Eastman Professor Paul O’Dette was awarded his second Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. The awards were announced Sunday, Feb. 8, in Los Angeles.
O’Dette won his first Grammy in 1996 for his work with classical singer Sylvia McNair on a series of song by composer Henry Purcell. But O’Dette calls this award especially rewarding.
“I was a guest accompanist on the first one,” he said, “but this was a project I designed and directed from the start.”
O’Dette, as well as conductor Stephen Stubbs, are the co- artisticdirectorsandconductors of the Boston Early Music Festival. The winning recording, “Charpentier: La Descente d’Orphée aux enfers,” was recorded by Boston Early Music Festival musicians and is a relatively unknown opera from the Baroque Period which is sung in French. O’Dette says this makes the award even more special. “I always assumed that a mainstream opera with a famous cast would win, which is usually the case,” he said. “For the Academy to recognize an unknown French Baroque opera by an unknown composer, makes this very special.”
Other nominations for the award included a recording of “L’Orestie D’Eschyle,” “Hippolyte Et Aricie,” “Moses Und Aron” and “Elektra” by composers Milhaud, Rameau, Schöenberg, and Strauss, respectively. The Boston Early Music Festival has received four other Grammy nominations over the years.
O’Dette believes that his and his colleagues’ understanding of the style of music is what pushed this album to win, as they have been working together for 14 years. The cast of the recording includes famous operatic tenor Aaron Sheehan, who played the character of Orphée. “Sheehan was the perfect singer with such expressivity that you could really imagine the implacable Pluton being persuaded by his singing,” O’Dette said. He then went on to praise the women’s chorus of the opera as “so beautifully sung that it sent shivers down my spine with every take.”
O’Dette and the Boston Early Music Festival have already moved on to more projects. Their latest project, a recording of Agostino Steffani’s “Niobe,” was released last month. The album has already won four awards: Gramophone Magazine’s CD of the Month, The London Times CD of the week, Opera Magazine’s “Coup de Coeur” and a Diapason d’Or, the highest award from Diapason, which is the leading French music review publication. But this new project will always be special to O’Dette.
“The music is so delightful, colorful and varied,” he said, “that it really stands out as something quite special.”
O’Dette was not the only winner affiliated with Eastman. Alumnus Robert Ludwig ‘66E, ‘01E (MM) won Best Surround Sound Album for his work on “Beyonce,” Best Engineered Album Non-Classical and Album of the Year for his work on Beck’s “Morning Phase.” Prior to the ceremony, Ludwig had received seven Grammys.
Sanguinetti is a member of the class of 2015.