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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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\r\nImage © 2001 Pendragon Records

Chiara Zeffirelli
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records

Nikola Todorovich
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records

Elena Cojocaru
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records

Jade Laura d'Angelis
Image © 2001 Pendragon Records

(29 July 2001) The latest album from Jean-Patrick Capdevielle isentitled Atylantos (Pendragon Records (France) / Phillips 468 482-2, 2001). The legend is a universal myth dating back to the dawn of time, yet more contemporary today than ever. Now as then, progress and wealth come at a terrible price: one man's happiness is often another's suffering.

The contemporary classical crossover project, sung in 14th century Italian, features three stunning sopranos—Chiara Zeffirelli, Elena Cojocaru, Jade Laura d'Angelis—and tenor Nikola Todorovich. This project willundoubtedly appeal to those that follow the internationally acclaimed Emma Shapplin. Full biographies, photographs and a music video featuringthe artists are available at Pendragon Records' website.

Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's previous release was Emma Shapplin'sCarmine Meo (review).Actually sung by Crystèle Joliton as part of a six album contract, Emma Shapplin is a brand name and trademark name of Pendragon Records. Still using the name Emma Shapplin, Joliton's work on the Red Planet soundtrack was actually recorded in breach of hercontract with the label. Capdevielle has selected three equally gorgeous and vocally stunning female vocalists to sing in Atylantos; their work will delight Emma Shapplin enthusiasts.

The first vocal number is a moving ballad sung by Chiara Zeffirellientitled "Legge Senza Legge" backed with a full chorus and orchestra.Chiara was just a wild child, who sang on her own as she roamed the parched Provence scrubland, until she caught the attention of an opera singer who had taken up teaching in retirement. The ex-diva took the wild child under her wing and soon Chiara began singing in public, at marriages and pulling in the crowds at village festivals, concerts in churches, etc.

Chiara, who also sings stunning leads on "Altri Che 'L Sol," "Si Fosse Gia Com' Io Fu," and "Il Regno D'Il Cor," came to Jean-Patrick's notice while he was preparing Carmine Meo. Prior engagements, sadly, prevented her from singing on the album. She regretted this for three years until…the story took up where it had left off! Jean-Patrick had by no means forgotten Chiara and cast her as Aïra, Atylantos's betrayed princess. As lead vocalist in the Atylantos project, Chiara's voice soars through an incredible range in each of her solos and will without a doubt remind listeners of the Carmine Meo sound.

"La Diosa Fredda" is an upbeat contemporary and dramatic piece sung by all of the album's vocalists and its modern arrangement likelyled to its selection as the first video track. A choral number entitled"O Servito A Signor Crudele" precedes the album's closing number "Destin Sbandito" which features solos by Chiara, Elena and Nikola.

Nikola takes the lead in "U Sono Or Le Ricchezze?" and provides atremendous operatic performance supported by a robust chorus. When he was six, he was already hiding away in his room to listen to Tosca, afraid his football friends would make fun of him if they found out. Waiting for the voice he inherited from his father to be mature enough to train, Nikola graduated in percussion at the Montpellier Academy of Music.After military service in the French Army Choir, he studied under Jeanne Berbier and later with Michel Sénéchal at the Paris Conservatoire then at the Paris Opera School.

He left to try his luck in Italy in 1993, where he forged a promising operatic career in Verona, Milan and in Sicily, accumulating prizes and lead roles: an almost unimaginable dream come true for a relatively inexperienced young French singer. His sister, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, a leading mezzo-soprano in Europe and the United States, is one of his mentors. Restoring opera's popular appeal always having been one of Nikola's central concerns, so he enthusiastically took up Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's offer to sing the male lead in Atylantos: M'Bad, the Thief from Distant Shores.

Elena Cojocaru's first solo is highly operatic—performed with choironly as accompaniment—in the track entitled "Dolce Sentier." The soundis a classical operatic departure from typical Emma Shapplin. Thanks to her music-loving parents, Elena was steeped in classical music even before she could walk. One of her sisters plays guitar, another viola, and one of her brothers the cello. Elena began by learning the piano but as soon as she discovered her voice at 14 years old she immediately began training it, certain she would be a singer one day, that singing would be her whole life.

In Bucharest, forging an opera career isn't that simple. After receiving the Romanian National Academy of Music's highest distinction, Elena joined her eldest sister in France and had no difficulty in entering the Paris Conservatoire, where she soon became a pupil of the great soprano Mireille Alcantara. Despite her classical training, she still remained open to other kinds of music and sung in Vent d'Est, a show blending classical and jazz. Atylantos' innovation and passion seduced her; JPC cast her as Kemia, Aïra's sister, the princess who destroys everything through love and jealousy. Elenareturns in "Ferra Ventura" where she sings a dramatic piece above the chorus and a duet with Nikola. She is also featured in theclosing number "Destin Sbandito" with the other vocalists.

Jade Laura d'Angelis sings the lead vocal backed by the choirthe stunning Shapplin-style "Bellezza Divina." To be both an opera singer and a ballet dancer is rare to say the least. To be acclaimed in both disciplines is well nigh impossible. But then Jade is a special case. By the time she was twenty she had been dancing at the Paris Opera sixteen years. As a solo dancer and a singer she appeared on a TV show where she was noticed by the producers of the stage musical Cats. Soon after she had signed for Cats, she injured a leg on stage in mid-show; she was told dancing was over, that she might never walk properly again.

But this only quadrupled her determination. Jade decided it was time to turn to her true passion: singing, and after only six months of work, there she was back on stage, starring with Roberto Alagna in Lucia di Lammermoor, acclaimed by public and critics. At the beginning of 2000, her childhood dream came true when she sang La Traviata.She enthusiastically accepted the role in Atylantos Capdevielle offered her: Hemera, the enchantress transformed into an evil mermaid through unrequited love. Jade returns to sing solo in the Shapplin-style and most sensual ballad "Dolce Veneno."

Jean-Patrick Capdevielle's latest album Atylantos is certainto appeal to fans of Sarah Brightman, Filippa Giordano, Izzy and of course Emma Shapplin. Narrated in English by John Greaves, the artists' performances and instrumental arrangements are stunning. The booklet accompanying the compact disc has lovely photographs of the soloists and a full libretto. Although currently available from popular European online retailers, the album is not yet released in America. . Read other reviews (in French) at amazon.frhere; additional information (in English), soundbites, photographs and video are available at the Pendragon Records' website.Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album is a must listen!

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