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Christie Grimstad, April 2012

This live 1989 La Scala recording captures a masterful interpretation of Cilea’s most conspicuous work with the illustrious Gianandrea Gavazzeni conducting. Those most suited to tackling the title role are seasoned singers demonstrating vocal weight and volumetric fortitude, and Mirella Freni is a perfect example of someone suited to uphold all of these theatric expectations. Her well tenured voice can project with amazing, heightened flair, and it helps magnify all characters with whom she interacts. In particular, her skirmishes with Fiorenza Cossotto’s Princess Bouillon are dynamite, and her resultant pathos reach a pinnacle conclusion with Miconnet, wonderfully interpreted by Alessandro Cassis.

The principals are so powerful that this could be defined as being one of the most prized treasures in operatic history. Brian Large’s talent for television translation is so visceral that no detail is overlooked inside the remarkable sets by Paolo Bregni, and the exquisite costuming by Luisa Spinatelli; Vannio Vanni’s lighting only intensifies the opera’s melodramatic qualities.

Dressed in authentic 18th century couture, Peter Dvorsky makes for a superlative Maurizio, while the sidebar talent stemming from Ivo Vinco’s Prince Bouillon and buffoonish marks by Ernesto Gavazzi’s Abbé di Chazeuil help lighten the gravitas of the piece. The manner by which Lamberto Puggelli conveys Adriana Lecouvreur is fantastic, creating a richness that may never be repeated with such finery.

Adriana Lecouvreur is altogether in a class by itself, distinct in form and content.

Highly visual, highly sonorous, this Opus Arte collection is a “must have” for those with a deep appreciation for turn-of-the-century Italian verismo opera. © 2012 Read complete review

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Recorded in 1989, when Lamberto Puggelli’s lavish production was new, this version of Adriana Lecouvreur from La Scala is far more successful than the recording of the same production made for TDK 11 years later. That is largely because the original cast is so much more assured and vocally well focused than the later replacements, and the veteran Gianandrea Gavazzeni is a masterly conductor in this music. Mirella Freni in the title-role as the great singing actress might easily have been overparted, but her projection is strong and positive, with the tenderness of her two big arias well caught. Peter Dvorský is first rate of Maurizio, strong, firm and unrestrained, and Fiorenza Cossotto with her rich mezzo makes a splendid foil for Freni. Visually, with Brian Large as video director, the extravagance of the elaborate and ultra-realistic sets and costumes is wonderfully brought out.

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