Diana Damrau, Rolando Villazón & Amanda Forsythe Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week, audiences can stream a variety of new releases ranging from contemporary music to baroque to bel canto. The week also marks one of the most anticipated releases of the year from one of opera’s biggest stars.

Here is a look at this week’s new releases.

Il Tamerlano

Naïve Classiques releases Vivaldi’s “Il Tamerlano (Il Bajazet)” marking the 65th release in the label’s Vivaldi Edition. The new recording marks the tenth recording led by Ottavio Dantone and the Accademia Bizantina in the Vivaldi Edition and stars Bruno Taddia, Filippo Mineccia, Sophie Rennert, Marina de Liso, Arianna Vendittelli, and Delphine Galou.

Tudor Queens 

Diana Damrau releases her highly anticipated album Tudor Queens featuring the final scenes of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda,” and “Roberto Devereux.” The soprano is accompanied by Sir. Antonio Pappano and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for the new album.

In a statement, Damrau described the three queens as “strong, vulnerable women who have to subordinate their personal desires to the duties of the Crown … Life-and-death decisions are part of their daily life … In these more or less historically authentic operas Donizetti gives them an infinite emotional dimension … Above all he shows these queens in all their femininity … their capacity for love, their gentleness, longing, vulnerability, allure, strength, faith, vanity, greed, ruthlessness, resolve, toughness, sense of responsibility and power, fury, despair, powerlessness, hopelessness and sorrow … Underlying everything is a fear of death.

“Donizetti’s music gives the voice the greatest freedom and support with atmosphere, energy, and the most beautiful melodies. There are heavenly moments when it feels as if time is standing still … To interpret this music the singer needs to be absolutely committed and trusting, but also ready to take risks.”

Serenata Latina 

Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón accompanied by French star harpist Xavier de Maistre releases his new album showcasing a variety of rhythm, melody, and narrative forms. Serenata Latina is in a way a collage of sounds, where the different shapes of the Latin American canciones come to life. The new album is set for digital stream this week followed by a physical release on Oct. 30.

ENGLISH SONGS à La Française

Bridge Records releases baritone Tyler Duncan and pianist Erika Switzer new album featuring English songs, written by French composers. The new album contains music by Hahn, Milhaud, Poulenc, Massenet, Roussel, Ravel, Gounod, and Saint-Saens.

Peter Grimes 

Chandos releases a new studio recording of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece with Edward Gardner conducting tenor Stuart Skelton in the title role. The cast also includes the acclaimed Erin Wall and Roderick Williams. Gardner leads the Bergen Philharmonic and Royal Northern College of Music Opera Choirs, the Edvard Grieg Kor, and the Colligeûm Mûsicûm.

Vespro della Beata Vergine

New York City’s Green Mountain Project brings Monteverdi’s piece to life in a new recording from New Focus Recordings. The new recording features soprano Jolle Greenleaf, the TENET Vocal Artists, and the virtuosic brass players of the Dark Horse Consort.

Bach’s St. John Passion

In the dawning days of COVID consciousness in Europe, early this past March, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan were forced to curtail their thirtieth-anniversary European tour but were able to finish an unplanned studio recording of Bach’s St. John Passion in Cologne. SACDs releases the new recording with soloists tenor James Gilchrist as the Evangelist and Christian Immler doubling as bass soloist and Jesus. Hana Blažiková is the solo soprano, countertenor Damien Guillon the alto, and Zachary Wilder the tenor.

Peter Lieberson

Ondine releases Songs of Love and Sorrow by Peter Lieberson. The songs were dedicated to Lieberson’s late wife, the radiant mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. In this recording, Gerald Finley performs the pieces alongside the Finish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Hannu Lintu conducts the album, which also includes Lieberson’s The Six Realms (2000), for amplified cello and orchestra and performed by Anssi Karttunen.

The Dancing Master 

Resonus Classics releases a new recording of a comic opera judged too risqué for 1950s audiences, “The Dancing Master” by Malcolm Arnold. The one-act opera, to a libretto by Joe Mendoza, was written in 1952 and was originally rejected by television executives.

The new recording features soprano Eleanor Dennis as the heroine Miranda, tenors Ed Lyon and Mark Wilde as her rival suitors, mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby as Miranda’s cunning maid Prue, contralto Fiona Kimm as Aunt Ms. Caution, and bass-baritone Graeme Broadbent as father Don Diego. The BBC Concert Orchestra is conducted by John Andrews.

Torna vincitor

American Soprano Amanda Forsythe releases a new album with Opera Prima and Italian viola da gamba player Cristiano Contadin. The new album features an all-Johann Gottlieb Graun program including the composer’s two love-themed cantatas with settings of texts by the celebrated poet librettist, Pietro Metastasio. CPO label releases the album.


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