In many ways, Debussy’s piano music finds its rightful home on the harp. Apart from the distinctive textural and colouristic elements in the writing itself, we have contemporary accounts of Debussy’s piano-playing that refer to his ability to make you forget a piano even had hammers. Of course, this doesn’t allow for dreamy, “impressionistic” interpretations; rather, it makes clarity and precision absolute imperatives – which qualities we find in abundance in this recital by Xavier de Maistre and friends.
After her sumptuous album of Strauss songs with orchestra, soprano Diana Damrau marks the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth with an album of his most celebrated songs in German and Italian, accompanied by pianist Helmut Deutsch.
Diana Damrau’s primacy as an interpreter of Violetta Valéry in La traviata can be inferred from the names of theatres where she has performed Verdi’s most popular opera: the Metropolitan, New York; La Scala, Milan; London’s Royal Opera House; the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Zurich Opera. Paris’s Opéra Bastille joined that list of leading houses in June 2014, when the German soprano appeared in a new production by the film director Benoît Jacquot. Conducted by Francesco Ivan Ciampa, it is presented on this DVD release from Warner Classics, which joins a DVD of Verdi’s Rigoletto, with Damrau as Gilda, recorded in Dresden and released in 2010, and the recent CD release of the soprano’s spine-tingling interpretation of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, recorded live in Munich.
The soprano Diana Damrau stars in the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti and Strauss, but Forever is the ‘soundtrack of her life’ in the form of much-loved numbers from operetta, musicals and the movies – including Die Fledermaus, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera and The Little Mermaid. “This music shows a side of me that many people don’t know yet,” she says. “These tunes are great art, because they are associated with unforgettable moments in everyone’s lives.”
In this recital of 19th century Italian arias Damrau proves that precision, refinement and controlled intensity of expression – the guiding principles of bel canto (literally, beautiful singing) – apply not only to Bellini and Donizetti, but also in the more explicit passions of their successors, Verdi, Puccini and Leoncavallo. Performing with the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio Torino under Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, and featuring as guests artists Nicolas Testé (Diana Damrau’s husband), Nicole Brandolino and Piotr Beczała, this album sits between two releases of complete recordings of works at the centre of the bel canto canon – Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (November 2014) and Verdi’s La Traviata (Autumn 2015). This album is sure to further affirm her place as the important dramatic coloratura soprano of her generation.
Opera never has shown its contrasts more than in this Rigoletto from the Sächsische Staatskapelle in Dresden. The production is full of harsh conflicts, which Verdi himself implies by filling this tragedy with so much cheery music. All of the performances here are outstanding. Željko Lučić vanquishes the title role with his powerful voice and emotive acting, which makes him riveting if slightly painful to watch as he is emotionally destroyed.::–Rob McGinness, ClassicsToday.com
Barcelona’s prestigious Gran Teatre del Liceu presents Mozart’s beloved singspiel in an elegant, dramaturgically twisted production with a sparkling cast of top-rank international stars headed by coloratura soprano Diana Damrau as Konstanze and rising opera star Olga Peretyatko as Blonde.
"German lyric coloratura soprano Diana Damrau has taken the operatic world by storm since the early years of the new century, excelling in a wide variety of roles, from the Queen of the Night to Pamina, as well as in new works like Maazel's 1984. Besides having a formidable range and agility, she brings sharply defined characterizations to her roles. The arias she selected for the 2010 album COLORaturaS include some standards, as well as some less likely to appear on albums that so boldly proclaim the showiness of their repertoire, but all are hugely demanding pieces that highlight her musical and dramatic versatility…" ~AMG