Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 86182 times)

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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1100 on: June 23, 2018, 04:50:53 AM »
It took me some time to get to grips with act 2. If the voices are good enough I enjoy the arias as long as the speeds are neither too slow or fast. It is pretty cynical about both men and women, the men behave despicably.

Mike
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1101 on: June 23, 2018, 05:10:30 AM »
It took me some time to get to grips with act 2. If the voices are good enough I enjoy the arias as long as the speeds are neither too slow or fast. It is pretty cynical about both men and women, the men behave despicably.

Mike

Very true. Da Ponte’s libretto is about the cynical view of amorous relationships held by Don Alfonso. Molière before him had explored the same topic in his play Le misanthrope.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1102 on: June 23, 2018, 06:51:45 AM »
It took me some time to get to grips with act 2. If the voices are good enough I enjoy the arias as long as the speeds are neither too slow or fast. It is pretty cynical about both men and women, the men behave despicably.

Mike

I've always enjoyed Act II, as it has within it some of my favourite moments, Fiordiligi's Per pieta and the wonderful seduction duet between her and Ferrando Fra gli'amplessi, particularly erotic in the Böhm recording with Schwarzkopf and Kraus.

I've only seen it on stage once, in a wonderful performance with Kiri Te Kanawa, Agnes Baltsa, Stuart Burrows and Thomas Allen. I had a standing room ticket (and it's a long opera to stand through), but I don't recall being bored.



The performance was recorded and is now available on CD.



« Last Edit: June 23, 2018, 06:55:03 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1103 on: June 23, 2018, 08:14:43 AM »
If the voices are good enough I enjoy the arias as long as the speeds are neither too slow or fast.

Mike

Yes that's what I felt last night. Although the singers weren't bad, they weren't good enough dramatically to make the second half work. In the first half there's so much fun, and the music seems more interesting harmonically too, that they can, to some extent, hide.

As far as women are concerned, aren't the women worse than the men in the opera? The blokes didn't really mean to seduce their best friend's girl, but the ladies really meant to marry the blokes while their fellas were fighting a war. Anyway, Don Alfonso is my hero -- along with Don Giovanni.  ;)

I've never read Les Misanthropes, I'll correct that soon!



I've only seen it on stage once, in a wonderful performance with Kiri Te Kanawa, Agnes Baltsa, Stuart Burrows and Thomas Allen. I had a standing room ticket (and it's a long opera to stand through), but I don't recall being bored.



I think I saw that. And I don't recall being bored by Act II as I was last night, either in the opera house or on record. It's just me probably, the mood I was in last night.

« Last Edit: June 23, 2018, 08:24:06 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1104 on: June 23, 2018, 07:23:22 PM »
The men casually pretend to go off to war considerably upsetting and worrying the women. They then misrepresent themselves and try to seduce one another’s partners. It does not get more cynical than that. They got what they deserved, well, a lot better ultimately.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1105 on: June 24, 2018, 12:52:23 AM »

I think I saw that. And I don't recall being bored by Act II as I was last night, either in the opera house or on record. It's just me probably, the mood I was in last night.

Or it could have had something to do with the singers and conductor. It was quite a cast!
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1106 on: June 24, 2018, 07:55:48 AM »
The men casually pretend to go off to war considerably upsetting and worrying the women. They then misrepresent themselves and try to seduce one another’s partners. It does not get more cynical than that. They got what they deserved, well, a lot better ultimately.

Mike

+1
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1107 on: June 26, 2018, 12:07:08 AM »


Coward's comment about the potency of cheap music is what struck me whilst listening to this set, and, if I'm honest, it's my reaction to much of verismo.

This is nonetheless a very good performance (though Obrasztsova is, as usual, a bit overblown for my taste). I just find it hard to take the piece seriously.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1108 on: June 29, 2018, 12:01:46 AM »


Still my favourite recording of Nabucco. Gobbi is a bit past his best, but makes more of the role dramatically than, well anyone else really. Soulitis is caught at her (very brief) peak, though the sheer recklessness of the singing uncovers a few chinks in her armour. None of the other principals are quite on their level, but are adequate enough, and Gardelli, as ever, has a wonderful feel for early Verdi.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2018, 12:29:29 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1109 on: June 29, 2018, 11:02:09 AM »
Yes, this is a very fine set and I think better than any of the other available performances. The conducting is first rate and the whole thing hangs together very well. I have seen it live and felt that it was better experienced on discs, these ones specifically.

Suolitis burned out and a recorded role for which she was roundly criticised was Lady Macbeth. Listening to it decades later, she would now be thought of as perfectly adaquate.

Mike
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1110 on: June 30, 2018, 09:52:16 AM »
First listen to Othmar Schoeck’s earlyish opera Venus, based on a fantastic novella by Prosper Mérimée:



Despite the fantastic character of the plot, what really stands out in this lush, late-romantic score, is an autumnal, nostalgic feeling. As is usually my reaction to Schoeck’s music, this appears to me as a well-constructed and beautifully scored work, with some engaging moments, but not a particularly memorable one. Still, very worthwhile, and as interesting as (the somewhat similar) Massimila Doni and (the vastly different) Penthesilea.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1111 on: June 30, 2018, 10:23:53 AM »

Suolitis burned out and a recorded role for which she was roundly criticised was Lady Macbeth. Listening to it decades later, she would now be thought of as perfectly adaquate.

Mike

It was her last recording for Decca* as a soprano, and, for me, the vocal problems vitiate enjoyment, even if she does have the voice of a she-devil, as Verdi stipulated. It reveals not so much gaps between her registers as yawning chasms. The middle voice has practically disappeared, the chest carried up too high and the top unreliable. Callas caught live in 1952 under De Sabata is in another world, though of course the sound is distinctly lo-fi (much more bearble in recent transfers by Myto and Warner, though). No other Lady Macbeth comes within a mile of her clear-voiced mastery of the roles many difficulties.

That said, of studio recordings I enjoy Verrett's performance for Abbado. Her later recording is too late for comfort.


*Suliotis did make another record for Decca, but it's more of a codacil; the role of the Zia Principessa in Freni's recording of Suor Angelica. Listening to it, you would never believe that Freni was the older singer.


« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 10:36:44 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1112 on: June 30, 2018, 11:01:36 AM »
The recording Souliotis made of Anna Bolena (under Silvio Varviso) is from the same year as that Macbeth (which had a chequered gestation, since AFAIK Tito Gobbi was initially slated to appear in the title role). It has the distinction of being the first truly complete recording of Donizetti’s opera (the live Callas/Simionato/Gavazzeni is heavily cut in the conductor’s edition for this historic revival). I’ve read mixed reviews, and have ordered it, as it’s been recently reissued by Australian Eloquence:



She had recorded the “mad scene” (“Piangete voi?...Al dolce guidami...”) three years earlier under Oliviero de Fabritiis in 1967 (when she was still in command of her voice) and it’s splendid.

Defects and all, I find Elena Suliotis a fascinating singer, and her Leonora in La forza del destino (live from Naples in 1966) is one of the most thrilling operatic portrayals I’ve encountered in quite a while.

The Gardelli Nabucco is a classic recording of this early Verdi opera, that’s for sure, but I’d say it’s rivalled by Giuseppe Sinopoli’s no-holds-barred version  on DG, with Piero Cappuccilli (a much more refined singer than Gobbi) and the late lamented (and fantastic) Ghena Dimitrova. I saw the latter live as Gioconda in Chicago in the mid 80s, and she was mesmerising.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 11:37:01 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1113 on: June 30, 2018, 03:22:10 PM »
The recording Souliotis made of Anna Bolena (under Silvio Varviso) is from the same year as that Macbeth (which had a chequered gestation, since AFAIK Tito Gobbi was initially slated to appear in the title role). It has the distinction of being the first truly complete recording of Donizetti’s opera (the live Callas/Simionato/Gavazzeni is heavily cut in the conductor’s edition for this historic revival). I’ve read mixed reviews, and have ordered it, as it’s been recently reissued by Australian Eloquence:



She had recorded the “mad scene” (“Piangete voi?...Al dolce guidami...”) three years earlier under Oliviero de Fabritiis in 1967 (when she was still in command of her voice) and it’s splendid.

Defects and all, I find Elena Suliotis a fascinating singer, and her Leonora in La forza del destino (live from Naples in 1966) is one of the most thrilling operatic portrayals I’ve encountered in quite a while.

The Gardelli Nabucco is a classic recording of this early Verdi opera, that’s for sure, but I’d say it’s rivalled by Giuseppe Sinopoli’s no-holds-barred version  on DG, with Piero Cappuccilli (a much more refined singer than Gobbi) and the late lamented (and fantastic) Ghena Dimitrova. I saw the latter live as Gioconda in Chicago in the mid 80s, and she was mesmerising.



Except that she has no trill, so we don't hear the rising set of trills Donizetti wrote into Coppia iniqua. Still, it's a lot better than the complete recording, which is, nonetheless,  my top choice for a studio set of Anna Bolena. .
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1114 on: July 02, 2018, 05:51:20 AM »
Revisiting this curious opera by Mascagni:



Le Maschere was famously premiered simultaneously in six leading Italian theatres (Rome, Milan, Venice, Turin, Bologna and Genoa—the performance in Naples had to be postponed by two nights due to the indisposition of the lead tenor) in January 1901. It was only successful in Rome, where the composer conducted, and I understand it was booed off the stage in Genoa.

It is a rather interesting piece, at it’s AFAIK the first resurrection of the commedia dell’arte operatic tradition in the 1900s (it predates Wolf-Ferrari’s first Goldonian opera, Le donne curiose by two years, and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella was still two decades away). It also has some proto-neoclassical traits, using old dance rhythms such as the pavane and the furlana (which are both highlights of the whole opera IMO). The scoring is paired down,  befitting  the style it intends to emulate and the subject matter (the archetypal story of a father betrothing a girl to someone older than her she does not love, but with the help of the servants, she is united with her sweetheart, love triumphs, and all ends well). Still, it does come through as slightly heavy-handed at times, and isn’t really that funny (I suspect librettist Luigi Illica carries most of the blame regarding this aspect). There are some engaging tunes, and there’s also some metatheatrical touches (the overture is interrupted by a parabasis, in which the impresario presents the troupe of comedians to the audience), which I’d say were unheard of in opera at the time; the next example of “theatre within theatre” in opera I can think of is Ariadne auf Naxos, the first version of which was first performed more than 10 years later.

I imagine that if staged by a director with a real love for the commedia dell’arte (I write this one week after seeing Giorgio Strehler’s wonderful staging of Arlecchino servitore di due padroni) this could actually turn out to be a delightful show.

The opera—very much an ensemble piece—is well served in this live recording from Bologna, under Gianluigi Gelmetti. The sound is rather distant, unfortunately.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2018, 06:17:43 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1115 on: July 03, 2018, 04:12:00 AM »


Opinions on Karajan's 1978 recording of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande are somewhat polarised. Some find it anti- Debussyian, lacking in atmosphere and mystery, and bringing out to much Wagnerian influences. Others enjoy the superb orchestral playing, and the intensity of the drama.

Personally I think the opera can withstand more than one approach, and I've always enjoyed this excellently cast recording.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1116 on: July 03, 2018, 11:03:21 AM »


Embarking on a mini-survey of Bizet’s Pêcheurs de perles.

The role of Nadir is one of the most vocally striking in french opera. It requires a combination of ringing declamation, lyric songfulness and frequent ascent to head voice/falsetto register, which makes it particularly hard to cast. Its signature aria Je crois entendre encore is a graveyard of foolish attempts to encompass its treacherous demands.
These have been successfully - even triumphantly - met by Léopold Simoneau and Alain Vanzo. More recently, the french lyric tenor Cyrille Dubois has scored a hit in recent productions.

It’s these three tenors I’ll be listening to in productions from 1959 (Vanzo/Rosenthal), 1953 (Simoneau/Dervaux) and 2015 (Bloch/Dubois).

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1117 on: July 03, 2018, 11:40:51 AM »
The young Katia Ricciarelli and José Carreras in a program of duets that suited their voices perfectly (even if I must admit that Madama Butterfly is an opera I now find insufferable):



Why they are dressed up as Mimì and Rodolfo on the cover beats me, as the program  comprises duets from the aforementioned Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s I Lombardi, and Donizetti’s Poliuto (which they later recorded complete) and Roberto Devereux
« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 10:54:43 AM by ritter »
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Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1118 on: July 04, 2018, 09:45:28 AM »
Caught the new Bieito/Dantone production of L'incoronazione di Poppea yesterday - and am still quite speechless. What a gorgeous and at the same time thought-provoking experience. The music - arranged by Dantone of course - was plain amazing (though in my book they could've killed the pasted-on final love duet, but then it is fun, too, because we all know Poppea won't last very long). The plot suits these times so much better than all those 19c libretti (I still maintain my opinion that "Così fan tutte" is deep, maybe just because of it's alleged lack of "deepness") ... Bieito gave it a slightly pervy twist and obviously enjoyed the sex and crime core at its heart.

And the cast ... mighty impressive, down to the minor roles. Julie Fuchs - heavily pregnant, which of course added another twist to the sexual dimension of the plot - as Poppea was outstanding, so was d'Oustrac's Ottavia. Also worth singling out is the Seneca of Nahuel di Pierro, a Zurich regular. David Hansen's high-pitched voice isn't really pleasant - but he was frighteningly convincing in his part and his singing intense and to the point ... a perfect cast indeed (Valer Sabadus was supposed to sing his part, but cancelled, it seems, just when rehearsals were to start).

The main act, after all, was the music though - I marvelled again and again at the seemingly endless flow of enticing melodies ... and all of the minor parts have their amazing spots. The production worked fine for me, stage noises and plenty of videos didn't bother me at all - on the contrary, I found it all fell together very nicely indeed.

Here's a more elaborate review of the opening night (I saw the fourth of seven showings):

http://seenandheard-international.com/2018/06/lifes-a-catwalk-bieitos-stunning-poppea-for-zurich-opera/

--

L’incoronazione di Poppea

Opera musicale by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
poem by Francesco Busenello

Musikalische Leitung / Continuo Ottavio Dantone
Producer Calixto Bieito
Stage design Rebecca Ringst
Costumes Ingo Krügler
Lighting designer Franck Evin
Video designer Sarah Derendinger
Dramaturgy Beate Breidenbach

Amore / 1. Famigliare - Jake Arditti
Fortuna / Damigella - Florie Valiquette
La Virtù - Hamida Kristoffersen
Nerone - David Hansen
Ottavia - Stéphanie D'Oustrac
Poppea - Julie Fuchs
Ottone - Delphine Galou
Drusilla - Deanna Breiwick
Nutrice - Manuel Nuñez Camelino
Arnalta - Emiliano Gonzalez Toro
Seneca - Nahuel Di Pierro
Valletto - Gemma Ní Bhriain
Lucano, Primo Soldato, 2. Famigliare - Thobela Ntshanyana
Littore, 3. Famigliare - Michael Hauenstein
Liberto, Secondo Soldato - Kristofer Lundin

Orchestra La Scintilla
Ottavio Dantone - director, harpsichord

continuo:
Xavier Pignat - violoncello
Giovanna Pessi - harp
Martin Zeller - viola da gamba
Dieter Lange - violone
Urs Dengler - dulcian
Simon Linné - theorbo
Rosario Conte - lute/g
Giorgio Paronuzzi - org
Es wollt ein meydlein grasen gan:
Fick mich, lieber Peter!
Und do die roten röslein stan:
Fick mich, lieber Peter!
Fick mich mehr, du hast dein ehr.
Kannstu nit, ich wills dich lern.
Fick mich, lieber Peter!

http://ubus-notizen.blogspot.ch/

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1119 on: July 04, 2018, 10:09:01 AM »
Sounds great, king ubu! Glad you enjoyed it... :)

And that final duet may seem “pasted-on”  ;), but it’s simply glorious. The first (or perhaps second, if one thinks of “Possente spirto” from L’Orfeo) real example why opera is such a powerful medium of expression. And the irony that Nerone and Poppea sing their love in such beautiful terms after all the vileness and deceits that have preceded the duet, is a stroke of genius IMHO.

Cheers,

EDIT (THREAD DUTY):

Promoted by ubu’s post, listening to Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s recording of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, with Elisabeth Söderström, Helen Donath, Cathy Berberian et al.


« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 10:38:43 AM by ritter »
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