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Robert Benson, December 2014

…this one really works and is fascinating. The performance is stunning. Mezzo Ewa Podles…is perfect as Ciro, her huge, rich voice and impeccable coloratura meeting every challenge of Rossini’s score—this is the longest and most challenging roles for contralto the composer ever wrote. The orchestra plays wonderfully and it is obvious that Crutchfield totally understands the score. Video is state-of-the art, audio as well. Don’t miss this perfect performance of a seldom-heard opera. © 2014 Read complete review

Robert J Farr
MusicWeb International, February 2014

Musically, Will Crutchfield, who also plays the fortepiano for the recitatives, and the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Communale di Bologna, have a feel for Rossini’s creation. In this the three principals match them. Michael Spires as Baldassare is a fairly new voice for me…His tone is appealing and wide in range. Add vocal expressiveness and excellent secure coloratura and he is a welcome addition to the genre of bel canto tenors. Jessica Pratt…sings Amira, Ciro’s imprisoned wife. She has the vocal range and purity that is demanded, together with an impressive stage presence in a role that has few histrionic opportunities.

The sound is excellent…

With excellent singing…this is a welcome addition to the Rossini visual discography. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Shengold
Opera News, January 2014

The first collaboration between Will Crutchfield’s Bel Canto at Caramoor and the Rossini Festival in Pesaro was 2012’s Ciro in Babilonia…Thanks to Crutchfield and a strong cast, it’s a musical journey well worth taking.

Musically…there is much to recommend in the exhilarating score and its fine execution under the stylistically savvy Crutchfield. The Bolognese chorus and orchestra sound highly prepared and idiomatic…Ewa Podleś…make a convincing man and channel the moral dimension of a complex character. Furthermore, her command of Rossinian rhetoric and her strong, agile, tonally distinctive instrument continue to make a great impression. The most throroughly gripping performance is that of tenor Michael Spyres (Baldassare, aka Belshazzar), as outlandishly crazy as one could wish but sung with beautiful line and astoundingly effective contrasts of register that echo those of Podleś. Robert McPherson’s artful vocalism and Mirco Palazzi’s timbre and enunciation score in supporting roles. © 2014 Opera News Read complete review

John Terauds
Musical Toronto, December 2013

The silent-movie treatment director Davide Livermore has given Gioachino Rossini’s fourth opera, Ciro in Babilonia, is as engaging as its fabulous cast of singers led by the formidable contralto Ewa Podles and soprano Jessica Pratt…

Podles’ hero doesn’t appear on stage for his first monologue until about 30 minutes into the opera. And even though all the singing to that point has been excellent, our world shifts a bit when this remarkable artist unleashes her prodigious voice and dramatic power.

The chorus of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna…sound excellent alongside a cast where the two principal women—Podles as Ciro and Pratt as Amira—carry the personal side of the conflict on their amply endowed vocal shoulders. © 2013 Musical Toronto Read complete review

Janos Gardonyi
The WholeNote, November 2013

Polish contralto phenomenon, Ewa Podleś is the ideal choice for the lead, Ciro…No less impressive is the virtuoso soprano, American Jessica Pratt who cuts a magnificent figure with vocal acrobatics to match as Almira, his imprisoned wife. Another American is the powerful, virtuoso tenor Michael Spyres as the villainous Baldassare…

The most wonderful quality of this performance is the projected scenery that conjures up in a matter of seconds vast deserts, beautiful palaces, grand ceremonial spaces or a dungeon built stone by stone in front of our eyes…this production is a step in the right direction using up-to-date cinematic technology as a way to the future. © 2013 The WholeNote Read complete review

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