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  • Recommended Recordings: February 2015

Recommended Recordings: February 2015

This month the focus falls on new recordings from Anna Netrebko, Andris Nelsons and Diana Damrau.

By Robert Perry (Retail Manager)

30 January 2015 at 11.31am | 2 Comments

Anna Netrebko - Iolanta (Deutsche Grammophon)

Anna Netrebko, hot on the heels of her recording of Strauss’s Four Last Songs, heads the cast of Deutsche Grammophon's new Iolanta. Tchaikovsky’s seldom performed opera, which had its premiere on the same night as The Nutcracker, is relatively neglected. However, this recording, and Netrebko’s championing of the work on stages around the world, will change perceptions. Conductor Emmanuel Villaume finds the tender wonderment at the heart of this beautiful work, and the cast is strong from top to bottom. As Iolanta, the blind Princess of the title, Netrebko dominates the opera, singing with unfailing beauty of tone and dramatic intent. She herself has said that the music of Iolanta is a source of joy – and on this hearing recording, it surely is.

Buy Iolanta from the ROH Shop.

Andris Nelsons - Der fliegende Holländer (RCO Live)

As I write this, the sounds of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House can be heard in the Covent Garden orchestra pit, rehearsing for Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, under the baton of Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons. His new recording of this opera, with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and NDR Choir, must rank as the finest modern recording. The orchestra hurtles into the overture and Nelsons never lets the pace flag; there is tension even in the reflective moments, and when he gives the orchestra its head, it is genuinely thrilling. Terje Stensvold is vocally lighter as the Dutchman than we would expect, but he knows his way around the role, and there is a welcome balance between his Dutchman and Kwangchul Youn's Daland. Anja Kampe is magnificent in one of Wagner’s most difficult soprano roles, and with artists of the calibre of Christopher Ventris (Erik), Jane Henschel (Mary) and Russell Thomas (Steersman), this recording has everything going for it.

Buy Der fliegende Holländer from the ROH Shop.

Diana Damrau - Lucia di Lammermoor (Warner)

Diana Damrau is singing Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor to acclaim across the world at the moment. In this recording, a live performance, she takes ownership of the role. Completely in control of Lucia’s vocal pyrotechnics, without ever using them to show off, she understands the role perfectly, and uses the decoration to express emotion and growing insanity to chilling effect. She is surrounded by a stellar cast including Joseph Calleja, who sings with grace and unfailing style. The final scene, which includes the oft-cut Wolf’s Crag scene, gives Calleja’s Edgardo some additional dimension, and allows him a moment opposite Ludovic Tezier's Enrico (smoothly sung and thoughtfully characterized). Jesús López Cobos conducts his second recorded Lucia, leading a detailed and melancholy account without any loss of brilliance where it is needed.

Buy Lucia di Lammermoor from the ROH Shop.

The Royal Opera House Online Shop stocks a full range of classical recordings, as well as DVDs and merchandise.

Der fliegende Holländer runs 5–24 February 2015. Tickets are still available.
The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 24 February 2015. Find your nearest cinema.

Anna Netrebko will return to Covent Garden in May 2015 in La bohème. Tickets go on sale to the Friends of Covent Garden on 4 March with General booking opening on 31 March.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Ornicar responded on 30 January 2015 at 3:46pm Reply

    Thanks for this top list! I heard Anna NETREBKO sining "Iolanta" in a concert version in Paris two years ago and it was gorgeous. This recording is a very good choice. On Twitter you asked which recently released albums we would recommend for our part. Clearly, it would be the last CD that Roberto ALAGNA has just recorded in London, "My life is an Opera", freshly available in the UK and in many other countries now. Only previously unreleased recordings. No Verdi, no Bizet, very few commercial "hits" but rather a sumptuous playlist, rich in rarities and surprises: for instance "Magishe Töne" from "Die Königin von Saba" by Goldmark, but also Sigurd and another "Reine de Saba" by Gounod, an aria from "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Gluck in its Italian version, or an extract from a contemporary work "The last day of a condemned man" based on Hugo's novel, and also a real gem, the Lenski aria translated and sung in French. His 'Recitar ... Vesti la giubba' from 'Pagliacci' sounds amazing, with sentences given in a single breath, perfectly held on the high point, very moving. Vocally, ALAGNA is in perfect shape. As usual, his diction is near perfect in every languages. He tackles top notes with great ease (his duet with the great soprano Aleksandra KURZAK, in an excerpt from "Roberto Devereux", ends with a breathtaking High D!). The rendition is sublime, his timbre still very fresh and clear but in addition he won a wider range, a great ability to color his interpretation with many nuances and a kind of naturalness in his manner of singing, without any superfluous effect. It's simply brilliant and very moving in the verismo repertoire (Puccini, Leoncavallo) as well as in the great French repertoire (Reyer, Massenet...) .
    As you can read, I am very enthusiastic and I suggest everyone to listen to it, it's a high quality return to the Studio for Alagna! You might enjoy many beautiful moments with this record, as varied but consistent as a life could be ... an "operatic" life!

  2. Robert Perry responded on 2 February 2015 at 10:25am Reply

    Great recommendation - thanks! And here's where you can get your copy of Alagna's new disc:
    http://www.roh.org.uk/products/alagna-roberto-my-life-is-an-opera-cd

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