Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 33773 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #760 on: November 18, 2017, 07:49:24 AM »
Heard this live in London yesterday - a great experience:

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Alberich

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #761 on: November 20, 2017, 09:30:09 AM »
I am listening Verdi's Don Carlos and Britten's Peter Grimes.

Haven't listened much to Britten but Don Carlo/s is one of my favorite Verdi operas of all time. I enjoyed it immensely when I first heard it in Finnish National Opera few years ago. And to think that often enough when I see opera live before first listening to recording of one, the performance feels disappointing. With Don Carlos, however, it wasn't that way at all.

My only regret is that the version I saw live was the heavily cut four act-version. That Fontainebleau act is so amazing I wished I could have seen it live. On the whole, I think I enjoy this opera still more in italian than in original (in this case) French and thus it is great that there exists 5-act italian version.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #762 on: November 20, 2017, 02:34:05 PM »
Revisiting the Callas Parsifal:



Despite my favourable disposition to Callas and conductor Vittorio Gui, and the fond,  nostalgic memories of having listened to excerpts of this in my teens, I must say that this performance--taken as a whole--verges on the disastrous  >:(. The orchestra is decidedly third-rate (particularly poor in the brass section  ::)), and it all sounds under-rehearsed and routine. It would appear as if Italian radio used the occasion to showcase (then) rising stars, but they could just as well have chosen any other work for this. Christoff displays his powerful instrument, but is as unnuanced a Gurnemanz as I have ever encountered. Panerai as Amfortas fares better: very lyrical, but it is an approach that suits the role I'MO. Africo Baldelli (who never made it to stardom, and vanished completely AFAIK) is very poor in the title role from any point of view. The flower maidens are a motley crew  (led by Lina Pagliughi, a singer I've never warmed to).

And then we come to Callas, the set's only redeeming virtue. Her particular tone, which I have always found "beautiful in its ugliness" suits the role of Kundry perfectly, as this is one of the most psychologically complex and tormented characters in operatic history. Her brief appearances as the "wild" Kundry of Act I or of the exchanges with Klingsor in the first scene of Act II, aren't really that remarkable  (even if her initial screams here are chilling, and rivalled only--of the recordings I know--by those of Gwyneth Jones in Bayreuth 20 years later). But then, the seductress later on in Act II is quite another thing. I have always thought that this is the one occasion where the mature Wagner really requires singing that should approach something close to bel canto (even writing an almost imperceptible trill at the beginning of "Ich sah das Kind" or, here "Ho visto Il figlio sul materno sen"  ;)). And Callas, of course, is sans pareil (here and elsewhere) in combining "canonical" singing with deep expression and emotion. What is also stunning is her singing line  (a miracle, I'd say, as the Italian translation of the sung text is rather clumsy, the syllables not fitting the notes properly in many instances).

Vittorio Gui does what he can with his orchestra, and Act I is quite unsuccessful and (to me, at least ) boring. In Act II, things pick up, with a stirring introduction, and some nice orchestral details and very eloquent phrasing. Act III will have to wait until tomorrow. Of course, we'll only have two words by Callas there  ("Dienen, dienen...", or will it be "Servire, servire ..".?  ;D ) , but perhaps Gui can do something interesting with the Good Friday music.

EDIT: Nothing really remarkable in Act III. Boris Christoff improves as Gurnemanz here, and the lead is not any better than before. Even in the Good Friday Spell some lines are cut. Gui treats this segment with much care and love, and does some nice things with his poor orchestra.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:35:54 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #763 on: November 21, 2017, 01:27:32 AM »
Revisiting the Callas Parsifal:



Despite my favourable disposition to Callas and conductor Vittorio Gui, and the fond,  nostalgic memories of having listened to excerpts of this in my teens, I must say that this performance--taken as a whole-'verges on the disastrous  >:(. The orchestra is decidedly third-rate (particularly poor in the brass section  ::)), and it all sounds under-rehearsed and routine. It would appear as if Italian radio used the occasion to showcase (then) rising stars, but they could just as well have chosen any other work for this. Christoff displays his wonderful instrument, but is as unnuanced a Gurnemanz as I have ever encountered. Panerai as Amfortas fares better: very lyrical, but it is an approach that suits the role I'MO. Africo Baldelli (who never made it to stardom, and vanished completely AFAIK) is very poor in the title role from any point of view. The flower maidens are a motley crew  (led by Lina Pagliughi, a singer I've never warmed to).

And then we come to Callas, the set's only redeeming virtue. Her particular tone, which I have always found "beautiful in its ugliness" suits the role of Kundry perfectly, as this is one of the most psychologically complex and tormented characters in operatic history. Her brief appearances as the "wild" Kundry of Act I or of the exchanges with Klingsor in the first scene of Act II, aren:t really remarkable  (but her initial screams here are chilling, and rivalled only--of the recordings I know--by those of Gwyneth Jones in Bayreuth 20 years later). But then, the seductress later on in Act II is quite another thing. I have always thought that this is the one occasion where the mature Wagner really requires singing that should approach something close to bel canto (even writing an almost imperceptible trill at the beginning of "Ich sah das Kind" or, here "Ho visto Il figlio sul materno sen"  ;)). And Callas, of course, is sans pareil (here and elsewhere) in combining "canonical" singing with deep expression and emotion. What is also stunning is her singing line  (a miracle, I'd say, as the Italian translation of the sung text is rather clumsy, the syllables not fitting the notes properly in many instances).

Vittorio Gui does what he can with his orchestra, and Act I is quite unsuccessful and (to me, at least ) boring. In Act II, things pick up, with a stirring introduction, and some nice orchestral details and very eloquent phrasing. Act III will have to wait until tomorrow. Of course, we'll only have two words by Callas there  ("Dienen, dienen...", or will it be "Servire, servire ..".?  ;D ) , but perhaps Gui can do something interesting with the Good Friday music.

I'm not a big Wagnerian and I've always found Parsifal a hard nut to crack (parts of it I find sublime, but in others I find my mind wandering) but I tend to agree with you about this recording; and surely this, of all operas, demands at least modern stereo sound to do it full justice.

That said, Callas's Kundry is, as you say, much more than just a curiosity, and makes it doubly regretful that there are no recordings of her Isolde or Brunnhilde. Rumours persist that the Tristan und Isolde she did in Genoa, with Max Lorenz as Tristan, was broadcast, but nobody has yet come up with a recording. It was conducted by Serafin and also would have been sung in Italian, despite the presence of Lorenz in the cast.

After all opera in the vernacular is not that unusual. Why, even in the 1970s. Helga Dernesch, Austrian by birth, learned the role of the Marschallin in English for her role debut with Scottish Opera (with Dame Janet Baker as Octavian). When the production was revived the following year, Scottish Opera reverted to the original German.

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #764 on: November 21, 2017, 03:04:14 AM »
...makes it doubly regretful that there are no recordings of her Isolde or Brunnhilde. Rumours persist that the Tristan und Isolde she did in Genoa, with Max Lorenz as Tristan, was broadcast, but nobody has yet come up with a recording. It was conducted by Serafin and also would have been sung in Italian, despite the presence of Lorenz in the cast.

After all opera in the vernacular is not that unusual. Why, even in the 1970s. Helga Dernesch, Austrian by birth, learned the role of the Marschallin in English for her role debut with Scottish Opera (with Dame Janet Baker as Octavian). When the production was revived the following year, Scottish Opera reverted to the original German.
Oh yes, rumours of that Tristan abound, but I've read somewhere that Max Lorenz's widow Lotte denied its existence.

It's probable that this Tristan was bilingual, i.e. Lorenz singing his part in German, and the rest of the cast singing in Italian. This was not unusual at the time. There's actually a Tannhäuser from Naples in 1950 under Karl Böhm (which I've never heard, to be honest) with Hans Beier singing the title role in the original German, and Renata Tebaldi as Elisabeth and the rest of the cast singing in translation.

There's also a 1936 Parsifal from the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires under Fritz Busch, in which AFAIK the soloists sing in German, and the chorus (!) in Italian . This performance (or, actually, a similar one held some years later in the same theatre under the same conductor) is used by Manuel Mujica Láinez in his novel El gran teatro (the action of which takes place entirely during the performance). It has not been translated into English I believe.

Of course, Mujica Láinez's relation to opera is much stronger, as he wrote the libretto (based on his novel) for Alberto Ginastera's superb Bomarzo , which we had the rare opportunity to see fully staged here in Madrid earlier this year.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:31:11 AM by ritter »
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Offline GioCar

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #765 on: November 22, 2017, 10:06:23 PM »
Woke up early this morning as usual, I have some extra time :) before going to work, so, in preparation of my Sciarrino matinée of next Sunday at La Scala, I'm listening to:




Just finished Act 1, with that hauntingly beautiful scene between Macbeth and Lady M.
Now Act 2, with those quotations from Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera that always give me goosebumps.

Sciarrino surely is the most interesting (i'd say greatest ;)) living opera composer, imho.

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #766 on: November 23, 2017, 07:59:41 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M</a>

The orchestra has a Toscanini-like intensity that must have been incredible to witness live.
Wunderlich is singing for his life, died a little more than a year later.
The sob in his throat sometimes obliterates the pitch but it carries a visceral punch.
Stratas is amazing as well.
"I write to discover what I know."
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #767 on: November 23, 2017, 08:26:28 AM »
Somehow I feel not enough attention is given to opera conductors who can add that extra sparkle, motivating the singers to higher heights. Only Patane's last name was given in the roster for the above Traviata, not saying if it were Franco, the father or the son Giuseppe. As it turned out, thanks to a bit of Googling, it was the latter. It is not surprising he had mentoring by the best:

Patane, who was born in Naples, Italy, (1932) began playing piano at the age of 6. He made his debut at 19, conducting a Naples performance of Verdi's "La Traviata."

In the next 10 years, he was understudy to such renowned Italian conductors as Victor De Sabata, Antonio Guarnieri, Tullio Serafin and Gabriele Santini.

In 1961, Patane became the first Italian to conduct Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin" in Linz, Austria, and in 1962 he became conductor of the German Opera in Berlin.

In 1970, he was named best Italian conductor, and in the following years he was hailed in appearances in San Francisco, Chicago and at New York's Metropolitan Opera House.

He knew 1,500 musical scores from memory, including 250 separate operas, according to Bavarian Radio Orchestra spokesman Rainer Tief.


http://articles.latimes.com/1989-05-31/news/mn-913_1_vienna-national-opera-munich-city-opera-italian-conductor
"I write to discover what I know."
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #768 on: November 23, 2017, 01:04:56 PM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

Offline jessop

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #769 on: November 23, 2017, 09:38:01 PM »
Woke up early this morning as usual, I have some extra time :) before going to work, so, in preparation of my Sciarrino matinée of next Sunday at La Scala, I'm listening to:




Just finished Act 1, with that hauntingly beautiful scene between Macbeth and Lady M.
Now Act 2, with those quotations from Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera that always give me goosebumps.

Sciarrino surely is the most interesting (i'd say greatest ;)) living opera composer, imho.

Oh absolutely one of the greatest (of all time? Possibly.....) And the ACT 2 quotations are almost chilling I would say!

Offline Le Moderniste

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #770 on: November 23, 2017, 09:49:02 PM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

It's an incredible opera, I don't listen to it as often as him instrumental works though.


(but then, Schoenberg isn't half as commonly listened to by me, as latter/other dissonant 20th century composers)

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #771 on: November 24, 2017, 12:49:20 AM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

Funny that Boulez has top billing with the name of the opera about 1/4 of the largest font.
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Offline jessop

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #772 on: November 24, 2017, 04:09:56 PM »
Funny that Boulez has top billing with the name of the opera about 1/4 of the largest font.

Well, this is from a Boulez-based series of reissues so it isn't much of a surprise........ ::)

The first pressing looked like this:


Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #773 on: November 24, 2017, 06:38:16 PM »
Well, this is from a Boulez-based series of reissues so it isn't much of a surprise........ ::)

The first pressing looked like this:



Actually, it was two CDs from Sony's B. Conducts S. budget box. Like the individual re-issue it appends Chamber Symphony 2 after the second act.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #774 on: November 25, 2017, 04:58:37 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M</a>

The orchestra has a Toscanini-like intensity that must have been incredible to witness live.
Wunderlich is singing for his life, died a little more than a year later.
The sob in his throat sometimes obliterates the pitch but it carries a visceral punch.
Stratas is amazing as well.

A favourite of mine, and so good to have Wunderlich singing Italian opera in Italian for once. My personal top 5 Traviatas would be.

1. Callas/Valletti/Zanasi; Rescigno (Live Covent Garden 1958)
2. Callas/Kraus/Sereni;Ghione (Live Lisbon 1958)
3. Callas/Di Stefano/Bastianini (Live La Scala 1955)
4. Stratas/Wunderlich/Prey; Patane (Live Munich 1965)
5. Cotrubas/Domingo/Milnes; Kleiber (Studio DG)

Callas was not well and fighting flu at the time of the Covent Garden performance, but, though in frailer voice than she was in 1955, for instance, you'd hardly know, and the performance has a dramatic truth that takes us well beyond the realms of the opera house. You forget that this is the rather artificial medium of opera, and believe absolutely that what is happening on stage is real. For me it is the summation of what opera strives so hard to be (but so rarely is).

I review it here https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/callass-covent-garden-traviata/, though I should point out that it has now been issued in much improved sound on Ars Vocalis, if you can find a copy. Ars Vocalis have a shop on ebay and, if you contact them directly, they will normally do a CD-R version for you.




« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 05:01:23 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Todd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #775 on: November 27, 2017, 11:27:01 AM »
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #776 on: November 30, 2017, 12:27:39 AM »


Bellini's pastoral opera is usually dismissed as being dramatically flaccid, but Callas and Bernstein make a far stronger case for it than usual, immeasurably helped by the stylish Valletti as Elvino.

Romani stated that Amina was a difficult role to play, and that the singer needed "a cry for joy and also a cry for joy, an accent for reproach and another for entreaty." No doubt Bellini and Romani would have found their ideal interpreter here.

The recording is better than some in the Warner box, but still overloads at climaxes. For such a thrilling performance, it's worth it.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

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