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music - italian opera
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Turn on the candles and turn up your CD. Invite the greatest Opera stars into your living room with these hand-picked CD's.

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Viva Verdi - A 100th Anniversary Celebration
It's rare for sampler albums to demonstrate originality, but Decca's Giuseppe Verdi compilation honoring the 100th anniversary of the composer's death in 1901 goes beyond putting a smorgasbord of Verdiana on your plate. Its lavishly illustrated 100-page book includes a potted bio of the composer and sections on each of his operas, along with Universal's complete Verdi catalog. The discs contain samples from each opera, arranged in chronological order, featuring most of the top singers of the past 40 years. They're all here, from the Three Tenors to their betters, like Jon Vickers, whose powerfully sung "Celeste Aida" is a demonstration of individuality at the service of character portrayal, and Carlo Bergonzi, whose two selections (arias from Giovanna del Arco and Les V�spres siciliennes) are magnificent demonstrations of the true Verdi style. And this is not just another Great Hits compilation, for many of the operas are represented by rarely heard arias and ensemble pieces. The result: a neat introduction to Verdi's glorious music for neophytes and a nice supplement for Verdians, who will discover new aspects to the Bard of romantic opera.

Sacred Arias, Andrea Bocelli
When he was growing up, Andrea Bocelli recalls finding inspiration in a favorite recording of sacred music performed by tenor legend Franco Corelli. Bocelli--who in the meantime has come to inspire millions of fiercely loyal fans himself--returns to the genre as the guiding theme of Sacred Arias, the release of which coincides with the first major English-language biography of the singer. These performances are filled with the singer's phenomenally well-known vocal signature: his flair for long, sweetly floating high notes and the gentle sense of cadence he brings to a melody. It's a mistake to compartmentalize Bocelli into a singer of "operatic" versus "popular" styles: in truth his approach is at heart the same. The arias collected here sample some of the most famous devotional pieces: Schubert's "Ave Maria" and Mozart's transporting "Ave Verum," as well as an arrangement of "Silent Night" in which Bocelli tries out his English. Listen to sound samples form this cd, and if you like Bocelli be sure to listen to his other albums which include Bocelli, Sogno, Romanza, and Viaggio Italiano. If you want to learn more about Andrea Bocelli visit The Bocelli Network, or his fan's sites like The Most beautiful voice in the world, and Dobbiamo Essere La Voce.

La Traviata, Bonynge, Sutherland, Pavarotti
Sutherland's work here is not that of a mere vocal technician, but that of a true artist. She makes Violetta something grand and tragic all at the same time. Violetta is a role that requires a soprano capable of coloratura in the first act, great dramatic singing in the second act, and a lyric soprano of much beauty in the third act. We just don't have anything like this anymore. Dame Joan Sutherland in her late fifties completely conquers all here as Violetta. Her singing has gained authority and real stature. The voice is still amazing but what she does with it on this recording is even more amazing. Luciano Pavarotti, expectedly, sounds wonderful, and he opens up the cabaletta of his aria in the beginning of Act II to wonderful effect. Everything in this recording works very, very well, and Bonynge outdoes himself by creating a "Traviata" that really matters. Listen to excerpts from the CD or watch the video of this opera.


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