Opera News: Opera Rara announces initial plans for 2009

Donizetti on period instruments and rare Mercadante feature in the year's recordings

22 August 2008

Judith Howarth, who will record Mercandate with Opera RaraOpera Rara, the world's foremost record label specialising in the bel canto repertoire, has disclosed initial plans for its recording schedule in 2009.

In addition to releasing recordings of music by Offenbach, Donizetti, Mercadante, Ricci and Rossini made this year, the company will record three new complete accounts of operas by Rossini and Donizetti and highlights of a rarity by Mercadante.

The first of these will be made in advance of a concert performance at the Royal Festival hall on 28 March 2009. Rossini's Ermione is not unknown on disc but it certainly lacks a reliable account based on scholarly sources. Opera Rara promises to provide just that with their new recording, which is conducted by David Parry and features the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The cast includes Carmen Giannattasio, Colin Lee, Patricia Bardon, Graeme Broadbent, Paul Nilon, Bulent Bezduz, Loic Felix, Rebecca Bottone and Victoria Simmonds.

This is followed in May by a recording of highlights from Mercadante's I normanni a Parigi. Mercadante is one of the composers to have most benefited from Opera Rara's research over the years, and here his rarity of 1832 is given a stellar cast headed by Barry Banks and Judith Howarth, both of whom have given interviews about their work in this repertoire on MusicalCriticism.com. Joining them will be Nicola Alaimo, Graeme Broadbent and Aled Hall, with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by specialist Stuart Stratford.

The remaining projects have yet to be announced in full, but include two Donizetti operas conducted by Mark Elder. The first is Linda di Chamounix, which will be recorded at the Royal Opera House during two concert performances in September 2009, repeating a situation that reaped the groundbreaking recording of Dom Sebastien, the composer's last opera, three years ago. Then in November, Opera Rara will once more team up with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment – following on from the stunning results of their Imelda de' Lambertazzi starring Nicole Cabell and also conducted by Elder, last year – for a recording of Maria di Rohan. This will be followed on 7 November by a concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall, allowing London opera goers the unusual opportunity to witness a bel canto opera played on period instruments.

These projects will occur alongside the releases of the current year's recordings, which as previously announced include Mercadante's Virginia with Charles Castronovo, highlights from Ricci's Corrado d'Altamura with Dmitry Korchak, Rossini songs accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, Offenbach's Vert-Vert with Toby Spence and Donizetti's Parisina with Patrizia Ciofi. The latter will also be performed in concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 6 December at 7pm, the cast also including José Bros, Nicola Alaimo and Ann Taylor. David Parry conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a not-to-be-missed event. 

Editorial by Dominic McHugh

Read more about Opera Rara's current (2008) recording projects here.

Reviews of Opera Rara recordings:
Thomas: La Cour de Celimene (June 2008)
Donizetti: Imelda de' Lambertazzi (March 2008)
Pacini: Alessandro nell'Indie
(February 2008)
La Serenata (November 2007)
Entre Nous: Celebrating Offenbach (September 2007)
Rossini: La donna del lago (June 2007)
Mercadante: Maria Stuarda, regina di Scozia (April 2007)
Donizetti: Dom Sebastien (April 2007)
Pauline Viardot and Friends (April 2007)