• CD Review: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1962, Gui)

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    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    1962, EMI

    (Sesto Bruscantini, Luigi Alva, Victoria de los Angeles, Ian Wallace, Carlo Cava, Laura Sarti; Glyndebourne Chorus; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Vittorio Gui)


    This classic recording is one of the first studio attempts to present an “authentic” Barbiere. Though it predates Alberto Zedda’s critical edition of the score and some of the orchestration is still slightly “off” (e.g. a harp instead of a guitar in “Ecco ridente”), it completely lacks the interpolations, transpositions, excess embellishments and Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1983, Marriner)

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    Il Barbiere di Siviglia

    1983, Philips/Decca

    (Thomas Allen, Agnes Baltsa, Francisco Araiza, Domenico Trimarchi, Robert Lloyd, Sally Burgess; Ambrosian Opera Chorus; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, cond. Neville Marriner)


    This rendition of Rossini’s best-loved opera has always been a particular favorite of mine. Sir Neville Marriner conducts a performance full to the brim with elegance and charm. Yes, his reading is moderately paced and restrained compared to the fizzing energy of others (more English than Italian, I suppose), but it still contains

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  • CD Review: Die Zauberflöte (1991, Solti)

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    Die Zauberflöte

    1991, Decca

    (Uwe Heilmann, Ruth Ziesak, Michael Kraus, Sumi Jo, Kurt Moll, Heinz Zednik; Wiener Staatsopernchor; Wiener Philharmoniker, cond. Georg Solti)



    This is one of the most popular, easiest-to-find Zauberflötes on the market, and it’s an excellent choice for a neophyte who wants an introduction to the piece. Sir Georg Solti, with more than fifty years of musical experience behind him, leads the Vienna Philharmonic in a masterful performance, blending the brisk, lithe energy of a historically-informed reading with the rich,

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  • CD Review: Orphée et Eurydice (1989, Gardiner)

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    Orphée et Eurydice

    1989, EMI

    (Anne Sofie von Otter, Barbara Hendricks, Brigitte Fournier; Monteverdi Choir; Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon, cond. John Eliot Gardiner)


    If you want an introduction to the Berlioz edition of Gluck’s Orphée, there’s probably no better one than this recording. John Eliot Gardiner conducts with a lithe, energetic yet elegant hand, creating a beautifully French sound world of sweet refinement without losing any of the story’s passion, and capturing the late Baroque/early Classical essence of Gluck while staying true to Berlioz’s

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  • CD Review: Don Giovanni (1988, Harnoncourt)

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    Don Giovanni

    1988, Teldec

    (Thomas Hampson, László Polgár, Edita Gruberova, Hans Peter Blochwitz, Roberta Alexander, Barbara Bonney, Anton Scharinger, Robert Holl; The Netherlands Opera Chorus; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt)


    This starry yet somewhat under-the-radar Giovanni hasn’t appealed to all critics, but I like it. While he doesn’t offer a radical reinterpretation of Mozart’s music, Nikolaus Harnoncourt still makes the score very much his own, with controversial yet, in my opinion, effective results. Some of his tempos are speedy and urgent, others surprisingly slow and deliberate, yet all are clearly Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: Carmen (1972, Bernstein)

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    1972, Deutsche Grammophon

    (Marilyn Horne, James McCracken, Tom Krause, Adriana Maliponte; Manhattan Opera Chorus; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, cond. Leonard Bernstein)



    Here we have yet another uneven Carmen that I can’t help but enjoy despite its flaws. Genius though Leonard Bernstein was, not everyone will approve of his eternally slow tempos and punchy dramatic climaxes here, or his use of the controversial Oeser edition with its array of departures from the traditional score. Nor will every listener appreciate the singers’ performances. This is a very American Carmen, both in accent and Read the rest of this entry »

  • CD Review: La Cenerentola (1992, Chailly)

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    La Cenerentola

    1992 Decca

    (Cecilia Bartoli, William Matteuzzi, Enzo Dara, Alessandro Corbelli, Michele Pertusi, Fernanda Costa, Gloria Banditelli; Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna; Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, cond. Riccardo Chailly)


    This is possibly the most famous Cenerentola recording of all time and definitely one of the best. Riccardo Chailly conducts a nearly note-complete rendition of the score (only the three numbers by Agolini are missing) with all the light, scintillating charm and buffa energy that a Rossini lover could hope for. His reading is brisker Read the rest of this entry »