Naxos' audiovisual catalogue expands this month with recordings of three operas separated by three centuries: Stefano Landi’s opera La morte d’Orfeo, first performed in 1619, is a genuine rarity, both in live performance and in recordings (indeed, there is no audiovisual alternative to this tremendous new production); Massenet's Cendrillon, which premiered in 1899, is captured in Fiona Shaw's engaging production that dives deep into the psychological aspects of Massenet's glittering stage work; and the powerful score for Korngold's Violanta, dating from 1916, is enhanced by the contributions of Pier Luigi Pizzi, stage director, set and costume designer, and multi-award winner.
Stefano LANDI (1587–1639)
La morte d’Orfeo
Libretto by an anonymous author
after La favola d’Orfeo by Agnolo Ambrogini (Poliziano)
Cecilia Molinari, Gaia Petrone, Rosina Fabius and Magdalena Pluta,
Mezzo-sopranos • Kacper Szelążek, Countertenor • Juan Francisco
Gatell and Emiliano Gonzales Toro, Tenors • Renato Dolcini, Baritone
Alexander Miminoshvili, Bass-baritone • Salvo Vitale, Bass
Les Talens Lyriques • Christophe Rousset, Conductor
Pierre Audi, Stage Director
Stefano Landi was an influential early opera composer, and La morte d’Orfeo is regarded as a milestone in the development of the genre. The narrative starts where Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo ends, taking us through the remaining adventures of Orpheus in the underworld. Beaten to death and torn apart by the fearsome maenads, Orpheus survives as a wandering soul and is finally reincarnated as a star in the sky. Landi succeeded in turning Greek tragedy into timeless music-drama, the starting point of all opera, and Seen and Heard International declared that it had ‘never before encountered such technical perfection’ in Pierre Audi’s Amsterdam production.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0111V)
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897–1957)
Opera in one act
Libretto by Hans Müller
Original version sung in German
Annemarie Kremer • Michael Kupfer-Radecky • Norman Reinhardt
Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino
Pinchas Steinberg, Conductor • Pier Luigi Pizzi, Director
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a child prodigy whose early genius was recognised and admired by the likes of Gustav Mahler and Giacomo Puccini. His musical style, deeply affected by music for the theatre, possessed great lyrical breadth; he managed to develop his own voice by blending all the different influences he absorbed in Vienna during his studies.
The advent of Nazism in 1934 forced him to seek refuge in the United States, where he became the first composer of film scores, winning two Oscars and marking a milestone in the Hollywood film industry. He became a true inspiration for many composers, including John Williams who went on to achieve fame for his Star Wars scores.
Teatro Regio di Torino has contributed to the rediscovery of this precious one-act opera by staging its Italian premiere. Violanta is Korngold's second opera, which the composer wrote in 1914 at the age of 17.
It was premiered with great success at Munich’s Hoftheater on 28 March 1916, and a few days later in Vienna. The influence of the Austrian capital is key to understanding Korngold’s style. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s Vienna was a place of contrasts: nostalgia for the past and innovative trends; conservatism and creative energy. In musical terms it was the place where the great classical tradition of the first Viennese School, from Brahms to Mahler, Strauss and Zemlinsky, underwent a gradual transformation until it was shattered by Schönberg, the epicentre of a radical renewal.
Korngold grew up in this environment, absorbing various influences which are all present in Violanta, making this opera a sort of 'small-scale Vienna'.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (57876) and Disc (CDS7876)
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)
Danielle de Niese • Kate Lindsey • Lionel Lhote • Nina Minasyan
London Philharmonic Orchestra • The Glyndebourne Chorus
John Wilson, Conductor • Fiona Shaw, Director
With its combination of enchanting love story and broad, burlesque comedy, Cendrillon is one of the great operatic fairy tales – a Cinderella that looks back to Charles Perrault’s original story in all its richness and ambiguity. Massenet’s sensuous Belle Époque fairy tale is gilded with lavish orchestral textures and glittering vocal writing, drawing on everything from Baroque dances to Wagner-inspired chromaticism, to bring its story to colourful life, conjuring a world of infinite musical and emotional variety.
Fiona Shaw’s original Tour production makes its Festival debut here, re‑directed by Fiona Dunn and conducted by John Wilson, with a cast led by Glyndebourne favourites Danielle de Niese as Cendrillon and Kate Lindsey as her Prince.
‘… conductor John Wilson makes an endless delight of the enchanting candyfloss score.’
– The Stage ★★★★
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7267D)