The libretto, written by Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi (the future Pope Clement IX), tells the story of saintly sacrifice: on his wedding night Alessio departs alone for the Holy Land in search of sanctity. Years later he returns unrecognised as a beggar to his family home, where his father, mother and wife still mourn him. A demon tempts Alessio to reveal his true identity and so end his family’s grief, but an angel keeps him on the sacred path. The dying Alessio leaves a letter explaining the truth and an angelic chorus bids his family to rejoice rather than mourn, since he has been received into heaven. This strange, solemn and elevated story is leavened with comic scenes in the commedia dell’arte vein, adding to the rich musico-dramatic variety of the entire opera.
Pinchgut Opera, based in Sydney and founded in 2002, specializes in Baroque and Classical opera, featuring works such as Semele, The Fairy Queen, Idomeneo, and Orfeo. One of its more obscure repertoire choices is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 1688 David & Jonathan. It's a work that's rarely performed or recorded, so this fine performance is revelatory.
The culmination of a three-year Monteverdi project led by conductor William Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi at Madrid's Teatro Réal, L'incoronazione di Poppea brings a potent blend of sex and politics, high drama and comedy. Leading the cast are Danielle de Niese, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic and Anna Bonitatibus.
William Christie, who most recently started 2012 at New York's Metropolitan Opera, conducting The Enchanted Island, is joined by the Les Arts Florissants as he evokes a veritable orgy of nuances, subtly creates atmosphere and shows a perfect sense for the accents of the piece. It took Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi three years to mount Monteverdi's three operas together. The result was a production full of elegance and beauty.
This two-fer compiles Lou Christie's LPs for the Roulette label. His self-titled debut introduces a singer and songwriter of uncommon substance. Where other teen idols swooned over puppy love, Christie explored the ugly twists and turns of the male psyche with depth and honesty, unleashing the operatic intensity of his potent falsetto to articulate emotions long verboten in popular music. Compare the facile drama of covers like Maurice Williams' "Stay" and Little Anthony's "Tears on My Pillow" to Christie-penned hits like "The Gypsy Cried" and "Two Faces Have I." The latter songs travel into dark, disturbing terrain where no one else dared go, exploring romantic turmoil in explicitly adult terms.
"A Showcase for and a love letter to a century of amazing music" is how the creator of The Enchanted Island, Jeremy Sams, described this spectacular operatic pasticcio of music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, Purcell and others. Premiered at the Metropolitan in New York on New Year's Eve 2011, it stars Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Danielle de Niese and Placido Domingo, and is conducted by William Christie.
French Baroque music has never achieved the general familiarity of its German and Italian cousins, but that's not for any lack of trying on the part of conductor Sébastien Daucé and his Ensemble Correspondances. What you get here is a Pastorale de Noël a fairly short but grand Christmas narrative plus one set of "Antiennes de O," or O Anthems, so called because each one begins with the word "O."