scholl’s] coloratura is note perfect, he phrases recitatives with as much musicianship as arias, and the steadiness and purity of his voice are remarkable.” The Financial Times
Cecilia Bartoli's new CD features a collection of music that could not be heard in her native Rome at the start of the 18th century due to Papal censorship. Theaters, the Church felt, were places of evil and corruption and operas led people to immorality. But some music-loving senior members of the priesthood asked composers to write oratorios and cantatas–indeed, operas without staging, essentially–for their own private entertainment. Call it what you will, the music is sensational–by turns virtuosic, gentle, and playful–and always expressive: just right, it seems, for Cecilia Bartoli's temperament. The opening aria on the CD, a call for peace in the name of Jesus, is, in fact, a dazzling martial air with trumpets blaring and the voice going through an amazing array of coloratura fireworks. It shows Bartoli at her most aggressive. The listener is practically hurled back from the speakers when she begins, with rapid-fire runs and trills and cascades of notes, all perfectly in place. Showy arias are offset by several tender ones ("Lascia la spina" from Handel's Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno returns in the composer's Rinaldo, four years later, as the now-famous "Lascia ch'io pianga"), and Bartoli exhibits again, her many, many levels of pianissimo and sensitive phrasing. Marc Minkowski and his Musiciens are just right for this repertoire and back Bartoli up superbly. This is a fascinating project, rivetingly performed and presented.–Robert Levine
Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ text for the passion oratorio, later named after him, is among the best-known Passion librettos of the early 18th century. This version is the first recording on CD of the work based on the copy made by J S Bach himself. It is distinguished from the better-known version by a different text for the opening chorus.
Peter Neumann strikes a powerful blow for some reassessment of Handel's version. He is assisted above all by Markus Brutscher's Evangelist which has urgency, cogency and clarity in equal measure. Markus Flaig's Jesus is also effective as is the relatively modest contribution by the Cologne Chamber Choir. (BBC Music Magazine)
Mortensen's magnificent direction brings out the full measure of excitement, pathos and emotion in Handel's score…[the production] conveys an enormous amount of what makes Partenope very special.–Gramophone
Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah.
"La scala di seta" is an operatic farsa comica in one act by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Giuseppe Maria Foppa. It was first performed in Venice, Italy, at the Teatro San Moisè on 9 May 1812. The overture has been frequently recorded and continues to be featured in the modern concert repertoire.
From 1810 to 1813, the young Rossini composed four Italian farse, beginning with La cambiale di matrimonio (The Bill of Marriage), his first opera, and ending with Il Signor Bruschino. These types of short pieces were popular in Venice at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The pieces were intimate, with a cast of five to seven singers, always including a pair of lovers, at least two comic parts, and one or two other minor roles. The style called for much visual comedy improvised by the players. As compared to many genres of opera, acting and comedic talent is more important relative to the required singing ability. Rossini’s farces also have a significant sentimental element.