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Arts Desk
Every week, on the air and online, you'll hear music from new releases and favorite albums that have been carefully selected for your listening pleasure. Check out our posts for commentary from our hosts and video highlights for each Classical Album of the Week.

Classical Album of the Week: Contralto Nathalie Stutzmann Sings AND Conducts Baroque Works


January 18, 2021. As the newly appointed principal guest conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Nathalie Stutzmann can now add an additional honor to her resumé—her newest album, Contralto, with her Baroque ensemble Orfeo 55.

Released by Warner/Erato, it’s a compendium of arias specifically for contralto, and features maestra Stutzmann’s stellar voice in compositions by Georg Friedrich Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Nicola Antonio Porpora, Giovanni Bononcini, Antonio Caldara, and Francesco Gasparini. Stutzmann, at age 55, continues to offer a dark, well-controlled, virtuosic and sensuous tone quality.

Watch her on the podium singing and conducting Handel's Rinaldo, HWV 7b, Act II: "Mio cor, che mi sai dir?" She's simply amazing.

The album is a tribute to Baroque-era contralto singers, such as Vittoria Tesi and Anna Marchesini, who were often eclipsed by the popular castrato singers of the day, including Farinelli and Caffarelli.

Nathalie Stutzmann’s presence in Philadelphia has been growing steadily over the last several years. And even with the complications of COVID-19, the French-born contralto and conductor has had plenty of professional challenges to keep her busy, including her duties as chief conductor of the Kristiansand Symphony in Norway and a recently completed artistic associateship with the Sao Paulo Symphony in Brazil.

To the delight of Philadelphia music lovers, Maestra Stutzmann will assume the duties of principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra beginning with the 2021/22 concert season.

Born in 1965, Nathalie Stutzmann’s early studies in Paris and Nancy focused on cello, bassoon, and piano. By age 18, she was studying voice with character tenor Michel Senechal and eventually, lieder with the renowned Hans Hotter. She enjoyed immense success on the stage and in recital, but conducting was never far from her mind. Stutzmann initially studied with Finnish conductor and teacher Jorma Panula and has been mentored by Seiji Ozawa and Sir Simon Rattle.