Arias from Giulietta (Zandonai), Andrea Chénier (Giordano), L'Arlesiana (Cilea), La Bohème (Puccini), Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni), Mefistofele (Boito), Fedora (Giordano), Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea), La Gioconda (Ponchielli), Refice: Ombra di nube
Jonas Kaufmann, tenor; Chorus and Orchestra of St. Cecilia Academy/Antonio Pappano, cond.
DECCA B0015463 TT: 61:52

"A Lesson in Love"
Music of Bolcom, Schumann, Wolf, Liszt, Debussy, Wolf, Schubert, Tosti, Canteloube, Bridge, Copland, Beach, Ravel, Fauré, Ravel, Fauré, Richard Strauss, Duparc, Brahms, Britten, Hughes and anonymous
Kate Royal, soprano/Malcolm Martineau, piano
EMI CLASSICS 48536 TT: 65:02

PERGOLESI: Nel chiuso centro (cantata for soprano, strings and continuo). Sinfonia for a sacred drama (for strings and continuo), Questo è il piano (Cantata for contralto, strings and continuo). Stabat Mater (for soprano, contralto, strings and basso continuo).
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Marionna Pizzolato, contralto; St. Cecilia Academy of Rome Orch/Antonio Pappano, cond.
DGG B0015444 TT: 73:16

Arias from Der Freischütz, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Der fliegende Holländer, Don Carlo, Il trovatore and La forza del destino; BEETHOVEN: Ah, perfido!
Gré Brouwenstijn, soprano; Hague Philharmonic Orch/Willem van Otterloo, cond; Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Rudolf Moralt, cond.
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802061 TT: 70:00

Music of Schubert, Schumann, Bach, Mozart, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Wolf, Richard Strauss, Wagner, Zeller, Josef Strauss, Johann Strauss, Jr. and others
Elisabeth Schumann, soprano; various accompanists, orchestras and conductors.
EMI CLASSICS 18480 (6 disks) TT: 64:52 / 72:06 / 79:17 / 78:03 / 76:15 / 81:26

Three years ago this site covered Jonas Kaufmann's disk of "romantic arias," the usual collection of tenor arias with a few lesser-known works as well (REVIEW). The remarkable Kaufmann has several outstanding DVDs (Carmen, Werther, Lohengrin, La Clemenza di Tito, Fidelio); this is his second aria disk, and it is a knockout. Called "Verismo Arias," it is just that, high emotion, passion and tragedy, a collection that includes a number of relatively unknown arias. And these performances by Kaufmann are magnificent, assured and he takes the high crests of the music with the greatest ease and beauty of sound. What an amazing artist he is! He is given perfect accompaniment by Pappano and his forces, and the Decca sound is impeccable. Don't miss this one!

Another one not to miss is Kate Royal's recital called "A Lesson in Love." She presents a program drawn from works of many composers including Wolf, Schumann, Schubert, Bridge, Canteloube, Ravel, Strauss, and many others to tell the story of a young girl's journey into the world of love and disappointment, rather like a song cycle composed by many stylistically different composers. Pianist Malcolm Martineau is the perfect accompanist, and complete texts are provided.

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Giovanni Pergolesi, DGG has assembled an all-star cast for this fine CD, a concert presented in collaboration with the Pergolesi-Spontini Foundation took place in Baden-Baden's Festspuielhaus in June, 2010. Anna Netrebko shows she is as comfortable in 18th century music as she is in Verdi, operetta and Russian repertory..She is joined by mezzo Marianna Pizzolata who already has appeared in highly regarded recordings of operas by Rossini, Handel, Vivaldi, Cavalli, Mozart and Cimarosa. The two voices blend perfectly and for most listeners this recording will satisfy their need for a recording of this Pergolesi music. .Under Pappano's direction, the St. Cecilia ensemble produces a rather thin, baroque sound. Apparently some of this is from the live concert; there are no audience sounds. It is surprising that DGG doesn't include texts; however this can be found on a DGG website. This issue also is available in a deluxe version that includes a DVD.

Dutch soprano Gré Brouwenstijn (1915-1999) had a successful career for more than three decades, favored by Herbert von Karajan, Rafael Kubelik, and Bruno Walter who planned to record a complete Fidelio with her, but died before this could be done. There are a number of live recordings of complete operas and a major set is the 1961 RCA Walküre conducted by Erich Leinsdorf in which she sings Sieglinde, one of her finest interpretations. Charles Gerhardt told me that originally Leonie Rysanek was to sing the role but she was angered by RCA because of an odd circumstance. Rysanek was to record Aida—but Leontyne Price made her astonishing debut and RCA wanted to record this opera with her. RCA promised Rysanek if she would release them from their commitment to record Aida with her, they would record any other opera with her. She said that's just fine, I want to record The Egyptian Helen. But RCA didn't follow through (unfortunately!), Rysanek was angry, and withdrew from the Walküre project at the last minute, which left RCA scrambling. Gerhardt was very familiar with Brouwenstijn's artistry, suggested her, and fortunately she was available. It's a remarkable performance (with Jon Vickers, Birgit Nilsson and George London) last issued on London 430 391, very much worth searching for. This Newton Classics issue contains recordings made 1952-1954 when Brouwenstijn was in her prime in some of her greatest roles.

German lyric soprano Elisabeth Schumann (1888-1952) had an extraordinary career. She initially sang lighter Mozart roles and attracted major attention in 1911 as Sophie in the Hamburg premiere of Der Rosenkavalier. This was her signature role, and she was admired by Richard Strauss for her interpretation. She appeared for almost two decades at the Vienna State Opera, and was a favorite as well both at Covent Garden and Salzburg. Schumann's voice had a unique silvery sound and we are fortunate that she made many recordings, 137 of which are included in this important EMI set. Music of Schubert and Schumann is featured, along with music by Mozart, Wolf, Beethoven, excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier, Viennese operetta, and a group of English folk songs. Delightful performances, and a major, budget-priced reissue. No texts—that would require a book!—but complete recording information is provided.

R.E.B. (May 2011)