*Competition now closed*
In our second competition of the month, we're offering readers the chance to win one of five signed copies of Rare Verdi, the exciting new CD from Danish bass-baritone Johan Reuter which will be released on 31 March 2008 on the Michael Storrs Music label.
Taking its cue from the common nineteenth-century practice of performing opera arias with chamber ensembles in salon settings, the disc brings together Reuter – who is about to star as Theseus in the world premiere of The Minotaur at Covent Garden – and the greatly esteemed Kammerensemble Classic der Deutschen Oper Berlin for eleven extracts from nine of Verdi's early operas. The lucid orchestrations of these early arias make them ideal material for performance by reduced forces; for a singer to work with a small number of select string and wind players also enables a splendid flexibility of expression through controlled tempo and intricate phrasing that might not be possible with a full orchestra.
Stretching from Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio (1839) to Aroldo (the 1857 revision of Stiffelio), this attractive new CD allows the listener to gain an insight into the development of the composer's art over the first decade of his career. The other operas encompass everything from the relatively familiar such as Ernani, which is currently being revived at the New York Met, to obscure works such as Alzira (1845) and Il corsaro (1848).
Born in Copenhagen, Johan Reuter is well known to audiences the world over for an extraordinarily wide repertoire. In his early years as a member of the ensemble at the Royal Danish Opera, he tackled the key Mozart roles with ease, but it is as a dramatic singer that his special qualities have subsequently emerged. Of his striking Covent Garden debut as Wozzeck in 2006 I wrote: 'Reuter's performance was wonderfully full-blooded…We could only sympathise with this poor, manipulated man, however repulsive his character. The tone quality was exceptional, and his voice went from lyrical to tormentedly fractured within a phrase.'
These finely-honed qualities have similarly characterised his acclaimed performances in such varied works as Das Rheingold (Wotan) in Berlin, in Zaide and Alceste at the Salzburg Festival, and From the House of the Dead in Paris. Pertinent to this recording are his many Verdi roles, which have included Macbeth and Simon Boccanegra; to these he will add Posa later this year.
This coming weekend, we will be interviewing Reuter about his role in Birtwistle's new opera, The Minotaur, as well as his future plans which include returns to Covent Garden in Elektra and Salome amongst others.
More information about the disc, which is the latest in a new series from Michael Storrs Music Ltd's own label that has already included a disc of Verdi entitled Stolen Notes and a new disc of Puccini Heroines from Melanie Diener, can be obtained on their website: www.msm-cd.com. Audio samples of the new CD will be available there by the end of this week, and the disc will also be available to download from iTunes.
To enter the competition, just answer this simple question:
On his debut solo album Rare Verdi, Johan Reuter sings the aria 'Ei fugge!... Mina, pensai che un angelo' from Aroldo (1857). Which of his previous operas did Verdi revise to create Aroldo?
a) La traviata
Email your answer, full name and postal address to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12pm on Monday 14 April 2008.
 Oberto  L’orror del tradimento… Ma tu, superbo giovane
 Ernani  Vieni meco, sol di rose
 I due Foscari  Questa dunque è l’iniqua mercede
 Giovanna d’Arco  Ecco il luogo… Speme al vecchio era una figlia
 Alzira  Overture
 Alzira  Eterna la memoria… Quanto un mortal può chiedere
 I masnadieri  Vecchio!… La sua lampada vitale… Tremate o miseri
 Il corsaro  Prelude
 Il corsaro  Cento leggiadre vergini… S’avvicina il tuo momento
 La battaglia di Legnano  Se al nuovo dì pugnando* (tenor Wookyung Kim)
 Aroldo  Ei fugge!... Mina, pensai che un angelo
Total running time: 56:36
Editorial by Dominic McHugh
Rules, terms and conditions: 1. This competition is organised by MusicalCriticism.com. 2. MusicalCriticism.com reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition at any time without prior notice. Any changes will be posted within the competition notice. 3. In the event of a dispute regarding the terms and conditions, conduct, results and all other matters relating to this competition, the decision of the Editor or Deputy Editor shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into. 4. The competition is open to residents of the world, including the USA, Europe and the UK. 5. Contributors and employees, their associates and members of their families and households are not eligible to enter. 6. Only one entry per person is permitted for this competition. 7. Entries received after the closing date of 12pm on Tuesday 14 April 2008 will be automatically disqualified. No purchase required. 8. The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date, from all correct entries received by 12pm on Tuesday 14 April 2008. 9. Prizes are non-transferable. No cash alternatives will be offered. Winners will be notified by email and their prizes delivered by post. 10. The winners' names will be posted on this page after the closing date.