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The best opera recordings released on CD and DVD in 2021 so far

A list of the greatest opera albums released so far in 2021, as chosen by the BBC Music Magazine critics

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Vivaldi: Argippo

Emőke Baráth, Marie Lys, Delphine Galou, Marianna Pizzolato, Luigi De Donato; Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
Naïve OP 7079
112:10 mins (2 discs)

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‘The bass Luigi De Donato is a youthful Emperor and Emőke Baráth‘s Argippa sounds more satisfying as the plot curdles, with thrilling top notes, callisthenic coloratura and deep dives into the chest register. Of the women characters Delphine Galou’s Zanaida gets the pick of the arias in a recording that is bright and lets the singers lead, which is as it should be.’

Read full review here.

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Willem Jeths: Ritratto

Verity Wingate, Martin Mkhize, Frederik Bergman, Paride Cataldo, Dominic Kraemer, Lucas van Lierop, Cameron Shahbazi; Dutch National Opera; Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Geoffrey Paterson
Challenge CC 72849   88:24 mins

‘Jeths’s story about the meaning and purpose of art is a powerful and accomplished piece of music theatre. His own post-modernist style helps, with fragments of Ravel’s La Valse, hints of Tristan and Salome, and even Tchaikovsky’s letter scene drifting through a comfortably tonal score. It’s invidious to single out individuals from the young cast, many of them members of the Dutch National Opera Studio, but Verity Wingate is compelling as Luisa, and Paride Cataldo’s posturing D’Annunzio all but steals the show. Laurels, too, for Geoffrey Patterson who conducts the Amsterdam Sinfonietta with complete conviction.’

Read full review here.

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I Am Hera

Bellini: Arias from I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Gluck: Arias from Orfeo ed Euridice; Handel: Aria from Giulio Cesare; Mozart: Arias from Idomeneo, The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute; Puccini: Arias from La bohème and Gianni Schicchi; Rossini: Arias from The Barber of Seville and Il Turco in Italia; plus works by Joowon Kim, Pergolesi and Un-Yung La
Hera Hyesang Park (soprano), Johannes Maria Bogner (harpsichord); Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Bertrand de Billy
DG 483 9456   66:35 mins

‘Hera today, but hopefully not gone tomorrow. The young Korean soprano Hera Hyesang Park has recorded one of the most satisfying debuts for many a day.’

Read full review here.

Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart

Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart
Kate Howden, William Wallace, Nicholas Morris, Richard Edgar-Wilson; Perpetuo/Julian Perkins
Naxos 8.660459-61   165:36 mins (3 discs)

‘Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013) – a distant relative of Charles, aka Lewis Carroll – left a notable body of work that, under the auspices of The Stephen Dodgson Charitable Trust, is edging towards the recognition it deserves. Margaret Catchpole: Two Worlds Apart (1979) is one of Dodgson’s three operas – this is its first recording.’

Read full review here.

Eccles: Semele

Anna Dennis (soprano), Richard Burkhard (baritone), Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano), Héloïse Bernard (soprano), Graeme Broadbent (bass)  et al; Cambridge Early Opera; Academy of Ancient Music/Julian Perkins
AAM AAM012   121:27 mins

‘John Eccles’s sexy, sparkling opera bursts to life – finally! Shelved in 1706, Semele has never been professionally recorded, so this production was worth waiting for. Cast, band, director and sound are all top-notch, restoring Eccles’s score to its full glory.’

Read our full review of this recording here.

Royal Handel
Handel: Arias from Flavio, Re De’ Longobardi; Admeto, Re Di Tessaglia; Siroe, Re Di Persia, etc; plus works by Arisoti and Bononcini
Eva Zaïcik (mezzo-soprano); Le Consort
Alpha Classics ALPHA 662   64:59 mins

‘In 2017, Eva Zaïcik dazzled BBC Proms audiences in Monteverdi’s Vespers. This project shows why. From her gut-punch climactic notes to the buttery evenness of her register, Zaïcik’s command is exhilarating.’

Read our full review of this recording here

Read more reviews of the latest Handel recordings here
Find out more about Handel and his works here

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