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Ken Meltzer
Fanfare, September 2017

The three sopranos, Siri Karoline Thornhill (Telemaco), (Calipso), and Jaewon Yun (Eucari), all have lovely voices, secure vocal techniques, and an elegance of style that befits this music. They also do a fine job of portraying what creating flesh-and-blood characters out of potentially stock figures. As Mentore, tenor Markus Schäfer offers admirable musicianship and compelling dramatic involvement. The vocal writing does not come easily, however, and the tone tends to harden under pressure. Franz Hauk elicits fine playing from the period instrument ensemble, Concerto de Bassus. And, typical of Hauk’s Mayr interpretations, the music combines tonal beauty, incisive execution, and an ongoing sense of dramatic urgency. The studio recording, made at the Kongregationssaal in Neuburg, Germany, is excellent, with a warm acoustic, wide dynamic range, and a realistic balance between the stage and orchestra pit. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, July 2017

The performances of the music is in good hands. Franz Hauk’s commitment in his indefatigable striving to revive Simon Mayr’s music is always strongly felt and his forces are just as committed. The Bavarian State Opera Chorus and his own Simon Mayr Chorus have participated in most of his recordings and are a well-known quantity by now. Concerto de Bassus, on the other hand, is a new acquaintance. It is an international ensemble of young musicians engaged in historical performances, many of the musicians have connections with the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich.

Most of the soloists are well-known from previous issues in this series. Norwegian soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill is a superb Telemaco with a large dramatic voice and she negotiates the technical demands, including elegant embellishments, with real flair. No less accomplished is American Andrea Lauren Brown who impresses greatly as Calipso: powerful, expressive and beautiful tone. …Markus Schäfer, with a career of 30 years behind him, has retained his smooth lyric tenor and added some dramatic weight, while still tossing off some clean coloratura singing in his aria in the third act. Katharina Ruckgaber has participated in half a dozen Mayr recordings and is here heard in the small role of Sacerdote di Venere (Priest of Venus). Her aria at the beginning of act II is beautifully sung. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Richard Wigmore
Gramophone, July 2017

Franz Hauk directs his trim period band with style and affection, though rhythms can sometimes jog where something hungrier would have been welcome. Of the soloists, the standout is Siri Karoline Thornhill in what was originally a soprano castrato role. She dispatches her coloratura with grace and panache, and characterises Telemachus’s unenviable plight as much as Mayr’s decorous idiom allows. Andrea Lauren Brown’s slenderer soprano has the agility for Calypso’s music, and she sings her charming Act 2 love song alluringly. …As the staunchly moralising Mentore, Markus Schäfer compensates for some reedy tone with his intelligent, incisive delivery; and the sweet-toned young Korean soprano Jaewon Yun makes her mark in the small role of Calypso’s confidante Eucari. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Ralph P Locke
American Record Guide, July 2017

The singers, all clear and light-voiced, color their voices in a variety of ways, allowing us to distinguish the characters from each other and to recognize the feelings that each is experiencing at the moment. Even slight shifts in vocal color are important because the basic layout of voice-types for the four major roles could have been problematic, at least for a modern listener: the two female roles of Calipso and Euchari are sopranos; Telemaco, being a young male warrior, was written for a castrato (as were Mozart’s Idamante and Sesto) and is here likewise sung by a female soprano; and the Mentore is a tenor.

The most consistently firm and nuanced singing comes from Siri Karoline Thornhill. She is a rising star on the early-music scene, having sung Mozart’s Donna Anna under Sigiswald Kuijken and recorded a number of Bach cantatas. Markus Schäfer, a well-established recording artist, brings great authority and variety to the role of the Mentore. Any moments where his voice sounds just a bit worn seem perfectly appropriate for a character who is old and wise. Andrea Lauren Brown is attentive to Calipso’s often-intense words, allowing us to ignore an occasional lack of solidity in her vocal production. Her embellishment of the melodic line at the end of Calipso’s final aria is beautifully realized and feels quite in character. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Records International, April 2017

Telemaco was a product of turbulent political times in the Republic of Venice, which had been occupied by Napoleon’s troops in late 1796. Military elements, with incorporated marches, feature strongly in a score that brought to contemporary Venetian theatre many of the innovative elements that were in vogue on the operatic stages of Paris. Taking classical Greek mythological material, Mayr fashioned an opera full of color, interweaving instrumental interludes and dances into his arias, cavatinas and choruses, and crafting his own very personal vision of the new Italian opera seria. © 2017 Records International



David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2017

Naxos’s quest to reinstate Johann Simon Mayr as one of the great Venetian composers born in the Eighteenth century continues with the dramatic opera, Telemaco. Although it was a total success when first performed in Venice in 1797, it did not enjoy a life much beyond that carnival season, probably on account that mythical plots were soon to fall from fashion with the arrival of his pupil, Donizetti, where his real-life stories shaped a completely new era. To give you a synopsis of this story is difficult when so many complex events are taking place on stage, but it surrounds the goddess, Calypso, whose love for the mortal, Ulysses, was spurned. Now shipwrecked, his son, Telemaco, has fallen within her grasp. She looks to revenge, but instead only falls in love again. Telemaco’s mentor warns him of such a union, the opera ending with his ‘escape’ and Calypso’s return to despondency. To the listener the plot is made even more difficult to grasp as the part of Telemaco is here sung by a female soprano, who takes the place of the castrato who Mayr used in the original cast. So now, in a total cast of six, all the three major characters and one supporting role are taken by sopranos, leaving us with a very poorly balanced score. That is what we have, though, after the pleasant overture of pastoral quality, the opera is replete with arias of substance, and the recording is blessed with vocally engaging singers. The fresh and youthful sound of Jaewon Yun is ideal for the nymph Eucari and if the Norwegian, Siri Karoline Thornhill, is more happy in arias than declamatory recitatives, she characterises the tormented character of Telemaco with suitable drama. Maybe the constantly high soprano role of Calypso is just outside of Andrea Lauren Brown’s comfort zone, for in less stressed moments she has a most attractive voice. Musically, I welcomed the arrival of the Mentor towards the end of the first act, a male voice bringing a most welcome change to the opera’s female texture. Thankfully, it also introduces the highly experienced tenor, Markus Schäfer, in fine voice, and from therein he really does tend to ‘steal the show’. When we reach that act’s final trio, it seems as if Mayr has borrowed from elsewhere, the music being perfect in an opera-buffo, while the duet that closes the second act is uncommonly accomplished. The limited participation of the chorus is well taken, and throughout, the chamber orchestra is outstanding. So we are again in the debt of the conductor, Franz Hauk, for whatever reservations I might have, this is a valuable discovery that shows the debt Italian 19th century dramatic opera owes to the foundation created by Mayr. The balance between voices and instruments in this 2015 world premiere recording is very well judged. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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