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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra / Hampson, Opolais, Calleja, Columbara, Pisaroni. Vienna SO, Zanetti

Notes & Reviews:

In a major release in Verdi year, Decca's star tenor Joseph Calleja makes his first major opera release in a lead role, singing Gabriele Adorno in a stunning new Simon Boccanegra for Verdi's bicentenary year. Calleja sings Gabriele Adorno opposite Thomas Hampson's Simon Boccanegra in a live concert performance recorded at the Vienna Konzerthaus. The first-class cast also includes Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais as Amelia, Luca Pisaroni as Paolo and Carlo Colombara as Fiesco. Top-league Italian conductor Massimo Zanetti leads the Wiener Symphoniker and Wiener Singakademie. One of Verdi's most compelling works, depicting the personal price of political success; moments of tender intimacy contrasted against the fiery drama of state politics and personal enmity. Reviewing the performance, the Kurier exclaimed: "What a voice, what poetry, what melodiousness, what radiance!" Die Presse stated: "There are not many tenors who can sing the role of Adorno as unpretentiously, tastefully, and free of bad habits as Joseph Calleja". A star of the Metropolitan Opera New York and a favorite around the world, the Maltese-born Calleja has been receiving extravagant praise at every step of his meteoric career. He stunned audiences with his Nessun dorma at last year's Last Night of the Proms, televised worldwide, and was named Gramophone's "Artist of the Year 2012" at just 34.

BBC Music Magazine, January 2014
Hampson is, as always, a searching interpreter, aware of the meaning and possible ambiguities of every phrase he sings; but his voice is not a classic Verdi baritone...The only principal to meet every demand of their role is Luca Pisaroni's trenchant Paolo...the performance has a great sense of drama.

Gramophone Magazine, January 2014
Performances that don't just measure up to the recorded history but shine different kinds of light on the opera...Pisaroni delivers one of his strongest recorded performances so far...now, in his maturity, [Hampson] can emit a true Doge roar...his Lieder-like sense of detail reveals the role in three dimensions with great concision and no excessive fussing with the vocal line.

Sunday Times, 13th October 2013
Those who want a version...with modern singers won't be disappointed by Thomas Hampson..., Kristine Opolais's Amelia - both light voices for their roles, but utterly musical - Carlo Colombara's booming, idiomatic Fiesco and, above all, Joseph Calleja's patrician, thrillingly sung Adorno.

The Guardian, 11th October 2013
[Hampson] brings his sharp intellectual focus to bear on the contrast between the private man and the public figure...Ranged against him are Carlo Colombara's arrogant, cavernous-sounding Fiesco, and Luca Pisaroni's alarming Paolo, arguably the scariest on disc...[Calleja] is outstanding as Gabriele Adorno.



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