Donizetti, Nathalie Stutzmann & John Riesen Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences can experience two rarely performed Donizetti operas, two visual albums, a solo CD and a rarely performed opera. Here are the new releases you cannot miss.


Music duo Shunia releases its self-titled album, “SHUNIA.” The group features Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who have performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years in addition to their solo careers. They co-produced this album with Tony Award-winning composer and producer, Jamshied Sharifi.

Shunia’s music combines compelling melodies, ancient chants, and cross-cultural rhythms.

Here is a little preview of the album:

Il Paria

Opera Rara releases Donizetti’s rarely performed “Il Paria.” The new recording by Warner Classics marks the 26th complete opera by Donizetti for Opera Rara. Sir Mark Elder conducts the work with a cast that includes Albina Shagimuratova, René Barbera, and Misha Kiria. “Il Paria” was recorded in the studio prior to a performance at London’s Barbican Centre in June 2019 and marks the opera’s first studio recording and only the second recording in existence for the work.


Contralto Nathalie Stutzmann performs repertoire from the Baroque era featuring music by Handel, Vivaldi, Porpora, Bononcini, Caldara, and Gasparini. In a press release, Stutzmann said, “We must remember that the opera composers of the early 18th century saw the female contralto and the male castrato as vocally interchangeable and that the voice most closely resembling a castrato is not the countertenor – produced using a falsetto technique – but the contralto, which is a natural voice.” For this new recording, Stutzmann both sings and conducts Orfeo 55, the instrumental ensemble she founded a decade ago.

What You’d Call a Dream

Tenor John Riesen launches a new video featuring the title soundtrack from his 2019 album, “What You’d Call a Dream.” The video features his newborn son in a heartfelt tribute to the power of one’s life journey.  The video was co-created with long time collaborator Neill Campbell.

In a statement, Riesen said, “Neill and I met at Michigan State University as undergraduates. As the years progressed, not only did our friendship grow, but we had a running tally of competition wins in the surrounding region.  At one point, we won prizes in 12 straight competitions as a pair.  We have done countless living room and garage concerts, and have become known for sharing our life stories through song. This song, ‘What You’d Call a Dream,’ has become a hallmark piece for both of us, and I’m thrilled to share the spotlight in this video with my son Roman.”

The Fiery Angel

Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel” gets a release from the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, filmed in May 2019. The new Naxos release stars Ewa Vesin and Leigh Melrose in a production by Emma Dante. Alejo Pérez conducts the production that OperaWire called, “A Winning Performance.”

Pietro il Grande 

Donizetti’s rarely performed “Pietro il Grande, Kzar delle Russie” makes its video world premiere. The opera buffa represents Donizetti’s first success and the Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo celebrated the opera’s 200th anniversary with a staging by the Roman collective Ondadurto Teatro. Rinaldo Alessandrini leads a new critical edition with a cast that includes baritone Roberto de Candia, tenor Francisco Brito, mezzo-soprano Paola Gardina, and baritone Marco Filippo Romano. OperaWire noted that “the outstanding cast is not be missed.”


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