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Emma Shapplin Image Arc 21 Music 2002

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(02 July 2002) Five years since her debut album Carmine Meo (review), Emma Shapplin has released the stunning follow-up Etterna (Ark21/Universal Music (Canada) 4400183682, 2002). A natural evolution of the singer's initial collaboration with J. P. Capdevielle (Atylantos review) and further work with Graeme Revell on The Red Planet soundtrack, this brilliant new project--a CD enhanced with English- and French-spoken interviews--is attracting significant attention from audiences worldwide. Our review copy was provided by Graham Lubin from Celestial Voices. Click on the album cover to visit the artist's all-new website.

Graced by Emma Shapplin's stunning--coloratura soprano--lead vocal and supporting harmonies, the 12-track album was mixed principally in Kauai and was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Blake Neely arranged The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir contributions. The album's material was written entirely by Emma Shapplin and produced by Graeme Revell. The collaboration has obviously been successful; the album, like her previous project with Capdeveille, is a cohesive masterwork.

From her website: Born in Paris in 1974, Emma recalls as a young girl she was far to shy "even to make a noise let alone to sing" and her family were not particularly musical. But her musical passions were aroused at the age of eleven when she heard the "Queen Of The Night" from The Magic Flute. It was a moment of transcendence, although to her amused embarassment, Emma admits this introduction to the world of opera and bel canto came via a television commercial. Nevertheless, a life-long love affair was forged. "I ran into my bedroom and tried to sing the tune immediately. That's when I fell in love with singing for the first time," she says. "I knew then I wanted to sing like that. That was the music that touched my soul."

Like 1997's Carmine Meo and subsequent reissues, Etterna is classical-contemporary crossover-based project. Sweeping orchestral movements are effectively combined with contemporary percussion and rock instrumentation to broaden the appeal of the operatic numbers. Additional vocal layers, choirs and further sonic enhancements add colour to the lush arrangements. The Emma Shapplin interview included on the CD--and available at her website--provides further insight into the album's water-based themes. Vocal parts are perfectly mixed, highlighting Emma's range, power and sensitivity.

Emma Shapplin, whose soaring and crystalline soprano voice clearly dominates the pieces, continues to set the world standard in this emerging genre where Sarah Brightman (La Luna review, Classics review), Charlotte Church (S/T review, Dream a Dream review), Izzy (Libera Me review, Ascolta review), Sasha Lazard (The Myth Of Red) and Filippa Giordano (Passioni review, S/T review, Il Rosso Amore) comfortably compete. After the commercial success of Opera Trance, a variety of alternate versions are planned; the highly accessible "La Notte Eterna" remix is included--more or less as a "bonus track"--on the first pressing. Richly produced artwork, a full libretto and a bevy of up-to-date artist photographs adorn the package.

The first single from the album, "La Notte Etterna," is presently available from amazon.com here. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here. Certain to achieve the high standards set by her debut album, we assure you that this album is worth a trans-Atlantic journey and is a must listen!

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