Samuel Ramey

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Rossini: La donna del lago

Rossini: La donna del lago


Katia Ricciarelli (Elena), Lucia Valentini-Terrani (Malcolm), Dalmacio Gonzalez (Uberto/Giacomo), Dano Raffanti (Rodrigo di Dhu), Samuel Ramey (Douglas d'Angus), Cecilia Valdenassi (Albina), Oslavio Di Credico (Serano), Antonio D' Uva (Bertram)

Prague Philharmonic Chorus & Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Maurizio Pollini

Rossini’s La donna del lago, loosely based on Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake, “succeeds in conjuring up the atmosphere of the Scottish Highlands,” said BBC Music Magazine. “This tuneful, delicately orchestrated opera of innocent Romantic charm is given a splendid performance by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Maurizio Pollini and its cast could hardly be bettered today. Katia Ricciarelli brings to the title role rich creamy tone and a fine appreciation of the style, and Lucia Valentini Terrani is impressive in the travesti role of Malcolm. The two high-lying tenor parts are sung with assurance by Dalmacio Gonzales and Dano Raffanti, and Samuel Ramey is a tower of strength as Douglas, the heroine’s father. The recording is admirably clear and sensibly balanced.”

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Sony - Sony Classical Opera - 88985397962

(CD - 2 discs)

$13.25

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Boito: Mefistofele

Boito: Mefistofele


Samuel Ramey (Mefistofele), Michele Crider (Elena/Margherita), Vincenzo La Scola (Faust), Eleonora Jankovic (Martha), Ernesto Gavazzi (Wagner/Nereo), Eleonora Jankovic (Pantalis)

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti

Arrigo Boito, Verdi’s greatest librettist, was also a noted composer, best known for his Italian operatic treatment of Goethe’s tragedy Faust. His MEFISTOFELE is much closer in spirit and letter to the original source than Gounod’s French version of a decade or so earlier. Boito seems to have been more fascinated by Mephistopheles than by the title character (he also augmented the role of another famous villain, Iago, in adapting Shakespeare’s Othello for Verdi). There are numerous complete versions of recordings of Mefistofele on disc, but BBC Music Magazine gave its highest rating to this 1995 live recording from La Scala, conducted by Riccardo Muti: “It is Samuel Ramey who dominates this new recording. Ramey was already a splendid Mefistofele on a 1991 recording, but here he is even more in command of the role, and has the advantage of Muti’s masterly conducting. Michele Crider is an affecting Margherita and Vincenzo La Scola a mellifluous Faust.”

RCA Sony Classical Opera - 88985334942

(CD - 2 discs)

$13.25

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Handel: Rodelinda

Handel: Rodelinda


Joan Sutherland (Rodelinda), Alicia Nafé (Bertarido), Curtis Rayam (Grimoaldo), Isobel Buchanan (Eduigo), Huguette Tourangeau (Unulfo) & Samuel Ramey (Garibaldo)

Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Richard Bonynge

Rodelinda stems from a period of great creativity in Handel’s life, 1724-25, following hard on Giulio Cesare and Tamerlano. Although it met with only moderate success. One of its first revivals was via the German Handel Society in the 1920s, and then the Handel Opera Society revived it again, with a cast including Joan Sutherland, during the 1959 celebrations of Handel’s bicentenary. It was one of Sutherland/Bonynge’s later Decca operatic collaborations (1985) and their only Handel opera they recorded together.

“[The recorded sound] is vivid, rather spacious … Dame Joan Sutherland produces generous quantities of golden tone … Nafé does [‘Dove sei’] very beautifully, gently yet with firm, well-formed tone. Her siciliano aria, where Bertarido despairs over his wife's supposed inconstancy, is particularly fine, as too is the intense accompanied recitative sung in a prison cell. Curtis Rayam shows a capable tenor in the role—one of the earliest important ones for a tenor—of the usurper Grimoaldo, with accurate singing in the rapid music and graceful phrasing in the attractive aria early in Act 2. His siciliano sleep song in Act 3 is affectingly done.” Gramophone Magazine

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4806105

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.25

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Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims

Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims


Lucia Valentini-Terrani (Marchesa Melibea), Sylvia McNair (Corrina), Luciana Serra (Contessa di Folleville), Cheryl Studer (Madame Cortese), Raúl Giménez (Cavalier Belfiore), William Matteuzzi (Conte di Libenskof), Samuel Ramey (Lord Sidney), Ruggero Raimondi (Don Profondo), Enzo Dara (Baron di Trombonok), Lucio Gallo (Don Alvaro), Giorgio Surjan (Don Prudenzio), Guglielmo Mattei (Don Luigino)

Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

CD includes a booklet with a three-language synopsis (English/French/German), full cast list and detailed track list.

Sony - The Sony Opera House - 88697855682

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.00

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Puccini: La Rondine

Puccini: La Rondine


Angela Gheorghiu (Magda), Roberto Alagna (Ruggero), Lisette Oropesa (Lisette), Samuel Ramey (Ramblado), Marius Brenciu (Prunier)

Orchestra & Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Marco Armiliato

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in the 2009 Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini’s La Rondine (The Swallow). This new production, directed by Nicholas Joël, was the company’s first staging in 70 years.

This elegant romance is the least-known work of the mature Giacomo Puccini. The story concerns a kept woman who defies convention to chase a dream of romantic love with an earnest, if naïve, young man. This Met Opera production features the dynamic soprano Angela Gheorghiu and Frenchborn tenor Roberto Alagna performing the roles of Magda and Ruggero, it blooms into its rightful place in the glorious Puccini canon.

La Rondine (The Swallow) was commissioned by Vienna’s Carltheater in 1913. Due to the impending outbreak of World War I, premiered in 1917, at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo with Gilda Dalla Rizza and Tito Schipa. Set in a Parisian salon, it is the story of Magda, the glamorous mistress of wealthy banker Rambaldo. Her yearning for romantic love compels her into the arms of the ardent and adoring young Ruggero.

The New York Times hailed the Art-Deco set production as “as sophisticated, charming and poignant”. This DVD features the 10th January, 2009 performance of the opera, which was aired globally in HD as well as two bonus interview featurettes: the first with Gheorghiu and Alagna; the second with Lisette Oropesa and Marius Brenciu, who sing the roles Lisette and Prunier respectively.

“Ms. Gheorghiu, as Magda, sings with gleaming sound and wonderfully dusky colorings…The conductor, Marco Armiliato, in what may be his best work to date at the Met, draws a nuanced and supple performance from the orchestra. I thought I knew this score quite well, but have never been so struck by the intricacies of the music”. The New York Times

“Mr Alagna supplied plenty of vocal and physical glamour and equal amounts of intelligent phrasing and text-reading; his boyish Ruggero was entirely sympathetic and very moving”. Classics Today

“I have never heard Alagna sing better, and Gheorghiu is at her sumptuous best. There are comparably beautiful performances by the younger couple, Marius Brenciu and Lisette Oropesa” New York Daily News

Bonuses:

Interview with Angela Gheorghiu & Roberto Alagna (3’35)

Interview with Lisette Oropesa & Marius Brenciu (4’21)

“at the centre is Angela Gheorghiu in richest, creamiest voice. At her side for most of the time is Roberto Alagna, singing with tone that is resonant if not refulgent...Marco Armiliato conducts with enthusiasm, and the glimpses of scenery-changing reveal a hinter-realm of awesome complexity under unfazed control.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“Armiliato's conducting...captures the right warmth, and the former Dream Team still look superb...The lyrical young Ruggero still suits Alagna...Ramey's now leathery tone embodies Ramblado's elderly urbanity, and the Met's lesser roles are typically strong. Overall, then, this is [a] fine performance that undoubtedly confirms Rondine's renewed status.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“ Joël's production...has updated the opera to the 1920s without harming the action or sensibility of the work...Armiliato leads a reading that precisely catches the bittersweet quality of the score without falling into sentimentality; indeed he almost sells it as something other than 'the day off of a genius'.” International Record Review, December 2010

“the Metropolitan Opera sets are wonderfully elegant...Consistently, Gheorghiu makes you share the courtesan's wild dream of finding her young ardent lover...Alagna winningly characterizes in his freshest voice” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

Presto Disc of the Week

6th September 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EMI - 6316189

(DVD Video)

$17.00

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Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims

Rossini: Il viaggio a Reims


Katia Ricciarelli (Madame Cortese), Lucia Valentini Terrani (Marchesa Melibea), Lella Cuberli (Contessa di Folleville), Cecilia Gasdia (Corinna), Eduardo Giménez (Cavalier Belfiore), Francisco Araiza (Conte di Libenskof), Samuel Ramey (Lord Sidney), Ruggero Raimondi (Don Profondo), Enzo Dara (Baron di Trombonok), Leo Nucci (Don Alvaro)

Prague Philharmonic Chorus & The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Claudio Abbado

Recorded live in 1984

“The set is a triumph of scholarship, musicianship and managerial enterprise. At the price, it is irresistible.” Gramophone Magazine

“one of the most sparkling and totally successful live opera recordings available...Abbado's brilliance and sympathy draw the musical threads compellingly together with the help of superb, totally committed playing from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Awards 1986

Record of the Year

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

DG Grand Prix - 4777435

(CD - 2 discs)

$19.00

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Massenet: Manon

Massenet: Manon


Natalie Dessay (Manon), Rolando Villazon (Le Chevalier des Grieux), Samuel Ramey (Le Comte des Grieux), Manuel Lanza (Lescaut)

Orquesta Sinfónica e coro del Gran Teatre del Liceu, Victor Pablo Pérez

“David Caviar's production of Massenet's masterpiece is strong on period flavour… It's strong, too, in the delineation and interaction of the two protagonists… Dessay's Manon shines, not only in her prodigious technical skills… but also in a realisation of her conflicted character that shows Manon's desire for love running up against her penchant for the finer things in life.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2008 *****

“David McVicar's production of Manon takes a more than usually harsh view of the story…Here, everything and everybody is for sale… It is thrilling, sometimes even slightly shocking, and throughout the direction of the cast is faultless: every scene bears re-viewing for the amount of detail and dramatic energy that is released. It is unlikely that Natalie Dessay will ever give a greater performance than this. Her singing of each of the great arias is equally fascinating. The scene in which she and Rolando Villazón size each other up before speaking is exquisitely managed... Villazón makes a passionate hero. I cannot imagine that we will see another Manon to equal this for a long time: highly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2008

“David McVicar's production of Manon takes a more than usually harsh view of the story, too often softened by Rococo prettiness. Here, everything and everybody is for sale, and behind the façade of 18th-century Paris lurks a world of corruption, disease and perversion. It is thrilling, sometimes even slightly shocking, and throughout the direction of the cast is faultless: every scene bears re-viewing for the amount of detail and dramatic energy that is released.
It is unlikely that Natalie Dessay will ever give a greater performance than this. First glimpsed as a gawky schoolgirl, wearing a travelling-coat two sizes too large, she grows into a coquettish lover, then a manipulative, avaricious courtesan before our eyes. Her singing of each of the great arias is equally fascinating, with delicate embellishments at such moments as 'Profitons de la jeunesse', and a really touching 'Adieu, notre petite table', ending up lying in a foetal position on top of the table. The scene in which she and Rolando Villazón size each other up before speaking is exquisitely managed.
Villazón makes a passionate hero. His interpretation is much more extrovert than Dessay's, and there are several moments when one would have wished him to sing yet more softly. This is considerably more subtle, though, than his reading of the same part in the modern-dress production in Berlin last year. Manuel Lanza makes a seductive, sleazy Lescaut, and Francisco Vas is sinister rather than just amusing as the vengeful Guillot.
Although his demeanour is suitably dignified as Des Grieux père, Samuel Ramey's voice now has such a perilous wobble that 'Epouse quelque brave fille' is rather painful, in the wrong way.
Tanya McCallin's set – a steep amphitheatre from which extras watch the action played out centre-stage – complements her costumes, inspired by the paintings of Chardin rather than the usual sugary Fragonard. The choreography of Michael Keegan-Dolan reaches its height in the elaborate hunting ballet in the Cours-La- Reine scene, one of Massenet's happiest bits of Baroque pastiche. It is hard to imagine that we will see another Manon to equal this for a long time: highly recommended.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - March 2008

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Erato - 5050689

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$20.00

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Puccini: Tosca

Puccini: Tosca


Remastered Quadro Recording (RQR). Newly transferred to SACD this original Philips Top 50 release was a Gramophone Magazine Award Winner in 1977. Originally recorded in 1976.

“One of the better Toscas” BBC Music Magazine

“Pacing the music naturally and sympathetically, Sir Colin Davis proves a superb Puccinian, one who not only presents Puccini's drama with richness and force but give the score the musical strength of a great symphony... Caballe may not be as sharply jealous a heroine as her keenest rivals...[but] she still presents Tosca as a formidable siren-figure” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone RQR - PTC5186147

(SACD - 2 discs)

$21.75

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Rossini: Messa di Gloria

Rossini: Messa di Gloria


Sumi Jo (soprano), Ann Murray (contralto), Francisco Araiza (tenor), Raúl Gimenez (tenor) & Samuel Ramey (bass)

Academy and Chorus of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner

Recorded: London, 1992

Philips - Originals - E4757781

(CD)

$9.50

(also available to download from $8.25)

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Verdi: Don Carlo

Verdi: Don Carlo

Four-act Italian version


Luciano Pavarotti (Don Carlo), Samuel Ramey (Filippo II), Paolo Coni (Rodrigo), Daniela Dessi (Elisabetta), Luciana D’intino (Eboli), Alexander Anisimov (Il Grande Inquisitore), Marilena Laurenza (Tebaldo), Nuccia Focile (Una voce dal cielo), Orfeo Zanetti (Il Conte di Lerma), Mario Bolognesi (Un Araldo Reale), Un Araldo Reale (Un Frate)

Chorus & Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Riccardo Muti

Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

“If you want the edition of the work revised in Italian by Verdi, first performed in 1884, this is your only choice to date on DVD – and it proves, as it did on VHS, a satisfying experience.
The work in this form is tauter and more direct than the five-act French original caught on the DVD of the Chatêlet production conducted by Pappano. Those who know Zeffirelli's style won't be surprised by the conventionally lavish production, but it effectively evokes the atmosphere of religious oppression and personal antagonisms Verdi so unerringly depicts.
The dark-hued, threatening setting fits Muti's energetic, rhythmically vital conception. He quickens the emotions in a peculiarly Italianate way, and throughout evinces a feeling for the colouring of the score. His reading is in turn a good background for some thoughtful and idiomatic singing.
Pavarotti delivers Carlo's music in a typically fervent manner, words ideally placed on the voice and his tone consistently firm and pliable.
His girth makes him unconvincing as the small, lean, nervous Carlo of history, but his simple, sincere acting is its own advocate. Daniella Dessì looks the very image of the wronged, sympathetic Elisabetta and sings with feeling and good phrasing. Paolo Coni offers a concerned, upright Rodrigo, sung in warm tones though he sometimes loses focus under pressure.
Zeffirelli's video direction is well fashioned and the sound picture catches the aural ambience of La Scala. As a whole, this is a vivid experience.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EMI - 5994429

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$17.00

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