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Selected Reviews for "Bajazet"

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BAJAZET – (Virgin Classics – 45676-2)



“With her beautifully timbred and fluid mezzo, Vivica Genaux reminded once again of the great Marilyn Horne.”
Geerd Heinsen, Orpheus, March/April 2005

Best of the Year:
The Sets Superlative – “Vivaldi’s Bajazet brought to exhilarating life…”
Star Power – “Individual work worthy of note included knockout turns by David Daniels, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo and Vivica Genaux in Bajazet.”
F. Paul Driscoll and Oussama Zahr, Opera News, January 2006

CD of the Month:
“True star status on this recording belongs to Vivica Genaux, whose performance of ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ sets what must be the new modern standard for coloratura singing.  Her swiftness and accuracy demonstrate why Genaux is the leading interpreter of the music written for Farinelli, the greatest vocal star of the Baroque era.”
Drew Minter, Opera News, July 2005

Classical CD of the Week – vvvv (highest rating):
“Vivaldi operas, once rarities on disc, now deluge the catalogues.  Few, however, have been sung by such an elite ensemble of singers as this one.”
“Irene [is sung] with dazzling bravura by Vivica Genaux.”  “It’s hard to imagine a better line-up.”
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times (London), April 24, 2005

“With this Bajazet and its sextet of stars — one of the most luxurious casts ever assembled for a Baroque opera — the Vivaldian lyric revolution offers us a ray of sunshine in the leaden sky of recordings.”

Bajazet is partly a pasticcio, which is to say that it borrows and adapts arias from other operas, and in this case, while the arias for the ‘conquered’ characters such as Bajazet and Asteria are by Vivaldi, those for the conquerors – Tamerlano, Andronico and Irene – are other men’s work.  A composer of Vivaldi’s penchant for spectacular vocal writing would, of course, have appreciated the crowd-pleasing virtuosity of an aria such as ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ originally written for Farinelli by his brother Riccardo Broschi; but here it aptly expresses Irene’s near-deranged indignation at being dumped by Tamerlano.  Clever choices such as this make Bajazet a real opera, not just a hotch-potch.  The same can be said for the performers here.”
“Vivica Genaux gives a show-stopping display as Irene (not least in that ‘Farinelli’ aria).”
Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone, May 2005

“Virgin has assembled an especially luxurious cast, with three mezzo-sopranos at their peak. Vivica Genaux, who again sings Farinelli’s ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ from her best-selling debut CD, shows that her voice has grown considerably in elegance and potential for coloration in the past two years.”
Jörg Königsdorf, Opernwelt, April 26, 2005

“Vivica Genaux, as Irene, is marvelous.  With great aplomb (after her enormously successful Farinelli Album) she presents here an aria from the brother of the Star Castrato, Riccardo Broschi.”
Stefan Mauss, Das Opernglas, April 2005

“With the best will in the world, not every Baroque opera dusted down and given a blood transfusion on CD seems worth the effort involved.  But with Vivaldi’s Bajazet of 1735, unleashed on Virgin Classics by Fabio Biondi’s Europa Galante and a delectable team of soloists, we have a definite winner.  Strong characters, a flamboyant plot, recitatives of uncommon power, arias festooned with feeling and imagination — how could any listener refuse?”

“Vivica Genaux, handed some of the toughest vocal challenges, sails through resplendent as Tamerlano’s fiancée, Irene.”
Geoff Brown, The Times (London), April 8, 2005

***** (5-Stars):
“His opera may share its libretto with Handel's Tamerlano, but something about its Oriental setting (a tussle of love set against the power struggles between the Tartar khan Tamerlane, his captive the Turkish sultan Bajazet and the Byzantine prince Andronicus) gives extra fire to Vivaldi's Venetian blood.  No less fiery are the performances, with countertenor David Daniels (as the khan) and mezzo Vivica Genaux (as his scorned fiancée) outstanding, and Fabio Biondi and his orchestra going from strength to strength.
Andrew Clarke, The Independent (London), April 30, 2005

“Stunningly vulnerable as the jilted princess (Irene), Vivica Genaux trades in her androgynous image with an approach that’s all finesse, brought out in two of Farinelli’s great arias: ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,” where the singer triumphs over herself, going beyond her own limits as much in terms of virtuosity as of imagination (with variations that are even more audacious), and ‘Sposa son disprezzata,’ the sublime lamento that she undertakes with great sensitivity, bearing comparison with Cecilia Bartoli.”
Bernard Schreuders,, May 26, 2005

“Irene is sung by Vivica Genaux, who has ‘Sposa, son disprezzata,’ once included in recital by Montserrat Caballé, exquisitely done.  To Genaux falls the fiendishly ornate ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ a virtuoso aria par excellence from Broschi’s.  It is greatly to her credit that she produces a dazzling display of adroit vocalism.”
John T. Hughes, International Record Review, May 2005

**** (4 stars):
“Everyone in this superb cast rises to the challenges with fearsome agility, dead-on accuracy and seeming ease, particularly Genaux in the castrato Farinelli's showpiece ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’.”
Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2005

Notable classical and opera CDs of 2005:
Dazzling performances by an A-list cast fuels this fiery and intense recording. The best of the best is American mezzo Vivica Genaux, whose jaw-dropping coloratura is as gorgeous as it is athletic.
Chris Shull, The Wichita Eagle, January 1, 2005

“The irresistible Vivica Genaux, as the villainous princess Irene, gets to sing the show-stopping ‘Qual guerriero,’ actually by Riccardo Broschi and by now a signature piece for her.  Later on, she sings the heartrending ‘Sposa, son disprezzata,’ probably written by Vivaldi himself.”
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May 19, 2005
“Vivaldi’s Bajazet is a pastiche.  He wrote the arias and recits for the ‘good guys’ but borrowed from fellow composers for the evil doers.  It works because the singing is so spectacular you can hardly believe it.  With Vivica Genaux [and the rest of the cast], you can’t go wrong.  You’ve never heard so many demi-semi-quavers sung so fluently.”
Stephanie von Buchau,, May 19, 2005

Grade: A:
“Coloratura mezzo Vivica Genaux is as sensational as ever, tossing off giddy vocal acrobatics with her slightly tangy, hard-edged tone.”
Pierre Ruhe, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, June 28, 2005

“This opera is a feast for lovers of heavier sounding women's voices.  Despite having several mezzo-sopranos cast in this work, no two of them ever sound alike.  Vivica Genaux does not have a big part in this opera but she is a fascinating artist who dazzles her listeners with incredible vocal pyrotechnics.  Not only does she trill and sing accurate coloratura, she also gives a searing portrayal of Irene.”
Maria Nockin, Music & Vision (, July 18, 2005

"Vivica Genaux lent her dark tone to the role of Tamerlano's abandoned queen."
Philippe Venturini, Le Monde de la Musique, April 2005

“The rest of the cast is equally remarkable, notably Vivica Genaux, in a short but fiery role, which is equipped with two of Farinelli’s warhorses: ‘Sposa, son disprezzata’ and ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato.’”
Sophie Roughol, Classica Repertoire, April 2005

“Superbly virtuoso, astonishing, are the Irene of Vivica Genaux, peerless in the monumental ‘Qual guerriero,’ and the Idaspe of Patrizia Ciofi….”
Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde, April 19, 2005

“The vocal prestige of David Daniels, Patrizia Ciofi, Marijana Mijanovic, Elina Garanca, Vivica Genaux and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo is dazzling.”
A.U., Le Figaro, April 14, 2005

“The cream of current singers — Patrizia Ciofi, David Daniels, Vivica Genaux… — are assembled under the violinist and the best of Vivaldian conductors, Fabio Biondi, who offers a deluge of colored and sunny notes so naturally that one forgets the transcendent virtuosity of the score.”
B.D., L’Express, April 18, 2005

“Vivica Genaux, Patrizia Ciofi, Elina Garanca, Marijana Mijanovic and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, which is to say the fine flower of singing today, are at [Biondi’s] sides to defend this hybrid but highly appealing work…”
O.B., Le Quotidien du Médecin, April 18, 2005

“Biondi has assembled a breathtaking cast.  Can anybody even imagine more captivating vocalizing than that which is offered up by this hour and a half of spectacular prowess, to which these inspired artists manage to give a soul?”  “The crafty assurance of Vivica Genaux (Irene).”
M.P., Les Echos Week-End, April 22, 2005

This vocal fireworks display unites the fine flower of Italian singing: Ciofi, Genaux, Garanca, Mijanovic…. A real gift!”
N.E.O., Madame Figaro, 30 April 2005

“This premiere recording has been hailed by the entire critical community. The cast, of the first rank, has much to do with that.  The palette of voices, from the countertenor David Daniels (Bajazet) to the soprano Patrizia Ciofi (Idaspe), from the baritone Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (Tamerlano) to the mezzos Vivica Genaux (Irene), Marijana Mijanovic (Asteria) and Elina Garanca (Andronico), fully realizes the character and psychology of each role.”
J.F., La Marseillaise, April 24, 2005

“In the dizzying, Farinellian ‘Qual guerriero’ by Riccardo Broschi, of which she has already brought us a recital version, Vivica Genaux manages to surpass herself….”
Piotr Kaminski, Diapason, April 2005

“Thus we find Vivica Genaux (Irene), stunning in ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ even more fiendishly ornamented than in her recording with René Jacobs (on Harmonia Mundi).  Most people would be surprised to learn that the opera’s most famous aria, ‘Sposa, son disprezzata,’ a hit for singers in late career, was probably written by Broschi.  The interpretation of this admirable lament, with its tragic accompaniment in the strings, is a worthy rival to the accounts left by Leyla Gencer and Montserrat Caballé.”
Vincent Borel, Opéra International, March/April 200

“To flatter the voices of his singers, the maestro not only composed impressive arias for them, he even went so far as to permit the phenomenal soprano Margherita Giacomazzi to sing two of Farinelli’s most famous arias in Bajazet, something that surely seemed like sacrilege at the time: a woman dared to sing two of Farinelli’s love songs in public!  Vivica Genaux is breathtaking and steals the show away from all the others with her rendition of the aria ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ an aria, which, with its furiously driven tone and dramatic octave leaps, gives a vivid account of Farinelli’s singing artistry.  For seven and a half minutes I felt as if I’d been dropped into the golden age of castratos. Brava!”
G.E.A. Toccata, July-August 2005

“Somebody ought to play Vivica Genaux’s virtuoso solo arias to Bartoli’s swarming fans to show them how supple and even shimmering a drawn-out coloratura legato can sound.”
Clemens Höslinger,, April 28, 2005

“Perhaps the most astonishing singer to be heard here, however, is Vivica Genaux, who makes the impossible sound easy, and who handily encompasses the contradictions in the character of Irene.”

“As a bonus, Virgin Classics has included a DVD in which each of the principals is shown singing a complete arias during the 2004 recording sessions…It is worth the price of admission to see Genaux’s lips moving so fast that they practically blur.  Such are the demands that Vivaldi places upon his singers!”
Raymond Tuttle, Classical Net, July 2005

“Vivica Genaux steals the vocal honors as she tosses off Vivaldi’s dizzying vocal lines with keenness and virtuoso articulation.”
Robert Baxter, The Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ), June 24, 2005

“‘Sposa son disprezzata’ is….stylishly and movingly sung by Vivica Genaux.”  “Genaux is just one member of an admirable A-list cast.”
David Shengold, Time Out New York, May 19-25, 2005

10 - Artistic Quality / 10 - Sound Quality
“Vivica Genaux dazzles with her perfect coloratura as Irene in two arias composed for Farinelli you wish the part were larger.”
Robert Levine,, June 2005

“The result is outstanding, largely because of the stellar constellation of singers that join the seasoned instrumentalists.”

“An added bonus to the set is a 30-minute DVD of excerpts from the opera.  Seeing is believing when mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux handily delivers incredibly fast vocal passages.”
Timothy McDonald, JohnsonCounty News (Kansas), August 4, 2005