[ Erato / Warner Classics / CD ]
Release Date: Saturday 1 November 2014
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World premiere recordings and Italianate rarities from the queen of Bel Canto and coloratura.
Following the success of her crowd-sourced 'Best Of' collection reJoyce and her electrifying Drama Queens album of Baroque arias, Joyce DiDonato returns to her heartland repertoire to celebrate the birth of Bel Canto opera in 19th-century Naples.
On Stella di Napoli (Star of Naples), the American mezzo-soprano's creamy tone and dramatic prowess breathe new life into little-known arias by Mercadante, Michele Carafa (a student of Cherubini and close friend of Rossini), Carlo Valentini and the prolific opera composer Giovanni Pacini, whose Stella di Napoli (1845) gives the album its title. Joyce worked closely with Italian conductor Riccardo Minasi (whose previous projects include Bellini's Norma with Cecilia Bartoli) to bring three unjustly neglected arias to light in new editions and world premiere recordings.
Alongside these little-known gems, Joyce presents a sumptuous Bel Canto banquet with music by the three greats - Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti - including the latter's Maria Stuarda: a tour-de-force signature role for Joyce, recently screened in cinemas and released on DVD from the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Joyce DiDonato won a 2013 Grammy for her last Bel Canto album Diva, Divo, declared "an ideal vehicle for her glorious mezzo voice in which the most fiendish coloratura ornaments and trills sound effortless". (The Observer)
'Joyce DiDonato's love letter to Neapolitan 'bel canto' is all about the voice, and as her own 'star' shines brightly, what a voice it proves to be. Vocal pyrotechnics hold no terrors, and her creamy mezzo leaves no nuance unturned. Sensitively accompanied by Riccardo Minasi and his Lyon forces, it's a case of 'hear Naples.... and live!'.' BBC Music Magazine Awards 2015 WINNER - Vocal
"They allow this adored US mezzo to display her dizzying technical virtuosity, her acting skills and her extravagant sense of drama. The Opéra de Lyon orchestra give characterful support...You may think bel canto recital discs are not your thing. Let Joyce DiDonato convince you otherwise. She did me." (The Observer, August 2014)
"DiDonato seems to have brought the performance and interpretation of the Italian bel canto repertoire to new heights, combining absolute technical security, intense but unmannered musicality, a beguiling range of colour and bell-like clarity of tone at a pitch of artistry that not even her nearest rival, Cecilia Bartoli, can match...This must surely rank as one of the greatest vocal recitals in recorded history." (Daily Telegraph)
"this luscious collection of Italian bel canto opera arias presents the incandescent DiDonato on top form, the creamy tones effortlessly whipped into endless, kaleidoscopic threads of melody...Riccardo Minasi and the Orchestra of the Opéra National de Lyon bring their own pleasures with flute, harp and clarinet solos beautifully enhancing diaphanous textures." (Times)
"warm tone, perfect control, a deeply sympathetic portrayal [of Maria Stuarda]. The finale of Zelmira provides DiDonato with the opportunity of showing off her brilliantly executed coloratura, while her mezza voce at the start of Romeo's farewell to the supposedly dead Juliet in Bellini's opera is sustained to perfection." Gramophone Award Nomination 2015 - Recital
Dopo l'oscuro nembo (from Adelson e Salvini)
second version, 1828/29
Tu sola, o mia Giulietta... Deh! tu, bell'anima (from I Capuleti e I Montecchi)
L'amica ancor non torna...Oh, di sorte crudel (from Le nozze di Lammermoor)
Jean-Michel Bertelli (clarinet)
Par che mi dica ancora… Fuggi l'immagine (from Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth)
Morgane Fauchois (glockenspiel)
Io vi rivedo alfin...Deh! Tu di un'umile preghiera (from Maria Stuarda)
Se fino al cielo ascendere (from La vestale)
Ove t'aggiri, o barbaro (from Stella di Napoli)
Héloise Mas (Marta)
Saffo Flutto che muggi…Teco dall'are pronube…L'ama ognor qual io l'amai (from Saffo)
Rémi Mathieu (Faone), Héloise Mas (Climene) & Nabil Suliman (Alcandro)
Riedi al soglio (from Zelmira)
Nabil Suliman (Polidoro), Rémi Mathieu (Ilo)
Lasciami... Se il mar sommesso mormora (from Il sonnambulo)
Héloise Mas (Sofia)