Friday, January 6, 2012

Some Enchanted Evening

David Daniels and Joyce DiDonato, photo by Nick Heavican/Met Opera
The Enchanted Island, a pastiche of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream with music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and others, may not look like such a great idea on paper. But when you factor in some A+ list singers, a superstar conductor, spectacular staging and a clever libretto (setting new words to the old arias and recitatives), you have the makings of an enchanted evening.

The Enchanted Island boasts a starry cast of singers headlined by the “Yankee Diva,” mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, countertenor David Daniels, soprano Danielle de Niese and tenor Plácido Domingo (by his count, singing his 136th role). William Christie, the unsurpassed master of Baroque opera, conducts.

As would be expected from such a stellar cast, the discography of each performer is pretty extensive. Here are some favorite albums from each. I’ve also tossed into the mix some of the works used in The Enchanted Island in their “original” form.

Joyce DiDonato
You can't go wrong with DiDonato singing Handel.

DiDonato also knocks the ball out of the park in some later repertoire.

David Daniels
The great countertenor's Handel opera arias album.

Daniels' beautiful song album is an essential.

Danielle de Niese
Handel served up by de Niese and William Christie.

I can't wait for de Niese's next album, a collection of Baroque arias.

Placido Domingo
Domingo sings a honey-toned "Ombra mai fu" from Handel's Serse on this beautiful album.

The greatest tenor of our time (there, I said it) in a huge range of repertoire.

William Christie
Handel's Serse has never been done better. 

Christie, Les Arts Florissants and Rameau -- nothing more be said.

Some of the "original" music of the The Enchanted Island.

Handel: Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno

Handel: Teseo

Handel: Semele

Handel: Zadok the Priest (Coronation Anthem No. 1)

Vivaldi: Farnace

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