Sir Antonio Pappano’s epic studio recording of Verdi Aida was triumphant at the 2016 BBC Music Magazine Awards. The universally acclaimed Warner Classics album, which features mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Amneris, was named Recording of the Year and the Opera Recording of the Year at the ceremony held at London’s King’s Place on 5th April, 2016.
Warner Classics’ President Alain Lanceron accepted the reader-voted Opera Award, whilst baritone Ludovic Tézier (who sang Amonasro) and producer Stephen Johns accepted the evening’s top prize. Maestro Pappano sent his thanks to the BBC Music Magazine Awards’ jury, the readers, the extraordinary cast – including Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann and Erwin Schrott – and the Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia via video as he was conducting Boris Godunov at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He also gave special thanks to long-time collaborators Mr Johns and engineer Jonathan Allen.
BBC Music Magazine writes in their Awards Issue, “Warner Classics…girded up its loins to record Verdi’s gargantuan opera Aida– in studio sessions – with an A-list cast and an orchestra and conductor who have Italian opera coursing through their veins.”
Maestro Pappano, in his interview for the Awards issue, says, “In the recording, I took on the role of a stage director, making sure every single word was inflected, and talking through the plot’s narrative, ensuring everyone knew what went on in a particular bar, what we were trying to express. For the singers – and the players – to have a large expressive palette, they had to be inspired by the story itself in order to inspire in them a certain reaction.”
He continues, “It had to sound great in all its components, in terms of its general sound, its space, intimacy, directness, but also its detail. I’ve never done that to this extent before.”
Soprano Sandrine Piau was also honoured for her performance in the DVD Award-winning Dialogues des Carmélines. The DVD, released by Warner Classics’ sister label Erato, captured Théâtre des Champs-Elysées’s astounding 2013 production of Poulenc’s masterpiece directed by Olivier Py and conductor Jérémie Rhorer conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.