Author Topic: Bellini's bel canto abode  (Read 3900 times)

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Offline mc ukrneal

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Bellini's bel canto abode
« on: January 08, 2016, 08:21:08 PM »
No thread on Bellini!?! That's just not right! So now we have one. :)

I have long considered the different versions of La Sonnambula. But there doesn't seem to be a clear contender (or rather, there are several). So here are some of the versions I am considering (keeping in mind that it is hard for me to keep track of cuts over the possible choices) and some of my impressions:

Sutherland has several
 - There is a live 1960 (or 61) version on Gala that has Sutherland in her prime with what seems like a decent to good cast. Sound is the big question mark here
 - Another version on Myto early in her career, but the sound is even worse
 - A studio version from the '60s with a not so great supporting cast, but what sounded like awesome orchestral support
 - A later version, when she was past her prime, but with great supporting cast and good sound
Callas - a non-starter for me
Dessay - good sound, weak supporting cast. The orchestral thrust seemed a bit tame to me, but Dessay has a glorious voice
Bartoli - another good singer, with a good cast. I am not bothered by a mezzo singing, but am not sure the orchestra is as high-powered as I would like. Seems like it would complement another recording well.
Naxos - Highly regarded, but the voices did not strike me as particularly interesting here. It sounds like the version with the fewest lows, but I am hearing less highs as well.
There is a version with Mariella Devia, but I haven't heard much of this one.

I'd be happy to hear from anyone who has preferences among the above or perhaps I have missed a favorite version.

Otherwise, I shall post again another time to talk about all his music and operas, not just this one.
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2016, 09:56:16 AM »
This might be more of an Opera and Vocal thread. Love the guy, though...
ZB
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Spineur

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2016, 06:03:15 AM »
We should indeed kindly ask the forum moderators to move this discussion to the opera thread.

I have only two full version of la Sonnambula, the Callas and the Dessay/Pido which you mentionned.  In addition, there is the aria "Care compagne, e voi, tenere amici" (from Act I) in a Sutherland CD "The art of the prima donna" which was recorded in a studio around 59-60, i.e. at the same time the public performance you are referring to.  The sound is fine on this excerpt and Sutherland voice was at her prime around 1960.

Callas performance is as you say underwhelming.  She had really her days "without".  There is also a recording problem in this CD.  One has the impression that Callas moves around away from the microphones which is very disturbing.

I love the Dessay/Pido recording which I unfortunately could not attend to in Lyon.  Lyon Opera orchestra is excellent, and Evelino Pido one of the best director for Bel Canto operas.  Every details in the score are rendered with much delicacy.  This fits my conception of Bel Canto style.  The chorus which takes an important place in this work is very nice also.  I was fortunate enough to attend their performance of "Lucie de Lamermoor", the french version of Lucia and this was one of my best opera evening.  I can testify that Dessay voice is excellent in this repertoire and that she is an exceptional actress.  She is 'Lucie' period, abd Lucie inhabits her body. "Performance totale" - the way opera was always meant to be.    I saw her again, this time in Lucia, the original version at the MET where she was also excellent in her acting, even though I did not have a premium seat, which prevented me from hearing her in her full glory.  Supporting cast ?  I suppose you can say that, but it certainly does not detract from this very enjoyable production.

Next I'll write you a piece on "I Puritani", another glorious composition of this composer which could definitively be performed more often



 
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 06:46:01 AM by Spineur »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2016, 10:19:48 AM »
Thanks for that. I Puritani is another opera that I have on my list to pursue. My latest two have been from Opera Rara, and I find them very good indeed. Bellini, like Donizetti, has been growing in my estimation, so I would like to hear more of him. The two Opera Rara I am referring to these:




As to where this thread belongs, should it not stay in the composer thread? It is about the composer, even if most of what he wrote is opera. If it goes in the opera section, the composer section is mistitled.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2016, 11:48:32 AM »
Bellini also wrote symphonies, and I think the mods have missed that memo because I am now violating this thread as it is not opera or vocal. But had it stayed in the COMPOSER section where it belonged, I wouldn't have to:


Sticks out tongue! :-*
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Offline knight66

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2016, 11:58:57 AM »
Oh, how many of the symphonies were bel canto?

Within the thread it was suggested the Bellini thread be moved, taking account of the title of the thread, I moved it.

Knight
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2016, 12:02:54 PM »
Oh, how many of the symphonies were bel canto?

Within the thread it was suggested the Bellini thread be moved, taking account of the title of the thread, I moved it.

Knight
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2016, 12:23:23 PM »
Callas - a non-starter for me

Why?

I know it´s bad manners to quote oneself, but...

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.msg498375.html#msg498375

Since then, I´ve acquired Callas / Bernstein, Pagliughi / Capuana, Bartoli / De Marchi and Orgonossova / Zedda --- but have never listened to any of them, go figure!  :D




I have these two as well and guess what? Well, exactly --- I have never listened to them either.  :D

Oh, how many of the symphonies were bel canto?

Ask Chopin.  ;D
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline knight66

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2016, 12:39:35 PM »
Ask Chopin.....I have a friend who is a conductor; he specialises in Baroque, so I take some of his opinions with a bucket of salt. He excoriates Chopin as someone who could not orchestrate to save his life and he points to the piano concerti to make his case: I just shrug when he goes off on one.

As to the Sonnambula, it is Callas for me, so many shades of tone colour. I have problems with Sutherland, I admire her more than enjoy her. I have never enjoyed Dessay's voice. I tend to get a lot more out of her performances when I can see her, such as her Ophelia in Hamlet. I once saw Straniera with Scotto; I could have cried with boredom. I really ought to go back to it.

Pirata, I do enjoy Caballe
Mike
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2016, 12:46:04 PM »
Ask Chopin.....I have a friend who is a conductor; he specialises in Baroque, so I take some of his opinions with a bucket of salt. He excoriates Chopin as someone who could not orchestrate to save his life and he points to the piano concerti to make his case: I just shrug when he goes off on one.

Tell your friend that Florestan of the GMG strongly advises him to stick with the Baroque and leave Chopin alone... ;D

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Chopin´s style is heavily indebted to bel canto. He indeed made the piano sing beautifully.  :D
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

Offline knight66

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2016, 12:58:45 PM »
Tell your friend that Florestan of the GMG strongly advises him to stick with the Baroque and leave Chopin alone... ;D

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Chopin´s style is heavily indebted to bel canto. He indeed made the piano sing beautifully.  :D

Ha, you should hear him on Tchaikovsky. As I said bucket....salt.

Turning to bel canto sound; I would admit that superficially Callas can be a problem to some people due to the discolouration of some notes and the wobble. But in Sonnambula she unrolls the music in that special way of hers which almost makes you believe that she is inventing the music as she sings it. She injects meaning into music that can sound vapid. (Word of the week that one.)

Mike
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2016, 01:02:29 PM »
Ha, you should hear him on Tchaikovsky.

I´d rather not.  ;D
"Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part."

 --- Claude Debussy

kishnevi

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2016, 01:44:22 PM »
Why?

I know it´s bad manners to quote oneself, but...

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.msg498375.html#msg498375

Since then, I´ve acquired Callas / Bernstein, Pagliughi / Capuana, Bartoli / De Marchi and Orgonossova / Zedda --- but have never listened to any of them, go figure!  :D

I have these two as well and guess what? Well, exactly --- I have never listened to them either.  :D

Ask Chopin.  ;D

I was in fact listening to the Callas Sonnambula earlier today...the same cast as in Florestan's version, but a live performance from Cologne in 1957.  Callas is very good but the sound is..well, what you might expect for a live recording made 59 years ago.  In fact, the only reason to get the set is Callas.

My only other version of the opera is the Bartoli, which I like very much, especially for the supporting cast.

OTOH,  I have five recordings of Norma: the two studio recordings by Callas, Sutherland, Sills, Bartoli.  Callas (both of them)win hands down.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2016, 02:42:33 PM »
Ask Chopin.....I have a friend who is a conductor; he specialises in Baroque, so I take some of his opinions with a bucket of salt. He excoriates Chopin as someone who could not orchestrate to save his life and he points to the piano concerti to make his case: I just shrug when he goes off on one.

As to the Sonnambula, it is Callas for me, so many shades of tone colour. I have problems with Sutherland, I admire her more than enjoy her. I have never enjoyed Dessay's voice. I tend to get a lot more out of her performances when I can see her, such as her Ophelia in Hamlet. I once saw Straniera with Scotto; I could have cried with boredom. I really ought to go back to it.

Pirata, I do enjoy Caballe
Mike

I feel the same as you about Sutherland. Callas is unsurpassable for me as both Norma and Amina, both roles, not coincidentally, written for the same singer Giuditta Pasta.

Did you know, by the way, that Claudio Arrau used to play his students records of Callas singing Bellini, in order to teach them how to phrase Chopin?

« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 02:42:47 AM by Greg Mitchell »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2016, 09:07:01 PM »
Greg, You are an inexhaustable well of knowledge on Callas. No, I did not know the Arrau story. But I can imagine her phrasing could teach a lot of musicians. Very few singers provide what I have often referred to as sounding like they are inventing the music as it unfolds. Hunt Lieberson also did it. Lots of great singers never come close. It is to do with phrasing, but also being inside the music and so steeped in it that it sounds like nature. For the vast majority of singers, they are laying it on skillfully from the outside. Not transmitting it from their core. I doubt it can be taught, though listening to such singers can benefit the musicality of any musician I have no doubt.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Bellini's bel canto abode
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2016, 03:24:43 AM »
I have Arrau's recording of Chopin's Nocturnes and he does indeed make the melodic line sing. He was a great admirer of singers and Callas in particular.

I know just what you mean about those few singers who seem to be transmitting the music from some inner core. It's something that cannot be easily defined, and it's something some people can't even hear, finding it impossible to get past Callas's basic timbre.

I've just been listening again to the Callas/Karajan Il Trovatore and I'd agree that the voice at this stage in her career (1956) can harden on top (though it's still pretty secure), but there is something just so inevitably right about her every phrase, that I'll put up with it for the many insights revealed.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas