Marina Rebeka, Diana Damrau & Nino Machadize Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

Welcome back for this week’s look at the latest CD and DVD releases in the opera world.

This week audiences will experience albums from some of the top divas in the opera world as well as Christmas albums that will be great for the holiday season.


Marina Rebeka releases a new album on Prima Classic. The soprano sings a selection of the best opera arias of all time along the Wrocław Opera Orchestra under the baton of Marco Boemi.

The record includes selections from “Madama Butterfly,” “La Rondine,” “Tosca,” “La Bohème,” “Gianni Schicchi,” “Mefistofele,” “Adriana Lecouvreur,” “Pique Dame,” “La Mamma Morta,” “Pagliacci,” “Rusalka”, and “La Wally.”

Mahler – Scartazzini Cycle

Swiss composer Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini continues his Composer-in-Residence with the Jena Philharmonic. Scartazzini has been writing a new companion piece to each of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies, which are being performed in Jena as a cycle in chronological order: Mahler – Scartazzini Cycle.

This second volume of the series features Mahler’s Second and Third Symphonies, the Second preceded by Scartazzini’s orchestral Torso and Epitaph and the Third by Spiriti. Jana Baumeister, Evelyn Krahe, and Ida Aldrian perform on the album.

Handel: Messiah

John Nelson records Handel’s Messiah for Erato.

In a statement, Nelson notes, “A lifetime of performing Messiah has brought me enough courage to record this singularly famous piece of music. With the finest musicians and soloists on the planet surrounding me, I’m finally ready to lay down my personal interpretation for posterity.”

The performance is released as a three-disc set, comprising the audio version (2 CDs) and the video (1 DVD). The English Concert is led by Nelson with soloists soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Alex Potter, tenor Michael Spyres, and bass Matthew Brook.

Operette: Wein, Berlin & Paris

Soprano Diana Damrau releases a new album that tours three capital cities of operetta, Vienna, Berlin, and Paris.

In the new CD, she sings arias, duets, and a trio from operetta with tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Among the composers on the album are Johann Strauss II, Franz Lehir, Emmerich Kálmán, Robert Stolz, Paul Abraham, André Messager, Henri Christiné, Oscar Straus and Francis Lopez. The Münchner Rundfunkorchester is conducted by Ernst Theis.

Mending Wall

The PRISM Quartet releases its newest album, Mending Wall on XAS Records. The album includes soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Arturo O’Farrill in world premiere performances of “Mending Wall,” a fully staged concert exploring the meaning of walls in our world by giving musical form to questions about identity, community, division, and freedom.

The recording features the music of Martin Bresnick, George Lewis, Arturo O’Farrill, and Juri Seo.

Hymn of the Universe

Composer Tina Davidson releases her newest album on Meyer Media LLC.

“Hymn of the Universe” follows the publication earlier this year of Davidson’s memoir “Let Your Heart Be Broken (Boyle & Dalton)” and includes three of her choral works, “Antiphon for the Virgin,” “Hymn of the Universe,” and “Tu Autem, Domine” and features VocalEssence Singers conducted by Philip Brunelle in the first two works and the Society for Universal Sacred Music led by Roger Davidson in Tu Autem, Domine.

Tapestry of Voices

Navona Records releases an album that showcases the versatility and elegance of the human voice woven with grand orchestral statements, colorful choral arrangements, and intimate settings with piano. Eight contemporary composers offer settings of poetry and stories from various cultures throughout human history, from Africa to Europe, North America, and beyond. Among the composers are Christopher Jessup, David Gaines, John Craven, Michael G Cunningham, L Peter Deutsch, Ryan Homsey, Hendrik Hofmeyr, and Richard E Brown.

Mahler’s 8th Symphony

Bis Records releases Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestraunder conductor Osmo Vänskä. 
The recording features the Minnesota Chorale, the National Lutheran Choir, the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs, the Minnesota Boychoir, tenor Barry Banks, mezzos Sasha Cooke and Jess Dandy, bass-baritone Christian Immler, baritone Julian Orlishausen, and sopranos Carolyn Sampson and Jacquelyn Wagner. 

Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand,” is one of the most ambitious choral symphonies that exists today. The Minnesota Orchestra, four choirs, and the seven vocal soloists performed Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in concerts in June 2022, the largest-scale performance ever conducted at Minnesota’s Orchestra Hall, and the last performance Osmo Vänskä led as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. The album was recorded live and over a series of recording sessions the week following the concerts.

Internationalized Globalization

Soprano Cassie Chang releases her song cycle written and performed by Chang and composed by Pouria Khadem. The song cycle consists of three songs focusing on different cities Chang has called home: “Vancouver”, “New York”, and “Beijing”.

In a statement, Chang notes, “So much of my life, I find myself not being able to see my family and bridging the gaps between cultures. As a person of colour, a child immigrant, and someone that comes from a family with three different nationalities. It’s constantly about learning and loving all parts of our world. Sometimes I fail, but often in music I can create a space for peace. In a time of war and international travel, I know there must be many that feel the same. Perhaps if we can share and unite in music then maybe we can dream of a world like this in real life.”

Ophelia’s Aria

Mario Bergmann releases a new music video featuring soprano Polly Ott and pianist Chelsey Padilla. The video showcases “À vos jeux, mes amis…” Ophelia’s Aria from Hamlet.

Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Naxos releases the Deutsche Oper Berlin’s production of Wagner’s epic with a cast that includes Klaus Florian Vogt, Heidi Stober, Johan Reuter, Philipp Jekal, Albert Pesendorfer, and Ya-Chung Huang. John Fiore conducts the recording from 2022.

Rimsky-Korsakov: Christmas Eve

Naxos releases Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely performed work with a cast that includes Julia Muzychenko, Enkelejda Shkoza, Andrei Popov, Georgy Vasiliev, and Alexey Tikhomirov. The Chor der Oper Frankfurt and the Frankfurter Opern is conducted by Sebastian Weigle.

Verdi: I Lombardi alla prima Crociata

Ivan Repušić’s successful cycle of early Verdi masterpieces on BR-Klassik continues with the rarely performed “I Lombardi.” He conducts a cast that includes Nino Machaidze, Réka Kristóf, Piero Pretti, Galeano Salas, Miklós Sebestyén, Michele Pertusi, Ruth Volpert, and Andreas Burkhart.

1929: The Wild Sound of the Twenties

On October 29, 1923, in the middle of a year of political and economic crises, the age of public radio in Germany was ushered in with the first broadcast of the “Berliner Funkstunde.” Radio offered entirely new possibilities for the production and reception of music, and the two compositions on this CD both benefited from the advent of that medium. Hanns Eisler’s cantata Tempo der Zeit for soloists, narrator, choir, winds, and percussion was written as a commission for the Donaueschingen Festival. Ruth Volpert, Christopher Dollins, Clemens Nicol, and Tomasz Tomaszewski join the Madrigal Choir of the University of Music and Performing Arts, and Münchner Rundfunkorchester under Ernst Theis. BR Klassik releases.

but I like to sing…

English soprano Carolyn Sampson releases a new album featuring well-known and lesser-known lieder by German and Austrian masters such as Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Richard Strauss, and Hugo Wolf with French songs by Gounod, Poulenc, and Franck, as well as works by Anglo-Saxon composers such as Hubert Parry, Samuel Barber and Ivor Gurney. Female composers include Cheryl Frances-Hoad, the recently deceased Kaija Saariaho and Deborah Pritchard. Joseph Middleton and Jack Liebeck accompany the soprano.


Sarah Aristidou, Daniel Arkadij Gerzenberg, and Jörg Widmann’s new album that explores the mystery of verbal communication, seeking an “original” sound as primordial as the cry of a newborn baby or the last sigh of a dying person. The album includes Andreas Tsiartas’s “Lamento Turco,” Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” Schubert’s “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen,” and music by Wolf and Ravel.

Rued Langgaard: Songs

Louise McClelland Jacobsen and Kristian Riisager record Rued Langgaard’s songs, many of which are being recorded for the first time. The album also includes the collection “Russian Songs,” set to adaptations of Ukrainian poetry.

Krzysztof Penderecki: Sacred Choral Works

The Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Kļava record an album that celebrates the 90th anniversary of the birth of celebrated Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

Arianna Savall, Petter Udland Johansen: El Cant de la & Draumkvedet

Hirundo Maris, an ensemble founded in 2009 by Arianna Savall and Peter Udland Johansen, specializes in early music from the Middle Ages to the Baroque as well as the Savall and Johansen’s compositions, performs two mystical chants from the Middle Ages on this recording.

An Evening of Readings and Carols

The Westminster Chapel Choir, Westminster Concert Bell Choir, Westminster Jubilee Singers, and Westminster Symphonic Choir release a recording that documents the Christmas 2023 broadcast from Westminster Choir College, seen on 300 PBS stations around the United States and marking the institution’s 30th Anniversary. Released on the GIA Choral Works label, the 25-track double album encompasses a wide variety of styles, including traditional Christmas carols, light classical selections, contemporary gospel songs, and new arrangements of favorite tunes.


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