Rossini: Colbran, the Muse

Rossini: Colbran, the Muse

by Joyce DiDonato


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Many opera fans are perfectly happy to enjoy Rossini's operas without ever visiting the facts of his personal life beyond that which can be read in a program booklet. As the old saying goes, however, behind every great man there is a woman, and in Rossini's case it was Spanish diva Isabella Colbran, whom he worshiped from afar before the two became an item around 1817 -- he was 25, she 32 -- and subsequently married in 1822. Not long after they married her voice went into sharp decline; this is documented in a number of unflattering reviews from both Italy and London. Nevertheless, this did not occur before Rossini had the chance to write his most challenging and involved roles for her, and this part of his legacy is what is explored on Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is not your ordinary diva; mere months before Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse was released, DiDonato made the headlines when she broke her leg during a performance of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," yet finished the performance on crutches. This helped cement DiDonato's reputation as a trouper, but it is the diva -- not the trouper -- that we hear on Colbran, the Muse. While recording companies do not routinely concern themselves with exploring the legacies of singers no one can reasonably hear, to her credit DiDonato takes this project quite seriously and does her best to channel Colbran through music Rossini wrote for her. There is some controversy as to whether Colbran was a soprano or a mezzo; however, there certainly isn't anything in her music that DiDonato can't handle; moreover, she does so not only with accuracy and respect for the model but also with no small amount of sheer star power and charisma. Rossini tends to be less harder on the orchestra than on singers, and this can lead to a certain underpowered "house style" with Rossini, especially in Italy. Not so here, as Edoardo Müller and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia approach every bar of their music with attentive dedication and a scrupulous sense of ensemble dynamics. Likewise, the chorus doesn't sound like it's in the next province, yet never covers the star of the show and is well drilled by Müller. Virgin Classics' Colbran, the Muse is a terrific star turn for DiDonato and an especially fine tribute to an artist whose voice gave way more than 50 years before Thomas Edison developed the technological means to capture it. This quirky idea succeeds so well that opera fans might regard it as a privilege.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/06/2009
Label: Erato
UPC: 0825646379828
catalogNumber: 94579


  1. Armida, opera: Tema con Variazioni del Final Secondo: D'Amor al d
  2. La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), opera: Dell'Introduzione: Oh mattutini albori!
  3. La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), opera: Rondò finale: Tanti affetti in tal momento -
  4. La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), opera: Fra il padre, e fra l'amante
  5. Maometto II, opera: Del Terzettone: Giusto ciel, in tal periglio
  6. Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, opera: Cavatina Elisabetta: Quant'è grato all'alma mia
  7. Semiramide, opera: Coro di Donne: Serena i vaghi rai -
  8. Semiramide, opera: Cavatina Semiramide: Bel raggio lusinghier
  9. Otello, opera: Act 3: Recitativo: Ah! Dagli affanni oppresso -
  10. Otello, opera: Act 3: Canzone del Gondoliero: Nessun maggior dolo
  11. Otello, opera: Act 3: Recitativo: Oh come infino al core -
  12. Otello, opera: Act 3: Canzone del Salice: Assisa appiè d'un salic
  13. Otello, opera: Act 3: Preghiera: Deh calma, o ciel, nel sonno
  14. Armida, opera: Third Finale: Se al mio crudel tormento -
  15. Armida, opera: Third Finale: Dove son io! -
  16. Armida, opera: Third Finale: È ver... gode quest'anima
  17. Untitled CD-ROM Track

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Rossini: Colbran, the Muse 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ZRome More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed listening to Joyce's previous album, Handel: Furore - Mad Scenes from Operas, you need to pick her latest release up immediately. Rossini - Colbran, The Muse is a sensational recording of Rossini arias. It is almost a dream come true for me. Joyce, in my opinion, is one of the world's best Rossini singers. This recording masterfully exhibits why she is considered one of the leading vocalists of this generation. Her range is impeccable, featuring secure low register, a confident mid-range and voluminous high notes. Additionally, Joyce makes technically tricky passages sound effortless. If you're a long time fan of Gioacchino Rossini and have yet to listen to any of Joyce DiDonato's Rossini recordings, this is the album you must to pick up.