Opera Rara, the record label devoted to unearthing and taking into the studio rare and neglected works from the bel canto era, has named a new Artistic Director.
After seven years in the post, Sir Mark Elder is stepping down in September, to be replaced by Carlo Rizzi. The Italian conductor first worked with Opera Rara two years ago, conducting two discs of bel canto arias with soprano Joyce El-Khoury and Michael Spyres; recorded with the Hallé, they were described by Gramophone’s pages as ‘a must for lovers of the repertoire’ and shortlisted for last year’s Awards. Rizzi will lead the organisation into its 50th anniversary, next year.
Twice Music Director of Welsh National Opera, Rizzi has conducted widely throughout the world, including at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris and Deutsche Oper Berlin. ‘Opera is my passion and I strongly believe in its future. Just as it is important to present known masterpieces afresh and to commission new works, I believe that finding and bringing back to life the hidden jewels of this endlessly enriching art form is equally vital to excite modern audiences,’ he said. New recordings in coming years will include Donizetti’s Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo (being recorded next year for release in 2021), followed by Offenbach’s La princesse de Trébizonde.
Reflecting on his time with Opera Rara, meanwhile, Elder described it as ‘enormously rewarding’, adding: ‘Bringing so many unknown operas to life has been challenging, but there is certainly an appetite for discovery among artists as much as the public. Opera Rara has an important role to play in that discovery, and I am so happy that my distinguished colleague, Carlo Rizzi, will continue the work of this remarkable organisation.’ Among Elder's achievements with the label was a superb recording of Rossini’s Semiramide, our Recording of the Month in last year’s Awards issue.