Our 35th Anniversary Opera Gala is a tribute to Delos founder Amelia S. Haygood (1919-2007). There was nothing Amelia loved more than great singing. For her, the glories of the human voice, the expressive power of vocal artistry, were lifelong cause for celebration.
As with everything Amelia championed, this program offers familiar repertoire done to perfection in an individual manner, along with fresh, seldom-heard gems that were discoveries for her and for Delos listeners. It’s the kind of program that Amelia would have chosen for herself.
The span of extraordinary singing represented here ranges from Delos’ first great vocal artist, Arleen Auger, in one of the earliest Delos digital recordings, to superstar Dmitri Hvorostovsky in his most recent aria album, the last Delos production that Amelia was able to hear.
Dmitri anchors the program, which begins with the “Pagliacci” Prologue and soon takes us to less familiar but entrancing territory. The Duet from Arensky’s “Raffaello,” written 15 years before “Der Rosenkavalier,” foreshadows Strauss’s ecstatic Trio from the last act. Natalia’s Cavatina from Tchaikovsky’s “Oprichnik” takes us to an emotional climax within three minutes. Both Auger and Podles are stunning in Handel arias; Renee Fleming gorgeous in Villa-Lobos “Sentimental Melody;” and Alessandra Marc a magnificent Turandot. Dmitri sings the passionate encore “Core ‘ngrato.”
And so Dmitri, as Tonio, invites us to begin.
Cast, in order of appearance (Click artist name to find all they have available on Delos)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, baritone
“undoubtedly one of the voices of the century” Opera News • "…some of the most beautiful and eloquent sounds that can currently be heard from any human throat… His voice is redolent of luxury: beautiful tone, pinpoint intonation, elegant, and impassioned delivery.” The New York Times
Marina Domashenko, mezzo-soprano
"The Met is getting good at finding legitimate singers who look appropriate to the operas they are in…Ms. Domashenko has a warm sound and a seamless technique, and good looks that will help her go far." The New York Times
Olga Guryakova, soprano
“one of the most exciting Russian sopranos to have emerged in recent years” BBC Magazine • “an important artist, genuine and generous, and reminds listeners of how marvelous and glorious the lyric soprano voice can be.” Opera News
Ewa Podles, contralto
“Is there anything this formidable artist cannot do? … it is difficult to imagine any other interpretation than hers, so profound is her musicality… Podles is a force of nature…” Opera News • “She's been described as a ‘a vocal hurricane’; a ‘force of nature’; a singer ‘without peer in the world.’ But why beat around the bush? Ewa Podles is a goddess.., The sounds that pour out of Podles's mouth seem to come from the core of the Earth, channelled through her body.” National Post, Toronto
Daniil Shtoda, tenor
“a fabulous voice - open, plangent, and vibrant in a very Russian way. What a lovely warm hearted, generous artist.” The Times of London
Renee Fleming, soprano
“…She is a definite rarity, a singer in direct lineage with the great voices of the past who were all, incidentally, beauties, just as Fleming certainly is: Mary Garden, Rosa Ponselle, Maria Jeritza, Geraldine Farrar, Teresa Berganza, Magda Olivero…They all brought an incomparable glamour to the opera stage and most of them were treated like film stars… Fleming is the most generous singer imaginable, always going the extra distance to sing superbly, never automatically. Every minute she sang was something like rapture.” The Vancouver Sun
Arleen Auger, soprano
“The extraordinary Arleen Auger” The Times of London • “an artistry that affords us a real glimpse of what we thought was a lost art.” Stereo Review • Auger’s "exquisite album of Love Songs [DE 3029] remains one of the finest compendiums of classical song ever issued." Stereophile
Tatiana Pavlovskaya, soprano
“Dusky-toned, dramatically riveting and powerful…one of the most musically and dramatically scorching singers around.” Los Angeles Times • “an impressive debut… her large and luscious voice easily filled the hall…” Opera Review
Vsevolod Grivnov, tenor
"One of the most beautiful and thrilling tenor voices in the world today, his top notes have the golden gleam of a Wunderlich and his voice sounds as solid as Gedda’s. With a robust technique and model enunciation of the text, his musical instincts and projection are infallible, and he plays the romantic juvenile lead completely naturally." - The Irish Times
Vassily Gerello, baritone
"The grandeur, tonal substance and old-fashioned clout of a truly significant vocal instrument, yet another in the astonishing recent Kirov baritone line" The Times of London
Alessandra Marc, soprano
“one of the richest and most powerful voices of the age” Gramophone • “rarely will you hear Puccini’s climactic phrases crested with such ease and beauty of tone.’ Opera News
Maestro Constantine Orbelian, American pianist/conductor, “stands astride two great societies, and finds and promotes synergistic harmony from the best of each.” (Fanfare) • “the singer’s dream collaborator” (Opera News)
In his dedication below, Constantine offers “insider” comments about Amelia and the recording sessions represented on this album:
In my opinion, Amelia DaCosta Stone Haygood was one of the truly great artists of the 20th Century. Not that she danced or sang (publicly at least), but in the 34 years she created and developed Delos, she was an inspiration and guiding light to everyone who had the very good fortune to meet her and work with her.
During recording sessions at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, which typically would begin at 11 p.m. and go through to 3 a.m., Amelia was there. Music in hand, she would turn to us as soon as we walked into the control room, greeting us with a big smile and words of encouragement. She would give us the impression that this sounded great, that that sounded wonderful, that we were creating something very special, that it would be a glorious recording of the aria, that no one has ever sung it better... Nerves and throats relaxed and invigorated, we would all go back to the stage, reassemble the orchestra, and do another take: probably the one you are listening to now on this CD.
A superb clinical psychologist before she founded Delos, Amelia was highly educated, idealistic but worldly, and downright smart. She had the optimum of what many call women's intuition, was keenly interested in her fellow human beings, and was a joy to be around. And Amelia’s greatest joy was to be around her beloved artists and the music they made.
So Amelia, this is for you!
Missing you always,
Album contents — each aria represents a highly prized Delos album (Click album name for more information):
Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci; Tonio’s Prolog, “Si può;” Hvorostovsky; Orbelian [from Heroes and Villains, DE 3365]
Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur; “Acerba Voluttà;” Domashenko; Orbelian [from Marina, DE 3285]
Rachmaninoff: “Spring Waters;” Guryakova; Orbelian [from Russian Arias, DE 3273]
Tchaikovsky: Queen of Spades; Yeletsky’s aria; Hvorostovsky; Orbelian [from Queen of Spades, Great Scenes, DE 3289]
Borodin: Prince Igor; Konchakovna’s Cavatina; Podles; Orbelian [from Podles – Russian Arias, DE 3298]
Rimsky-Korsakoff: May Night; Levko’s Song; Shtoda; Orbelian; [from Russian Opera Arias, DE 3348]
Villa-Lobos: Forest of the Amazon; “Sentimental Melody;” Fleming; Heller [From Forest of the Amazon, DE 1037]
Handel: Alexander’s Feast; “The Prince;” Auger; Schwarz [From Bach/Handel Arias, DE 3026]
Handel: Rinaldo; “Venti turbini;” Podles; Orbelian [from Podles: Handel Arias DE 3253]
Verdi: Il Trovatore; “Il balen del suo sorriso;” Hvorostovsky; Bernardi [from Verdi Arias, DE 3292]
Arensky: Raffaello; Duet; Domashenko; Pavlovskaya; Grivnov; Orbelian [from Raffaello, DE 3319]
Tchaikovsky: Oprichnik; Natalia’s Arioso; Guryakova; Orbelian [from Tchaikovsky Duets, DE 3355]
Rachmaninoff: Aleko; Aleko’s Cavatina; Gerello; Orbelian [from Aleko, DE 3269]
Puccini: Turandot; “In questa reggia;” Marc; Litton [from Dallas Opera Gala, DE 3240]
Cordillo - Cordiferro: “Core ‘ngrato;” Hvorostovsky; Orbelian [from Passione di Napoli, DE 3290]