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A Night At The Opera / Rosenkrans, Thomas, Jepson, Et Al


Release Date: 11/16/2004 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557309   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartCharles GounodGiacomo PucciniGiuseppe Verdi,   ... 
Performer:  Kristine JepsonMariusz KwiecienMatthew PolenzaniIndra Thomas,   ... 
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

On the surface, this may seem to be another album of opera favorites. However, I suspect its raison d’être is to introduce us to several up-and-coming singers. The five artists, all in the early years of what promises to be successful careers, are featured in a varied mix of solos, duets, a trio, and a quartet. Each singer has assembled an impressive roster of awards, highly favorable (often rave) reviews, and a growing list of performance credits. The recording was made in 2001 (no explanation why it has taken three years to be released) when these artists were less well known than they are today. Yet, as of this writing, this album appears to be the premiere recording for Indra Thomas and Valerian Ruminski, whereas the others have Read more now made one or two other recordings. Tenor Polenzani has also been featured in a video of Die Meistersinger. On this album, each has an opportunity to display his/her respective talents in solo material, and nine tracks are devoted to group efforts.

To hear Matthew Polenzani is reason enough to investigate this album. He is a lyric tenor of uncommon quality, with a voice that retains its beauty throughout his range. The biography in the liner notes lists many, many distinguished people he has worked with and significant venues where he has sung. On this album, he sings a suave and dashing Duke of Mantua, an ardent Faust (the crescendo and diminuendo into pianissimo at the conclusion of “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” is first-class singing); an even more ardent Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi) is filled with youthful passion, and his Nadir (Les pêcheurs de perles) with baritone Mariusz Kwiecien is one of the highlights of this recording.

Mariusz Kwiecien’s smooth baritone is reminiscent of Sherrill Milnes. It is dark and rich, with a nice bloom at the top. He aptly captures the pathos in the two selections from Don Carlo and plays the seducer Don Giovanni with cunning slyness. His Zerlina is Kristine Jepson, who nicely conveys the innocence and trepidations of the peasant girl befuddled by the noble man’s flattery. Ms. Jepson’s solo turn is Sesto’s recitative and aria from La clemenza di Tito, which allows us to hear her voice from top to bottom. Hers is a warm, smooth mezzo that is not particularly dark, with a bright, clear top. She is partnered in the Offenbach Barcarolle by soprano Indra Thomas. I find an assessment of soprano Thomas’s voice to be a perplexing issue. Things are fine in lower register, but as she climbs the scale, a vibrato becomes increasingly apparent. The vibrato is considerable, but inconsistently produced. On her way up the staff her timbre loses some of its beauty for a note or two, then regains its loveliness at the top, where she has a high pianissimo that is quite beautiful. Having said all this, I found that I got used to her voice, and after repeated hearings, I didn’t pay that much attention to its peculiarities. Thomas is rapidly becoming a distinguished singer. An Internet search revealed many, many glowing reviews of her concerts and performances. She has been described as the next great Verdi singer and the heir to Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman. Perhaps the microphone amplifies vocal peculiarities that are inconsequential in the opera house or concert hall, or, perhaps Ms. Thomas is not yet comfortable in the recording studio.

The two selections from the Baroque era are given to bass-baritone Valerian Ruminski. Handel and Purcell provide Mr. Ruminski with an opportunity to display his ease with ornamentation. At the other end of the operatic spectrum, he’s also at home in Puccini. Colline’s (La Bohème) farewell to his coat is deeply heartfelt.

Much of the success of this recital comes from the podium. Charles Rosekrans is sensitive to the needs of the singers, catches the disparate moods in each of these selections, and provides tempos that bring out the unique character of each piece. “A Night at the Opera” is a credit to the various artists and to Naxos, and at Naxos’s bargain price it should find a home in many opera-lover’s collections.

David L. Kirk, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
La clemenza di Tito, K 621: Parto, parto, ma tu ben mio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 7 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
2.
Don Giovanni, K 527: Là ci darem la mano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano), Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
3.
Faust: Salut! demeure chaste et pure by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 6 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: French 
4.
Faust: Alerte! Alerte!...Sauvée! by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Indra Thomas (Soprano), Valerian Ruminski (Bass Baritone), Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: French 
5.
La Bohème: Vecchia zimarra by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Valerian Ruminski (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
Gianni Schicchi: Avete torto! by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 3 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
7.
Don Carlos: Son io, mio Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 5 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: Composition written: Italy (1867).
Composition revised: 1884. 
8.
Don Carlos: O Carlo, ascolta by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
9.
Rigoletto: Bella figlia dell' amore [Quartet] by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano), Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone),
Indra Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 6 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
10.
Les contes d'Hoffmann: Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour by Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Indra Thomas (Soprano), Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: French 
11.
Orlando, HWV 31: Sorge infausta una procella by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Valerian Ruminski (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1733; London, England 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 4 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
12.
Arise, ye subterranean winds by John Weldon
Performer:  Valerian Ruminski (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
13.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Au fond du temple saint by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Matthew Polenzani (Tenor), Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 5 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: French 
14.
Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60: Sein wir wieder gut by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911/1916; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: German 
15.
I puritani: Suoni la tromba by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Valerian Ruminski (Bass Baritone), Mariusz Kwiecien (Baritone)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
16.
Il trovatore: D'amor sull' ali rosee by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Indra Thomas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Rosekranz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/2001 
Venue:  Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK 
Length: 6 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is preceded by the recitative "Vanne." 

Sound Samples

Rigoletto: Un di, se ben rammentomi
La clemenza di Tito, K. 621: La Clemenza di Tito: Parto, parto
Faust: Quel trouble inconnu me penetre?
Faust: Alerte, alerte!
La boheme: La Boheme: Vecchia zimarra
Don Giovanni, K. 527: Don Giovanni: La ci darem la mano
Don Carlo: Son io, mio Carlo
Don Carlo: O Carlo, ascolta, la madre t'aspetta
Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann): Les Contes D'Hoffmann: Barcarolle
Orlando, HWV 31: Orlando: Sorge infausta una procella
The Tempest, Z. 631, "The Enchanted Island": The Tempest: Arise, arise ye subterranean winds
Il trovatore: Il Trovatore: Vanne... D'amor sull'ali rosee
Les pecheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers): Les Pecheurs de Perles: Au fond du temple saint
Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60, TrV 228a: Ariadne auf Naxos: Seien wir wieder gut!
Gianni Schicchi: Avete torto!
I puritani: I Puritani: Suoni la tromba

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