Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Operas I by Daniel Barenboim was released Jan 01, 2010 on the Warner Classics label. Mozart 250th Anniversary Edition: Operas I is a 9-disc set.
Vincenzo Bellini’s third opera, Il pirata, marked an important step in his career. Not only was it the 27 year old’s first score for the brand leader of Italian opera houses, La Scala, Milan, it also represented his first collaboration with Felice Romani, the leading librettist of the day, who was to become his regular artistic partner. Based (via a French translation) on an English play by the Anglo-Irish Gothic writer Charles Maturin, Il pirata describes how Gualtiero (José Bros) is shipwrecked during a storm on the Sicilian coast, where his former love, Imogene, (Carmen Giannattasio) has been forced into an unwilling marriage by Ernesto, the local duke (Ludovic Tézier). Tensions build between the three until Gualtiero kills Ernesto in a duel, causing Imogene to go mad with guilt. David Parry conducts this exceptional example of early romantic opera at its most dramatically potent.
Semiramide is Rossini's last opera seria. The title role was written for his wife, Isabella Colbran. The extremely florid vocal style is often a vehicle for spectacular vocal display rather than an intrinsic part of the score. The ensemble-scenes (particularly the duos between Arsace and Semiramide) and choruses are also of a high order, as is the orchestral writing, which makes full use of a large pit. The work starts with a well-known overture, and throughout it calls for outstanding singers in the leading soprano and contralto roles. Semiramide is occasionally performed but is not part of the standard operatic repertoire.
Kathleen Battle's voice is the finest I have heard and this CD of Italian opera, Bel Canto, is perfect to show off her incredible talent and natural gift of an amazing voice. Her voice is clear and yet emotive. Her colaratura is so beautiful and warm. It is my understanding that Bel Canto was the insertion of 'show stopper' musical numbers in a opera that is characterized by beautiful tone, total command of vocal techniques, and coloratura. Kathleen Battle demonstrates this wonderfully. The London Philharmonic Orchestra does an excellent job. The french horns in Bellini's I Capuleti ed i Montecchi are hauntingly beautiful…By C. B Collins Jr