Franco Fagioli, Malin Byström & Ramon Vargas Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week, audiences can check out exciting new releases from major artists. There is also a world premiere recording of a rarely performed opera.


Decca releases the new album from Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre and the acclaimed vocal ensemble VOCES8. The album includes a world premiere, “All Seems Beautiful To Me,” and a new recording of Whitacre’s deeply moving 2019 cantata “The Sacred Veil.”

The new five-minute work, “All Seems Beautiful To Me,” is based on a poem by Walt Whitman (from Song of the Open Road) celebrating the human spirit’s capacity for generosity and growth. It was commissioned by the United States Air Force Band and here receives its world premiere recording.

Le Voyage

Alexandra Lowe and Patrick Milne lead a new recording which is an international journey told through French romantic song. Highlights include Ravel’s “Cinq mélodies” in the beautiful original Greek, “Shéhérazade” and Debussy’s “Chansons de Bilitis,” alongside lesser-known composer Charles Koechlin’s versions of the same texts.

Love and Light

Girlchoir iSing Silicon Valley releases its second full-length album on Avie Records. The album is a collaboration with GRAMMY®Award-winning soprano Estelí Gomez and virtuosa harpist Cheryl Fulton and is part of iSing’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

The album features 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen to ascendant contemporary choral works by Sir James MacMillan, Andrew Smith, and Kile Smith.

Il Proscritto

Opera Rara releases the first-ever recording of Mercadante’s “Il Proscritto,” with Britten Sinfonia and an all-star cast conducted by Opera Rara’s Artistic Director, Carlo Rizzi. The members of the cast include Ramón Vargas and Irene Roberts as well as Ivan Ayon-Rivas, Sally Matthews, and Elizabeth DeShong.

Anime Immortali

Counter-tenor Franco Fagioli makes his Pentatone debut with Anime Immortali, together with the Kammerorchester Basel. The album explores the music that Mozart composed for castratos. Ranging from opera to sacred music and culminating in “Exsultate, jubilate,” the recorded works share a sublime and profound character, demonstrating Mozart’s strong connection to the castrato voice.

In a statement, Fagioli said, “As a countertenor and looking into the repertoire of the old castratos, I happily discovered that Mozart had written for some of them, so I began to study the solo vocal music that Mozart had written for castrato singers. And such beautiful music it was! The aria ‘Parto, parto’ sung by Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito, or the famous motet Exsultate Jubílate, and so many others. It is evident that Mozart had a connection with these singers.”


Naxos release Puccini’s “Tosca” from a 2022 production for the Dutch National Opera directed by acclaimed Australian director Barrie Kosky. The cast includes baritone Gevorg Hakobyan as Baron Scarpia, Swedish soprano Malin Byström in the title role, and American tenor Joshua Guerrero as Cavaradossi. DNO chief conductor Lorenzo Viotti leads the Chorus of Dutch National Opera and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.

Maria, Mater, Meretrix

Anna Prohaska and Patricia Kopatchinskaja join the Camerata Bern for an album mash-up of repertoire spanning from the 12th century to the 21st, and includes music by Walther von der Vogelweide, George Crumb, Hans Eisler, Gustav Holst, Lili Boulanger, Frank Martin, György Kurtág, Guillaume Dufay, Hildegard von Bingen, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Antonio Lotti, Antonio Caldara, and Haydn (with a sprinkling of PatKop thrown in).

Fallen to Dust

James Newby and Joseph Middleton release a new album on BIS dedicated to Newby’s sister Laura, who passed away in 2015. After singing Gerald Finzi’s “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun” at his sister’s funeral, he felt it fitting that the cycle from which it is taken, “Let us Garlands Bring,” would form the centerpiece of the program. Alongside this cycle, pianist Joseph Middleton and Newby have designed a program of English songs that reflect on themes of loss, grief, and death – but also joy, love and healing – with varying styles, sound worlds and atmospheres. Composers include George Butterworth, Rebecca Clarke, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Liza Lehmann, Errollyn Wallen, and Arthur Somervell.


Na’ama Goldman and Guilio Zappa release their new album on Solo Musica. The new record is an invitation to deeply personal explorations into the lieder (or song) repertoire.


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