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Charles H Parsons
American Record Guide, March 2017

Copkovic charges madly through Rafaele’s music and histrionics. He rages and weeps, he screams (on pitch, of course) and laughs with energy and strength. Ushakova has the voice, stamina, and instinct for Maliella, …Kim sings with genuine Italianate ego and drama. The immense cast is very good, soloists and chorus. The orchestra plays better than most Italian opera orchestras. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

James H North
Fanfare, September 2016

[Natalia Ushakova] gets better as these live performances proceed, and is kept close to pitch during duets and ensembles. …She does float some lovely tones and hits a few high notes spectacularly. …Kyungho Kim, as Maliella’s love-stricken foster-brother, is excellent, with a firm, ringing tenor, finely sung. …Mezzo Susanne Bernhard is excellent as Maliella’s foster mother… © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

Christopher Cook
BBC Music Magazine, September 2016

Kyungho Kim is an impressive Gennaro who easily moves from heldentenor to an altogether more lyric style at the end of the opera when prostrate before the image of the Virgin he takes his own life. …What is never in doubt is Friedrich Haider’s enthusiasm for this work and where he leads the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra follow. © 2016 BBC Music Magazine

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, July 2016

…Friedrich Haider—who is a noted champion of Wolf-Ferrari’s music—and his Bratislava forces have managed to present the music in the best possible light. This is music that few if any of the participating musicians and singers could have been familiar with and it is far from uncomplicated. The many comprimario roles are well sung, maybe not world class in every department but the general standard is high. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Hugill
Planet Hugill, July 2016

…I enjoyed Natalia Ushakova’s performance, …Her Act One solo is rather serious and careful, though she produces some thrilling passion in the second and third acts, giving a vibrant performance which underlines Maliella’s passionate nature.

Gennaro is a rather difficult character to love, and Kyungho Kim makes him a strong, rather sober and intense character. Kim has a firm and admirably focussed tenor voice which he produces in a tireless stream. …his performance is striking and not unsympathetic.

Daniel Čapkovič makes a roguishly suave Raffaele, singing with a powerful burnished tone. He really convinces in his wooing of Maliella, and sounds attractive, …Susanne Bernhard makes a strong Carmela, bringing character and intensity to her smothering love for Gennaro.

Friedrich Haider draws a fine, detailed performance from the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. This is a score he feels passionately about and he brings out the best in his cast. © 2016 Planet Hugill Read complete review

Hugo Shirley
Gramophone, July 2016

Daniel Čapkovič brings plenty of swagger to Rafaele, and his baritone is pleasingly grainy, …Susanne Bernhard brings a touching quality to Carmela, mother of Gennaro and Maliella, and about the only pleasant character in the whole thing.

It’s all a decent effort, and an achievement of which Haider and his Bratislava forces can be proud: the conductor paces it all well, and his players keep up impressively. © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Robert Levine, June 2016

Natalia Ushakova’s cutting-edge top and darkish, Tosca-like tone is just right for Maliella, and she chews up the text, smolders, and soars over the orchestra. It’s a big sing and Ushakova impresses. Tenor Kyungho Kim sings steadily and is well able to express Gennaro’s one dimension; his final, loony scene in front of the Madonna is finely played. …Susanne Bernhard is a voice of reason and niceness as Carmela, Gennaro’s mother, in their one duet. © 2016 Read complete review

Christie Grimstad, May 2016

Natalia Ushakova’s darkly hued timbre gives her a very respectful edge as Maliella with a June Anderson platinum lining around the high notes.

Gennaro’s infatuations (Kyungho Kim) toward his stepsister (Ushakova) are equally strong and fervent with an added dash of empathetic roundedness. Vocal softness and benevolence are highlighted when dialoguing with his reverent mother, Carmela, sung by Susanne Bernhard. Bernhard is blessed with an earthy maternal grounding of compassion and steadfast stability.

This CD is a jewel for any Wolf-Ferrari fan. Splendid from beginning to end. © 2016 Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, May 2016

With an abstruse triangle plot over the background of a Marian festival in Naples, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s opera The Jewels of the Madonna comprises a lot of appealing veristic music. Friedrich Haider’s account of this truly attractive opera is stylish and vivid, …since it is the first official recording of the opera, every opera fan should be eager to discover the music. © 2016 Pizzicato Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2016

Go back sixty years and in highly fashionable ‘Opera Gala Nights’, you would have often heard the second act intermezzo from Wolf-Ferrari’s Jewels of the Madonna. That was the only resting place of an opera that enjoyed little success from its birth, the work proving a disappointment to audiences who had previously admired his gentle comedies. Here, he turned to the style of Mascagni for a score eventually premiered in 1911 after many revisions, the opera gaining more success in Germany than in his Italian homeland. The story is one of the orphan girl, Maliella, brought up with her step-brother, Gennaro, who then falls in love with her. But she in turn proves to be nothing like her hard working and admirable step-mother and brother, but is attracted to Rafaele, the swaggering chief of a Mafia gang. In a desperate bid to win her, Gennaro steals the jewels from the effigy of the Madonna, and bringing them as a gift and decorating her with them, she, almost in a daze, gives herself to him. Having previously professed her love for Rafaele, he now finds out that she is no longer the virgin he wanted. The end of the story comes with the suicide of Maliella and Gennaro in a highly charged final act. Seldom performed, though I do well recall a star-studded British cast who made a studio recording of the work in London during the 1960’s, it is a score that calls for a massive cast who mainly take part in the opening ‘Festival of the Madonna’ scene, the work’s success depends on just the four major characters who all enjoy major arias. For Maliella it is quite demanding, the much travelled Russian soprano, Natalia Ushakova, bringing a hard-edged quality ideal for a character with whom you can have no kindly feelings, and is ideal foil for the powerful voice of the Slovak baritone, Daniel Čapkovič, as Rafaele. The Korean-born tenor, Kyungho Kim, brings a heldentenor quality to Gennaro, while Susanne Bernhard admirably characterises the mother. The recording comes from two live performances that took place in Bratislava in 2015, with one of Europe’s most sought-after opera conductors, Friedrich Haider. Also a Wolf-Ferrari expert, he directs a virile Slovak Radio Symphony in a recording that sounds much congested in the melee of the opening act, but is well-balanced thereafter. There is no libretto with the release, but the synopsis is detailed. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

Erica Jeal
The Guardian, April 2016

…Wolf-Ferrari’s score is skilful, starting Petrushka-style in the midst of a street party, and moving fluidly throughout between public and private, devotional and lustful. …the performance, conducted by Wolf-Ferrari champion Friedrich Haider, has style… © 2016 The Guardian Read complete review

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