- Orchestra: Orchestre de l'Opera National de Lyon
- Conductor: Riccardo Minasi
- Composer: Gioachino Rossini, Giovanni Pacini, Carlo Valentini, Vincenzo Bellini, Michele Carafa, et al.
- Audio CD (September 2, 2014)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Erato
- ASIN: B00FPTG0TG
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,028 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Stella Di Napoli Import
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Following the success of her crowd-sourced 'Best Of' collection ""reJoyce"" and her electrifying Drama Queens album of Baroque arias, Joyce DiDonato returns to her heartland repertoire to celebrate the birth of Bel Canto opera in 19th-century Naples.
On Stella di Napoli (Star of Naples), the American mezzo-soprano's creamy tone and dramatic prowess breathe new life into little-known arias by Mercadante, Michele Carafa (a student of Cherubini and close friend of Rossini), Carlo Valentini and the prolific opera composer Giovanni Pacini, whose Stella di Napoli (1845) gives the album its title. Joyce worked closely with Italian conductor Riccardo Minasi (whose previous projects include Bellini's Norma with Cecilia Bartoli) to bring three unjustly neglected arias to light in new editions and world premiere recordings.
Alongside these little-known gems, Joyce presents a sumptuous Bel Canto banquet with music by the three greats - Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti - including the latter's Maria Stuarda: a tour-de-force signature role for Joyce, recently screened in cinemas and released on DVD from the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Joyce DiDonato won a 2013 Grammy for her last Bel Canto album ""Diva, Divo,"" declared ""an ideal vehicle for her glorious mezzo voice in which the most fiendish coloratura ornaments and trills sound effortless"". (The Observer)
"The aria from Maria Stuarda which DiDonato sings so triumphantly is but one highlight on this sumptuous disc from one of today's most impressive singers." --November 2014 Gramophone Editor's Choice
"Here Didonato is in top form, tossing off staccatos, trills, arpeggios, repeated notes and chromatics with astonishing accuracy and energy." --Opera News, November 2014
A rarely heard student piece by Bellini makes an opulent platform for today's most exciting opera singer. "Dopo l'oscuro nembo" --Tom Huizenga, NPR Songs of 2014
"Operatically speaking, 2014 might as well be subtitled "The Year of Joyce DiDonato." There she was singing the National Anthem at the final game of the World Series, in front of her beloved Royals; inaugurating the first video broadcast from Carnegie Hall from Medici TV; and headlining the Perspective series, also at Carnegie. But the feather in DiDonato's 2014 cap just might be this remarkable album of 19th-century arias from Naples. It's a feast of bel canto thrills, from the finale of Rossini's opera Zelmira to shapely traversals of two gorgeous Bellini arias, along with a sampler platter of names nearly forgotten: Pacini, Carafa, Mercadante and Valenti." --Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR Best Classical Albums of 2014
Digital Booklet: Stella di Napoli
Digital Booklet: Stella di Napoli
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Top Customer Reviews
If you like Joyce's style or Bel Canto in general - you'll enjoy a little time a Napoli.
Ms. DiDonato possesses a robust lyric-coloratura, mezzo-soprano voice, over which she maintains a good deal of control and flexibility. The ten bel-canto numbers found on the program amply confirm the beauty of her voice and her versatility in using it.
The opening number from Stella di Napoli clearly demonstrates Ms. DiDonato's range and adaptability. The song itself offers a number of passages that require her to be rather gymnastic in her virtuosity. In fact, the tune is a bit over-the-top musically, with its variety of elaborations, so the soloist gets a chance to show off her skills from the very outset of the program. It does make quite an impression.
Things settle down after that, with the Bellini selection being tranquil and serene as well as luxurious. And so it goes. The Carafa aria is dramatic and emotive in a largely subdued manner; Rossini is Rossini: robust and showy, with big outbursts from the singer and orchestra; likewise, Donizetti is Donizetti: lightly romantic, lilting, and melodious, with an especially persuasive use of a keyboard glass armonica; and so on.
Throughout every track, Ms. DiDonato shows her mastery of the material. It's a beautiful album from an artist at the top of her game, even though I am not particularly partial to opera and would have preferred a complete opera rather than bits and pieces of things.
To complete the package, Erato/Warner Classics provide a generous booklet of commentary and librettos, plus a light cardboard slipcover for the jewel case.
The orchestral sound is quite dynamic, with strong impact when needed. It also appears nicely balanced--among the instruments themselves and with Ms. DiDonato's voice. The all-important voice is smooth and rounded in a very natural way, sounding most lifelike. I would have liked to hear a bit more depth to the orchestra and chorus, though, which tend, at least at times, to sound in the same plane as the soloist. Well, maybe they were; what do I know. Anyway, the sound is good for a vocal recording: not at all bright or edgy in the loudest passages.
John J. Puccio
The title piece is a world premiere recording by Pacini from his opera ‘Stella di Napoli’. Other world premieres include Carafa’s ‘Le nozze di Lammermoor’, and Valentini’s ‘Il sonnambulo’. Needless to say, Carafa and Valentini’s works offer alternative versions to the delectable Donizetti and Bellini compositions, yet they are here, heard for the first time to great effect. Another ‘alternative’ to a lessor known work is Mercandante’s ‘La vestale’, after Spontini’s early 19th century piece revived last century by Maria Callas.
The bel canto ‘regular’s Bellini, Rossini and Donzietti are well represented, as well as Pacini. Of particular significance is Bellini’s popular Dopo l’ocuro nembo from ‘Adelson e Salvini’, and his aria for Romeo from ‘I Capuleti e I Montecchi’. While Elīna Garanča recorded the former Bellini piece in her earlier ‘Bel Canto’ album, Didonato’s assumption of this piece offers interesting and good comparison, even with the best of the best versions (Caballe’s comes to mind). It is a great shame that Didonato’s superb portrayal of Romeo in the latter piece (with Anna Netrebko as Giulietta) was not formally released. Here the aria ‘Deh! Tu, bell’anima’ was sung superbly by Joyce. The other significant piece is of course ‘Maria Stuarda’ of Donizetti, a role that Joyce has assumed to great critical acclaim and available on DVD but not on CD yet.
The premiere editions strike one as being novel yet somewhat unpolished in parts, but they are nonetheless marvelously performed by Didonato, while her vocal partners may be somewhat more variable, as in the ‘Zelmira’ excerpt. Even so, listeners can rest assured that in this album we hear Joyce Didonato at her very best – the voice is lusciously lyrical, agile, expressive, and encompasses a staggeringly wide range (for a lady singer) of over 2.5 octaves. The pieces also call for ‘duets’ with instruments, and Didonato pulls them off with instrumental precision in all respects. The intonation is perfection itself, the ornaments jawdropping with trills that rivalled that of Joan Sutherland and Monserrat Caballe’s. With her assumption of a repertoire for the more low lying lyrical soprano voice, Didonato has out did herself in discovering a timbre that is of rare beauty even among full-fledged lyrical sopranos.
As Joyce herself said in interview, audiences do look forward to a sequel to this wonderful bel canto outing.