Ian Storey - Tenor
Ian Storey is currently one of the most in-demand dramatic tenors, especially in the Wagnerian repertoire. He started his career with Scottish Opera singing numerous roles before becoming a leading Spinto tenor in Italy, where he has spent a large part of his career. He sings repertoire in 6 languages throughout the main Opera houses in Europe and America; Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper in Berlin, La Scala in Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Torino, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC, to name a few. His debut as Tristan was for the opening of the season at La Scala in 2007 with Patrice Chéreau and Daniel Barenboim; seen by millions live on TV and then around the world in cinemas and on DVD. Immediately following this Plácido Domingo invited Ian to make his American debut in LA in the title role of Otello, two of his now signature roles. He has a varied repertoire including works of Janáček, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Berlioz, Bizet, Shostakovitch, Strauss, Beethoven, Britten, Verdi and Wagner.
Further information from www.ianstorey.com
Howard Burrell - Conductor
During a fulfilling career as a full- time academic, Howard Burrell also found time to compose and conduct. His compositional output has ranged from a rock musical to two symphonies and has included many works for children and numerous pieces and arrangements for big band. Having been brought up as a brass player he has written a great deal of music for brass and in 2009 UH Recordings issued a CD “fanfares, fancies and fugues” (UHR 020011017) which features much of this. Other recordings include “and the birds sang too” (UHR 020011014) which contains three of his string quartets and “Venite adoremus” (UHR 020011024) a Christmas CD released in 2011.
His “Hatfield Procession” (1985) written for the University of Hertfordshire is still played at every degree ceremony and many other festive occasions of the University. He is Emeritus Professor of Music.
Sinfonia Musicisti - Orchestra
Sinfonia Musicisti is one of Britain’s newest orchestras. Formed in 2011, it is the first professional orchestra run as an official co-operative which means it is a social enterprise, owned by its members and operated on co-operative principles. It was formed after a conversation between Mark Kesel, Howard Burrell and Terry Neville and subsequently set up by Mark Kesel (Principal Trumpet) with Rachel Porter (Principal Oboe), Nigel Shipway (Principal Timpani), Samantha Moore (principal flute), Helen Paskins (principal clarinet) and Nadya Larsen (viola) in order to combat the difficult economic times engulfing the world of music. A love of playing together lies at the heart of the orchestra coupled with a great sense of enjoyment. This spirit guided through the experienced hands of their principal conductor Howard Burrell gives the orchestra a really individual style and character. The players want to make music together and to share with the audience their special experience. These goals are being supported by the University of Northampton, well known for championing social enterprise ideals.
Further information from www.sinfonia-musicisti.com
Track 1 - Paluchish smertyelni udar ti (Pique Dame Act 1 Scene 1) (пoлучишь смертельный удар ты) - Storm Aria
Threatened by approaching thunder, all leave except Herman, who vows to learn the Countess’ secret.
Track 2 - Allmächt’ger Vater! (Rienzi)
Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (WWV 49) (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden on October 20, 1842, and was the composer’s first musical success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.
Magnanimous at first, he is forced by events to crush the nobles’ rebellion against the people’s power, but popular opinion changes and even the Church, which had urged him to assert himself, turns against him. In the end the populace burns the Capitol, in which Rienzi and a few adherents had made a last stand.
Track 3 - Prasti, nebesnaye sazdanye (Pique Dame Act 1 Scene 2) (Прасти, небеснаъе сазданъе)
“Forgive me, celestial creature” «Прости, небесное созданье» (Prasti, nebesnaye sazdanye) (Herman)
The Queen of Spades, Op. 68 (и́ковая дама, Pikovaya Dama) is an opera in 3 acts by Tchaikovsky using a Russian libretto by the composer’s brother Modest Tchaikovsky.
It is based on a tragic short love-story of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. The plot hinges around the old Countess a renowned gambler and nicknamed the Queen of Spades who has a secret of three winning cards. Herman who is not wealthy is determined to make his fortune at the gambling table but is unable to wrest the winning sequence from the Countess before she dies. Having then witnessed an apparition of the Countess, Herman is sure he has been given the secret sequence. Winning his first two stakes on three and seven he confidently calls the next card as an ace; it is however the Queen of Spades! Losing his fortune and his reason, he kills himself.
The premiere took place in 1890 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Track 4 - Gott, welch Dunkel hier! (Fidelio)
Fidelio (Op. 72) is the only opera written by Beethoven. In two acts it sets the libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner taken from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly. This libretto had originally been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora by Ferdinando Paer (a score of which was owned by Beethoven). The opera tells how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard called “Fidelio”, rescues her husband Florestan from death in a political prison.
Track 5 - O König (Tristan und Isolde)
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde uses a libretto by the composer himself, which is based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to “Tristan und Isolde” not as an opera, but called it “Eine Handlung” (drama or plot), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas. Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck. It is acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.
Track 6 - Inutiles regrets (Les Troyens)
Les Troyens by Berlioz is a five act grand opera. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself based on Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid; the score was composed between 1856 and 1858. Les Troyens is sometimes regarded as Berlioz’s most ambitious work, the summation of his entire artistic career, although he did not live to see it performed in its entirety. Under the title Les Troyens à Carthage, the last three acts were premièred with many cuts by Léon Carvalho’s company, the Théâtre Lyrique, at their theatre (now the Théâtre de la Ville) on the Place du Châtelet in Paris on 4 November 1863.
Track 7 - Dio mi potevi (Otello)
Track 11 - Niun mi tema (Otello)
Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello employs an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, and is based on Shakespeare’s play Othello. It was Verdi’s penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887.
The opera follows fairly closely Shakespeare’s play. Turkey is threatening Venice and has launched an attack against Cyprus. The Duke of Venice sends out a fleet under the command of Otello. There is no overture as such and the opera dives straight into the tragic action.
Track 8 - E lucevan le stelle (Tosca)
Puccini’s three act opera Tosca has an Italian libretto written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples’s control of Rome threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. It contains depictions of torture, murder and suicide, yet also includes some of Puccini’s best-known lyrical arias, and has inspired memorable performances from many of opera’s leading singers.
Track 9 - Inbrunst im Herzen (Tannhäuser)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg ((full title Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg, Tannhäuser and the Singers’ War at Wartburg). The story centres on the struggle between sacred and profane love, and redemption through love, a theme running through most of Wagner’s mature work.
Track 10 - Non piangere Liù (Turandot)
Track 13 - Nessun dorma (Turandot)
Puccini’s Turandot, an opera in three acts, is set to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Though Puccini’s first
interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller’s adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot by Carlo Gozzi. The opera was unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death in 1924 and was completed by Franco Alfano in 1926. The first performance was held at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on April 25, 1926 and conducted by Arturo Toscanini. This performance included only Puccini’s music and not Alfano’s additions. The first performance of the opera as completed by Alfano was the following night, 26 April, although it is disputed whether this was conducted by Toscanini again or by Ettore Panizza.
Track 12 - Amfortas! die Wunde (Parsifal)
Wagner’s Parsifal is an opera loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, the Story of the Grail.
Wagner first conceived the work in April 1857 but it was not finished until twenty-five years later. It was to be Wagner’s last completed opera and in composing it he took advantage of the particular acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882. The Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.