Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Monday, March 05, 2018

Enemies in Love | George Frideric Handel – Jakub Józef Orliński, Natalia Kawałek, Il Giardino d'Amore, Stefan Plewniak

Enemies in Love is a dazzling disc of Handel Arias and Duets performed by soprano Natalia Kawałek, countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński and Il Giardino d'Amore conducted by Stefan Plewniak.

The album explores themes of love, jealousy, war, intrigue and religious conflict. The singers delight the listener with their virtuosic display, as one would expect from a recording from Evoe, a label specialising in vocal and orchestral Baroque music.

Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński has gained a reputation as a singer of striking vocal beauty and daring stage craft. Trained at the Juilliard School, he is an avid interpreter of the roles created by Handel. Polish mezzo-soprano Natalia Kawałek studied at the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. In the summer of 2016 she made her debut in Glyndenbourne singing Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro of Mozart. In 2016 she sang also in Verdi's Macbeth, together with Placido Domingo in Theater an der Wien. In 2017 she sang in Teatr Wielki in Warsaw being part of the Korngold Die Tote Stadt opera production staged by M. Trelinski.

Jakub Józef Orliński (Photo by Ksawery Zylber)

Enemies in Love

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

1. Tamerlano, HWV 18, Act 3: A dispetto d'un volto ingrato (Aria)
2. Orlando, HWV 31, Act 3: Amor e qual vento (Aria)
3. Serse, HWV 40, Act 3: Troppo oltraggi la mia fede (Duetto)
4. Partenope, HWV 27, Act 2: Furibondo spira il vento (Aria)
5. Tolomeo, re d'Egitto, HWV 25, Act 3: Stille amare (Recitativo)
6. Ariodante, HWV 33, Act 1: Volate Amori (Aria)
7. Rodelinda, regina de' Longobardi, HWV 19, Act 2: Io t'abbraccio (Duetto)
8. Rinaldo, HWV 7, Act 1: Furie terribili (Arioso)
9. Rinaldo, HWV 7, Act 2: Fermati! (Duetto)
10. Rodelinda, regina de' Longobardi, HWV 19, Act 1: Dove sei,amato bene? (Aria)
11. Rinaldo, HWV 7, Act 2: Vo far guerra (Aria)
12. Teseo, HWV 9, Act 1: Addio! mio caro bene (Duetto)

Jakub Józef Orliński, countertenor
Natalia Kawałek, mezzo-soprano

Il Giardino d'Amore
Conductor: Stefan Plewniak

Ëvoe Records 2018

Photo by Anita Wąsik
The countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński was born in 1990 in Warsaw. Grand Finals winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winner of the 2015 Marcella Sembrich International Vocal Competition, is quickly gaining a reputation as a singer of striking vocal beauty and daring stage craft.

The 2016-2017 season includes performances of Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall with both Musica Sacra and Oratorio Society of New York, and for his debut with the Houston Symphony. Mr. Orliński performs in Flight, Jonathan Dove's modern-day comedy, with Juilliard Opera. He will join the Karlsruhe Handel Festival to sing Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus and excerpts from Handel's Dixit Dominus. He makes his debut with the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence in Cavalli's opera Erismena, and appears for the first time with Oper Frankfurt this season.

While in Poland, Mr. Orliński performed the roles of Cupid in Venus & Adonis by Blow and Narciso in Agrippina by Handel. While in Germany, he performed the role of Ruggiero in Handel's Alcina in Aachen and Cottbus, performed select Purcell songs with ballet at the Leipzig Opera House, and Philippus in Telemann's Der Misslungene Braut-Wechsel oder Richardus I (based on Handel's Riccardo Primo, Re d'Inghilterra) in Giessen.

Mr. Orliński has triumphed in several vocal competitions: the 1st Place Winner at the Oratorio Society of New York's 2016 Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition, the 1st and 2nd annual International Early Music Vocal Competitions in Poland, where he received "Special Mention" and "Special Prize", respectively, first prize at Rudolf Petrák's Singing Competition in Slovakia, 3rd place at the Debut Competition in Igersheim, Germany, Special Mention at the 8th Annual Mazovian Golden Voices Competition in Poland, and 3rd place at Le Grand Prix de l'Opera in Bucharest, Romania.

While working toward his Master's degree in vocal performance at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, he participated in the prestigious young artist program: Opera Academy at Polish National Opera in Warsaw. He is currently working toward his Graduate Diploma at The Juilliard School, studying with Edith Wiens.

In his spare time, Mr. Orliński enjoys breakdancing, in addition to other styles of dance. His achievements in this arena include prizes in many dance competitions: 4th place at the Red Bull BC One Poland Cypher competition, 2nd place on the Stylish Strike - Top Rock Contest and 2nd place at The Style Control competition, among others. He has also been featured in a commercial for the street wear company CROPP, as well as featured as a dancer, model and acrobat in campaigns for Levi's, Nike, Turbokolor, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz, MAC Cosmetics, Danon and Algida.


Natalia Kawałek was born in 1987 in Poland. She started her musical education playing classical guitar. Since 2006 she has studied at the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw with professor Izabella Kłosinska and in Rome at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia (with Rebecca Berg and Sara Mingardo) as part of the Erasmus exchange programme. She continued her studies at the University of Music in Vienna under Professor Claudia Visca.

In 2012 she won 3rd price and the Audience Price at the International Baroque Opera Competition Pietro Antonio Cesti in Innsbruck (Austria). She is also the winner of 2nd price and many special awards on Internationaler Hilde Zadek Gesangswettbewerb 2013 in Vienna.

From saison 2014-2015 she is a member of Junges Ensemble at Theater an der Wien. Her repertoire is very wide, from the music of late renaissance, through baroque operas and chamber music, to contemporary and experimental projects. Her greatest passion however is opera. The most significant stage appearances were the role of Dido in Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas at Alte Musik Festival in Innsbruck in August 2013 and her debut as Duxieme Grecque in Theater an der Wien in the production of Christoph Willibald Gluck under Alessandro de Marchi with Wiener Symphoniker. She has sang the role of Tisbe at the opening premiere of La cenerentola (Gioachino Rossini) in Kammeroper in Vienna. She sang also the role of Dorina in Baldassare Galuppi's L'amante di tutte (The Warsaw Chamber Opera), Giovanna in Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani (Grand Theatre in Poznan), Zofia in Stanisław Moniuszko's Halka (Grand Theatre in Warsaw) and Belinda in Dido and Eneas of Henry Purcell (Collegium Nobilium Theatre in Warsaw an Neue Studio Buehne in Vienna). Currently we could have heard her as Armida in Rinaldo of George Frideric Handel, Concepcion in L'heure espagnole of Maurice Ravel, as well as Carmen in the opera of Georges Bizet (Kammeroper in Theater an der Wien) and Virtu in L'incoronazione di Poppea of Claudio Monteverdi (Theater an der Wien).

Natalia participated in many music festivals such as Oude Musik Festival in Utrecht (Netherlands), Bach Festiwal in Swidnica (Poland), Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, Festival of Musical Tradition and Avant-garde KODY in Lublin (Poland) and Festival of Contemporary Vocal Music Gebofon in Warsaw.

She participated in masterclasses of many important musicians and professors such as Christa Ludwig, Ileana Cotrubas, Stefano Patarino, Ryszard Karczykowski, Anne Liis-Pool and Jerzy Marchwinski.

Natalia is soloist in European baroque ensemble Il Giardino d'Amore, touring successfully all over the world, including Carnegie Hall debut in 2014. With Il Giardino d'Amore Natalia recorded two CD's under the label Evoe: "Amor sacro, amor profano" and "Cantates et petits macarons" with French baroque cantatas.

She had honour to take part in prestigious New Year's concert "3 mezzi" in Theater an der Wien, casting world known mezzosopranos Anne Sofie von Otter and Angelika Kirschlager (in 2016). In 2015 she had pleasure to sing Armida in Theater Bolshoy in Moscow in the concert version of Rinaldo of George Frideric Handel with Bach Consort Orchestra.

Il Giardino d'Amore was founded in 2012 in Cracow. In the years  2012 and 2013 the Orchestra performed at festivals such as the Bach Festival in Vienna, Utrecht Oude Muziek Festival and the Tartini Festival in Piran.

In autumn 2013 the Orchestra held their first tour in the USA and Canada, and performed at the Festival of Early Music Celebration in New York. In 2014 Il Giardino performed in the prestigious concert hall of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, as well as was invited to the festival in Oslo, Norway. During their second tour in USA they performed in Carnegie Hall New York and California, where members of Il Giardino led the master class at the Universities of Los Angeles and San Diego.

Years 2013-2018 are dedicated to French music. This fascination started by the recording Cantates and Petits Macarons, the album with french cantatas in 2013, then the presentation of the opera ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau – Les Indes Galantes in 2015 and 2016, and it will continue in the 2017-2018 season by performance of another Rameau opera ballet, Naïs.

Il Giardino was focused on large projects with polish sacred music in 2016. Their 2016 tour in the USA was dedicated entirely to the promotion, and popularization of this fascinating music. The fruit of this dissertation is the album The Heart of Europe.

Watch the trailer

George Frideric Handel: Teseo, HWV 9, Act 1, Addio! mio caro bene (Duetto)

Love, jealousy, war, complex web of intrigue, religious conflict in the background, and additionally a whole galaxy of special effects. Sounds like a description of a modern action movie? Yes, but it could successfully correspond to a large number of Handel operas! Let's look for example at Rinaldo, the first opera, created by the composer for the London scene. Story taken from Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, rich in expressive characters, and political forces is here supported by magic. During premiere presentation in 1711, the scenes in which sorceress Armida appeared were accompanied by pyrotechnic effects, and the whole staging was a resounding success.

It is hardly surprising – even if we forget for a moment about the visual aspect, the music itself is enough to repaint the explosive nature of the heroine. For what are the rapid instrumental interventions played with vigor by strings, if not an image of full of anger monsters that are imperiously summoned by Armida (Furie terribili)? Insidious witch knows it well how to thwart the plans of noble Rinaldo, yet her cruelty loses with the sudden affection for the enemy.

In the duo of representatives of two camps (Fermati) rapid exchange of views takes place: short, broken phrases intertwine more and more closely, wrapping the protagonists with a surprising feeling, that from hatred smoothly transforms into fascination.

Strong personality of Armida is once again manifested in a great aria in the end of the second act of the opera – Vo' far guerra, when the Queen of Damascus becomes the victim of own machinations – having led the lover astray, discovers that he begins to develop a romantic attraction towards the rival.

The desire for revenge is revealed in the spontaneous explosion of jealousy, that is perfectly highlighted by Handel with a brilliant harpsichord accompaniment, by weaving into subsequent parts of the aria a spectacular cadenza of the instrument.

Faces of love portrayed by Handel can be very different, and among the many feelings that accompany it, there is also the joy sung with enthusiasm by the loving and loved Ginevra  (Volate amori). Even happy love is however sometimes tested, especially when around the lovers a circle of intrigue is tightened, and when there is an allegation of sexual irregularity – this is the situation of Romilda and Arsamene, who,  despite mutual commitment, are caught in a treacherous situation, discrediting their mutual trust. Their argument (Troppo oltraggi) resembles a typical marital quarrel, in which suspicion turns up the temperature of emotions. Parts of both lovers are mirrored to each other, giving the impression as if the singers mimicked each other – his slightly ironic effect is emphasized also in part of the band, the lively accompaniment of which introduces here a little humorous distance.

A completely different atmosphere is brought by a heartbreaking aria of Tolomeo (Stille amare) that being convinced that will swallow in a moment a bowl of poison, bids farewell to life and love. It is one of the most beautiful arias intended by the composer for male alto voice (in this case, the first performer was a famous castrato Senesino). The background of a rolling, metering the inevitably passing time, accompaniment, is dominated by lyrical melody of the part of Tolomeo.

Also Bertarido, tragic hero of Rodelinda (1725), singing a few songs later the legendary Dove sei must face the topic of death and loss. Melancholy of the king, that has been found to be dead, is mixed with longing for his beloved, and the sense of emptiness is perfectly captured by a wide, wistful phrase. The aura of sadness fills also the duo of Bertarido and Rodelinda Io t'abbraccio, ending the second act of the same opera. Parting of this famous couple is surely one of the most sensual moments in the stage music of the Baroque – singing in the same register lovers cling to each other with voices so closely that sometimes their parties become almost indistinguishable.

With a moving tenderness bid farewell also Clizia and Arcane (Addio) with a powerful five-act Teseo, opera in which Handel broke his three-act scheme, reaching for the french patterns, however at the same time returned to the present in Rinaldo world of magic.

Spells are also present in Orlando, based on the text of epic poem of Ludovico Ariosto Orlando Furioso. In this full of contrasts work certainly worth noting is the aria of the shepherdess Dorinda (Amor è qual vento), that with grace and fantasy compares the dynamics of falling in love to changing wind directions: joyful daze can quickly turn into an obsessive fear and pleasure may be undermined by jealousy.

And about jealousy Tamerlando has plenty to say, who tormented by this feeling sings bristling with fury aria, which literally sparkles with the desire for revenge (in the original cast another castrato excelled here - Andrea Pacini).

It is however the most difficult in love to face rejection. This was the fate of lover of the title queen Partenope – Arsace, who ends second act of the opera with his brilliant aria called Furibondo spira il vento. This daring show of vocal technique, filled with coloraturas and sudden interval surges, recalls the mood of the opening the CD temperamental arias of Armida, that constitute room to maneuver both for the singer, and the vigorously accompanying him band.

Today, it is difficult to imagine a world, the musical landscape of which would miss the music by Handel, however the history has been closed for his operas for many decades, already during the composer's lifetime. Virtuosic, bristling with difficulties, multithreaded works in the Neapolitan style quickly went out of fashion, and over time they have almost completely been forgotten.

Only the twentieth century cracked open the doors to this extraordinary music, whetted the appetites of music lovers with performances of the most daring arias.

There is nothing surprising in this - Handel's sense of opera was incomparable, as evidenced by not only the ease of writing subsequent stage works, but also an exceptional talent for portraying human emotions with music.

What we find so attractive in the music of Handel is the powerful emotional charge, making it timeless. What are actually the most successful arias from his operas, if not the musical essence of various shades of infatuation, hatred, despair or joy? Even though characters of the tacks mentioned in the recording come from distant times and spaces, their feelings, lively voices of great singers, still resonate with sensibility of contemporary listeners, allowing a deeper insight into the full of mysteries dynamics of love.


Jakub Józef Orliński (Photo by Ksawery Zylber)

More photos

See also

Jakub Józef Orliński: A Millennial Countertenor's Pop-Star Appeal

George Frideric Handel: Messiah (1754 version) – Jakub Józef Orliński, Sunhae Im, Samuel Boden, José Antonio López, Warsaw Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Martin Haselböck (4K Ultra High Definition)

“Facce d'amore” – New album from Jakub Józef Orliński

George Frideric Handel: Rodelinda – Jeanine De Bique, Tim Mead, Benjamin Hulett, Avery Amereau, Jakub Józef Orliński, Andrea Mastroni – Le Concert d'Astrée, Emmanuelle Haïm (HD 1080p)

Francesco Cavalli: Erismena – Francesca Aspromonte, Carlo Vistoli, Susanna Hurrell, Jakub Józef Orliński, Alexander Miminoshvili, Lea Desandre, Andrea Vincenzo Bonsignore, Stuart Jackson, Tai Oney, Jonathan Abernethy – Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón (HD 1080p)

“Anima Sacra” – Jakub Józef Orliński, Il Pomo d'Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev – Live at Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne, November 16, 2018

Jakub Józef Orliński: "I have already jumped over all of my dreams"

Jakub Józef Orliński: A star is rising in the world of opera

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