TDK presents an impressive staging of one of Rossini’s opera masterpieces. This production, staged by La Scala Milan is conducted by Riccardo Muti. Moïse et Pharaon - Rossini’s re-adaptation of the story of Moses in Egypt - emphasizes the dramatic moments of the biblical account beautifully and also demonstrates the composer‘s mastery of the French tradition: solos and choral work are superb compositions, the duets are expressive and touching. Including an extensive ballet scene at the beginning of Act III and featuring a preeminent international cast of singer-actors – Erwin Schrott, Barbara Frittoli, Sonia Ganassi - this recording brings a Rossini experience of the highest rank onto the screen.
For this 2017 CSO-Resound release, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra present Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor in a monumental performance that impresses with its marmoreal weight, poignant lyricism, and brutal volatility. Not widely known for his few Bruckner recordings, Muti nonetheless delivers this symphony with the passion and sensitivity of an experienced Brucknerian, and possibly because he hasn't recorded it before, this live rendition of the Ninth seems like an attempt to make up for lost time. Muti's intensity and the orchestra's ferocious power combine to make a memorable reading that may remind listeners of performances by such greats as Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, and particularly Carlo Maria Giulini, whose recordings of the Ninth are recognized benchmarks. While Muti only performs the three completed movements, and eschews any attempted reconstructions of the surviving Finale sketches, the performance has a genuine feeling of wholeness, and the Adagio particularly has the grandeur and pathos that make it feel like a convincing ending, albeit one that the composer did not intend.
Three of Mozart's most popular operas – Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, conducted by leading opera maestro Riccardo Muti in performances from Vienna and Salzburg, are here available in one set.
Riccardo Muti's 2011 performances of Saverio Mercadante's I due Figaro (The Two Figaros) were the first it had received since 1835, and this Ducale release of the presentation at the Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna, Italy, is the world-premiere recording. The story of this comic opera is a sequel to events in the Beaumarchais plays, which inspired Rossini's Barber of Seville and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro; the characters of Figaro, Susanna, Cherubino, and the Count and Countess Almaviva are seen a decade later in another farce of disguises and deception. The music is very much in the animated style of Rossini, with an exotic quality that Mercadante discovered on his visit to Madrid, and the mood of the opera is brightened by the combination of Neapolitan tunefulness and Spanish dance rhythms. With Mario Cassi as Figaro, Eleonora Buratto as Susanna, Annalisa Stroppa as Cherubino, Antonio Poli as the Count, and Asude Karayavuz as the Countess, the talented cast is energetic and lively, especially in the rapidfire patter, though there is some lovely bel canto singing in the many cavatinas that admirers of Donizetti and Bellini will appreciate. The Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini gives Muti a sunny instrumental blend to work with, and the woodwinds stand out for their distinctive timbres. Considering that this is a live recording, the audio is quite clear and relatively noise-free, and the orchestra has a warm, vibrant presence.–Blair Sanderson
This live issue from the 2008 Salzburg Festival centers around Riccardo Muti’s driving, powerful take on Verdi’s score. He gets wonderful, idiomatic playing from the Vienna Philharmonic, and the recorded balance in fact tends to favor the orchestra over the fine, largely fresh-voiced singers. (Muti uses an unusual edition of Act III’s concertato that Verdi wrote for the opera’s Paris premiere, featuring considerable variants in the soprano line and lighter orchestration.)
Maria Guleghina impresses strongly. To my mind she is Puccini’s ideal ‘tart with a heart for gold’. She has control and sensitivity and she acts everybody off the stage. She’s coy (but with just a hint of being street-wise) in Act I, outrageously flighty and avaricious in Act II, and, at last, contrite in Act IV. Just watch her as she taunts Geronte di Ravoir (a far too gentlemanly Luigi Roni) in Act II and the way she disports herself on the floor of the stage to seduce Des Grieux back to her charms.
Unlike Verdi's earlier successes, Nabucco and I Lombardi, both of which had been composed for the large stage at La Scala, Milan, Ernani was written for the smaller stage and more intimate atmosphere of Teatro La Fenice, Venice and he was in his thirty third year when it was composed. This recording is superb in every way. The singers, led by Placido Domingo as Ernani and Mirella Freni as Donna Elvira, entertain us with bravura performances and it's a joy to listen to and watch from beginning to end.
In 1778 Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta became the first work to be performed at the Milanese theatre later known as the Teatro alla Scala. Despite this honour, Europa riconosciuta (Europa recognised) remained unperformed for 226 years until 2004, when Riccardo Muti, then Music Director of La Scala, chose it to reopen the legendary theatre after three years of renovation work. “I love Salieri," Diana Damrau has said. "He was an important man and a musical authority in Vienna, a teacher and an heir to Gluck as a successful opera composer. And, like Mozart, he was a dramatist in music. Europa Riconosciuta is masterly in its construction and builds up step by step.