Era la notte, A. C. Antonacci, Modo Antiquo, F. M. Sardelli (2006)
Berlioz, Les Troyens, S. Graham,
A. C. Antonacci, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Théâtre du Châtelet, J. E. Gardiner
Antonacci calls this program of late 19th-century songs Echoes of the Belle Époque, and the music could indeed be the soundtrack of any number of stories about sensually minded aesthetes traveling Europe in that era. Book-ending the first half were two evocations of mythical Venice, beginning with Gabriel Fauré's Cinq mélodies de Venise, set to languid Symbolist poetry by Paul Verlaine. As Antonacci made clear, this is poetry that drips from the lips like honey, and the music has similarly sphinx-like qualities: the sultry, incense-laden air of En sourdine, the short rhymes and extravagant imagery of A Clymène. Not even a couple uncertain entrances in C'est l'extase could ruin the effect.
It was ingenious to pair those songs with Reynaldo Hahn's Venezia, a set heard from Joyce DiDonato last year, which evoke the haze and sound of Venice even more faithfully by using poems in Venetian dialect. Antonacci gave them a slightly less polished edge, akin to folk song, with the rolling rhythm of the barcarolla, an air of vocal seduction in La barcheta, and an indulgent sense of rhythmic freedom. Kudos to her otherwise sensitive accompanist, Donald Sulzen, for being able to stay with her so faithfully. In between came a series of miniatures in a range of pastel colors, with the sweet simplicity of Hahn's Phyllis and the exquisite shaping of Fauré's Diane, Séléné standing out from the rest.
Joe Banno, Antonacci’s recital makes one long for a full opera (Washington Post, April 13)
Alex Baker, Antonacci Sings Fauré, Hahn, Respighi at the Kennedy Center (Wellsung, April 12)
Anthony Tommasini, An Italian Soprano’s Salon Songs (New York Times, April 9)
Olivia Giovetti, Amid Holy Days, Anna Caterina Antonacci Casts a Spell (Operavore, April 9)
Sarah Noble, Anna Caterina Antonacci (Prima la musica, April 10)
Christophe Huss, Concerts classiques - L'appel de la chair (Le Devoir, April 6)
An Italian diva in Arkansas (The City Wire, April 5)
Zachary Woolfe, A Career That Moves in Mysterious Ways (New York Times, March 30)
One recital remains in the Vocal Arts D.C. season, featuring bass-baritone Gidon Saks (May 30, 7:30 pm) in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. The organization's 2012-2013 season will include recitals by Stephanie Blythe, Christine Brewer, and Toby Spence.
The Opéra Comique, which has presented Anna Caterina Antonacci in Carmen and other operas, continues its remarkable transformation under its new director, Jérôme Deschamps. A complete renovation of the theater is under way, continuing over the course of next season, in advance of the 2015 celebration of the venue's 300th anniversary. The 2012-13 season will continue with performances, around the renovation work. The world premiere of Limbus-Limbo, an opera buffa by Italian composer Stefano Gervasoni set in 2007 when the Vatican officially reversed its teaching on Limbo, will open the season. Other highlights include John Blow's Venus and Adonis, Charpentier's David et Jonathas (with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants), Reynaldo Hahn's Ciboulette, and Anna Caterina Antonacci as Suzanne on the telephone in Poulenc's La voix humaine. Alex Ross just caught one of the performances of Auber's La Muette de Portici at the Opéra Comique during his trip to Paris. (According to Francis Carlin, who reviewed the production, we may be hearing the name of American tenor Michael Spyres soon.)