Sylvain Cambreling is one of the leading French operatic conductors. He is known for his often startling innovations in many opera productions: in a performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at the 2001 Salzburg Festival he employed a synthesizer to deliver recitative accompaniments, and at a performance of Janácek's Katya Kabanova, he used some of the composer's songs as transitional material between acts.
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (Königsberg , January 24, 1776 – Berlin, June 25, 1822), who changed his third name to Amadeus in honour to Mozart, is one of the best-known representatives of German Romanticism, and a pioneer of the fantasy genre, with a taste for the macabre. He was also a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist.
As a musician, he composed about 80 works, including several operas, among them Aurora (1811-12), after Franz von Holbein, and Undine (1814), after Baron Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's tale, one symphony, sacred and chamber music, as well as instrumental pieces.
'Artaxerxes is a rare beast, perhaps a unique one: an 'opera seria' composed to English words. Almost all of the numbers are solo arias; there are two duets, and an ensemble Finale newly composed by Duncan Druce to replace the missing ending. Arne owes much to Handel, but he tends to write more concisely. This studio recording is based on a staged production, and it shows in the natural way in which the characters interact. The recitatives—also new, composed by Ian Page—are delivered with conviction, flowing seamlessly into the arias. Christopher Ainslie as Artaxerxes woos with honeyed tone, while Caitlin Hulcup as his friend Arbaces impresses with her coloratura. 'The soldier, tir'd of war's alarms', recorded years ago by Joan Sutherland, goes to the excellent Elizabeth Watts as Arbaces' lover. There's much delectable writing for the woodwind and horns, all beautifully played. This lively account of a charming work will give much pleasure' (Classic FM)
Bregenzs Tales of Hoffmann is different from everything you saw before. The New York Times praised the thoughtfulness and creativity of Stefan Herheims new production, devised by the director as a search for ones own self in a sparkling drag show. A shining-toned (NYT) Hoffmann is embodied by tenor Daniel Johansson in the title role. He is supported by a fantastic cast: Rachel Frenkel is positively ideal as Muse and Niklausse (Kurier), Kerstin Avemo as Olympia is endowed with brilliant, cheekily extemporized coloraturas (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), Michael Volle sings the parts of Lindorf, Coppelius, Dr. Miracle and Dappertutto, the works four villains, with warmth and intensity (NYT) and Mandy Fredrich is a finelyphrased Antonia (Kurier).