Hello again,

An era ended last week when Luciano Pavarotti made his final stage operatic appearance. The curtain came down at the Met on the tenor of our time - truly a living legend. Bravo Pavarotti! We'll also toast ourselves at Decca, as 2004 is our anniversary - we are 75 years old! Later in the year we'll be celebrating with a well-earned glass of wine and slice of cake, but we're beginning early with the launch of a new series called 'Classic Recitals'. More news about this series below, and more about Decca's 75th anniversary will follow in subsequent newsletters.

From reading your emails and feedback we know that many of you are avid DVD collectors, and this month sees another fine addition to our catalogue - the long awaited DVD of the Kirov's production of Tchaikovksy's Mazeppa under the trusty baton of Valery Gergiev. Read on for all the latest news, including a new recording of lost Scarlatti instrumental works, a round up on SACD releases, and don't forget to take a look at Joseph Calleja's website to witness a new star in the making -

Wim Jenkins, Site Editor, Decca Music Group, London

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* News in Brief

Hayley Westenra - the success story continues
Russell Watson hits #1 in Portugal
Pavarotti thrills at the Met
Dominic Miller launches new album in New York
Otello, l'elisir d'amore and more - out now on Philips Duo

* Classical news

Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa on DVD
New series - Classic Recitals
Scarlatti rediscovered by the Accademia Bizantina
SACD round up
Next month

* New releases


>> News in brief <<

>> Hayley Westenra - the success story continues <<

Hayley's runaway international success continues, following show-stopping performances at the Sydney Opera House and two dates in Japan at Tokyo and Osaka. Her multi-platinum selling Decca debut album Pure is released in the US and Canada on 6 April, and she is currently touring in the UK. All the news on Hayley is on her official site at

>> Russell Watson hits #1 in Portugal <<

Russell Watson' s album "The Voice" has just hit the #1 spot in the Portuguese album charts, holding Norah Jones off the top spot. Russell is currently in the studio working on tracks for his next album.

>> Pavarotti thrills at the Met <<

Luciano Pavarotti made his final opera stage appearance in Puccini's Tosca at the Met recently, thrilling the crowd who rewarded Maestro Pavarotti with a 10 minute standing ovation at the end. Previously, a special gala lunch was held in his honour and notable stars from opera past and present were there to celebrate, including fellow tenor Juan Diego Flórez who performed specially. Pavarotti will continue to perform recitals and concerts until his retirement in 2005.

>> Dominic Miller launches new album in New York <<

Guitarist Dominic Miller's latest album was launched in an intimate venue in New York recently. A rather famous chap that Dominic plays in a band with turned up to supply guest vocals - Sting! along with another rather famous opera star - Placido Domingo! Click below to see a picture of Sting, Dominic and trumpeter Chris Botti backstage before the event

Shapes features vocal appearances from Alejandro Lerner, Placido Domingo and Sting - out now

>> Otello, l'elisir d'amore and more - out now on Philips Duo <<

Four great recordings are reissued as Philips Duos this month. The classic recording of Rossini's Otello featuring José Carreras, Bernard Haitink's 4th and 5th instalments from his complete Mahler cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic, Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore and Schubert's Great Chamber Works are all great new additions to the Duo catalogue! Click the links in the 'New Releases' section to learn more about these recordings.

>> Classical News <<

>> Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa on DVD <<

At long last the Kirov's landmark production of Tchaikovsky's three act Opera Mazeppa is now available for the first time ever on video format, in glorious DTS 5.1 digital surround sound on Philips all-region DVD.

Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this staging of Tchaikovsky's historical opera, based on Alexander Pushkin's epic poem Poltava. Recorded live at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Tchaikovsky's dark musical setting intertwines the political drama of Mazeppa's ill-fated betrayal of the Tsar with the personal tragedy of his love for Maria, the young daughter of his hapless opponent, Kocubej. Three of the Kirov's greatest stars, Nikolai Putilin, Sergei Aleksashkin and Larissa Diadkova lead the all-Russian cast. Replete with drama and romantic interplay, especially in the potent baritone-soprano love duet, Mazeppa has been historically neglected in favour of Tchaikovsky's other operas, but a recent resurgence in popularity now assures its rightful place amongst the composer's other great works.

See video excerpts from Mazeppa by clicking the links below

This new DVD release joins existing Gergiev / Kirov DVDs of Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame, as well as the three Russian epic operas - Boris Godunov, Prince Igor and Ruslan & Lyudmila - available separately or together in the recent "The Glory of Russian Opera" DVD box set.

For more information on this release click on

>> New series - Classic Recitals <<

As promised in February's newsletter you are now only a click away from in depth information on the first set of releases from the Classic Recitals series.

To celebrate Decca's 75th anniversary, we have once again delved deep into the archives of our internationally renowned vocal repertoire to bring you the stars of the 1950s-70s in a series of historical recordings, many of which are available on CD for the first time.

Featuring faithfully reproduced packaging from the original LP covers and exemplary sonics this month sees the first six releases which includes, as a tribute to the legendary Italian tenor who died in October 2003, a great duet album with Franco Corelli and Renata Tebaldi from 1972.

Other releases on the Classic Recital series:

* American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne in recital, recorded in 1964. 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of her professional debut and this performance admirably demonstrates the range of repertory and vocal styles for which she became so acclaimed.

* The great Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi celebrates his 80th birthday in July 2004 and his close association with roles in Verdi's operas shines through once more in a recording from 1957. These performances include five Verdi arias delivered with his characteristic style and elegance.

* French soprano Régine Crespin, whose attention to detail of words and phrasing made her particularly suited to French repertory, here performs Italian favourites from Otello to Madama Butterfly.

* Viennese soprano Hilde Gueden who participated in many of Decca's legendary recordings including Karajan's Die Fledermaus and Solti's Arabella performs the type of repertory she first found fame in a recording from 1961.

* The American baritone Robert Merrill who frequently graced the stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and who, by 1973, had made 500 operatic appearances, here performs a mainly Verdi recital under the direction of renowned conductor Edward Downes.

>> Scarlatti rediscovered by the Accademia Bizantina <<

The ensemble whose Decca debut saw them accompanying Andreas Scholl on his recent and universally acclaimed release Arcadia, steps out into the limelight with a fascinating survey of recently discovered works by one of the great masters of the Baroque era, Alessandro Scarlatti.

Il Giardino di rose, available on hybrid SACD format, is the result of much investigation into manuscripts held in the British Library in London by Ottavio Dantone, who joined the Accademia Bizantina as harpsichord player in 1989 and is now their conductor. Painstaking reconstruction of these manuscripts acquired by auction and totalling 40 pages of music with six pieces for harpsichord consisting of two movements each, means that more than 275 years after the death of Scarlatti more of his instrumental works can finally see the light of day.

Of these lost works Dantone writes, "The goal was to supplement the repertoire of eighteenth century music for harpsichord and orchestra, a genre that, particularly in the Italian style, has not survived in any great quantity." Perfectly complementing these six lost concerti are a set of six lesser-known sinfonias by Scarlatti, in three movements - the result is a release from Decca that is truly one of its kind. For more details on SACD technology and the other releases in this format read on to our SACD round up.

>> SACD round up <<

Our SACD catalogue continues to grow. This month's releases include Joseph Calleja's Tenor Arias, Scarlatti's Il Giardino di rose and Vladimir Ashkenazy's performances of Shostakovich's piano works. All Decca and Philips SACDs are released in SACD 'hybrid' format so that they are also compatible with any CD player.

Calleja's Tenor Arias disc was covered in detail in last month's newsletter but you can refresh you memory of the "golden voiced Maltese tenor" and access all sorts of multimedia goodies at our site feature at:

After more than 40 years exclusively associated with Decca as a pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy's output remains as constant as ever as he revisits the works of Dmitri Shostakovich. Following on from his hugely successful recording of his Preludes and Fugues a few years ago the pianist returns to this source of inspiration, reinforcing further his reputation as an outstanding interpreter of the 20th century Russian piano repertory. In a uniquely varied programme of music spanning forty years of composition, works like the substantial Sonata No.2, Op 61 set against the backdrop of the Second World War rub shoulders with lighter offerings from ballets such as the polka from The Golden Age, and one of his most celebrated associations: the cinema.

SACD (or Super Audio CD) is the next generation of audio disc, offering full-range, uncompressed multi-channel surround sound, as well as superior-to-CD stereo. As with the step up from mono to stereo, uncompressed surround sound represents a quantum leap in your musical listening experience, and in keeping with our reputation for technical innovation and recording quality, Decca and Philips are proud to be offering our latest releases and top artists on this major new format. For the technophiles amongst you, thirsty for more in-depth knowledge on this technology, click here:

>> Next Month <<

In April we'll have details of a brand new Cecilia Bartoli DVD collection, a portrait of Teresa Berganza to celebrate her 50th stage anniversary, and much more.


For full information on all our new releases, please go to

>> SACD <<

Joseph Calleja: Tenor Arias

Scarlatti: Il Giardino di Rose

Vladimir Ashkenazy - Shostakovich: Piano Works

>> DVD <<

Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa DVD - Valery Gergiev

>> Reissues <<

Rossini: Otello

Mahler: Symphonies 4 & 5

Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore

Schubert: Great Chamber Works

Classic Recitals: Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli - Great Opera Duets

Classic Recitals: Carlo Bergonzi - Operatic Recital

Classic Recitals: Régine Crespin - Italian Operatic Arias

Classic Recitals: Hilde Gueden - Sings Operetta Evergreens

Classic Recitals: Robert Merrill - Arias

Classic Recitals: Marilyn Horne - Recital


Remember there are three great newsletters to choose from: General News & New Releases (monthly), Catalogue Re-Issues (quarterly) and Crossover News & Soundtracks (quarterly).

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