March 17, 2014

Elena Xanthoudakis – “Rising Star” – Making of ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ CD

ARTICLE in LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE:Australian’s New Star of the Bel Canto

Read the Article about the Making of ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ in Limelight Magazine here:

140315 Limelight rising star ;arger



Watch the Making of the Jewels of the Bel Canto Documentary HERE

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About the CD repertoire background:

“My love of bel canto repertoire has been inspired by years of listening to both my idols – the Greek Maria Callas and the Australian, Dame Joan Sutherland.
These two iconic, though very different sopranos reflect my heritage and have inspired me in different ways, to perform this rewarding repertoire.
I was indeed incredibly fortunate to be able to work with foremost bel canto expert and conductor, Maestro Richard Bonynge (husband of the late Dame Joan Sutherland) on this CD release of ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’. These three icons of the genre have in many ways influenced my choice of arias on this recording.

Rossini has featured strongly in my career to date from Clorinda in La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival or Jemmy in Guillaume Tell for the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at the BBC Proms, to performing La Contessa di Folleville from Il Viaggio a Reims in Florence as a developing artist at the Maggio Musicale. Further encounters with the repertoire include learning Mathilde di Shabran for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Countess Adele Le Comte Ory for the Metropolitan Opera.

Rossini arias are brilliant showpieces of technical facility with many runs and arpeggios, together with great opportunities for creative employment of vocal colour and expression. This for me is a joy, as I believe in all genres of singing, that vocal colouring and capturing a suitable timbre of expression for the character’s sentiment is essential. This is another reason I love to sing these roles and hence their inclusion.

Mathilde di Shabran’s finale aria ‘Ami alfin’ is a playful yet triumphant aria that rounds up the opera nicely with the mischievous heroine’s proclamation of the winning premise – ‘love triumphs!’ In Countess Adele’s aria ‘En proie a la tristesse’ from the ‘melodramma giocoso’ Le Comte Ory, Rossini has brilliantly delineated her many colours and expressive flourishes as she vacillates from hesitation to hysterical outburst, from shy coyness to excited passion. The same brilliance is at play with the seemingly endless runs of ‘Vorrei Spiegarvi il giubilo’ from Rossini’s earliest performed opera La Cambiale il Matrimono.

More comedic heroines appear from another master, Donizetti. Norina is perhaps the archetypal bel canto comedic heroine, with her cheeky games and playful nature, which is obvious in her aria ‘Quel guardo il Cavaliere’ from Don Pasquale. We also hear great sparkle and fun in ‘Chacun le sait’ from La Fille du Regiment, which suits my own playfulness on the stage. Of the four Donizetti roles featured, we present a more earnest and sincere moment from one of my favourite and most performed comedic roles, Adina – with ‘Prendi, per me sei libero’ from the comic masterpiece L’elisir d’amore. This brings us to the more dramatic and serious roles of the bel canto repertoire.

From perhaps Donizetti’s most famous opera for the lyric coloratura, the ‘dramma tragico’ Lucia di Lammermoor, we have Lucia’s Act 1 scene with Alisa, her maid ‘Ancor non giunge….Regnava nel silenzio’. While waiting for Lucia’s rendezvous with Edgardo, Lucia sings a chilling aria about the spirit of a young lady she saw beckoning her from the well, before her thoughts return to her beloved (‘Quanto rapito in estasi’).

Bellini’s tragedia lirica, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, is written to a libretto by Romani and loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. ‘Eccomi in lieta vesta’ is a touching example of the effectiveness of well crafted bel canto melody. Another expressive example of Bellini’s craftsmanship in displaying the emotions inherent in a melodic line is his famous ‘Ah! non credea mirarti,’ the slow section of the aria of our sleepwalking Amina in La Sonnambula. The following cabaletta, ‘Ah non giunge!’ is by contrast, joyous and lively and is one of the most recognizable in the repertoire.

Although it may be surprising to see Verdi on a bel canto disc, his craft itself evolved from the bel canto traditions. In Il Corsaro, written in 1848, the same year that Donizetti died, you can still hear the school of bel canto running through ‘Egli non riede ancora….Non so le tetre immagini’ even with the second verse variations notated for the singer.
Despite the dark foreboding of the text, Medora’s premonition aria is marked ‘fil de voce,’ a technical effect requiring a flexible and very soft,’ edge of chord’ singing, as she accompanies herself on the harp.

I hope you get great pleasure from my interpretations!