Although his operas don’t get much love, Haydn often wrote beautifully for the voice. “Trove Thursday” presents a sampling of the master’s vocal works: two celebrated scenas sung by Cecilia Bartoli and Magdalena Kozená, along with a pair of opera arias from bad-girl Simone Kermes.
Happily still available as an inexpensive 20-CD set, Antal Dorati’s superb series of Haydn operas was widely acclaimed as each opera was released on Philips LPs, but they didn’t have had much of an effect in encouraging stagings of those works. Another fascinating recording worth searching for as it’s currently out of print is a collection of Haydn “insertion arias” on Erato sung by Teresa Berganza.
Orlando Paladino does seem to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance. It was performed earlier this year in Fribourg and a new production premieres next month in Zurich conducted by the wonderful Ricardo Minasi starring Jane Archibald and Michael Spyres. Another revival is due next year at the Bavarian State Opera conducted by Ivor Bolton with assoluta Tara Erraught as Alcina.
More than any other contemporary singer, Bartoli has been involved with Haydn’s operas. She sang Angelica in Orlando Paladino in Vienna and recorded
Armida both under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, as well as recording and performing L’Anima del filosofo, a work whose libretto opera historian Donald Jay Grout called “certainly one of the worst specimens of its kind in the whole history of opera—no mean distinction.” By the way, whatever happened to Uwe Heilmann, her co-star on that L’Anima CD?
Although she has recently become a bit of a punchline, Kermes occasionally turns in impressive performances. Yes, her mannerisms may drive a lot of people crazy, but she’s pretty exciting in the ferocious aria from Armida as well as the coloratura extravaganza from L’Anima which was also an occasional showpiece for Joan Sutherland.
Die Schöpfung is one of Haydn’s best known pieces but his other less-often performed late “oratorio” Die Jahreszeiten suddenly seems to be in vogue. In November Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts it with his Philadelphia Orchestra, while Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra bring it to Carnegie Hall in January.
It’s also available in a past “Trove Thursday” offering featuring the sterling roster of Ileana Cotrubas, Francisco Araiza and José van Dam, James Levine conducting.
Haydn: Berenice, che fai
14 December 2000
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly — conductor
Haydn: Arianna a Naxos
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles
15 January 2014
Les Violons du Roy
Bernard Labadie — conductor
Haydn: Arias from L’Amina del Filosofo and Armida
Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt Esterházy Palace
15 September 2012
La Sfera Armoniosa
Conductor — Mike Fentross
To download these Haydn morsels, just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.