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Che puro ciel
The Rise of Classical Opera
Bach, J C:
No, che non ha la sorte...Vo solcando un mar crudele (from Artaserse)
Se il fulmine sospendi (from Ezio)
Pensa a serbarmi, o cara (from Ezio)
Che puro ciel (Orfeo ed Euridice)
Vieni a' regni del riposo (from Orfeo ed Euridice)
Hasse, J A:
Dei di Roma, ah perdonate! (from Il Trionfo di Clelia)
Già dagli occhi il velo è tolto (from Mitridate, rè di Ponto)
Ah di si nobil alma (from Ascanio in Alba)
Perché tacer degg'io?...Cara, lontano ancora (from Ascanio in Alba)
Ah, se lo vedi piangere (from Antigona)
Dormi Oreste! (from Ifigenia in Tauride)
Ah, sì, da te dipende (from Antigona)
In the famous Preface to Alceste (1767), Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi posited a new direction for opera. They spoke of moving beyond Baroque forms, of striving for a new naturalism in opera. They wanted, in Calzabigi's lovely phrase, to liberate the language of the heart. Taken from the height of this Reform period, the arias on this disc reveal composers exploring and experimenting, at struggle and at play, as they create the new forms that bring to opera the noble simplicity of the Classical era.
“Mehta shows how [coloratura passages] can have real expressive point and dramatic purpose, while his purity of line in quiet passages is ravishing...René Jacobs's meticulous accompaniments with the Akademie für Alte Musik add the finishing touches.” The Guardian, 14th November 2013 ****
“a well-chosen showcase, Mehta’s dramatic instincts are effectively deployed, and the accompaniments in the recitatives are handled with all the fluency we’ve come to expect from Jacobs complete Mozart opera recordings” CD Review, 16th November 2013
“if you have an ear for the tragic passions beneath the music’s formal contours, you will succumb to its expressive grace, especially with interpreters as persuasive as Mehta and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under René Jacobs.” Financial Times, 21st December 2013 ****
“Jacobs and Bejun Mehta unleash the primal energies buried in magnificent yet largely forgotten operas...Jacobs's abrupt tempo twists, the instrumentalists' boldness and the chorus's power make such ensemble sections as electrifying as Mehta's solos. This is a daring and important retelling of the story of Classical opera.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 *****
“Always acutely alive to text and dramatic situation...Mehta's dramatic involvement elevates some rather routine invention in the items by the teenage Mozart...The most enjoyable, intelligently planned countertenor recital to have come my way in years.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014
“Mehta tackles the tumultuous emotions and bravura technicalities of the great accompanied recitatives and arias that these innovative composers provided for the finest singers of the age. He provides solid style and a strong sense of purpose.” Opera Now ***
BBC Music Magazine
Opera Choice - February 2014
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Furie terribili: 30 Baroque Opera Hits
Arias by Monteverdi, Cavalli, Lully, Charpentier, Rameau, Purcell, Handel, Broschi, Giacomelli, Graun, Dauvergne, Keiser, Telemann and Gluck
Maria Bayo, Efrat Ben Nun, Maurice Bevan, Danielle Borst, Howard Crook, Lucy Crowe, Lynne Dawson, Jill Feldman, Bernarda Fink, Vivica Genaux, Sunhae Im, Inga Kalna, Guillemette Laurens, Claron McFadden, Bejun Mehta, Agnes Mellon, Miah Persson, Nicolas Rivenq, Jennifer Rivera, Dorothea Roschmann, Andreas Scholl, Roman Trekel, Janet Williams
Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin, Concerto Koln, Concerto Vocale, Freiburger Barockorchester, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, David Bates, William Christie, Alfred Deller, Philippe Herreweghe, Rene Jacobs
This double album invites you on a guided tour of the world of Baroque opera, from its origins in the early 17th century to its decline at the end of the Enlightenment. From recitar cantando to the da capo aria by way of French tragédie lyrique, the leading exponents of the genre will lead you into a dizzying spiral of vocal exploits illustrating all the human passions. Absolutely irresistible! Includes arias from: L'Orfeo, Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, L'incoronazione di Poppea, La Callisto, Armide, Médée, Les Indes Galantes, Castor & Pollux, Dido & Aeneas, King Arthur, Agrippina, Rinaldo, Serse, Idaspe, Merope, Tolomeo, Il pastor fido, Sosarme, Orpheus, Cleopatra & Desare, Croesus, Les Troqueurs, Orfeo ed Euridice.
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George Benjamin: Written on Skin
and Duet for piano and orchestra
'Written on Skin' is the second collaboration between George Benjamin and Martin Crimp. Their previous one-act opera 'Into The Little Hill' has been received with universal acclaim. Written on skin was jointly commissioned by The Festival d Aix-en-Provence and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and this recording was largely produced from a broadcast recording by Radio France in July 2012 at Aix. George Benjamin’s status as one of the UK’s leading composers has created unprecedented demand for the new opera.
“George Benjamin has written nothing better…and that’s saying something.”
Richard Morrison, The Times
“The first opera masterpiece of the 21st Century.” Serge Martin, Le Soir
“one of the most (more pessimistically: one of the only) unforgettable operas of the last decade or two, a work that seems both old-fashioned and fresh. Timeless, more like it. With a virtuosic cast and its composer leading a committed orchestral reading, it takes its rightful place among the classics.” Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, December 2013
“The vocal lines are highly singable, and Christopher Purves’s Protector anchors the drama with a subtle baritone. Bejun Mehta and Barbara Hannigan relish the erotic confrontations of the Boy and Agnès, her soprano soaring fearlessly. Superb diction throughout.” Opera Now ****
“[Purves] expresses a brooding pride and menace that makes your skin crawl. [Hannigan] makes an electrifying transformation from doe-like submissiveness to sexual predator, and the powerfully strange countertenor of Bejun Mehta...is ideally contrasted to these two...Even more riveting than the singing is the playing of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra...On every level it’s masterly.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2013 *****
“The performance has nervous energy in abundance...the dark spirit of the drama is impressively sustained throughout, with the five singers giving their all and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra relishing the music’s startlingly distinctive range of colours and textures.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2013
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Kenneth Tarver (Belshazzar), Rosemary Joshua (Nitocris), Bejun Mehta (Cyrus), Kristina Hammärström (Daniel), Neal Davies (Gobrias), Christina Sampson, Lucy Taylor, Andrew Radley, Richard Wilberforce, Vernon Kirk & Andrew Davies
RIAS Kammerchor & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs
Directed by Christof Nel – A Film by Don Kent
Set Designer: Roland Aeschlimann
Costume Designer: Bettina Walter
Produced by Bel Air Media / Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2008
Handel's Belshazzar at the Aix Festival was imported from the Staatsoper Berlin. Berlin had built a huge, magnificent production and imported English and American opera singers, including star-turn countertenor Bejun Mehta. Add to this a superb local Baroque instrumental ensemble and an accomplished vocal ensemble, not to mention the world-renowned early music conductor, René Jacobs: and voilà, an operatic hit.
Christophe Nel, a well-respected director in progressive German opera houses teamed up with famed Swiss minimalist set designer Roland Aeschlimann and costume designer Bettina Walter to create a production which respected the supposed austerity of oratorio. This experienced team brought Handel's not-so-high drama and philosophic tragedy to almost operatic dramatic standards as the Persian prince Cyrus overran the dissolute Babylonians and freed the captive Jews.
“The Persian prince Cyrus, was sumptuously sung in heroic stances by Bejun Mehta; Rosemary Joshua, Belshazzar's mother Nitocris, sang in convincingly Handelian terms, and convincingly portrayed a religious zealot troubled by her wayward son. Most beautiful too was the singing of Neal Davies as the Syrian Gobrias, whose son had been killed by the dissolute emperor Belshazzar, a role also well sung and broadly characterised by American tenor, Kenneth Tarver. The star of the show was the RIAS-Kammerchor, able to personify Babylonians or Jews at the drop of a hat, singing magnificently. The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin again proved itself a world-class chamber ensemble." musicwebinternational
“the dramatic essence of the story...comes over in a striking semi-expressionist fashion. There's a strong set of central performances. Though Tarver is encouraged to go over the top as Nel's bisexual hedonist villain, his bright and brilliant tenor is purposefully deployed...Joshua supplies sobriety and maternal concern on a grand scale...Mehta's King Cyrus is immaculately sung and powerfully acted...Jacobs proves a consistently lively presence” BBC Music Magazine, August 2011 ****
“Happily, stage producers Christof Nel and Martina Jochem place their faith entirely in Charles Jennen's plot and characters...The capable RIAS Chamber Choir get stuck into the dramatic story and the entire cast achieve an abundance of highly effective acting and dramatic visual ideas...Most of the singers are superb and their acting draws us into the contrasting moralities and fortunes of their characters” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011
“Ten minutes into this gripping performance and you understand Rene Jacobs's enthusiasm for the idea [of staging it] - the music lends itself perfectly to dramatization...Jacobs and his cast respond thoughtfully, but not over-zealously, to Handel's vivid characterization...[Tarver] looks and sounds like the perfect Belshazzar...Joshua is spellbinding...[Mehta] has an instinctive feel for Handel...it's one of the most convincing stagings of a Handel oratorio I've seen.” International Record Review, September 2011
BBC Music Magazine
DVD Choice - August 2011
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Susanne Elmark (Claudia), Mihoko Fujimura (Haruko), Bejun Mehta (Stephan), Viktor Rud (Hiroto), Marek Gasztecki (Fisherman)
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg, Vokalsolisten Hamburg, Kent Nagano (conductor) & Oriza Hirata (director)
First Hamburgische Staatsoper production with Musical Director Kent Nagano to be released on DVD.
One of Germany’s most acclaimed theatrical events of recent years: Stilles Meer (Silent Sea), by Japan’s most important living composer, dedicated to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that took place on March 11, 2011.
Toshio Hosokawa‘s opera draws on the Noh play Sumidagawa (Sumida River) about a mother’s overwhelming grief on the death of her son, and Mori Ōgai’s book Maihime (The Dancing Girl), about an ill-fated German-Japanese love affair. The production is staged by the celebrated Japanese director-playwright Oriza Hirata.
A fantastic cast, led by stars such as Danish soprano Susanne Elmark and counter tenor Bejun Mehta.
Including a 15-minute documentary in which the lead cast visit the tsunami area and the production is explained.
DVD Picture: 16:9 – NTSC
DVD Sound: PCM Stereo,
DD 5.1, DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 120 mins (105 mins Concert, 15 mins Bonus)
Production year: 2016
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The seventh release in RCO Live's Horizon series features world premieres recorded during three concert seasons. Magnus Lindberg's sumptuous 'Era' – a birthday present from the Concertgebouw Hall to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - dates from the 2012-2013 season. Both Tan Dun's catchy double bass concerto 'The Wolf' and Richard Rijnvos's 'fuoco e fumo' about the 1996 destruction by fire of the Venetian opera house La Fenice, are from 2015. The programme opens with a beguiling 20-minute work for countertenor, women’s voices and orchestra, 'Dream of the Song', Benjamin’s first work since his ground-breaking opera 'Written on Skin', was premiered in September at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw by the countertenor Bejun Mehta, the ladies of the Netherlands Chamber Choir and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by its composer. The work sets verse by three major poets who spent formative years in Granada; two Hebrew poets of mid-11th century, Samuel HaNagid and Solomon Ibn Gabirol (sung by solo countertenor in English versions by Peter Cole), and Gabriel Garcia Lorca (sung by the female chorus in the original Spanish). Commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw, BBC and Boston Symphony Orchestras and the Festival d’Automne, the work received its UK premiere on 18 March with Iestyn Davies, the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen.
Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 17-18 January 2013 (Lindberg), 29-30 January 2015 (Tan Dun), 12 June 2015 (Rijnvos), 25-26 September 2015 (Benjamin)
“Mehta…is alive to the sense of every syllable. The whole performance projects Benjamin’s soundworld and its luxurious interplay between instruments and voices far more vividly than it came across at the Barbican; it’s easily the most striking score in this collection.” The Guardian, 26th May 2016
“The true wonder of the RCO’s ‘Horizon’ series is in the sonic journey each record presents. And you’ll want to hear George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song, especially in this almost creepily perfect performance from Bejun Mehta…[the] breathtaking, chameleonic playing from Seldis that tells you why he’s this incredible orchestra’s principal” Gramophone Magazine, July 2016
“channelling the spirit of Sibelius, not only in that obvious homage to the 4th Symphony a century earlier, but also in the way Lindberg layers tempos; an apparently fast speed in the foreground while the foundations below move with a kind of glacial inevitability.” CD Review, 29th July 2016
“Benjamin’s song cycle … has a warm (and sometimes searing) sensuality which is eloquently projected by Bejun Mehta … Tan Dun’s Wolf… [is] a virtuoso vehicle for bass player Dominic Seldis, and like everything else on the CD, is immaculately recorded and expertly performed” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016 *****
Live recording of the premiere at the Theater an der Wien, March 20, 2011
Set Design: Herbert Murauer
Lighting Design: Bernd Pukrabek
Choreography: Thom Stuart
"The plot concerns politics in early-Medieval Italy, but director Philipp Harnoncourt (Nikolaus’s son) has updated it to a present-day cityscape...The kings and dukes of the libretto map neatly onto the production’s sleazy modern underworld of gangsters and drug dealers. Rodelinda is a trophy mob wife, and her outcast husband hides among a group of homeless people.
Philipp Harnoncourt eschews the jokey post-modern antics of many Handel productions in favor of a realistic, deadly serious approach. The entire production takes place around a grim cement apartment block whose exact geographic location is never clear...Soprano and Baroque opera glamor queen Danielle De Niese was an appropriately beautiful and steadfast Rodelinda, helpless at the start and becoming braver as she learned to play the men’s game... The star of the show was countertenor Bejun Mehta as Bertarido, who gave a thrilling performance. Endowed with a rich sound and a considerable variety of vocal colors, he sang his character’s mournful music with plangent phrasing, excellent dramatic timing, and, when required, stunning virtuosity. While not as accomplished an actor as De Niese, he had presence and intensity onstage.
As usurper Grimoaldo, Kurt Streit created a a dim-witted yet somehow savvy heavy, finally afflicted with a crisis of conscience in his Act 3 “Fatto inferno,” a surprisingly powerful scene...Swedish mezzo Malena Ernman boomed with authority in the low-lying role of Eduige, singing spotless coloratura even through some exceptionally complicated stage business of taking off clothes, dealing with a cleaning woman, and, at one point, scorching Rodelinda’s wedding dress with a hot iron. Countertenor Matthias Rexroth has a paler tone than Mehta, but nonetheless was excellent as the double agent Unulfo, here one of the most respectable figures in the community. From the buzzy strings to throaty oboes, the sound has a rough vividness that a modern orchestra can’t match, and their technical polish is unimpeachable. In the Theater an der Wien’s small space, the 30-member orchestra sounded Wagnerian in volume, but never overpowered the singers. Vocal ornamentation in the da capo sections was tasteful and relatively restrained.
Despite some weaknesses in the staging, Baroque opera fans should not miss this production, and it should win a few new ones as well." Zerbinetta, Bachtrack, 23/3/2011
Sound Format: PCM 2.0, Picture Format: 16:9,
DVD1: 125', DVD2: 64'
Language: Italian, Subtitles: F, G, GB,
“If the title-role heroine remains an enigma - half-Penelope, half-Medea - and is more kitten than tigress in Danielle de Niese's palely sung interpretation, Harnoncourt Jnr has done much to add fibre to the supporting roles...The laurels go to countertenor Bejun Mehta's Bertarido, sympathetically acted and brilliantly sung.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ***
“some very creditable performances on the musical side.” International Record Review, February 2015
“Mehta offers a star performance as Bertarido, his smooth, unflawed countertenor always perfectly in tune…de Niese’s Rodelinda supplies neat and effective vocalism, and she once again proves an accomplished actress…The playing of Concentus Musicus Wien is expert, with Harnoncourt senior finding a tempo that works for each aria and its singer while generally maintain a steady-as-she-goes approach.” Opera, April 2015
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Grammy award winning conductor Rene Jacobs, “the most exciting opera conductor of the day” (Münchner Merkur), leads the dynamic B’Rock Orchestra Ghent and an outstanding cast in Handel’s most spectacular and ravishingly beautiful creations, Orlando.
“Mehta brings lively characterisation to the mythical hero's subtle duality. I the uppermost notes of his vocal range sound a little pinched, there is ample compensation in bravura passagework...Im brings youthful playfulness to the role of Dorinda...All is well paced under René Jacobs's direction with a fine contribution from the B'Rock orchestra.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 ****
“This Orlando is the most dramatic on disc — although not all will love Jacobs’s extremes of slow and fast tempi, or the “baroque” sound effects. Bejun Mehta’s psychotic titular antihero is superb throughout, and I’ve never heard a more thrilling — or sinister — Zoroastro than Konstantin Wolff, while Sophie Karthäuser and Kristina Hammarström blend raptly as the lovers” Sunday Times, 6th July 2014
“Spectacular: the singing is both passionately committed and richly expressive, with Bejun Mehta (Orlando), Sophie Karthäuser (Angelica) and Sunhae Im (Dorinda) absolutely spellbinding.” Early Music Today
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Bach - The 50 Best Classical Masterpieces
Various, Rev. Dr. Troutbeck (translator), Bruce Prince-Joseph (organ), Leonid Hambro (harpsichord), Boys' Choir of The Church of The Transfiguration, Stuart Gardner (director), Christian Friedrich Henrici (lyricist), John McClure (producer), New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Collegiate Chorale, Johann Sebastian Bach (composer), Abraham Kaplan (director), Hilary Hahn (violin), Thomas Frost (producer), Glenn Gould (piano), Andrew Kazdin (producer), Marlboro Festival Orchestra, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Wolfram Graul (producer), Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, David Mottley (producer), Murray Perahia, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Andreas Neubronner (producer), Janos Starker (cello), Tom Lazarus (recording engineer), Bejun Mehta (producer), E. Power Biggs (organ), Samuel Magad (violin), Paul Goodman (recording engineer), Jay David Saks (producer), Donald Peck (flute), James Galway (flute), National Philharmonic Orchestra, Colin Moorfoot (recording engineer), George Korngold (producer), Paul Myers (producer), Christine Schäfer (soprano), René Möller (producer), Christoph Franke (producer), Berliner Barock Solisten, Wieland Kuijken (cello), Frans Brüggen (recorder), Kees Boeke (recorder), Wiel Peeters (viola), Lucy Van Dael (violin), Wolf Erichson (producer), Sigiswald Kuijken (violin), Janneke van der Meer (violin), The Philadelphia Orchestra, Thomas Frost (arranger), Bach Collegium München, Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern, Rainer Seidel (engineer), Manfred Handschuher (engineer), Helmut Pauli (producer), Isaac Stern (violin), Pinchas Zukerman, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Steven Epstein (producer), Kammerchor Stuttgart, Barockorchester Stuttgart, Inga Fischer (soprano), Thomas Herberich (bass vocal), Andrea Egeler (soprano), Markus Brutscher (tenor), Martin van der Zeyst (alto), Glenn Gould (organ), Joseph Scianni (producer), Joseph Turner (oboe), Joyce Kelley (bassoon), John Mack (oboe), Ruth Laredo (piano), Inga Nielsen (soprano), Murray Perahia (piano), Venice Baroque Orchestra, Giuliano Carmignola (violin), Jeremy Caulton (executive producer), Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), Marcel Tabuteau (oboe), Georges Kadar (producer), Prades Festival Orchestra, Anthony Newman (co-producer), Lisa Rautenberg (viola), Lisa Terry (viola da gamba), Mollie Glazer (viola da gamba), Stephen J. Epstein (co-producer), Scott Johnson (co-producer), The Brandenburg Collegium, Brian Greene (co-producer), Lucien Cailliet (arranger), Tafelmusik, Jeanne Lamon (violin), Jeanne Lamon (director), Simone Dinnerstein (piano), Andy Ryder (assistant engineer), Adam Abeshouse (recording engineer), Adam Abeshouse (producer), James Galway (arranger), Chapel Choir of King's School, Canterbury, BBC Singers, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, John Birch (organ), Adolph Herseth (trumpet), Ray Still (oboe), Lee Venora (soprano), Russell Oberlin (countertenor), Norman Farrow (bass vocal), The Schola Cantorum, Charles Bressler (tenor), Hugh Ross (director), Jennie Tourel (mezzo-soprano), Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Howard H. Scott (producer), Anner Bylsma (violoncello), Bob Van Asperen (organ)
Leonard Bernstein, Pablo Casals, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Charles Gerhardt, Gustav Leonhardt, Eugene Ormandy, Enoch zu Guttenberg, Frieder Bernius, Andrea Marcon, Anthony Newman, Vladimir Golschmann
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El Maestro: Farinelli
Pablo Heras-Casado makes his conducting debut performing instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain.
This new album contains works by Baroque composers and features eight world premier recordings, including some arias sung by Bejun Mehta, “the best countertenor in the world” (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
As well as being a world class conductor, Heras-Casado prides himself on being fluent in Spanish, English, Italian & French.
“the disc's highlight is countertenor Bejun Mehta's poignant and beautifully controlled reading of Porpora's aria 'Alto Giove' from Polifemo...Concerto Köln, under the dynamic baton of Pablo Heras-Casado, offers such taut and spirited playing that surely even the melancholic Philip would have cheered.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2014 ****
“The disc’s selling-point is the Spanish inflection to the well-known idiom, as in a stampy fandango by Nebra and a jaunty dance by Francesco Corradini; there is a pleasing vivacity to everything, alongside Iberian rhythms and instrumentation...Heras-Casado clearly feels strongly about this stuff and gets punctilious performances from Concerto Köln.” Opera Now ***
“The disc feels bitty, the result, one suspects, of trying to tell too complex a tale in too little space...But the individual numbers are terrific, the conducting flamboyant and the playing punchy and suave.” The Guardian, 10th July 2014 ****
“Aside from the dance rhythms and castanets, found especially in pieces by José de Nebra, there’s another reason to tap the foot. It’s the conducting of the Granada-born Pablo Heras-Casado, now a fast-rising star. With him at the helm, the period instrument stalwarts of Concerto Köln have no chance of sounding podgy.” The Times, 23rd May 2014 ****
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