Two of today’s most brilliant tenors, Michael Spyres and Lawrence Brownlee, strike sparks off each other as they celebrate the star tenors of Rossini’s time, such as Andrea Nozzari, Giovanni David, and Manuel García. Amici e Rivali – ‘Friends and Rivals’ – comprises arias, duets and trios from seven of the composer’s operas, including the ever-popular Il barbiere di Siviglia and the rarely heard Ricciardo e Zoraide. The ‘duelling tenors’ are joined by the effervescent Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, the prize-winning young Spanish tenor Xabier Anduaga, I Virtuosi Italiani and conductor Corrado Rovaris.
Of Rossini’s thirty-nine operas Il barbiere di Siviglia is the only one to have remained in the repertoire since its composition. When the composer met Beethoven in Vienna the great man told Rossini to only compose buffa operas like Il Barbiere. Verdi was also a great admirer of the work as he was of Rossini’s opera seria and particularly his William Tell. Il Barbiere was one of the works Rossini squeezed in during his contract as Musical Director of the Royal Theatres at Naples and where he was supposed to present two new works every year.
Rossini’s classic take on the “Cinderella” story is a comic opera full of thrilling arias, beautiful melodies and lots of laughs. The Metropolitan’s charming production was revived in 2009 for star mezzo, Elīna Garanča. The mezzo triumphs in the role and dispatches vocal fireworks throughout. She is joined by American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and a cast of bel canto singers.
This stellar production features a pair of operatic superstars, namely GRAMMY®-nominated tenor Lawrence Brownlee and soprano supreme Sarah Coburn, who continually appear in the lead roles in top houses worldwide. The remaining characters are beautifully portrayed by distinguished singers from Lithuania and Kazakhstan. Providing brilliant and sensitive choral-orchestral support is the GRAMMY®-nominated Maestro Constantine Orbelian (“the singer’s dream collaborator”) leading the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra and the Kaunas State Choir. In June 2021, Orbelian was named Music Director and Principal Conductor of New York City Opera. Bellini’s I Puritani is considered by many to offer the most beautiful music among some of his best-known operas, several of which are sublime masterpieces of the spectacular bel canto style of singing.
Joyce DiDonato becomes more interesting and more of a complete artist with each performance and recording. Even though we are living in a time of great coloratura mezzos (Bartoli, Genaux), DiDonato still stands out. A video of her Dejanira in Handel's Hercules a few years ago alerted us to the fact that she wasn't just another pretty Rosina and Cenerentola; indeed, she had fine dramatic chops as well. Well, while she remains the Rosina and Cenerentola of choice, with this CD she seems poised to enter the dramatic-Rossini-role sweepstakes as well, heretofore the property of Gencer, Caballé, Sutherland, and in one case, Callas.