Warner Classics & Erato artists were out in full force at the 2018 Victoires de la Musique Classique on Friday in Evian, France. French coloratura soprano Sabine Devieilhe dominated the Victoires this year in its 25th-anniversary edition, winning two of the seven awards, and both categories in which she was nominated.
Not only was she crowned Artiste Lyrique de l’Année (Opera Singer of the Year); she also claimed Album of the Year for her French opera recital Mirages, along with Les Siècles orchestra and conductor François-Xavier Roth.
In 2013 Devieilhe received the Opera Singer 'Revelation' of the Year at the 20th Victoires de la Musique; the same year she signed an exclusive recording contract with Erato.
'Since the beginning I’ve cherished this album and wanted to record it even early on in my singing career. I’ve always appreciated this French music which seems so beautifully aligned with my voice. François-Xavier Roth is an exceptional conductor who defends this repertoire with admirable fervor. Thank you to the magnificent performers on the album, Les Siècles, Alexandre Tharaud, Marianne Crebassa, and to Alain Lanceron at Warner Classics and Erato for his trust and support throughout all our recording adventures.’ She also thanked her family for supporting her in a demanding yet richly rewarding career choice.
To a live televised audience of 1.3 million viewers on France 3, Devieilhe sang the opening aria from the album: André Messager’s sumptuously romantic ‘Le jour sous le soleil béni’ from the little-known operetta Madame Chrysanthème.
Equally celebrated at the ceremony was legendary soprano Angela Gheorghiu, who accepted the Victoire d’Honneur for Oustanding Achievement and performed ‘Un bel dì, vedremo’ from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, accompanied by the Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Lyon and conductor Pierre Bleuse. The accolade comes just months after Gheorghiu’s highly anticipated return to the recording studio for her new album of Italian verismo arias, Eternamente.
Other standout performances on French classical music’s night of nights included cellist Gautier Capuçon’s The Swan, from his new album Intuition (he was also nominated for Instrumental Artist of the Year), and Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński with Italian Baroque orchestra Il pomo d’oro for Vivaldi’s Vedrò con mio diletto. Recently signed to Erato, Orliński has recorded his solo album debut with Il pomo d’oro for release later this year.
Congratulations to all the nominees, winners and performers at the 2018 Victoires de la Musique Classique!
Star soprano Angela Gheorghiu has partnered once again with longtime label Warner Classics for her first new opera recital album in six years.
Eternamente, due for release in the autumn of 2017, was recorded in December last year in Prague and showcases the Romanian-born diva’s voice in the Italian verismo repertoire for which she has been famed since her Royal Opera House debut in London 25 years ago. The title is drawn from a little-known aria of the same name by Angelo Mascheroni, heard alongside some of the most celebrated moments in the genre which Gheorghiu has sung to great acclaim onstage – including Puccini’s Vissi d’arte from her signature role, Tosca.
“I’m very glad to record a new album of verismo arias,” said Miss Gheorghiu. “It’s the music that is best suited to my voice. I waited a long time to record this beautiful repertoire with the PFK-Prague Philharmonia with maestro Emmanuel Villaume. We had a wonderful time together.”
Alain Lanceron, President, Warner Classics & Erato, said: “Angela Gheorghiu had not recorded a recital since her Homage to Maria Callas more than six years ago. At last she has returned to the studio in the repertoire closest to her heart. This will be without doubt one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the season, and one Warner Classics is particularly proud to present.”
“Angela Gheorghiu is one of the last true divas,” added Jean-Philippe Rolland, EVP of Artists & Repertoire at Warner Classics, “It’s not only thanks to her bewitching ebony vocal colour, but also to her innate glamour and charisma that she has remained at the height of her powers throughout a long and illustrious career. Hers is an eternal voice, and with Eternamente she has delivered the album opera fans have been waiting for.”
Angela Gheorghiu revealed the first details of the album this week in a video message to coincide with her 150th performance at Covent Garden, where she has been singing the title role of Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur in the Royal Opera House’s David McVicar production. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the soprano’s breakthrough debut on that very same stage; Warner Classics celebrated this milestone with the release of a seven-album collection of Angela Gheorghiu’s Complete Recitals.
Photo: Angela Gheorghiu with Alain Lanceron, president of Warner Classics & Erato (courtesy of Neil Gillespie / Royal Opera House)
“An instant blaze of vitality, talent and beauty — like lightning!”
This was opera, film and television director Franco Zeffirelli’s response when, in 2007, a television director and producer asked him “When I say Angela Gheorghiu, what’s the first thing you think of?”
It was 15 years earlier (in 1992) when Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu’s lightning first struck at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, effectively launching her spectacular international career overnight. Not long after she had sung a single performance of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Angela performed a role on a now historic first night of a revival in June, the same role she had sung in her very first professional operatic appearance almost exactly two years earlier at the Romanian National Opera in Cluj: Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème.
It was the culmination of many years of intensive study, along with personal guidance from soprano Mia Barbu, a special artist who had recognised Angela’s exceptional talent when the young singer was still in her early teens. “From the start she taught me all about breathing and breath-control, which is crucial as the basis for all opera singing”, Angela recalls. “I began to understand what the voice is really all about, and how to approach the art of singing.”
And it is precisely Angela Gheorghiu’s remarkable breath-control that is one of the factors behind the spellbinding atmosphere she creates when she ethereally floats an entrance such as “Ecco: respiro appena …” (Look, I am hardly breathing), just before the beginning of her aria “Io son l’umile ancella del Genio creator …” (I am the humble servant of the creative genius) in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. Investing just a few sung words with such rapt yet perfectly controlled colour is one of her most striking qualities.
Another extraordinary example can be heard in the single note of farewell that concludes her Warner Classics recording of Puccini’s La rondine, when the sensual timbre and poignant expression of her “Ah” as it melts away impeccably to almost nothing makes Ruggero’s loss of his beloved Magda all the more heart-breaking. That one “Ah” is not simply the sound of
someone disappearing into the distance; it is the wistful goodbye of a woman who, like the eponymous swallow, must return to her nest, but not without sadness.
With Angela Gheorghiu, every note and every word has a dramatic and
emotional meaning — the composer’s.
The new Warner Classics Complete Recitals 7CD box set, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Angela Gheorghiu’s debut at Covent Garden, illustrates the intensity and depth of her dramatic characterisation in many of the very different roles in her wideranging repertoire. They include widely varied personae written in markedly dissimilar musical styles, and in Angela Gheorghiu’s hands they sound strikingly disparate. The degree to which she diversifies the sonorities and colours in her voice — something she also does to a great extent even in the course of portraying a single role — is a key factor in the vivid depictions of character she brings to her performances, and the versatility of her stylistic mastery is showcased in a particularly impressive way in the recital Homage to Maria Callas.
Also in this set we have the spontaneous frisson of Angela Gheorghiu’s debut recital at La Scala, Milan, with a palpably charged interaction between artist and audience. This recital is a telling example of Angela’s mastery of still more, varied styles heard in quick succession: Baroque
arie antiche, Verdi songs, French mélodies and chansons, and Romanian songs, plus a few more in other genres as well. Of the Baroque songs she says: “With these songs you need to create a simpler feeling without as much vibrato, not quite so ‘involved’ as one is with later music, although it is an elusive matter, because the words and music are so wonderful. I always look for the connections between the words and the music in everything I sing, but one has to be careful not to emphasise the words too much in this style of music, not to be too ‘interpreting’. It is as though the colour of the voice has to give an impression of being more detached, not so overtly emotional, and yet as I say it is very critical, as there is such beautiful feeling! I can’t force myself not to understand and express the feelings of the words — and so performing this music is like a balancing act.”
Whether in opera or song, it is the transmission of this meticulous attention to style, detail and character through one of the most flexible, supple and brilliantly agile of all voices, with its instantly recognisable expressiveness and personality, that has given the world the Angela Gheorghiu experience. In the 25 years since her international debut, the ardent vibrancy, dazzling virtuosity and emotional power of that experience has been captivating music-lovers and more. Sir Antonio
Pappano has commented how the special allure and vivid presence of her voice has affected orchestras to the extent that they play differently when she sings. Indeed the various orchestras that accompany her on this anniversary box set have all absorbed some of her vocal finesse and rich expressivity into their performances — as no doubt orchestras will continue to do in the future, as they accompany her when that “instant blaze of vitality, talent and beauty” strikes “like lightning”, in new roles, new songs and new challenges.
Read the full Jon Tolansky essay in the box set Angela Gheorghiu: The Complete Warner Classics Recitals
Angela Gheorghiu’s rise to international stardom began with her debut at London’s Royal Opera House in 1992, when she sang Mimì in La bohème. It was two years later, also at Covent Garden, that she made her decisive breakthrough with a new production of La traviata.
Her shimmering tonal beauty and intense, but refined artistry have made her one of the defining sopranos of our time. These qualities – and her sheer charm and charisma – are abundantly in evidence throughout the seven recital discs in this 7CD box set, which span 15 years and chart Gheorghiu's meteoric rise. The collection includes Italian (Puccini, Verdi, Bellini, Cilea, Rossini or Donizetti) and French (Massenet, Gounod, Bizet, Charpentier) operatic repertoire. Five of Gheorghiu’s seven recital albums have been reissued specially for this box set.
CD1 Duets & Arias (with Roberto Alagna)
CD2 Verdi per due (with Roberto Alagna)
CD3 Casta Diva
CD4 Live from Covent Garden
CD6 Live from La Scala
CD7 Homage to Maria Callas
"When I recorded Madama Butterfly, at the entrance of Butterfly at first I cried. Even to listen to, the entrance of Butterfly is heart-breaking. Whoever is singing this role on stage is a heroine! How can you sing when you can cry for each note? [...] It is the most tragic opera I have ever sung in my life."
Star romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu describes the experience of recording her iconic Madama Butterfly alongside Jonas Kaufmann on Warner Classics, in an in-depth audio interview with Jon Tolansky made exclusively for her Autograph boxed set.
The collection gathers her signature roles - Violetta, Mimì, Tosca, Magda (La rondine) and Adriana Lecouvreur, her unforgettably sensual Carmen, the tragically abandoned Cio-Cio San, Norma, Charlotte (Werther) and even Turandot, on CD as well as on a bonus DVD revealing her dramatic prowess on stage and on film. A selection of haunting Romanian songs also takes us back to this top soprano's roots.
The 8CD + DVD box celebrates not only her 50th birthday, which finds her as elegant, charismatic and vocally seductive as ever, but also the 25th anniversary of her debut in 1990.
In 2015, Angela Gheorghiu celebrates 25 years since her career was launched with a performance of Mimì in La bohème at the National Opera of Romania in Cluj. She shot to international fame in 1994 when she sang La traviata, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, in a new production at the Royal Opera House in London. She retains a close relationship with the house and has performed and recorded regularly with its Music Director, Sir Antonio Pappano.
With her voice of velvety and silk, her refined sense of style and expression, her beauty and her skill as an actress, she is established as one of the leading operatic sopranos of our time, especially noted in the Italian repertoire. Her most celebrated stage roles are Violetta, Mimì, Tosca, Magda (La rondine) and Adriana Lecouvreur. All these feature in her 8CD + DVD Autograph collection, as do many characters that she has not sung on stage, including Cio-Cio San (from her prizewinning complete recording of Madama Butterfly, made in Rome with Pappano and Jonas Kaufmann), Carmen, Norma, Charlotte (Werther) and even Turandot. Also included are a selection of haunting Romanian songs and a bonus DVD of performance extracts.
Drawing on the EMI, Erato and Teldec catalogues, each Autograph box focuses on a single artist, providing a biographical panorama of his or her career through a series of thematically programmed CDs and fascinating documentation. Each collection - which tracklisting is personally overviewed by the artist - is devised in collaboration with the artist in question, who also features in a specially-recorded exclusive interview. Illustrated with musical extracts to illuminate the artist’s life and work, the interviews are conducted by the distinguished journalist and broadcaster Jon Tolansky.
Tolansky, who curated the Autograph series, says: “We hear such uniquely telling insights from these great artists, and this enlightenment is further enhanced when Franco Zeffirelli illustrates Angela Gheorghiu’s especial qualities in the context of his invaluable comments about opera production.”
Angela Gheorghiu: Autograph is out now.
Warner Classics this month launches its Autograph Series: biographical overviews of acclaimed artists’ careers in themed compilations, created in close collaboration with the artists themselves, and featuring exclusive new recordings of them discussing their lives in music. This new initiative commences with boxed sets celebrating anniversaries in the lives of three of the most highly distinguished and best-loved opera singers of the last several decades: the 75th birthday of bass-baritone José van Dam, the 25th anniversary of the stage debut of soprano Angela Gheorghiu, and the 60th birthday of the baritone Thomas Hampson.
Drawn from the EMI, Erato and Teldec catalogues, each boxed set explores several themes – José van Dam’s ‘Devils’ from Mephistopheles in Faust to The Tales of Hoffmann, Angela Gheorghiu’s ‘Femmes Fatales’ (Carmen, Manon, Dalilah), Thomas Hampson’s ‘Fathers and Fanatics’ (Monfort, Germont, Boccanegra) and more.
Additionally, each box features an 80-minute Interview Portrait bonus CD in which the artists recall their lives and careers and discuss many of the operatic roles and concert melodies, lieder and arias included in the collections. These in-depth conversations have been recorded exclusively for the new Warner Classics Autograph Series with opera specialist Jon Tolansky. Furthermore, the Angela Gheorghiu box includes a DVD with performance extracts and a never-before-released interview with film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli.
The curator of the Autograph Series and the producer of the Interview Portrait bonus CDs is Jon Tolansky, who says: “The thematic programming also brings a revealing added dimension to the interview CDs, where we hear such uniquely telling insights from these great artists, and this enlightenment is further enhanced when Franco Zeffirelli illustrates Angela Gheorghiu’s especial qualities in the context of his invaluable comments about opera production.”
'Autograph' Release dates:
José van Dam (10CD) – 16th February
Thomas Hampson (12CD) – 2nd March
Angela Gheorghiu (8CD + DVD)– 6th April
Every year, the leading UK classical magazine Gramophone honours a carefully selected group of artists, producers, engineers and label executives who have shaped the classical recording industry.
In the June issue, out now, the publication has announced the 25 legends in this year’s cream of the crop.
Among them are Warner Classics and Erato president Alain Lanceron (who was also recipient of Gramophone’s Special Achievement Award last year), iconic singers Angela Gheorghiu, Tito Gobbi and Kiri Te Kanawa – the latter celebrating her 70th birthday this year – conductor Riccardo Muti and pianist Artur Schnabel.