Graciously, Cecilia Bartoli is nominated because, as everyone knows, she has been wandering far from the traditional mezzo career path for years. Italian conductor Riccardo Minasi, who collaborated with Bartoli when he was the curator and editor of the critical edition of the Norma she performed in Dortmund and on disc, is the conductor on DiDonato's latest cd, which brings three unjustly neglected arias to light in new editions and world première recordings. The orchestra and chorus of the Opéra de Lyon perform under Minasi's baton.
There are little-known arias by Mercadante, Michele Carafa (a student of Cherubini and close friend of Rossini), Carlo Valentini and Giovanni Pacini. It is Pacini's 1845 opera Stella di Napoli which gives the album its title. Not all is unfamiliar, and Tu di un'umile preghiera from Maria Stuarda – which lately DiDonato has been making her own – is part of the lineup.
One of the joys for me, and the huge challenge, is rising to the vocal demands of this music,
says Joyce DiDonato, and it is possible to hear a little of her work on this album in a video filmed during the recording sessions.
Stella di Napoli
Dopo l'oscuro nembo (from Adelson e Salvini), second version, 1828/29
Tu sola, o mia Giulietta… Deh! tu, bell'anima (from I Capuleti e I Montecchi)
L'amica ancor non torna…Oh, di sorte crudel (from Le nozze di Lammermoor)
Par che mi dica ancora… Fuggi l'immagine (from Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth)
Io vi rivedo alfin…Deh! Tu di un'umile preghiera (from Maria Stuarda)
Se fino al cielo ascendere (from La vestale)
Ove t'aggiri, o barbaro (from Stella di Napoli)
Saffo Flutto che muggi…Teco dall'are pronube…L'ama ognor qual io l'amai (from Saffo)
Riedi al soglio (from Zelmira)
Lasciami… Se il mar sommesso mormora (from Il sonnambulo)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.