Conductor Michael Hofstetter does a beautiful job bringing out the nuances from the Orchestra of Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele in Il Trovatore. This is evident from the thunderous roll of the timpani at the beginning of the opera, and the careful phrasing throughout the album. Every dynamic is observed, and the result is the high drama crucial to Verdi. The famous "Anvil Chorus" is another example of the orchestra's power to rouse the listener, as are the dark brass chords in the "Finale ultimo." The chorus, under the direction of Jan Hoffman, deserves equal praise.
For the specific atmosphere of Oberon Michael Hofstetter found it crucial that the performance was played on the period instruments Weber composed for. In Giessen, he worked with four natural horns, natural trumpets, finely tuned trombones and not least flutes made of wood instead of metal. This produced an inexhaustible wealth of acoustic colors, enabling us to sensually experience what might really be meant by the concept of German Romanticism on the musical level. Michael Hofstetter conducts at many well known opera houses, orchestras and festivals, include the Bavarian, the Hamburg, the Hanover and the Stuttgart State Operas, Theater an der Wien, the Royal Opera Copenhagen, the Welsh National Opera, the English National Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Canadian Opera Company Toronto and many others. Future engagements will see him again at the International Handel Festival in Halle, with Orchestre National d‘Île de France in Paris and at the International Gluck Festival Nuremberg.
“Giulio Cesare” is one of Handel’s most fascinating and exquisite works. It was brought to Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu under the direction of Herbert Wernicke, who produced a new adaptation including fragments of other Handel operas such as “Rinaldo”, “Orlando” and “Tolomeo”. This freely-interpreted and updated version does not seek to set the opera in a contemporary context but rather to reveal hidden aspects of the work: its psychology, its history and politics. The orchestra is conducted by Michael Hofstetter and the title role is sung by the Italian-Spanish countertenor Flavio Oliver, who is one of the leading male sopranos in the world today.
Liebe und Eifersucht (Love and Jealousy) is E. T. A. Hoffmann’s three act singspiel was regarded as lost for over 150 years until an edition of the score was uncovered in the German State Library in Berlin. CPO and the Ludwigsburg Castle Festival are proud to present the première recording of the work, now extant in the form originally intended by Hoffmann.
Liebe und Eifersucht shows Hoffmann’s great love for Mozart and his profound knowledge of his music. Together with Undine this singspiel certainly ranks as this great romantic writer’s most important musical work.
The April 26, 1784 Paris Opera premiere of this work was still noted under the name of the composer actually commissioned to compose it, Ch.W. Gluck, but it soon came out that in reality, the 33-year-old assistant to Gluck (who had suffered a stroke), Antonio Salieri, had written the work “in tutto”. The sensation was perfect, and due to Salieri’s success, French opera underwent a significant development. For beginning with Gluck’s operatic style, Salieri managed with “Danaïdes” to make the transition from number opera to the dramatically more consequent through-composed scenic opera. The Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele production, recorded here under studio conditions, follows historical performance practice and presents the opera in nearly uncut form.
One of the outstanding composers of his day, Johann Adolph Hasse was seen as possessing “the same qualities of true genius, taste and judgment” as his librettist Pietro Metastasio. Didone abbandonata represents the once hugely popular 18th-century genre of opera seria, exploring the same tragic story as Purcell’s earlier Dido and Aeneas while expanding the heroine’s conflicts between regal duties, love, and helplessness in the face of desertion.
Countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic has a truly astonishing voice. The listener could reasonably forget that it's a man who's singing and imagine it's a mezzo with an extraordinary range and coloratura technique. If the cynic were to raise the question of the advisability of a countertenor singing arias originally written for a mezzo-soprano, the answer would simply be "because he can," and the result is pretty fabulous. Terms like "lustrous tone" and "dazzlingly secure technique" and "subtly nuanced interpretations" spring to mind.
The outstanding young countertenor Valer Barna-Sabadus has chosen works by a composer who was highly esteemed in his lifetime, but slipped into oblivion. The artist writes “My aim is to give new life to these works… one that places the individuality of the musical works in the forefront.”
Barna-Sabadus dazzles with the swiftness and surety of his execution. His voice seems to have a higher centre than, say, Andreas Scholl's…The last Didone aria takes more than 11 minutes: an entrancing vocal line above an orchestral simplicity which is often composed of staccato chords, which Barna-Sabadus captivatingly tracing the melodies.— International Record Review