Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 117669 times)

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1680 on: May 09, 2019, 10:54:42 AM »


I bought Cardillac a few months ago, haven’t listened to it yet. I’d be interested to read your comments.

Actually it’s one of the approx 30 opera sets in my listening backlog  ::)  :-[

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1681 on: May 10, 2019, 07:36:20 AM »
I bought Cardillac a few months ago, haven’t listened to it yet. I’d be interested to read your comments.

Actually it’s one of the approx 30 opera sets in my listening backlog  ::)  :-[

It is marvellous! One of the (relatively) unsung German operas of his generation. Warmly recommended.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1682 on: May 10, 2019, 03:13:03 PM »
Thanks, I appreciate!

As of Monday I’ll be ‘home alone’ for the next 3 weeks. I should have time to listen to a few operas  :). Cardillac will be one of them - and maybe Mathis der Maler, which is also still under wraps.
.................................................

This one has just been issued and I’m seriously considering an acquisition:



Online mc ukrneal

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1683 on: May 10, 2019, 03:22:48 PM »
Thanks, I appreciate!

As of Monday I’ll be ‘home alone’ for the next 3 weeks. I should have time to listen to a few operas  :). Cardillac will be one of them - and maybe Mathis der Maler, which is also still under wraps.
.................................................

This one has just been issued and I’m seriously considering an acquisition:



It's on my list too, as is the previously issued Messager. Presto has the Messager for download at a more reasonable price (with a digital booklet), but I suspect it is the libretto without the book. And I have rather enjoyed having the books....
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1684 on: May 10, 2019, 11:59:17 PM »


This is an infuriating set. Infuriating because the performance is so good but let down by the ridiculously wide dynamic of the recording. The balances are all over the place too, with the brass thrust relentlessly into the foreground. One particularly bad example is at the beginning of the garden scene (Act II, scene i in this version). Carreras is placed so far away from the microphone at his entrance that you can hardly hear him. The natural reaction is to turn up the sound, only to be blasted out of your seat at the next orchestral tutti. With the sound at a reasonably comfortable volume for the rest of the scene the brass reiteration of the friendship theme at the end is absolutely deafening. It might be ok if you live in the middle of nowhere, but if, like me, you live in a small flat in the heart of London, it makes listening a very nerve-racking experience, as you have to be prepared to adjust the volume all the time. It's no better with headphones either, as, with the sound turned up high enough for the quieter sections, you risk severe ear damage every time the full orchestra let fly.

Aside from the problems of the sound, though, the set has much to commend it. I regret the absence of the Fontainebleau act, as Karajan conducts here Verdi's 1884 revision, which excised the first act and moved Carlo's Io la vidi to the monastery scene, which now became Act I. This was the version usually adopted until Giulini included the Fontainebleau act in the famous Visconti/Covent Garden production of 1958. Since then the opera has been performed in a bewildering variety of different versions, but the four act version is rarely given these days, though, as far as I'm aware, Karajan always stuck to it.

Editions aside, this one has an excellent cast. Freni is captured at the beginning of her progress into more dramatic music. In 1977 she had been a superb Amelia in the Abbado/Strehler production of Simon Boccanegra, and the role of Elisabetta suits her very well. She doesn't quite command the beauty of tone of Caballé on the Giulini recording and she occasionally sounds a little cautious, but she makes a most sympathetic heroine, and articulates the text beautifully. Carreras is caught at his absolute best. Some might feel that, as with Freni, a larger, more heroic voice is what is required, but I'm not sure I'd agree. Carlo is one of Verdi's most complex tenor roles, a weak character stunted by his father's indifference to him, constantly in the shadow of his noble friend, Posa and Carreras brilliantly captures both his instability and his desperation. He might just be my favourite Carlo on disc. Cappuccilli is not so interesting a Posa as Gobbi or Milnes, nor is he quite as impressive here as he was in the Abbado Simon Boccanegra, but it is still an excellent performance, his breath control and legato very impressive. Ghiaurov is now sounding a little grey of voice, but that is not inapt for Filippo, and he too presents a believably complex character. I prefer a blacker voice than Raimondi's for the Inquisitor (like Foiani on the Giulini recording) and consequently the great scene between him and Filippo loses a little in tension.

Crowning the cast is Agnes Baltsa as Eboli in one of her best recorded roles. The voice is at its absolute peak, the lower voice rich and powerful, the top notes gleamingly firm. Her O don fatale is absolutely thrilling, as it was when I saw her in the role at Covent Garden, when she pretty much stopped the show. This luxury casting continues into the smaller roles with José Van Dam as the Monk, Edita Gruberova as Tebaldo and Barbara Hendricks as The Voice from Heaven.

Karajan's tempi are sometimes a little too measured, but he has the virtue of never letting the tempo sag. If only the sound were more maneagable, I might listen to it more often. As it is, Giulini remains my yardstick for the opera.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1685 on: May 12, 2019, 05:10:18 AM »
Just purchased from Pristine Classical, the newly remastered 1959 London Medea with Callas and Vickers



I really look forward to hear this one  :)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1686 on: May 12, 2019, 05:32:50 AM »
Just purchased from Pristine Classical, the newly remastered 1959 London Medea with Callas and Vickers



I really look forward to hear this one  :)

This is probably the best sounding of Callas's Medeas, but unfortunately it's not her best performance. It pales in comparison to the white hot intensity unleashed in Dallas the previous year (which has Berganza in the role of Neris), and is not so thrilling as Florence 1953 under Gui and La Scala 1953 under Bernstein.

It's still Callas of course, and she is still better in the role than anyone else. It just sounds a little underpowered in comparison to those other performances.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1687 on: May 12, 2019, 07:03:53 AM »
I have them both  :)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1688 on: May 12, 2019, 07:18:54 AM »
I have them both  :)

I have the Florence, 1953 La Scala, studio and Dallas recordings. The others I find dispensable.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1689 on: May 12, 2019, 05:10:34 PM »


This works packs quite a good punch. It begins slowly but accelerates steadily until the last rambuctious scene, reminiscent of a keystone cops chase/escape. It is very strongly sung in this Decca production, which doesn’t stint on the many sound effects imagined by the composer.

 is a rival production with Lucia Popp, Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart, but from what I've read it consists of extracts, not the whole opera.

Offline pjme

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1690 on: May 13, 2019, 09:01:48 AM »
I bought Cardillac a few months ago, haven’t listened to it yet. I’d be interested to read your comments.

Actually it’s one of the approx 30 opera sets in my listening backlog  ::)  :-[

I saw "Cardillac" earlier this year in Antwerp. Dimitri Jurowski conductor : Simon Neal as Cardillac, Betsy Horne as "Die Tochter", Ferdinand von Bothmer as "Der Offizier", Theresa Kronthaler as "Die dame".
I definitely liked the music. Much of the score has a driving, neo-baroque, agile nervousness, some duetts and arias are wonderfully sweet and eloquent (with obligato woodwinds). Some climaxes have the Ur-noble Hindemithian grandeur of an oratorium.
The production in Antwerp was OK - much looked "rather cheap"....
A work I would be happy to rediscover in good sound.

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1691 on: May 13, 2019, 10:25:06 AM »
Must have been quite an evening !

Offline pjme

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1692 on: May 13, 2019, 10:45:04 AM »
Yes , it was -aurally - a great experience.

These little clips give an idea:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/opI1riTuDuo" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/opI1riTuDuo</a>

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/tuTfZGvGpok" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/tuTfZGvGpok</a>

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1693 on: May 13, 2019, 12:07:40 PM »
Great, thanks for sharing !

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1694 on: May 22, 2019, 03:18:06 PM »


Medea x 3.

Callas/Rescigno, Covent Garden 1959. Complete.
Callas/Gui, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, May 7, 1953. 45 minutes of Callas scenes.
Callas/Bernstein, La Scala, December 10, 1953. 45 minutes of Callas scenes.

I also listened a few months ago to the 1958 Dallas performance, and last year to the 1957 Serafin (from Cetra, now on EMI).

My tolerance for old, wiry live sound is severely tested in the La Scala performance. Obviously it is a powerhouse interpretation from all involved, but I have trouble figuring how much of the squalliness and sharpness must be attributed to the sound source. Compared to the Florence performance of the same year Callas sounds tense in the wrong sense. Bernstein is very attentive and a real asset in the fiery orchestral outbursts.

Under Gui Callas is immensely effective both as a tragédienne and as a singer. The last imprecation is hurled with immense gusto and stamina, with perfect intonation. Coming at the end of a long evening - Medea is on stage non stop from her initial entrance - it is simply spectacular. The sound is very good in a primitive sort of way. The performance took place in the Teatro Comunale. On the face of this sound recording it seems to be a very spacious venue. There is no overload in the ensembles, which I find a real problem at La Scala. This recording also allows one to hear the very involved prompter  ::).

The 1959 Covent Garden boasts sizable advantages over the previous versions: first, all the roles are taken by world class singers (Vickers, Cossotto, Joan Carlyle, Nicola Zaccaria). Medea is an opera that rests on the title role’s interpreter, but there are important solos and scenes for Glauce, Néris, Giasone and Creonte. It’s quite a relief to hear them taken by such superb singers. Callas herself is in very good voice. Second, the sound is dozens of miles ahead of the other live performances. If anything, the Pristine remastering sounds almost too comfortable to accommodate Callas’ fiery Medea. Perversely, it may contribute to the feeling of being underpowered compared to the others. But to hear Cherubini’s Medea as a total experience, I think it is almost as good as the Dallas performance.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1695 on: May 22, 2019, 10:15:21 PM »


My tolerance for old, wiry live sound is severely tested in the La Scala performance. Obviously it is a powerhouse interpretation from all involved, but I have trouble figuring how much of the squalliness and sharpness must be attributed to the sound source. Compared to the Florence performance of the same year Callas sounds tense in the wrong sense. Bernstein is very attentive and a real asset in the fiery orchestral outbursts.



I am completely mystified by this description of the 1953 La Scala performance. The sound is not great, it is true, but Callas is in superb voice, as she was just a few months earlier for Gui in Florence. I hear no squalliness or sharpness at all. It lacks some of the subtleties she brings to the role in Dallas, but the voice is spot on. If you'd been dscribing the 1961 La Scala performance under Schippers, it would have made more sense. Are you sure it hasn't been wrongly labelled?

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

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1696 on: May 23, 2019, 05:14:23 AM »
It’s labeled correctly. Maybe it’s an inferior transfer. The set is issued by Membran and uses 24/96 technology - whatever that is supposed to mean. I find the sound in that particular performance very unpleasant to listen to - ditto the 1954 La Vestale and Alceste performances on disc 14, which I listened to yesterday. The Florence Medea otoh is rough-sounding but still quite listenable.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1697 on: May 23, 2019, 06:19:33 AM »
It’s labeled correctly. Maybe it’s an inferior transfer. The set is issued by Membran and uses 24/96 technology - whatever that is supposed to mean. I find the sound in that particular performance very unpleasant to listen to - ditto the 1954 La Vestale and Alceste performances on disc 14, which I listened to yesterday. The Florence Medea otoh is rough-sounding but still quite listenable.

The sound was never great for any of them, and the La Vestale and Alceste are particularly bad, which is a terrible shame as it's the only time she sang these roles. The Medea sounds a lot better in both the Warner and Ars Vocalis issues. The only other one I knew was EMI, which was horrible. Still, even through the so so sound, you can tell Callas was in fabulous voice. Barbieri is an excellent Neris, as she was in Florence, but at least here she gets to sing her aria with the correct bassoon obligato, rather than the cello we hear in Florence.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1698 on: May 23, 2019, 09:38:50 AM »
Thanks for the info. I assume this is the release you refer to:



I’ll put it on my wishlist  :)

The Alceste and Vestale recordings are really terrible, which is a shame. Giulia seems to be a particularly difficult role, cruelly demanding on the voice with its relentlessly high tessitura. Callas’ rendition of Caro oggetto is simply perfect.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1699 on: May 23, 2019, 10:29:22 PM »
Thanks for the info. I assume this is the release you refer to:



I’ll put it on my wishlist  :)

The Alceste and Vestale recordings are really terrible, which is a shame. Giulia seems to be a particularly difficult role, cruelly demanding on the voice with its relentlessly high tessitura. Callas’ rendition of Caro oggetto is simply perfect.

Yes, that's the one.

Giulia is something of an ungrateful role, and even confounds Callas's great gifts. She has none of Norma’s inner turmoil or ultimate sacrifice, her sentiments, whether mooning over Licinio or gazing upward to Vesta, all too similar, and consequently the opera never really take's off.

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