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EMI Classics celebrates Puccini anniversary

“Other composers – Verdi, Wagner, Mozart – have entered
the opera pantheon as artists of nearly divine genius. It is Puccini
who remains a man of the people” – Opera News

In a recent Opera News cover story, the magazine’s Editor in Chief, F. Paul Driscoll, observed:

don’t need a reason to celebrate Giacomo Puccini, but as this coming
December will mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, it seemed like a
splendid occasion for Opera News to create an issue that
focuses on the man and his legacy – especially his legacy in the U.S.,
where the enormous popularity that began during his lifetime shows no
sign of abating. Puccini’s highly theatrical, cannily crafted operas
have lost little of their box-office luster in the hundred–odd years
that they have been heard in North America: it is understandable (and
in some cases commendable) for a company to skip the works of Wagner
and Verdi for a season or two, but it is unlikely that any opera house
that wishes its seats filled on a regular basis would want to avoid
Puccini for very long.”

Puccini’s birthday still ahead of us (he was born on December 22, 1858
and died on November 29, 1924), there is still a terrific opportunity
to join the celebration, which EMI Classics – the classical music label
with the world’s most important opera catalog, including some of the
greatest Puccini recordings of all time – has made easier through a
series of releases that began in September and continues through

A recap of EMI Classics’ recent and upcoming Puccini releases in fall 2008 follows.


Angela Gheorghiu: My Puccini
showcases the world’s leading Puccini soprano in a generous selection
of arias from the composer’s most popular operas, drawn from
Gheorghiu’s extensive discography on EMI Classics, including several
collaborations with her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna. Accompanying the
CD is a special bonus DVD of previously unreleased material showing
stunning footage of Gheorghiu singing Puccini, as well as an interview
with her in which she speaks about the composer.

Gheorghiu will give major Puccini performances here in the US in the coming months: at San Francisco Opera (La bohème, Nov 16 – 30) and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (La rondine, Dec 31 – Feb 26). She will also star in Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore at the Met this spring (March 31 – April 15). In December, Gheorghiu will be the cover artist for Opera News, classical music’s largest-circulation publication in the United States.

On March 10, 2009, EMI Classics will release a new studio recording (downloads and CD) of Madama Butterfly, recorded in Rome and featuring Gheorghiu in the title role.


Two releases in the Great Recordings of the Century Series

Great Recordings of the Century is exactly what it says: these classic
interpretations warrant a place in everybody’s collection.
” – Times (London)

Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Maria Callas, Nicolai Gedda, Lucia Danieli, Mario Borriello
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano / Herbert von Karajan

1955 La Scala recording, with its matchless pairing of Callas and
Karajan, dates from 1955. Callas had never sung Butterfly on stage when
she made this recording, yet the studio performance shows a complete
understanding of the musical and dramatic requirements of the role.

Puccini: Il Trittico (Il Tabarro; Suor Angelica; Gianni Schicchi)
Victoria de los Ángeles, Tito Gobbi
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma / Gabriele Santini, Tullio Serafin, Vincenzo Bellezza

recordings of the three operas in Puccini’s trio are tied together by
the casting of Tito Gobbi in the baritone roles in the first and third
operas, and by Victoria de los Ángeles as the soprano in the second and
third. Both singers were at the zenith of their careers in the late
1950s, as these recordings demonstrate.

Four special Puccini 150th anniversary celebration releases

Puccini 2008 – Nessun dorma
is a 2-CD compilation featuring the composer’s greatest hits performed
by a starry line-up of great Puccini singers. Featured artists include
Roberto Alagna, Rolando Villazón, Plácido Domingo, Angela Gheorghiu,
Maria Callas, Kiri Te Kanawa, Lesley Garrett, and José Carreras.

Puccini – The Operas
is a 17-CD budget-box set including nine of the greatest Puccini opera
recordings from the EMI Classics catalog: Mirella Freni and Nicolai
Gedda in La bohème; Maria Callas, Carlo Bergonzi, and Tito Gobbi in Tosca; Victoria de los Ángeles and Jussi Björling in Madama Butterfly; Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu in La rondine and Il trittico; Montserrat Cabballé and Plácido Domingo in Manon Lescaut; Birgit Nilsson in La fanciulla del West; Tito Gobbi and Victoria de los Ángeles in Gianni Schicchi; and Birgit Nilsson, Franco Corelli, and Renata Scotto in Turandot.

Maria Callas – Vissi d’arte: The Puccini Love Songs
is a 2-CD set containing the finest Puccini recordings of Maria Callas.
All her popular Puccini arias are here, including “Vissi d’arte”, “Sì.
Mi chiamano Mimì”, “Un bel dì”, and “O mio babbino caro”.

Maria Callas – The Complete Puccini Studio Recordings is a 15-CD set that contains Callas’s complete studio recordings of Tosca (all three that she recorded), Madama Butterfly, La bohème, Turandot, and Manon Lescaut, as well as her much-loved Puccini Arias recording.

Two DVD releases from the Met’s Emmy Award-winning “Live in HD” series

Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
The performance captured on this DVD marks the first time on the Met
stage in 18 years of the Met’s classic production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.
Finnish soprano Karita Mattila performs the title role and James Levine
conducts. Marcello Giordani plays Chevalier des Grieux; Dwayne Croft
plays Manon’s brother; and Dale Travis plays Geronte.

Giacomo Puccini: La bohème
Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas lead a magnificent cast in Franco
Zeffirelli’s sumptuous and iconic production of Puccini’s timeless
masterpiece, La bohème . As Opera News has observed, “[It] just might be the best investment the Met ever made … Its magic shows no sign of diminishing.”


Nov 16 Angela Gheorghiu stars in La bohème at the San Francisco Opera (also Nov 19, 22, 25, 28, 30)

Dec 31 Angela Gheorghiu stars in La rondine at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (also Jan 3, 6, 9, 13, Feb 11, 14, 19, 23, 26)

For further information:
EMI US contact:
Mariko Tada at [email protected]; (212) 786-8964
21C Media Group contact: Glenn Petry at [email protected]; (212) 625-2038

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