Colorful, characterful, and full of worldly wisdom, The Last Sorcerer—by a skilled and imaginative composer, to a text by the great Russian novelist— receives a superb world-premiere recording, with Met mezzo Jamie Barton and bass-baritone Eric Owens.
Ralph P. Locke
Gounod was no mere purveyor of gentle sentiments. This 1881 opera, superbly performed, shows plenty of drama and grit.
This is one of the zippiest, most life-affirming opera recordings I have heard in a long time. Well, this puts it a bit too blandly, because the work’s social satire also targets the smug self-satisfaction and careless cruelty of the powerful.
One of Saint-Saëns’s most important operas, Proserpine, has recently been given its world-premiere recording, and the result is a revelation.
This world-premiere recording of the 1826 Paris version of Gaspare Spontini’s Olimpie makes a powerful case for a composer much admired in his own day.
A 1962 concert performance from Radio Italiana, now on CD, shows how delightful Wagner can sound without barking and slow wobbles.
Beethoven reportedly told Rossini to stick to writing comic operas. But new recordings of two of Rossini’s major serious operas bring great pleasure to the listener—and let us hear some splendid young singers.
A reflection on the whole tradition of combining longish narrative poems to music, especially for performance in a concert hall by large forces (e.g., singers and orchestra).
This recording challenges our settled sense of what art music, in conjunction with colorful spoken and sung verse, can accomplish.