Tuesday January 23, 2018 3:56 am



New Catalog Releases Celebrate Verdi Bicentennial

The year-long celebration of Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birthday continues…
FanFaire celebrates Verdi with a compilation of new recordings and re-issues released in celebration of the composer’s 200th birthday anniversary.

CELEBRATING VERDI: New Releases and Re-issues

New Releases from Decca and Deutsche Grammophon
Starting last year, both DG and Decca recorded a number of new albums and also mined their catalogs for the premiere Verdi listening experience. Below, from the unrivalled Verdi: The Complete Works collection on 75 CDs as the ultimate set to the individual new recitals and historic re-issues, are the numerous celebrations on disc of one of the world’s great opera composers.
Verdi: The Complete Works
Decca celebrates the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth in matchless style with a 75-CD box containing his entire canon of works. This is a special limited-edition and each luxurious, embossed box is individually numbered. A box set of this size and magnitude has not been assembled before making this a truly unique and highly collectible addition to any opera lover’s library. Representing the lion’s share of the box are 30 complete opera recordings which trace the evolution of the composer’s genius from his first opera, Oberto, through the so-called galley years and the much-loved masterpieces of his middle and late periods, including Rigoletto, La traviata, Aida and Otello to the sublime valedictory comedy Falstaff. Two of his grandest works are each represented by two complete recordings, since the anthology includes Don Carlos (as originally written in French) and its Italian revision, Don Carlo, and also both the 1862 and 1869 versions of La forza del destino. Each recording has been individually selected to be as definitive as possible. Completing the collection are the epic Requiem, other sacred and choral works, arias, songs, ballet music, chamber works and piano pieces. A number of hard-to-find rarities are included.
Verdi: Anna Netrebko
With her first studio album in five years, Anna Netrebko celebrates the mighty power and compelling human drama of Verdi’s music. Propelled by her unforgettable interpretations of landmark roles, the Russian soprano has surged to the top of the opera world since the release of her debut recording for Deutsche Grammophon a decade ago. Anna Netrebko’s Verdi is destined to stand out among major highlights of the composer’s bicentenary year, thanks to its carefully selected program, thoughtful interpretations and passionate music-making. The album includes substantial excerpts from Macbeth, Giovanni d’Arco, I Vespri Siciliani, Don Carlo and Il Trovatore. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino. The album is available in both a standard jewel case and also a deluxe hardcover edition which will include extra texts, photos and a DVD of highlights of Anna on stage both in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera.
Verdi: Requiem

Also available on DVD & BluRay

Celebrating the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth, this recording features a stellar quartet of vocal soloists and marks the first audio recording by Barenboim in his role as La Scala’s Music Director. “If you were to devise a dream casting for this most theatrical of sacred masterpieces you might well come up with Anja Harteros, Elena Garanca, Jonas Kaufmann and Rene Pape, plus the Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, under their current maestro, Daniel Barenboim. I was blown away by this Requiem. Kaufmann’s first entry was like an erupting volcano. Garanca was as mesmerizing, floating creamy legatos while mustering a thrilling chest voice that I never thought she possessed. Harteros, looking like a distressed pre-Raphaelite beauty, turned the final movement into the most sublime death scene never to appear in an opera. And that incredible chorus, with their barrel-voiced basses and wonderfully hammy rolled consonants and gasped aspirates, hurled out the apocalyptic moments as if determined to blast the roof off.” – The Times
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

This all-new recording of Verdi’s 23rd opera features an all-star cast of both emerging and established talents. Baritone Thomas Hampson takes the title role, the Doge of Venice. He is joined by rising soprano start Kristine Opolais. Of her Metropolitan Opera debut last season, the New York Times said:”A lovely woman and an affectingly natural actress, she has a plush voice with a throbbing richness that lends a touch of poignancy to every phrase she sings, even when she’s being coquettish.” Decca recording artist Joseph Calleja joins and in its review of his performance, the Kurier exclaimed, “What a voice, what poetry, what melodiousness, what radiance!” while Die Presse stated, “There are not many tenors who can sing the role of Adorno as unpretentiously, tastefully, and free of bad habits as Joseph Calleja.” Massimo Zanetti conducts the Wiener Symphoniker.
Great Verdi Recordings from Caruso to Pavarotti

This 7 disc set is a feast of great Verdi singing, dating from the dawn of recording in 1903 (Tamagno – Verdi’s first Otello) to the 1960s (Pavarotti’s first disc for Decca). Great Verdi conducting, too, is included from Fricsay (live Requiem) and Markevitch. Fittingly for Deutsche Grammophon, the final CD is devoted to Verdi sung in German. Many of the greatest Verdi singers of all time appear in the set, starting with Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905), the Otello at the 1887 premiere, in remarkably listenable sound deriving from almost-forgotten original matrices rediscovered some years ago in Deutsche Grammophon’s Hanover tape archive, through Caruso, Welitsch, Tebaldi, del Monaco and many other stars, to Luciano Pavarotti, part of whose very first 45-rpm EP disc, made for Decca in 1964, is included here. Deutsche Grammophon, being a German company, in its early years normally recorded Verdi in the German vernacular, because that was how Verdi was then performed in German opera houses. The results of some of those sessions, often with famous artists – Hans Hotter, Maria Cebotari, Lauritz Melchior, Heinrich Schlusnus, Kim Borg- are included on the final CD and should be new to many Verdi connoisseurs.
Rolando Villazon: Verdi

The music of Giuseppe Verdi is especially close to Rolando Villazon’s heart, feeling especially at home in the composer’s emotional world. “Verdi knows all our feelings,” he says.”He focuses them dramatically and shows us our own soul in his music, sometimes filled with light, sometimes with darkness.” Villazon’s album for the composer’s 200th birthday, Villazon: Verdi, is a personal exploration of Verdi in his entirety: the musician, the keen observer of human nature and the man who continues to inspire the masses to this day. Thus the recording ranges from Verdi’s earliest opera, Oberto, by way of his frequently neglected songs, to his final masterpiece, Falstaff. “My idea was to present Verdi in all his aspects,” Villazon elaborates,”not only singing the ‘hit tunes’that everyone knows, but also songs and arias for us to rediscover. Everywhere we find that Verdi was open to inspiration from his surroundings, from his world and the people he encountered. That’s what makes his music so direct. I am convinced that three minutes from any of these pieces is enough to be able to say: “Verdi is simply the best.”

Verdi: Rigoletto

Both Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto and Victor Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse the work on which it is based have a rich history with the morality police. Hugo’s 1832 play, which portrays King Francis I of France as a randy seducer, was banned after a single performance for its depiction of a licentious monarch. Verdi encountered similar resistance from the Austrian censors, who wielded enormous power in northern Italy, and it was only after the composer moved the action of his opera to 16th-century Mantua, whose ruling family had long since disappeared, that Rigoletto was finally able to have its triumphant premiere at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice in 1851. Regardless of its setting or version, though, the opera takes place in a world where powerful men use women as playthings, where proximity to wealth and power is all-important, and where putting out a hit on an enemy is par for the course. In other words, director Michael Mayer’s decision to set his Met production of Rigoletto in Las Vegas in 1960 is right on the money. The cast include Piotr Beczala, Diana Damrau, Zeljko Lucic and Stefan Kocán with Michele Mariotti leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The New York Times said, “Mr. Beczala, looking jaunty and loose, sings with ringing tone and ardor; Ms. Damrau sings the role radiantly, combining agile coloratura with plush, vibrant sound, the embodiment of youthful yearning and restlessness.”
Viva Verdi: Ouvertures & Preludes

Winner of the 2012 ECHO Award for Conductor of the Year and one of the worlds most respected maestros, Riccardo Chailly celebrates Verdi’s bicentenary year and his own 60th birthday in 2013 with a disc of overtures, preludes and ballet movements from some of the composers best-loved operas. Adding an extra touch of authenticity, the works are performed by the Filarmonica della Scala the opera house with which Verdi himself was most closely associated and where Chailly launched his own conducting career, based in the city where Verdi died and Chailly was born. Chailly has been long associated with the Filarmonica della Scala and recorded four Decca albums with them (including discs of Rossini overtures and cantatas), while his Verdi recordings for Decca include the Messa solenne and other rare sacred works, a disc of Verdi Discoveries and a complete Rigoletto starring the late Luciano Pavarotti. Bringing together a trio of Italian greats, a world-famous composer, a fine orchestra and a first-class conductor, this set is of the highlights of Deccas new releases for the Verdi bicentenary year.
New Releases on Other Labels
Celebrating Verdi: Legendary Interpreters

This DVD, to be released on November 19, 2013 celebrates Verdi by bringing into focus great performances by some of the 20th century’s legendary Verdi interpreters, including Arturo Toscanini, Carlo Maria Giulini, Tito Gobbi and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Restored using the latest digital technology and enhanced with commentary for today’s audiences, these classics were salvaged from various archives and made accessible for home viewing audiences.
Verdi: Verdi: Messa Da Requiem

This DVD, to be released also on November 19 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, was recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl on August 13 & 15, 2013, and features the Los Angeles Master Chorale, directed by Grant Gershon, and four world-class soloists. The international release date is November 17, 2013. This is the first release from Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil recorded at the Hollywood Bowl.
Placido Domingo: Verdi
Sony Classical

For the first time in his spectacular, historic career, PLACIDO DOMINGO records as a baritone on VERDI, an album of the composer’s most beloved baritone arias. Having performed and recorded all of Verdi’s great tenor arias, Domingo is excited to explore the darker characters from Verdi’s most famous operas including Rigoletto, La traviata and Don Carlo, beginning a new a new era in his vocal abilities, which now makes him, simply, THE Verdi SINGER.
Jonas Kaufmann: The Verdi Album
Sony Classical

It was with Verdi that Jonas Kaufmann made his international breakthrough in 2006 when he sang Alfredo Germont in La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. And for Kaufmann, the Verdi bicentenary in 2013 will be dominated by performances of works by the great Italian opera composer, including this debut album for Sony Classical, The Verdi Album. Recorded with Pier Giorgio Morandi conducting the Orchestra dell’Opera di Parma, this new album features twelve of Verdi’s greatest tenor hits, eleven of which are recorded for the first time by Kaufmann. His choice of arias demonstrates the remarkable breadth of his musical versatility and expression.
Simon Bocanegra
2013 Remastering by Immortal Performances / 2 CDs
This is the New York revival of the 1939 performance that remains a legend. This 2013 restoration offers the best sonics ever available, with considerable vocal presence, natural tone and dimensionalization of the ensembles so as to recreate one of the most exciting and truly great performances of the late 1930s. Lawrence Tibbett is supreme in one of his most famous roles; he is brilliantly supported by Elisabeth Rethberg, Giovanni Martinelli, Ezio Pinza, and the very young Leonard Warren. Ettore Panizza sweeps the panorama forward! The set is supplemented by an interview with Tibbett conducted by Boris Goldovsky and the 1939 studio version of the Council Chamber scene.
Un Ballo in Maschera
2013 Remastering by Immortal Performances / 2 CDs
The legendary 1940 revival of “Un Ballo in Maschera” with the young Milanov and Bjorling in magnificent, rich voice; Castagna is an eerie, firm Ulrica, and Sved a strong Renato. Andreva is a perky, full voiced Oscar, while Panizza urges this live performance onward. A classic which belongs in all collections!!! Immortal Performances has remastered this performance, making this the best sounding version available. This release also includes the original broadcast narration by the inimitable Milton Cross. One notable critic wrote,”[Ettore Panizza] was blessed with the 31 year old Jussi Bjorling as Ricardo and the 34 year old Zinka Milanov as his Amelia, both in their prime – casting for the gods. At this stage in Milanov’s career, no excuses have to be made for inequalities in her singing. This is an Amelia with all the resources and innate style her music calls for. Act Two, with both singers involved and impassioned, is thus a vocal feast. Amelia’s Prayer is quite gloriously delivered. With Alexander Sved a powerful if unsubtle Renato (his voice has rightly been compared with Ruffo’s), and Bruna Castagna, a classic Ulrica, this is a performance to savour.”
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