WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

The Other Cleopatra: Queen of Armenia / Bayrakdarian, Kaunas City Symphony

Release Date: 03/20/2020 
Label:  Delos   Catalog #: 3591  
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Yes, there was another Cleopatra! She was married to Tigranes the Great, King of Armenia, and together they created an Armenia that reached from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The resplendent and regal voice of soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian is perfectly suited to the role of Cleopatra. Bayrakdarian shines in arias from three rarely heard operas about King Tigranes and his queen. Bayrakdarian’s multi-hued voice relates the passion, drama, and fervor of the love story of Tigranes and Cleopatra. Bayrakdarian sparkles in five arias from Il Tigrane by Baroque master Johann Adolph Hasse, famous in his day as one of the foremost composers of opera. Arias by Vivaldi and Gluck add further excitement to the album. Vivaldi, known primarily for Read more his instrumental music, stands out as an opera composer, while Gluck, in an early opera, already shows his mastery of the form. Bayrakdarian is supported by the Grammy-nominated team of Constantine Orbelian— “the singer’s dream collaborator” (Opera News) —and his marvelous Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra. Read less

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A musical, scholarly & cultural triumph April 20, 2020 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "This remarkable album is more than a classical music recording; it's also a work of original scholarship and an effective cultural advocacy project. I hasten to add that it works especially well musically. Isabel Bayrakdarian is in fine voice, and she receives stellar support from the very fine conductor Constantine Orbelian and the excellent Kaunas City Symphony in Lithuania. As a bonus, the superb harpsichordist Jory Vinikour is on hand to add special zest to the continuo parts. He and Bayrakdarian are especially fine partners in the recitatives. In the 18th century Abate Francesco Silvani wrote a libretto based on the story of King Tigranes II, the greatest king in Armenian history, and his wife Cleopatra of Pontus. It was set by a number of composers, including three who feature on this album: Johann Adolph Hasse, Antonio Vivaldi and Christoph Willibald Gluck. Bayrakdarian put this program together as part of her research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is Associate Professor of Voice and Opera, choosing these arias and recitatives, which fit her "voice and temperament". There are some exciting moments here: "Squarciami pure il seno" by Vivaldi and Gluck's "Presso l’onda" are stand-outs. But even better are the slower, more contemplative, moments: Hasse's "Parte, parte" and "Presso a l'onde", and Gluck's "Priva del cara bene". This is lovely, graceful music. Even more impressive, though, is Vivaldi's aria "Qui mentre mormorando", introduced by the recitative "Lasciatemi in riposo". It's music worthy of the mature Mozart, full of sadness and pathos, but always dramatic. Like Mozart, Vivaldi has a keen sense of the psychology of his characters. So it doesn't matter what actually happens with the plot (alas, Abate Silvani was no Da Ponte!); what is key is how the music helps us to understand what the character is feeling. And, of course, that communication also requires a singer of some psychological awareness as well as technical and dramatic skills, and we are indeed lucky to have in this project such a remarkable soprano as Isabel Bayrakdarian. I couldn't recommend this album more highly." Report Abuse
Review This Title