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Volume 12 - Issue 7 - April 2007

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OPERA AT HOMEcontinued

OPERA AT HOMEcontinued from page 67recting. The 1995 cast's names say it all: Vladimir Chernov as Boccanegra,the Doge of Genoa; Kiri Te Kanawa as his daughter Amelia; PlacidoDomingo as Gabriele Adorno (Amelia's lover and initially one ofBoccanegra's bitter enemies); and Robert Lloyd as Fiesco, a leaderof the patrician faction opposing Boccanegra's plebeian faction.Michael Scott's spectacular, realistic sets fit Verdi's music to a T. Thislandmark production is on a Deutsche Grammophon DVD, with thevideo production directed by Brian Large, one of the best in the business.This year' s Met performance featured Thomas Hampson as Boccanegra,Angela Gheorghiu as Amelia, Marcello Giordani as Gabriele,and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Fiesco, with Fabio Luisi conducting.The evening would have been worth it just for Luisi's conducting.Hampson is not a classic Verdian baritone, but his always intelligentinterpretation, fine voice and exceptional acting yielded a distinguishedBoccanegra. Furlanetto's Fiesco gave us the opportunity tohear one of the great living bass singers in superb action.Verdi's Shakespeare-inspired historical drama takes off from a looseinterpretation of the story of Genoa's selection of its first Doge (roughly,magistrate) in 1339. We are in early Renaissance Italy, where the newmarket-driven merchant class and plebeian laborers compete with aristocratsfor power. Boccanegra is a corsair (polite word for pirate) whoagrees to be the first Doge not out of concern for the public weal, but togain access to his lover, the daughter of the aristocratic Fiesco. There isa half hour prelude, in 1339, which ends with the death ofBoccanegra'slover and Fiesco's sworn enmity towards the new Doge.Fast forward a quarter of a century, and we move into a three-actopera where the central strand in a complicated mesh of plots, alliancesand sighs of love is the confrontation and reconciliation of Boccanegraand Fiesco. The ex-pirate grows into his job: he is about theonly strong healthy male who really doesn't want to wield power,though you wouldn't want to mess with him in a clinch. His objectiveis to get people to forgive and forget, which is a tall order for thecountry that invented the vendetta. Boccanegra ends up being poisoned,on stage and in real life, but makes peace with Fiesco andgains the appointment of Gabriele, his former aristocratic enemy,and now weeping ally and son-in-law, as the new Doge.The reason so many people wept during the final scene, myselfincluded, was the loss and destruction of a good, redeemed manbringing reconciliation to a world so badly in need of it. Though Verdiwas skeptical of all religion, Boccanegra is distinctly Christlike at hisend. This masterpiece languished in obscurity because, prolix plotaside, nineteenth century audiences were not ready to confront Boccanegra'sgrim plea to stop the self-destruction.After two world wars, Vietnam and Iraq, and genocides in Bosnia,Rwanda, and Sudan, we're ready. When Claudio Abbado initiateda revival of Simon Boccanegra at La Scala in 1971, in a brilliantproduction by Giorgio Strehler, the tide began to turn. Abbado repeatedthe performances in 1973, 1976, 1978, and 1982, (with a landmark1977 recording for Deutsche Grammophon along the way).Other revivals were initiated after World War II, but the Abbado/LaScala productions were primary. It took 90 years for Simon Boccanegra's time to come, but come it has.fc:o 9.~d o~i/oupli~~ • Short runs (5 - 500 or more) • Brochures ~.JI• Colour or B&W printed CD's • Posters ~ ...• Complete packaging ,~ • Business Cords \ ~• Fast dependable s_ervice • D!gita_L.Colour Printing "'-• Tnri 1111nlitu \ • r.rnrihi

DISG ".·~ 'j~DISCS REVIEWEDPLEASE NOTE:Due to space constraints only excerpts of the CDreviews appear in the print version of this issue.Please visitwww.thewholenote.com to accesscomplete reviews.We apologize for any inconvenience.VOCAL AND OPERAInto the LightThe Sixteen; Harry Christophers;Kaori MurajiDecca 475 8199In 1992, Tokyo-born Kaori Murajibecame the youngest student to winthe Leo Brouwer International Guitarcompetition, and her popularityhas been soaring ever since. Stillunder the age of thirty, this representsher third recording on the Deccalabel. The CD is a collaborationwith famed ensemble The Sixteen,who primarily record choral musicof the Renaissance ... The interplayof superb voices and guitar playingmake the music flow beautifully .. .Dianne WellsVivaldi - HeroesPhilippe Jaroussky; EnsembleMatheus; Jean Christophe SpinosiVirgin Classics 3 63424 2I was introduced to the singing ofFrench countertenor Philippe Jarousskyby a European-released recordingloaned to me by a friend. I wasan instant fan, and two years later inVancouver a concert featuring Jarousskysent me over the moon. Hisis an extraordinary gift, with astonishingvocal flexibility and control anda mature musical sophisticationwhich belies his youth ...Alison MelvilleA PR IL 1 - M AY 7 2007Strauss - ElektraJohansson; Lipovsek;Diener; Muff; Oper Zurich;Christoph von DohnanyiTDK DVWW-OPELEK... Eva Johansson is mesmerising inthe title role. She has both the looksand the sheer vocal power requiredto portray the first Punk Electra.Festooned in jeans and hoodies andsporting a slangy enunciation, she'sa crazed terrorist after royal blood ...Daniel FoleyConcert Note: The COC presentsElektra April 21 - May 19 with SusanBullock, Ewa Podles and AlwynMellor, at the Four SeasonsCentre.DuetsAnna Netrebko; Rolando VillazonDeutsche Grammophon 477 6456GitanoRolando Villazon; Orquesade la Comunidad de Madrid;Placido DomingoVirgin Classics 3 65474 2I have not caught up with Netrebkoand Villazon singing live yet - not fora lack of trying, mind you. Last October,all the tickets for their performancesin Los Angeles were gonelike an April snow. This spring, I willarrive in Paris just two days aftertheir, no doubt, yet another triumphantconcert. Eventually, I will hearthem sing live, because Netrebko andVillazon are UNA VOIDABLE .. .Robert TomasSoprano!Nicole Cabell; LondonPhilharmonic; Andrew DavisDecca 475 7661An opera singer' s debut disc usuallydoes the public more favoursthan the singer. It provides the firstopportunity to dissect the voice indetail and pit it against classic renditionsof arias, while taking awayany benefits of stage presence.Nicole Cabell has recently burst ontothe opera scene with a flurry of enthusiasmand a long list of importantengagements. Now she has herfirst solo album and you can hearquite clearly why her voice hasgenerated so much excitement. ..Seth EstrinEARLY MUSIC ANDPERIOD PERFORMANCEJourneyLes Boreades; Francis ColpronATMA ALCD2 1037Flute and recorder player FrancisColpron and his numerous friends,among them violinist Helene Plouffeand cellist Susie Napper, are ourdedicated guides into the land of theBaroque. This 22-track compilation,rich with musical treasures, bringsus "flavours" from Italy, France,England, and Gennany, drawingcomparisons and noting the differentuse of spices, so to speak .. .Frank NakashimaBach - 6 Trio SonatasDuo Petric ForgetOdeofon B-0705When I was a kid we had a black andwhite television set. Regardless, IWWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COMswore that I saw tons of differentcolours flitting across the screen. Ihad a similar experience listening toDuo Petric Forget - accordion andoboe - perform this set of six Sonatasby J. S. Bach. I swear that I hearall kinds of colours that simply aren'tthere: organ, brass, strings ...Heidi McKenzieCLASSICAL AND BEYONDMendelssohn -Requiem fur FannyQuatuor Akan; Steven DannATMA ACD2 2501Quatuor Alcan is very much a juggernautamong quartets these daysand this new ATMA CD has themat the top of their form . The threelate works from Mendelssohn' spen present a formidable challengeto any ensemble, but the Alcanstreat this material with an easy,attentive grace... John S. GrayMendelssohn/Bruch -Concertos; RomanceJanine Jansen; GewandhausOrchester; Riccardo ChaillyDecca 475 8133The 29-year old Dutch violinist JanineJansen has become a firm favouritein Europe since her 1997 debut,and it is easy to see why fromthis, her third CD but her debut orchestralconcerto disc. Her techniqueis impeccable, as we have come toexpect these days, but there is a quietsweetness as well as a warmth toher tone that belies the underlyingpower and gives he r playing an addedsubtlety that suggests a keen musicalintelligence is at work here ...Terry RobbinsChopin - Sonata No.2;4 ScherzosSimon TrpceskiEMI Classics 3 75586 2This is the third recording on EM!Classics by the young Macedonianborn pianist, Simon Trpceski who atthe age of27 is becoming a great interpreterof Chopin, Rachmaninov,Scriabin and even Debussy. Trpceskiselects an unusually ambitious and69

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