29 March 2012

Rossini: Colbran, The Muse

EAC | FLAC tracks, CUE | Covers | 281 Mb
Date CD: 10/06/2009 | Virgin | 71:54
Many opera fans are perfectly happy to enjoy Rossini's operas without ever visiting the facts of his personal life beyond that which can be read in a program booklet. As the old saying goes, however, behind every great man there is a woman, and in Rossini's case it was Spanish diva Isabella Colbran, whom he worshiped from afar before the two became an item around 1817 -- he was 25, she 32 -- and subsequently married in 1822. Not long after they married her voice went into sharp decline; this is documented in a number of unflattering reviews from both Italy and London. Nevertheless, this did not occur before Rossini had the chance to write his most challenging and involved roles for her, and this part of his legacy is what is explored on Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse.
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is not your ordinary diva; mere months before Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse was released, DiDonato made the headlines when she broke her leg during a performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, yet finished the performance on crutches. This helped cement DiDonato's reputation as a trouper, but it is the diva -- not the trouper -- that we hear on Colbran, the Muse. While recording companies do not routinely concern themselves with exploring the legacies of singers no one can reasonably hear, to her credit DiDonato takes this project quite seriously and does her best to channel Colbran through music Rossini wrote for her. There is some controversy as to whether Colbran was a soprano or a mezzo; however, there certainly isn't anything in her music that DiDonato can't handle; moreover, she does so not only with accuracy and respect for the model but also with no small amount of sheer star power and charisma. Rossini tends to be less harder on the orchestra than on singers, and this can lead to a certain underpowered "house style" with Rossini, especially in Italy. Not so here, as Edoardo Müller and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia approach every bar of their music with attentive dedication and a scrupulous sense of ensemble dynamics. Likewise, the chorus doesn't sound like it's in the next province, yet never covers the star of the show and is well drilled by Müller.
Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse is a terrific star turn for DiDonato and an especially fine tribute to an artist whose voice gave way more than 50 years before Thomas Edison developed the technological means to capture it. This quirky idea succeeds so well that opera fans might regard it as a privilege.
Is Joyce DiDonato the world's best Rossini singer?, asked the New York magazine Opera News after the American mezzo sang the finale of La Cenerentola at Carnegie Hall in January 2009. That title certainly seemed hers by sovereign right, it continued; Her phrasing was silky, her timbre rich and glowing, and her ornaments were impeccably stylish and utterly beguiling. Most impressive was DiDonato's combination of immaculate technical control with an air of wild, unstoppable joy. This was truly a moment to treasure from an artist who is at the very top of her game.
To make a recording of Rossini arias is a true dream for me, says Joyce DiDonato. His works have been hugely responsible for giving me the opportunity to break into this crazy opera world, and they have given me such incredible joy on the stage. I wanted to take this wonderful opportunity to show the wide, surprising range of his compositions. He was incredibly inspired by his wife, Isabella Colbran the reigning, supreme diva of her day and to explore some of the nine roles he wrote for her. I think it will afford wonderful insight into how a composer is inspired by a particular muse, to hear how Isabella ignited incredibly creative forces in him. She was widely hailed in her relatively short career for her incredible range not only vocal, but dramatic too and that will be evident here as we explore the heartbreaking pathos of Desdemona, the hopeful triumph of Semiramide, and the unleashed power of Armida.
1. Armida: D'amor Al Dolce Impero
2. La Donna Del Lago: Oh Mattutini Albori
3. La Donna Del Lago: Tanti Aaffetti In Tal Momento
4. La Donna Del Lago: Fra Il Padre, E Fra L'amante
5. Maometto II: Giusto Ciel, In Tal Periglio
6. Elisabetta, Regina D'Inghilterra: Qant'è Grato All'alma Mi
7. Semiramide: Serena I Vaghi Rai.... Bel Raggio Lusinghier
8. Semiramide: Bel Raggio Lusinghier Di Speme
9. Otello: Ah! Dagli Affanni Oppressa
10. Otello: Nessun Maggior Dolore
11. Otello: O Come Infino Al Core
12. Otello: Assisa Appiè D'un Salice
13. Otello: Deh Calma, O Ciel, Nel Sonno
16. Armida: È Ver....Gode Quest'Anima
Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-soprano
Accademia di Santa Cecilia Chorus
Saint Cecilia Academy Orchestra
Edoardo Müller
I'm beginning here to resurrect some of the works that "disappeared" from Avax or were "abandoned" from the original uploaders. There's not a real thought behind it, I'm just cleaning up my HDs and following the wind. What I downloaded long ago is flowing back. All credits go to the first uploader. Enjoy...

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