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The latest releases in our Opera Classics series all carry distinguishing features that make them attractive and noteworthy entertainment: Rossini's 'forgotten opera' Eduardo e Cristina (1819) in a critically acclaimed revival; the 1864 London version of Gounod's Faust, held as the peak of 19th-century French opera; Faccio's Amleto (1865) with its radical new developments in Italian opera; and American composer Louis Karchin's Jane Eyre, premiered in 2016, that recasts Brontë's beloved novel as a vivid, moving stage work.

ROSSINI, G.: Eduardo e Cristina [Opera]
Audio recording, 8.660466-67
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Eduardo e Cristina
Libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola and
Gherardo Bevilacqua-Aldobrandini
after Odoardo e Cristina by Giovanni Schmidt

Silvia Dalla Benetta, Soprano
Laura Polverelli, Mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Tarver and Xiang Xu, Tenors
Baurzhan Anderzhanov, Bass
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań
Virtuosi Brunensis
Gianluigi Gelmetti

Rossini’s Eduardo e Cristina was a huge success in its day, but as perhaps the last centone opera (one assembled from previously existing material) by a major composer, it became forgotten under the subsequent tide of Romantic idealism. Today we can put these prejudices aside and enjoy this masterful creation for what it is: a hugely entertaining parade of beautiful and spectacular musical ‘hits’ set to a familiar story of secret love, dramatic crisis and triumphant resolution. This 2017 Bad Wildbad revival was summed up as ‘an evening of pure bel canto pleasure!’ by Operagazet.

Listen to an extract from Act I:
Aria: D'esempio alle alme infide
GOUNOD, C.: Faust (1864 version) [Opera] (Sung in French)
Audio recording, 8.660456-58
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré

Aljaž Farasin, Tenor • Carlo Colombara, Bass
Marjukka Tepponen, Soprano
Diana Haller and Ivana Srbljan, Mezzo-sopranos
Lucio Gallo and Waltteri Torikka, Baritones
Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka Opera Orchestra and Choir
Ville Matvejeff

The international success of Faust after its premiere in 1859 completely overshadowed all of Gounod’s subsequent operas. He had known Goethe’s masterpiece for two decades and brought to the text his gifts for memorable melody and rich orchestration. Added to this, the plot of Faust’s ageing and the heroine Marguerite’s redemption, offered the opportunity for the most spectacular stage effects. Heard here in its 1864 London version with an additional air and without spoken dialogue or ballet, Faust represents 19th-century French opera at its peak.

Listen to an extract from Act II Scene 3:
Ronde du Veau d'or
FACCIO, F.: Amleto (Hamlet) [Opera]
Audio recording, 8.660454-55
Franco FACCIO (1840–1891)
Libretto by Arrigo Boito
after William Shakespeare

Iulia Maria Dan, Soprano
Dshamilja Kaiser, Mezzo-soprano
Pavel Černoch and Paul Schweinester, Tenors
Claudio Sgura, Baritone • Eduard Tsanga, Bass
Prague Philharmonic Choir • Wiener Symphoniker
Paolo Carignani

First performed in 1865, Amleto (‘Hamlet’) represented a radical new development in Italian opera, the nuovo melodramma. Composer Franco Faccio and his librettist Arrigo Boito sought a greater degree of musical unity in staged productions and a more equal relationship between text and music. In Hamlet, a play that many then considered un-operatic, they found the perfect medium through which to explore the work’s philosophical and dramatic power – not least the great set-piece scenes: Amleto’s soliloquy ‘Essere o non essere!’ (‘To be or not to be’), Ofelia’s Mad Scene and the fight scenes – in a way that strikingly prefigures the verismo operas yet to come.

Listen to an extract from Act I Part I:
Prence - Signor
World Premiere Recording
KARCHIN, L.: Jane Eyre [Opera]
Audio recording, 8.669042-43
Louis KARCHIN (b. 1951)
Jane Eyre
Libretto by Diane Osen
Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

Jennifer Zetlan, Jessica Thompson, Katrina Thurman and Kimberly Giordano, Sopranos
Jessica Best, Mezzo-soprano • Ryan MacPherson, Tenor
Thomas Meglioranza and Adam Cannedy, Baritones
David Salsbery Fry, Bass
Orchestra of the League of Composers • Louis Karchin

Over four decades the American composer Louis Karchin has produced a much-admired portfolio of compositions. His one-act opera Romulus (8.669030) won numerous accolades. Jane Eyre is his largest project to date, in which he and librettist Diane Osen fashion Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel into a vivid and moving opera cast as a fluid and continuous entity. Karchin’s wide-ranging harmonic language and his flair for contrast ensure that the novel’s drama, its pastoral elements, and most importantly its characterization are fully developed via arias, monologues, ariosi and a quartet, to create a boldly engaging new work.

Listen to an extract from Act I Scene 2:
Drawing room at Thornfield
For the complete list of works in the Opera Classics series, follow this link.

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