"Arie di bravura," a collection of arias by Mozart, Salieri and Righini performed by Damrau and Le Cercle de l'Harmonie (a French period-instrument band) on Virgin Classics, makes its chart debut at no. 7. Damrau is currently appearing in two roles in The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera: from late October through tomorrow evening she has been singing Pamina; her two performances next week will be her last anywhere as the Queen of the Night.
This week's other new arrival, at no. 23, is Harmonia Mundi's widely-hailed new Don Giovanni. The disc is the latest issue in an acclaimed series of Mozart operas conducted by Ren_ Jacobs and recorded live at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. The release stars Johannes Weisser in the title role and Lorenzo Regazzo as Leporello, with Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Olga Pasichnyk, Sunhae Im, Kenneth Tarver, Nikolay Borchev, Alessandro Guerzoni and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
Recordings of complete operas tend to appear rarely on the classical chart, due largely to their expense; this Don Giovanni is a three-disc set at a full-line two-disc price.
Three titles returned to the Billboard classical chart this week. The first, at no. 9, is another Harmonia Mundi release, of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Piano Concerto in F by pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the Rochester Philharmonic.
Coming back at no. 22 is young conductor Gustavo Dudamel's first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, of Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh Symphonies with the Sim‹n Bol‹var Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Just two notches above is Dudamel's latest recording with his Venezuelan band, of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, which debuted on the classical chart last week. The 26-year-old conductor has just finished up a U.S. tour with the Bol‹var orchestra; at the end of November he makes his New York Philharmonic debut.
Returning at no. 23, is No Boundaries by the pianist siblings The 5 Browns. Their latest release, Browns in Blue, arrived on the chart six weeks ago and is currently at no. 5.
At no. 1 for the second week is "Spirit of the Season," this year's holiday disc from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra with Norwegian folk-pop singer Sissel. Rising four notches to no. 2 is pianist Simone Dinnerstein's recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, which is now up from no. 19 just two weeks ago. (Was it the live interview with Howard Stern's sidekick that did it?)
In third place is Maria (no. 2), a tribute disc by Cecilia Bartoli to the legendary 19th-century mezzo Maria Malibran. Following Browns in Blue at no. 5 is crossover violinist Andr_ Rieu's Radio City Music Hall: Live in New York, with "Duets," Deutsche Grammophon's new album featuring soprano Anna Netrebko with tenor Rolando Villaz‹n, at no. 6. After Damrau's disc comes John Corigliano's Red Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell (no. 8); at no. 10, following Nakamatsu's Gershwin disc, is O Holy Night, a collection of newly-arranged Christmas hymns by "inspirational classical violinist" Jenny Oaks Baker.
On Billboard's classical crossover chart, tenor Andrea Bocelli is now approaching something like complete domination. Last week's new arrival to the chart, at no. 2 (where it remains), was "The Best of Andrea Bocelli: Vivere"; this week's top newcomer is "Lo mejor de Andrea Bocelli: Vivere," the Spanish-language issue of the same recording. While Josh Groban's holiday release, Noel, is now marking five weeks at no. 1, Bocelli now has five discs in the top eleven, including Amore (no. 6), Under the Desert Sky (no. 9) and Amor (no. 11).
There are two more newcomers to the classical crossover chart: "Northern Lights" (no. 14) by Sissel, the Norwegian folksinger who appears on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas CD referred to above, and "The Ultimate Collection" by another crossover tenor star, Russell Watson.