NETREBKO/VILLAZON - KATE ROYAL - SIMON KEENLYSIDE - AIDA - KIM BORG

Duets from La Bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Roméo and Juliette, Les Pécheurs de Perles, Manon, Iolanta and Luisa Fernanda.
Anna Netrebko, soprano; Rolando Villazón, tenor; Dresden State Orch/Nicola Luisotti, cond.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B0008845 (F) TT: 71:08
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DEBUSSY: Air de Lia, Les Filles de Cadix. CANTELOUBE: Bailero, Malurous qu'o uno fenno, La delaissádo. RAVEL: Vocalise en forme de habanera. STRAVINSKY: No word from Tom. My father! Can I desert him. I go, I go to him, from The Rake's Progress. ORFF: In trutina. STRAUSS: Wiegenlied, Ich wollt' ein Sträuslein binden, Morgen! GRANADOS: Quejas, o la maja y el ruisenor. Con qué la lavaré? Vos me matasteis. De dónde venis, amore! De los álamos vengo, madre. The Sprig of Thyme
Kate Royal, soprano; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Edward Gardner, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 94419 (F) TT: 65:14
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Arias from The Barber of Seville, William Tell, Hérodiade, Don Carlo, Un ballo in maschera, La traviata, Hamlet, I Puritani, The Magic Flute, Pagliacci, L'Arlesiana, Pique Dame, Don Giovanni, Zaide, and Tannhäuser
Simon Keenlyside, baritone; Munich Radio Symphony Orch/Ulf Schirmer, cond.
SONY CLASSICAL 13067 (F) TT: 70:12
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VERDI: Aida
Leonie Rysanek (Aida); Jon Vickers (Radamès); Irene Dalis (Amneris); Robert Weede (Amonasro); Giorgio Tozzi (Ramfis); Andrew Foldi (Faraone); San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orch/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli, cond.
GOLDEN MELODRAM GM 5.0067 (2 CDs) (F) TT: 76:31 & 60:39
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SIBELIUS: Drömmen. Varen flyktar hastigt. Till Frigga. Fagellek. Romeo. Demanten pa marssnön. Säv, säv, susa. Svarta rosor. Zwei Lieder aus Twelfth Night. Come away, death. When that I was a little tiny boy. Les Trois soeurs aveugles. Im Feld ein Mädchen singt. Lastu lainehilla (2 recordings). Illalle (2 recordings). Souda, souda, sinisorsa. Finlandia-Hymni. KILPINEN: Som ett blommande mandelträd. Din mun är ljusare än min. Om tiotusen är.
Kim Borg, bass/Erik Werba, pianist
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6612 (M) TT: 52:02
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DGG's new disk of duets sung by Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko is a winner. Both are at their best in repertory perfect for them, including a duet from Iolanta in Netrebko's native language, and a gem from Luisa Fernanda, in Villazón's. Beautiful recorded sound, and complete texts. If you enjoy this, you must investigate the DVD of two singers' collaboration on The Berlin Concert (with Plácido Domingo) (see REVIEW).

EMI's new recital disk featuring British soprano Kate Royal oddly tells us nothing about the singer. Born in London in 1979, she won the Kathleen Ferrier Award and was acclaimed for her performances in operas of Mozart, Britten and Stravinsky. She obviously will be a major figure on the operatic scene. Her voice is rich and controlled, often reminiscent of Eileen Farrell. Accompaniments by ASMF under conductor Edward Gardner are perfect, as is sonic quality. A terrific EMI debut disk.

Sony Classical's Simon Keenlyside CD also tells us nothing about the singer. Born August 3, 1959, the British baritone took time developing his craft, making his official debut in 1987 as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro. He sings extensively at the Scottish Opera and the Royal Opera House and has shown his versatility in a wide range of roles including music Cavali, Monteverdi, Purcell, Puccini, Britten and Weill. He also is a specialist in lieder. This CD offers Keenleyside in a wide range of opera, and he is superb in all. This apparently is his first solo CD, a welcome addition to the catalog. The baritone also can be seen in the 2004 Liceu Opera production of Hamlet (with Natalie Dessay) (see REVIEW).

In 1960 the San Francisco Opera season included Aida with the all-star cast mentioned above. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conducted always giving his singers the opportunity for vocal display, which they took often. This is an exciting performance with Rysanek, Vickers and Dalis in top form, a great evening at the opera indeed. CD notes are devoted entirely to outlining the complete San Francisco season that year. Sound is adequate, but one might question the premium price. Still, admirers of Rysanek and Vickers surely will wish to have this.

Finnish bass Kim Borg's 1958 recording of a group of songs of Sibelius was called "a pinnacle of the Sibelius song discography" and rightfully so. Contents of the original mono LP are available on DGG's new reissue, which also includes three songs by Finnish composer Yrjö Kilpinen and Borg's stereo remakes of two of the Sibelius songs. Unfortunately no texts are provided.

R.E.B. (October 2007)