Friday 6 July 2018

Opera Rara and Warner Classics

Aurelie Baujean (Opera Rara), Markus Petersen (Warner Classics), Sir Mark Elder, Henry Little (Opera Rara), Susanne McBurney (Warner Classics), Patrick Lemanski (Warner Classics) (Photo Russell Scott/Opera Rara)
Aurelie Baujean (Opera Rara), Markus Petersen (Warner Classics),
Sir Mark Elder, Henry Little (Opera Rara), Susanne McBurney (Warner Classics),
Patrick Lemanski (Warner Classics) (Photo Russell Scott/Opera Rara)
Opera Rara and Warner Classics held a press conference yesterday (5 July 2018) to celebrate a number of things. Firstly, perhaps, the announcement of a new partnership between Opera Rara and Warner Classics, with Warner Classics assuming worldwide distribution for Opera Rara recordings. Further cause for celebration is the release of Sir Mark Elder's new recording of Rossini's Semiramide which will be issued on 7 September 2018. Sir Mark also introduced Opera Rara's plans for the forthcoming season, as well as noting that that afternoon he would be commencing orchestral rehearsals for Donizetti's L'Ange de Nisida which is the company's next project.

The agreement between Opera Rara and Warner Classics. includes all future recordings (starting with the forthcoming recording of Rossini's Semiramide), together with Opera Rara's most recent releases: International Opera Award-winning recordings of Offenbach’s Fantasio and Donizetti’s Les Martyrs, and selected recordings of the extensive back catalogue of more than 85 recordings.

Sir Mark Elder explained the he tried to make the music of early 19th century opera live anew; needing to be done with style, the music was vulnerable and easy to perform in a mediocre manner. When taking over as artistic director of Opera Rara, one of his dreams was to take a title which was very familiar, yet the piece was not, and make people listen to it anew. This became Semiramide, a work that existed for most people only as a title (or an overture), and Sir Mark pointed out that Dame Joan Sutherland's recording of the work was made 50 years ago, and lives in a very different sound world.

Rossini: Semiramide - Opera Rara
The forthcoming recording of Rossini's Semiramide features Albina Shagimuratova in the title role and Daniela Barcellona as Arsace with Sir Mark Elder conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The work was recorded complete (with the first age lasting longer than the last act of Wagner's Die Meistersinger).

Sir Mark was just about to go into his first orchestral rehearsal for Donizetti's L'ange di Nisida which he conducts for two concert performances at Covent Garden later this month, with Joyce El-Khoury, David Junghoon Kim, Vito Priante , Laurent Naouri, and Evgeny Stavinsky. The work was written by Donizetti for Paris, but it was never performed and has been re-constructed for Opera Rara. 96% of the result is by Donizetti, with only a small amount of patching needed. Sir Mark emphasised that this was not a dusty work taken off the shelf, but a vivid and interesting piece whose quality is undeniable. Though the final act is tragic, there is also a comic element to the work.

Looking further ahead, in December 2018 Opera Rara will present the original version of Puccini’s first stage work, Le Villi, in concert at the Royal Festival Hall which will also be recorded. Le Villi stars Ermonela Jaho with Brian Mulligan, and Arsen Soghomonyan with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder. Then in Spring 2019 the company is returning to Donizetti for one of his earlier operas, one which Sir Mark described as a work no one knows but which is important. Il Paria, will be recorded in June 2019 with Albina Shagimuratova, and a new modern edition of the work is currently being prepared.

Royal Opera House, 18 & 21 July 2018
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Sir Mark Elder
Joyce El-Khoury ● David Junghoon Kim
Vito Priante ● Laurent Naouri ● Evgeny Stavinsky

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