Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 83254 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1000 on: April 25, 2018, 07:43:07 AM »
Fair point about Bostridge, although I think it doesn't hurt him in his Captain Fairfax performance.

Re: Knappertsbusch Parsifal. You need to hear him at some point.  I have his 1951 performance on Naxos (I know there are a few different incarnations), and the later "commercial" performance on Philips/Decca. I prefer the 1951 one. There also seem to be a couple other live at Bayreuth  performances from other years running around but I've never heard them.

Well, yes, you have a point, and I guess Pears could also be accused of being effete, though I don't find his performance affected at all. I don't know what it is about Bostridge I don't get along with though. I suppose it's many of the things that Schwarzkopf gets accused of (over-inflection of the text, fussing too much with the musical line), but I love Schwarzkopf, and her idiosyncracies (a much better word than mannersims, I feel) don't bother me at all, where Bostridge's do.

As for Kna's Parsifal, where to start? There seem to be a number of different performances out there, both official and unofficial, and I have no idea which is considered the best.


« Last Edit: April 25, 2018, 08:05:10 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1001 on: April 25, 2018, 11:22:18 AM »
Thanks for the recommendations, Mike. I have found both the Stein Don Carlo and the live Molinari-Pradelli Rigoletto on Spotify and have saved them both for later listening.

I can't really imagine Janowitz in Verdi. She is a singer I have equivocal feelings about. The voice is indeed beautiful, but I find her performances can sometimes seem emotionally tepid. She has  a sort of disembodied purity that I wouldn't have thought suited Verdi. It should make for interesting listening.

Do let me know how you get on, I will be interested in your take on the sets.

Mike
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1002 on: April 25, 2018, 11:49:25 AM »
...
As for Kna's Parsifal, where to start? There seem to be a number of different performances out there, both official and unofficial, and I have no idea which is considered the best.
Well, not that I’m a great fan of Knappertsbusch, but I’ll give my two cents worth...

Knappertsbusch “owned” Parsifal in Bayreuth, in the Wieland Wagner production, from the reopening of the festival in 1951 until one year before his death in 1965. Only in 1953 did Clemens Krauss appear in the pit; AFAIK, Knappertsbusch had a strong personal animosity towards Krauss, and told Wieland Wagner something to the effect of “if he comes to the Green Hill, then don’t count with me”. Krauss came, and conducted a superb Parsifal (and Ring), but then died the following year. Knappertsbusch was gracious enough to return for the 1954 festival (and stay for good). Also, in 1957, André Cluytens took over some performances, and it was he who took over the production in 1965 from  Knappertsbusch. In 1966, Pierre Boulez debuted on the Green Hill with the same production, starting a new era in the festival’s history.

Currently, I only have two of Knappertsbusch’s performances on CD, the two “official” ones from 1951 (Decca) and 1962 (Philips)—I had other ones on LP ages ago. I’d say his conception of the score didn’t change much over the years, and the choice boils down to the casts. In 1951, you have a wonderful Martha Mödl as Kundry, Wolfgang Windgassen at his peak in the title role, Ludwig Weber a noble Gurnemanz, Hermann Uhde as Klingsor (a role that suited him like a glove), and George London in his prime as Amfortas. The sound is adequate for its age (in mono, of course).



In 1962 (in stereo, and reputed to be the recording—of any work—that best captures the unique acoustics of the Festspielhaus), you get the mellifluous Jess Thomas (a personal favourite of mine) as the pure fool, Irene Dalis as a solid Kundry (but no match for Mödl’s intensity), Hans Hotter well past his prime as Gurnemanz (the greatest weakness of the set IMHO, but highly regarded by many reviewers), George London again (but no match for his younger self), and another superb Klingsor in Gustav Neidlinger.



All in all, I have a preference for the 1951 (which documents a historic occasion) over the 1962, despite the better sound of the latter. Of course, there’s bootleg recordings of the work under the same conductor from almost every year (generally in decent sound, as they stem from radio broadcasts), and you have an embarrassment of riches as far as singers are concerned (Régine Crespin here, Fischer-Dieskau there, Ramón Vinay—but for him, I’d go to the 1953 Krauss—and so on).

IIRC, you are an admirer of Jon Vickers’s artistry, Tsaraslondon. Thus, another recording that might interest you, and that has received “official” status (as it’s the original Bavarian Radio tapes that have been issued by Orfeo) is the 1964 (Knappertsbusch’s swan song). The Kundry is Barbro Ericsson, Hotter is Gurnemanz again, and the great Thomas Stewart is Amfortas.



But I insist, I dont know it (two Knappertsbusch recordings of Parsifal in my collection appears enough, I’d say  ;)).

THREAD DUTY:

Light years away from Parsifal  ;D, a work that, in its naïveté and sheer joy, always brings a smile to my face (in a vintage recording which I just bought):



I quattro rusteghi is Wolf-Ferrari’s second opera based on Goldoni, after Le donne curiose, and to be followed by La vedova scaltra and lastly by my favourite of the lot, the nostalgic Il campielloRusteghi is less directly indebted to Falstaff than its predecessor, and the formula used by the composer to illustrate Goldoni’s charming comedies is firmly established and works perfectly. In this case, we have a simple melody (a ditty, I’d say) that is used in the short overture and reappears regularly, and then a more substantial theme that is used in a funny scene between the character of Marina and her maid (“Lo specio me ga dito che son bela”), which is then developed in the charming intermezzo and reappears in the ensemble that concludes the opera (almost exactly the same procedure used with the “Bondì Venezia cara” theme in Il  Campiello.

I have long been admirer of Goldoni (seeing Giorgio Strehler’s Piccolo Teatro di Milano production of  Arlecchino, servitore di due padroni almost 40 years ago is a memory I cherish to this day), and Wolf-Ferrari treats the playwright’s work with love and utmost care, enveloping it with music that appears just perfect for it. Beautiful!

The recording is a typical 1950s RAI production, with acceptable sound. The voices are closely miked, which is actually good for such an intimate piece. There’s only two familiar names in the cast (Fernando Corena and Alda Noni), but this is a “choral comedy”, and that feeling is perfectly palpable in this performance, under the capable baton of Alfredo Simonetto.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2018, 10:33:04 PM by ritter »
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1003 on: April 25, 2018, 06:53:28 PM »
I have the Naxos issue of the 1951 recording.  Mark Obert-Thorn produced it, and I can remember no problem with the sonics.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1004 on: April 27, 2018, 11:45:54 PM »
Well, not that I’m a great fan of Knappertsbusch, but I’ll give my two cents worth...

Knappertsbusch “owned” Parsifal in Bayreuth, in the Wieland Wagner production, from the reopening of the festival in 1951 until one year before his death in 1965. Only in 1953 did Clemens Krauss appear in the pit; AFAIK, Knappertsbusch had a strong personal animosity towards Krauss, and told Wieland Wagner something to the effect of “if he comes to the Green Hill, then don’t count with me”. Krauss came, and conducted a superb Parsifal (and Ring), but then died the following year. Knappertsbusch was gracious enough to return for the 1954 festival (and stay for good). Also, in 1957, André Cluytens took over some performances, and it was he who took over the production in 1965 from  Knappertsbusch. In 1966, Pierre Boulez debuted on the Green Hill with the same production, starting a new era in the festival’s history.

Currently, I only have two of Knappertsbusch’s performances on CD, the two “official” ones from 1951 (Decca) and 1962 (Philips)—I had other ones on LP ages ago. I’d say his conception of the score didn’t change much over the years, and the choice boils down to the casts. In 1951, you have a wonderful Martha Mödl as Kundry, Wolfgang Windgassen at his peak in the title role, Ludwig Weber a noble Gurnemanz, Hermann Uhde as Klingsor (a role that suited him like a glove), and George London in his prime as Amfortas. The sound is adequate for its age (in mono, of course).



In 1962 (in stereo, and reputed to be the recording—of any work—that best captures the unique acoustics of the Festspielhaus), you get the mellifluous Jess Thomas (a personal favourite of mine) as the pure fool, Irene Dalis as a solid Kundry (but no match for Mödl’s intensity), Hans Hotter well past his prime as Gurnemanz (the greatest weakness of the set IMHO, but highly regarded by many reviewers), George London again (but no match for his younger self), and another superb Klingsor in Gustav Neidlinger.



All in all, I have a preference for the 1951 (which documents a historic occasion) over the 1962, despite the better sound of the latter. Of course, there’s bootleg recordings of the work under the same conductor from almost every year (generally in decent sound, as they stem from radio broadcasts), and you have an embarrassment of riches as far as singers are concerned (Régine Crespin here, Fischer-Dieskau there, Ramón Vinay—but for him, I’d go to the 1953 Krauss—and so on).

IIRC, you are an admirer of Jon Vickers’s artistry, Tsaraslondon. Thus, another recording that might interest you, and that has received “official” status (as it’s the original Bavarian Radio tapes that have been issued by Orfeo) is the 1964 (Knappertsbusch’s swan song). The Kundry is Barbro Ericsson, Hotter is Gurnemanz again, and the great Thomas Stewart is Amfortas.



But I insist, I dont know it (two Knappertsbusch recordings of Parsifal in my collection appears enough, I’d say  ;)).


Thanks for the guidance, ritter.

At the moment I'm embarking on one of my irregular visits to Wagner's Ring. It's such a commitment, and, given the amount of time I have available, it's likely to take quite a few days.

Karajan's Ring doesn't seem to get much praise hereabouts, but it's the one I grew up with, and I prefer Karajan's way to Solti's orgasm in every bar approach. Starting with Das Rheingold of course.




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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1005 on: April 28, 2018, 01:01:04 AM »
I have listened to and very much enjoyed my new Don Carlo. There are many aspects I like a great deal, including Guilini’s conducting which is as always sensitive but he also plays up the drama very successfully. Raimondi’s voice is too lightweight for me, but everyone else sounds right for the parts they play. I especialy enjoyed having a proper Act 1. It has such terrific music in it. I even enjoyed Domingo, though he does not do very much with the words.

It will probably be Tues before I can get round to the Giulini Rigoletto that came in the same parcel.

I enjoy Karajan’s Ring, though not Crespin in Walkure. The Karajan Gotterdammerung is my favourite version of the opara, Dernesch, the ventilated sound, the overwhelming orchestral passages.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1006 on: April 28, 2018, 02:59:55 AM »
I have listened to and very much enjoyed my new Don Carlo. There are many aspects I like a great deal, including Guilini’s conducting which is as always sensitive but he also plays up the drama very successfully. Raimondi’s voice is too lightweight for me, but everyone else sounds right for the parts they play. I especialy enjoyed having a proper Act 1. It has such terrific music in it. I even enjoyed Domingo, though he does not do very much with the words.

It will probably be Tues before I can get round to the Giulini Rigoletto that came in the same parcel.

I enjoy Karajan’s Ring, though not Crespin in Walkure. The Karajan Gotterdammerung is my favourite version of the opara, Dernesch, the ventilated sound, the overwhelming orchestral passages.

Mike

I agree with your assessment of the Giulini Don Carlo, Mike. Domingo is much better in Abbado's French version, where he is much more dramatically aware, and (paradoxically you might think, as he was older by then) his high notes sound much more free. Unfortunately, aside from Domingo, the Abbado doesn't have that much to commend it, and the digital recorded sound is muddier than EMI's analogue sound for Giulini.

I think the two outer operas the most successful in Karajan's Ring, though I enjoy Janowitz and Vickers in Act I of Die Walküre. The end of Götterdämmerung I find utterly overwhweming, with Dernesch absolutely radiant.


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Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1007 on: April 29, 2018, 02:52:09 AM »
Took this one out after seing a terrific live performance in early January - finally feeling like listening today:



Sound isn't great, but the singing is!
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1008 on: May 01, 2018, 12:29:42 AM »


Continuing my Ring journey with the second instalment. Admittedly I am no Wagner aficionado, but I am still finding it difficult to understand the opprobrium heaped on Karajan's Ring. I am enjoying it immensely, and Vickers is a wonder.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 01:03:30 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1009 on: May 01, 2018, 11:36:55 PM »

Karajan's Ring doesn't seem to get much praise hereabouts, but it's the one I grew up with, and I prefer Karajan's way to Solti's orgasm in every bar approach. Starting with Das Rheingold of course.




Karajan’s Ring was my introduction to the work, and I still enjoy it tremendously. The ultra-refined handling of the orchestral sound fits the work very well IMHO, and the (at times controversial) vocal performances are perfectly suited to the conductor’s conception, making this a very coherent set.

Actually, this recording of Das Rheingold was my first classical purchase—on LP—ever (I was intrigued by the title of the work, more than anything else, and didn’t know what I was getting into   ::) ;)). Later on, my dad—who was definitely not a Wagnerian ;)—bought the whole Karajan Ring as a present for me (it was cheaper as a complete set—I still remember the list price in the Schwann catalogue at the time, $119–than purchasing the remaing three parts independently). Since then, I have collected many recordings of the cycle, but this and the Boulez remain my go-to versions.

“Orgasm at every bar”  :laugh: :laugh: That’s a very apt description of how I perceive Sir Georg’s approach....
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 11:52:37 PM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1010 on: May 02, 2018, 12:04:33 AM »


Having finished Karajan's Die Walküre, I move on to Siegfried, which is the instalment of Der Ring I know the least, possibly because it was the last of the four I bought back in the day when I was collecting Karajan's Ring on LP.

I've always found Siegfried a harder nut to crack. It's always seemed like a string of conversations to me, with very little going on. I find myself longing to get to the final scene with its climactic love duet where, in this set, we first get to hear Dernesch's radiant Brünnhilde.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 12:11:28 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1011 on: May 02, 2018, 12:06:38 AM »
Oh goodness me someone just hit the nail on the head about Solti's studio Ring!

There were recordings on YouTube of a 1980sn live Ring that Solti conducted in Bayreuth. I don't know if they are still there but it is honestly so much better. I wish that would be given an official CD/download release


in other news, I am indifferent to Karajan's Ring
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 12:11:02 AM by jessop »

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1012 on: May 02, 2018, 12:07:54 AM »
Took this one out after seing a terrific live performance in early January - finally feeling like listening today:



Sound isn't great, but the singing is!
I don’t know that set ( and I don’t really like Madama Butterfly that much), but Eleanor Steber was a superb soprano IMHO. One of my favourites ever...
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1013 on: May 02, 2018, 12:10:20 AM »
Karajan’s Ring was my introduction to the work, and I still enjoy it tremendously. The ultra-refined handling of the orchestral sound fits the work very well IMHO, and the (at times controversial) vocal performances are perfectly suited to the conductor’s conception, making this a very coherent set.

Actually, this recording of Das Rheingold was my first classical purchase—on LP—ever (I was intrigued by the title of the work, more than anything else, and didn’t know what I was getting into   ::) ;)). Later on, my dad—who was definitely not a Wagnerian ;)—bought the whole Karajan Ring as a present for me (it was cheaper as a complete set—I still remember the list price in the Schwann catalogue at the time, $119–than purchasing the remaing three parts independently). Since then, I have collected many recordings of the cycle, but this and the Boulez remain my go-to versions.

“Orgasm at every bar”  :laugh: :laugh: That’s a very apt description of how I perceive Sir Georg’s approach....

Funny, isn't it? Admitting a liking for Karajan's Ring is, I imagine,  a bit like standing up at an AA meeting. Hard to do, but a relief once you get it off your chest. The interesting thing is, once one's admitted it, others will crawl out of the woodwork and admit they like it too.




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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1014 on: May 03, 2018, 03:21:21 AM »
I don't really feel like I have been in the woodwork, but I get what you mean. I had the Solti complete on LP in the special presentation box which included LPs of analysis of motifs. I enjoyed elements of it, Nilsson and the production. But I disliked Windgassen and the sound from the discs struck me a dry up against the Szell discs of orchestral passages. Then the Karajan became available. For me the soundworld became more opulent and lyrical. Also there were a number of voices I preferred, though emphatically not Crespin. It was a long time before I bought the full Karajan Ring and I earlier supplemented Rheingold with a live Bohm. For me however no one met Kempe's warmth for the opening scene of Rheingold. It is such a shame that he did not recoed the opera in full when he was in the studio. I ended up with a number of Siegfrieds, but only by default when I was buying complete cycles. I hardly listen to the middle of the opera, I do think Wagner should have taken a pair of scissors to it. 

Mike
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 06:48:07 AM by knight66 »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1015 on: May 04, 2018, 10:38:21 PM »
I don't really feel like I have been in the woodwork, but I get what you mean. I had the Solti complete on LP in the special presentation box which included LPs of analysis of motifs. I enjoyed elements of it, Nilsson and the production. But I disliked Windgassen and the sound from the discs struck me a dry up against the Szell discs of orchestral passages. Then the Karajan became available. For me the soundworld became more opulent and lyrical. Also there were a number of voices I preferred, though emphatically not Crespin. It was a long time before I bought the full Karajan Ring and I earlier supplemented Rheingold with a live Bohm. For me however no one met Kempe's warmth for the opening scene of Rheingold. It is such a shame that he did not recoed the opera in full when he was in the studio. I ended up with a number of Siegfrieds, but only by default when I was buying complete cycles. I hardly listen to the middle of the opera, I do think Wagner should have taken a pair of scissors to it. 

Mike

I know you have a bit of a problem with Crespin, MIke. I do with Nilsson. It's not a voice I've ever warmed to.

This time round I enjoyed Crespin's Walküre Brünnhilde more than I expected. She portrays a youthfully ebullient character, and her voice is warmer than Nilsson's. That said I'm pleased that the role went to Dernesch in the latter two operas.

I agree that the cycle is just too long, but I know most Wagnerites would disagree with me. The mere suggestion of cuts can provoke apoplexy. But one rarely sees an uncut performance of a Shakespeare play, and nobody seems to mind about that.


« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 11:41:39 PM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1016 on: May 04, 2018, 11:37:47 PM »


I'm finally on to the last leg of Karajan's Ring, and I've enjoyed the journey, though I've had to spread it out over several days, proceeding an act at a time, or sometimes just a scene. I'm reminded this is the reason I don't listen to Wagner that often.
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1017 on: May 07, 2018, 08:10:18 AM »
Listened again to Haydn's Lo speziale. It is as good of a place to start listening to Haydn's (unfairly) neglected operas as any.

Btw, I listen to operas on almost daily basis (in fact, absolute music has more and more faded away from my interests as the time goes by) but I relatively rarely post in this thread because I've got so much things going on.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1018 on: May 08, 2018, 10:07:22 AM »


There is some great music in Bellini's I Puritani, but it doesn't have the dramatic coherence of Norma or even La Sonnambula. None the less it's always worth hearing Callas's superb Elvira.

A more detailed review of the set appears on my blog https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/i-puritani/
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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1019 on: May 08, 2018, 01:04:47 PM »
I have that set and don’t feel the need to get an alternative. I think it is an opera that would work on a highlights disc.

I have been through the Giulini Rigoletto. I quite enjoyed it, though none of the three protagonosts really did it got me. Domingo in particular sounded very generic in his portrayal, no ‘face’. I enjoyed Guilini’s conducting, it became like a dark Rembrant of a piece. I prefer the other four or five versions that I have.

Mike
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