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Rossini: Opera Arias & Overtures / Hofstetter, Cencic, Et Al


Release Date: 09/18/2007 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 85788   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber OrchestraGeneva Motet ChoirLe Motet Vocal Ensemble of Geneva
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ROSSINI Opera Arias and Overtures Michael Hofstetter, cond; Max Emanuel Cencic (ct); Ens Vocal Le Motet de Genève; 1 Genève CO VIRGIN 85788 (73:14 Text and Translation)


Tancredi: Oh patria! Dolce e ingrate patria; Overture. Aureliano in Palmira: Dolci silvestri . . . Read more Perché mai le luci apprimo; Overture. La donna del lago: Mura felici; Ah sì pera. Semiramide: Overture; Eccomi alfine in Babilonia . . . Ah, quell giorno; In sì Barbara sciagura 1


When I heard Virgin Classics’s recording of Handel’s opera Fernando , one voice caught my attention more than the others, the countertenor singing the role of Sancio . Virgin has now released an album that puts Max Emanuel Cencic on more prominent display singing six arias from five Rossini operas. The vocal tracks are supplemented by the inclusion of the overtures from four of those operas ( La donna del lago does not have an overture) and the addition of a chorus in the final selection from Semiramide.


Cencic began vocal studies when he was quite young, made an auspicious television appearance at age six singing one of the Queen of the Night’s arias from Die Zauberflöte , and sang with the Vienna Boys’ Choir from 1987 to 1992. His emergence from a boy soprano to a countertenor in 2001 was due to the implementation of “a special technique” (details of which I could not find), which the liner notes describe as a “re-created” voice.


Countertenors appear regularly in many recordings of Baroque operas/oratorios; their appearance in Rossini is rare. A search through my CDs and DVDs of Rossini’s operas only turned up one other countertenor, Nicola Marchesini singing the role of Roggiero in a DVD of Tancredi . He was one of the highlights in what I thought was an otherwise over-wrought production from the Rossini Opera Festival. In this Virgin CD, Cencic sings roles that are usually assigned to mezzo-sopranos. Singers such as Marilyn Horne, Jennifer Larmore, Agnes Baltsa, Vesselina Kasarova, and yes, others, too, have recorded the selections included on this CD both in the context of the complete operas and on recital discs. Many of the women have more powerful voices than Cencic’s, some have more richness, and some can chew the scenery to shreds, but Cencic brought a delicacy, often a sweet tenderness, and in many instances, an elegance and refinement that forced me to listen to these selections anew. The more I played this album, the more I liked it. Cencic’s renditions of the material probably won’t replace my appreciation of the women in trouser roles, but will certainly share a happy coexistence with Horne, etc., in my enjoyment of Rossini’s music.


Cencic’s androgynous countertenor voice is reminiscent of Paul Esswood’s, it’s very creamy and smooth without the hooty overtones that some countertenors develop or the “I’m singing in falsetto” sound that some have. Unless you’re a rabid fan of a particular countertenor to the exclusion of all others, I think if you like the voice type you’re likely to appreciate Cencic and find much pleasure in his singing. Cencic did not over-embellish the Rossini offerings, but was fluid and agile in the passagework, with some top notes that sparkled. In short, if you like Rossini and collect recital albums of his music, this Virgin arias and overtures album offers much to enjoy and a countertenor instead of a mezzo is an interesting change of pace. The CD has titles for people with CD/DVD players that display text.


FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

1. La donna del lago: Mura felici by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Italy 
Length: 9 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Notes: Studio Ansermet, Geneva, Switzerland (09/27/2006 - 10/01/2006) 
2. La donna del lago: A sì pera by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
3. Tancredi: O patria! by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
Length: 8 Minutes 4 Secs. 
4. Aureliano in Palmira: Dolci silvestri...Perché mai le luci apprimo by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Motet Choir,  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
Venue:  Studio Ansermet, Geneva, Switzerland 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: Studio Ansermet, Geneva, Switzerland (09/27/2006 - 10/01/2006) 
5. Semiramide: In si barbara sciagura by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Motet Vocal Ensemble of Geneva,  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
Length: 9 Minutes 28 Secs. 
6. Semiramide: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Length: 11 Minutes 36 Secs. 
7. Tancredi: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 41 Secs. 
8. Aureliano in Palmira: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 1 Secs. 
9. Semiramide: Eccomi al fine in Babilonia...Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Max Emanuel Cencic (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Michael Hofstetter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Geneva Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Length: 11 Minutes 9 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Tancredi - Gaetano Rossi: Atto I - Oh patria! Dolce e ingrate patria Tancredi
Aureliano in Palmira: Atto II - Perche mai le luci apprimo Arsace
Aureliano in Palmira: Overture
Tancredi - Gaetano Rossi: Overture
La donna del lago - Andrea Leone Tottola: Atto I - Mura felici Malcolm
La donna del lago - Andrea Leone Tottola: Atto II - Quelle spietate...Ah di pera Malcolm
Semiramide - Gaetano Rossi: Overture
Semiramide - Gaetano Rossi: Atto I - Eccomi alfine in Babilonia...Ah, quel giorno Arsace
Semiramide - Gaetano Rossi: Atto II - In si barbara sciagura* Arsace/Coro

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