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Rossini - Colbran, The Muse / Joyce DiDonato


Release Date: 10/06/2009 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 94579   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  


Notes and Editorial Reviews


Joyce DiDonato becomes more interesting and more of a complete artist with each performance and recording. Even though we are living in a time of great coloratura mezzos (Bartoli, Genaux), DiDonato still stands out. A video of her Dejanira in Handel's Hercules a few years ago alerted us to the fact that she wasn't just another pretty Rosina and Cenerentola; indeed, she had fine dramatic chops as well. Well, while she remains the Rosina and Cenerentola of choice, with this CD she seems poised to enter the dramatic-Rossini-role sweepstakes as well, heretofore the property of Gencer, Caballé, Sutherland, and in one case, Callas.

Nobody knows precisely what Rossini's
Read more mistress-and-then-wife Isabella Colbran, the prima donna of Naples during his stay there, actually sounded like. As Philip Gossett concisely--and, as always, wisely--tells us in the booklet accompanying this CD, contemporary reviews were sometimes quite damning. He suggests that her voice darkened after an initial stint as a soprano, and with even more perception notes that Rossini rarely wrote any very difficult music for her at the start of an opera--she clearly needed time to warm up. Did her vocal decline begin with her association with Rossini? We do know that she excelled in dramatic roles, but it is hard to believe that Rossini would compose music as treacherously florid and difficult for a singer who was there to showcase his work, let alone one he loved, if she couldn't handle it. She must have been something.

Whatever the case, he invariably kept the top note a high-B and required a strong middle and lower register in all of the music recorded here, and so assigning it to a mezzo makes sense. And particularly a mezzo with as many colors in her voice as DiDonato. Just to get it out of the way, let me say that DiDonato's technique is flawless, her runs impeccable, the tone always even, her control over dynamics ideal. Nobody, not even Bartoli, outsings her in fast passages.

What's so remarkable here are the dramatic, introspective, and dark moments. The final scene from Armida that closes the CD is a vengeance scene--exclamatory, florid, quite mad, in fact--and DiDonato catches every crazy, tragic nuance and holds her own against a weird, chromatic chorus at its end. At the other end of the spectrum we hear a gentle, deeply felt "Giusto ciel" from Maometto II, sung at a whisper and with perfect legato, and a hypnotically pastoral "Oh mattutini albori" from La donna del lago, with every sweet trill in place, and a "Willow Song" from Otello that is as sad as it is naturally sung. Her diction is faultless.

There is only a moment or two in the recital where you might actually want a soprano timbre--in "Bel raggio" from Semiramide and "D'amor al dolce impero" from Armida. The former needs a certain regal quality that the darker sound of a mezzo lacks and the latter sits a bit high. That said, DiDonato actually embellishes the latter, adding notes where there is barely any room for more--and it works. Oh yes--her "Tanti affetti" may be the best I've ever heard, including Horne's.

Edoardo Müller's conducting is splendid and the Rome orchestra's playing is equally so; the superb Lawrence Brownlee adds a few tenor lines here and there. This CD is a must in every bel canto lover's collection.

— Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Armida: D'amore al dolce impero by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
La donna del lago: Oh mattutini albori by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
3.
La donna del lago: Tanti affetti in tal momento by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
4.
La donna del lago: Fra il padre, e fra l'amante by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 6 Secs. 
5.
Maometto secondo: Giusto ciel, in tal periglio by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1820; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
6.
Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra: Quanto è grato all'alma by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 50 Secs. 
7.
Semiramide: Serena i vaghi rai by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
8.
Semiramide: Bel raggio lusinghier by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 9 Secs. 
9.
Otello: Ah! Dagli affanni oppressa by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 36 Secs. 
10.
Otello: Nessun maggior dolore by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
11.
Otello: O come infino al core by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
12.
Otello: Assisa a piè d'un salice by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 49 Secs. 
13.
Otello: Deh, calma, o ciel by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
14.
Armida: Se al mio crudel by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 39 Secs. 
15.
Armida: Dove son io by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 
16.
Armida: È ver...gode quest'anima by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Edoardo Müller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 19 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

La donna del lago: "Fra il padre, e fra l'amante"

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