Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 63400 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #660 on: September 17, 2017, 10:46:04 AM »



Maazel's La fanciulla del West.  Generally well performed (who knew Domingo could sing?), in good sound for a live recording, with only occasional interruptions from the audience, like pesky post-aria applause, this is a fine recording.  I prefer Mehta's set, which is better in every way.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 10:47:53 AM by Todd »
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Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #661 on: September 18, 2017, 05:34:09 AM »
Part of the special Maria Callas program on France Musique.

- Sansom and Dalila and Carmen, George Prêtre directing Paris Opera orchestra

The role of Dalila suits her like a glove, on the other hand I am not convinced by her Carmen.

Among the other pieces played an Oberon (Carl Maria von Weber) from a 1964 performance Salle Wagram (Paris).  I thought it was quite good.
Some wonderful excerpts of Ambroise Thomas Hamlet with all the lightness this repertoire demands (a studio recording I dont know)
From a 1957 concert in Athens, a Liebestod from Tristan&Isold.  Not your typical Liebestod, but nevertheless interesting.

Some stuff from La Gioconda, which I did not care for all that much.




« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 09:49:49 AM by Spineur »

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #662 on: September 18, 2017, 10:03:06 AM »
Part of the special Maria Callas program on France Musique.

- Sansom and Dalila and Carmen, George Prêtre directing Paris Opera orchestra

The role of Dalila suits her like a glove, on the other hand I am not convinced by her Carmen.

Among the other pieces played an Oberon (Carl Maria von Weber) from a 1964 performance Salle Wagram (Paris).  I thought it was quite good.
Some wonderful excerpts of Ambroise Thomas Hamlet with all the lightness this repertoire demands (a studio recording I dont know)
From a 1957 concert in Athens, a Liebestod from Tristan&Isold.  Not your typical Liebestod, but nevertheless interesting.

Some stuff from La Gioconda, which I did not care for all that much.

Oddly enough, I find her Carmen one of her most exacting and intelligent creations. But then, with Callas isolated arias will never satisfy on their own. You have to listen to her take on the whole role. She is certainly not the conventional hip-swinging vamp we often get. but definitely dangereuse, as she is described in the libretto.

I review the compete set here https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/the-callas-carmen/.

Her Gioconda is also a justly renowned characterisation; and she recorded it twice.

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

Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #663 on: September 18, 2017, 10:45:34 AM »
An old recording, but one of the very best Carmen



Costs 2.94$ on A.com for a double CD.  Another cover with the same material
« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 11:00:59 AM by Spineur »

Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #664 on: September 18, 2017, 10:30:10 PM »
After having seen it live at the Teatro Real here in Madrid earlier this year, revisiting Alberto Ginastera's Bomarzo:


This is an earlier, semi-private release (courtesy of the Argentine consulate in Miami) of the 1967 Washington Opera recording recently reissued by Sony.

It is a wonderful opera, very well constructed as far as the libretto is concerned, and with an " accessible" avant-garde idiom which nowadays can sound slightly dated at some points, but is nevertheless very effective. Great stuff.


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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #665 on: September 18, 2017, 10:38:17 PM »


My new Callas Live Remastered box set arrived yesterday, and I am now listening to the first of the operas in the set, Nabucco from 1949.

The big question is going to be about the sound. I wasn't expecting miracles, especially with this opera, which has always sounded pretty bad.

All I can say is that, so far (I've listened to the overture and opening chorus, superbly paced by Gui by the way), it is at least listenable, which was not quite true of my previous version.

Others tell me that Ars Vocalis' new version is even better, but my ears aren't that great and I wonder if it will be so much better that I need to acquire it too.

Looking forward to Callas's entrance. Her Abigaille is sans pareil, though she never sang the role again. She thought the role a voice wrecker, and even counselled Caballe against singing it ("It would be like putting a precious Baccarat glass in a box and shaking it around. It would shatter.") Caballe heeded the advice and never sang the role.

One should note that this Live box is a far better reflection of Callas's career than her studio output, which includes a lot of Puccini, a composer she mostly ignored when her career was at its zenith. Even Tosca was a relative rarity for her after she made the 1953 recording. Apart from her two seasons at the Met, she ignored it until it became the vehicle for her come back at Covent Garden in Zeffirelli's 1964 production.

Her Abigaille causes regret that, apart from Lady Macbeth, she didn't sing any more of Verdi's early soprano roles.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:24:05 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #666 on: September 22, 2017, 12:38:14 AM »


Next up in the Callas box, is this concert performance of Parsifal, with Callas as Kundry, a role that she had sung the previous year in Rome under Serafin.

Wagnerians will no doubt balk at the opera being performed in Italian, but that was the way in Italy back then. All Wagner operas were performed in Italian.

The opera is quite heavily cut (something of a relief in the case of Africo Baldelli's Parsifal), but the presence of Callas and Christoff, not to mention Vittorio Gui in the pit, make the recording more than just a curiosity.

Callas is a wonderfully sensuous and dramatically alive Kundry, and it is good to have this one example of Callas in a complete Wagner role (she also sang Isolde and the Walküre Brünnhilde in her early career).

The recording favours the voices, which are clear and true, but the orchestra is rather murky.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:25:55 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline betterthanfine

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #667 on: September 22, 2017, 02:49:35 PM »
One of Callas's' greatest nights. I review the performance on my blog, if you're interested.

https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/anna-bolena-la-scala-milan-april-14-1957/

Tsaras, what do you think of Gencer's performance of the role?


Offline GioCar

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #668 on: September 22, 2017, 08:54:07 PM »

... that was the way in Italy back then. All Wagner operas were performed in Italian.


I still remember my grandmother singing

Da voi lontan, in sconosciuta terra
Havvi un castel, che ha nome Monsalvato:
Là un sacro tempio una foresta serra,
Di gemme senza pari e d'oro ornato.


which in my child mind resounded much more than

In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten,
liegt eine Burg, die Montsalvat genannt;
ein lichter Tempel stehet dort inmitten,
so kostbar, als auf Erden nichts bekannt.





Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #669 on: September 22, 2017, 11:57:47 PM »
Tsaras, what do you think of Gencer's performance of the role?



Gencer, probably because she didn't have a recording career, is a rather underrated singer, and she shared some of Callas's dramatic gifts. What she lacks though is Callas's innate musicality, a way of moulding the musical phrase that makes it absolutely, inevitably right. Gencer's dramatic effects can sometimes be just a little too veristic, applied onto the music, rather than coming from within it, nor was her coloratura technique quite as sound as Callas's. 

That said, she was a considerable Anna, and was one of the singers who carried forward the work of the bel canto revival, that started with Callas. I rate her quite highly, if not quite on Callas's lofty level.


« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 12:00:58 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #670 on: September 23, 2017, 09:10:11 AM »
Revisiting al old favourite of mine, Emmanuel Chabrier's Le Roi malgré lui:



That this wonderful work is not better known and does not enjoy wider circulaton remains for me one of the great operatic mysteries of all time. It is so full of esprit and bon goût, has a fun (if convoluted--even by operatic standrads) plot and is brimming with great melodies. But not only that, Chabrier's mastery is present at every measure of the score, with the subtle introduction of unexpected modulations and daring harmonic twists. And the orchestration is simply superb.

In Act I, there are two jewels in quick succession; Minka's romance "Hélas! À l'esclavage..." (with the soprano being accompanied wonderfully by an oboe), and King Henri's entrance, with the nostalgic and plangent "Beau pays, pays du beau soleil" in which he regrets his far away France. Both numbers are breathtaking.

The perfomance (the only commercial recording of the work ever made AFAIK) is excellent (even if sans dialogues and appraently cut), with a very involved and homogeous cast, persuasively led by Charles Dutoit. Still, Barbara Hendrick's (at her considerable best as Minka) stands out. What a beautiful voice this lady has, and how effectively she uses it! Really touching...
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 03:42:45 AM by ritter »
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Offline betterthanfine

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #671 on: September 23, 2017, 03:38:59 PM »
Gencer, probably because she didn't have a recording career, is a rather underrated singer, and she shared some of Callas's dramatic gifts. What she lacks though is Callas's innate musicality, a way of moulding the musical phrase that makes it absolutely, inevitably right. Gencer's dramatic effects can sometimes be just a little too veristic, applied onto the music, rather than coming from within it, nor was her coloratura technique quite as sound as Callas's. 

That said, she was a considerable Anna, and was one of the singers who carried forward the work of the bel canto revival, that started with Callas. I rate her quite highly, if not quite on Callas's lofty level.

Thanks! I agree, from what I've heard from her she's very underrated, and definitely underrecorded. Hence my interest in this performance, which actually sounds quite good for a live recording from the era, as far as I can tell from sampling it on Spotify.

Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #672 on: September 24, 2017, 07:22:09 AM »
I have a particular fondness for Vincenzo Bellini operas.  I am slowly filling some of the missing works in my collection.  After I Capuletti e i Montecchi, it was time to look into I Pirata, his third completed opera.  I did hesitate between Callas historical 1959 recording and some of the more recent takes, i.e. Montserrat Caballé & Ruggiero Raimondi or the most recent Opera Rara release.  Here I chose Callas take, even though the sound quality of the orchestra leaves much to be desired.  I find her vocal portrait of Imogene quite good.  As mentioned in the Callas thread, there is a short take in the Callas rareties album recorded in 1961 which has much better sound.  The release of this take was actually approved by Callas, which meant it was pretty good in her eyes.
As far as the opera itself, I find the last act to be as good as some the more prestigious Bellini operas.



 

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #673 on: September 30, 2017, 02:43:15 AM »
I have a particular fondness for Vincenzo Bellini operas.  I am slowly filling some of the missing works in my collection.  After I Capuletti e i Montecchi, it was time to look into I Pirata, his third completed opera.  I did hesitate between Callas historical 1959 recording and some of the more recent takes, i.e. Montserrat Caballé & Ruggiero Raimondi or the most recent Opera Rara release.  Here I chose Callas take, even though the sound quality of the orchestra leaves much to be desired.  I find her vocal portrait of Imogene quite good.  As mentioned in the Callas thread, there is a short take in the Callas rareties album recorded in 1961 which has much better sound.  The release of this take was actually approved by Callas, which meant it was pretty good in her eyes.
As far as the opera itself, I find the last act to be as good as some the more prestigious Bellini operas.



Unfortunately there are quite a few cuts in the Callas performance, mostly to accommodate the inadequacies of her colleagues. I think the Caballé recording is complete. That said, I'm quite happy to forego some of the music to get Callas.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #674 on: September 30, 2017, 02:56:48 AM »


I already had this set on Testament, and, truth to tell, my ears don't pick up much difference between that and this Warner one.

This recording documents an important moment in operatic history, for it was after this performance that Ghiringhelli, La Scala's Intendant, and a Tebaldi devotee, found he could ignore Callas no longer. He asked her to open La Scala's next season in the same opera, with substantially the same cast, though Victor De Sabata replaced Kleiber and Eugene Conley the somewhat inadequate Kokolios-Bardi.

Callas is electrifying as Elena, the voice at its early career best, the range from a  top E in the Siciliana to a low F# in Arrigo, ah parli a in core prodigious. Of the other soloists, only Christoff really approaches Callas's achievement, but Erich Kleiber has a firm grip on what can emerge as a sprawling score.

The sound, as in so many of these live performance, is not great, but worth persevering for the quality of the performance.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:28:02 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #675 on: October 04, 2017, 12:01:21 PM »
Tonight Attila, an early Verdi



I also saw Pelleas et Melisande at Paris Opera last sunday, with Robert Wilson staging and the fantastic Elena Tsallagova as Melisande.  If there is some interest I will make a full recension.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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    probably something somebody somewhere is snickering at...wait, Schoenberg! Definitely Schoenberg! (And, let's see, does he have a disciple or two...)...
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #676 on: October 05, 2017, 07:25:04 PM »
Cleopatra. Berlioz in fine form.



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 JCBuckley

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #677 on: October 06, 2017, 06:49:50 AM »

I also saw Pelleas et Melisande at Paris Opera last sunday, with Robert Wilson staging and the fantastic Elena Tsallagova as Melisande.  If there is some interest I will make a full recension.

You lucky man. From the clips I've seen, it looked like an excellent production, and Tsallagova sounded superb.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #678 on: October 06, 2017, 11:47:38 PM »


Though it still overloads quite a bit, the sounds on this Verona version is a good deal better than any I've heard before (though I haven't heard the Ars Vocalis version, which I'm told is even clearer). It's still not great, but is much more listenable, and the voices come through well.

As for the performance, I suppose you'd call it competitive rather than subtle; but it is thrilling, and it is famous for that barnstorming top Eb from Callas in the Triumphal Scene. The Mexicans go wild with excitement. How often can you say that in opera these days?

Callas is in fabulous voice, the top open and freewheeling. She still has trouble with the dolce top C in O patria mia (to be honest, the only singer who does actually manage to sing it sweetly is Caballe), but the aria itself is spun out to heavenly lengths. The local girl Oralia Dominguez, was singing her first Amneris and she is absolutely splendid; Del Monaco was never a subtle artist, but there is the clarion compensation of his voice, and Taddei is a terrific Amonasro, the Nile Duet with Callas being one of the highlights of the performance.

De Fabritiis conducts a performance in primary colours, to match its surroundings. I wouldn't necessarily always want to hear Aida like this, but, my word, what it must have been like to have been in the audience that night.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 05:29:44 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #679 on: October 07, 2017, 06:10:58 AM »
A recent acquisition: Donizetti, L'assedio di Calais


It was composed right after Lucia di Lamermoor, which is a favorite opera of mine.  The libretto, written by Salvatore Cammarano is a loose adaptation of the surrender of Calais to the British after a long siege during the 100y war.  It makes ample use of choirs and ensemble singing from duets to the final nonet in the 3rd act.  After 17 performances at the 1836 creation it disappeared from the repertoire until this 1988 revival by Opera Rara.  Since then a DVD was also produced by the RAI.  Why such a well crafted opera has fallen in complete oblivion ?
Maybe because it has no tenor and the leading role (the mayor son) is held by a contralto (Della Jones in this production).  Compared to Lucia, it is also somewhat a throwback to the opera seria style, while the bel canto style was the fury at the time.  It is a very well crafted opera .  The designation of Calais burghers that were to be sacrificed to save the city (the mayor, the mayor son,...) is the highest and most dramatic point at the end of act 2.  There are 2 wonderful duet between the mayor son and his mother.
At the end Donizetti was asked to make a happy ending where queen Elisabeth arrives to save Calais burghers.  This spoils the storys drama some IMHO.  Anyway, I really enjoyed it and this opera rara production will come back to visit the CD player soon.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 06:12:59 AM by Spineur »