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.
English-speaking audiences have always found Die Meistersinger to be a life-enhancing celebration of wisdom, art and song. So it proves in David McVicar's production – the first at Glyndebourne – which is updated to the early-19th century of Wagner's childhood. At the centre of a true ensemble cast is Gerald Finley, a 'gleamingly sung', 'eminently believable' Sachs (The Independent on Sunday), supported by the dynamic conducting of Vladimir Jurowski which, like McVicar's production, uses Glyndebourne's special intimacy to bring sharp focus to bear on the subtlety of Wagner's musical and dramatic counterpoint.
Alessandro Corbelli takes the title role in Annabel Arden’s whirlwind production of Puccini’s compact opera, in which the scheming Gianni Schicchi retrieves for himself the spoils of a disinherited family to pave the way for his daughter to marry her love. As performed at Glyndebourne, Gianni Schicci is here combined in a double bill with Rachmaninov's dark setting of Alexander Pushkin's 'little tragedy'. The Miserly Knight, also directed by Annabel Arden and featuring an outstanding performance from Sergei Leiferkus in the role written for the great Russian bass Fyodor Chaliapin.
Breathtaking virtuosity flows seamlessly with expansive lyrical passages and fiendish passagework in this commanding performance by Arabella Steinbacher of the restless and technically demanding violin concertos of Britten and Hindemith in this new release from PENTATONE, with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.
Over a decade before Richard Wagner's Valkyries took their celebrated ride, August Bournonville and Johann Peter Emilius Hartmanns Valkyrie danced on the Danish stage. Born in Copenhagen, son of French dancers, Bournonville founded the national Danish ballet with a series of ballets drawing its themes from Nordic mythology and early Danish history. For his first such project, Bournonville turned to his childhood friend Hartmann, who already had established himself as a composer of music on national themes.