Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 32265 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #760 on: November 12, 2017, 03:25:39 AM »
I saw this opera live last year directed by Philippe Jordan, Armin son.  Many people listen to this opera as a 19th century work, i.e. singers dueling together with an orchestra accompagment to enhance the effects and emotions.  However, for Chausson, the singers and their voices were just instruments of the orchestra, and one has to listen to this work as if the singers are actually embedded into the orchestra.  If one listens to this opera in this way it makes so much more sense and one enjoys this opera all the more.  This way of writing operatic music does bears some resemblence with Wagner, and this is probably what makes people think of Tristan&Isolde.  My only reservation with Le roi Arthus is the overall darkness of Chausson libretto.

In his most famous work, Le poeme de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19 Chausson treats the voice exactly in the same fashion, i.e. as an instrument of the orchestra.

When I mentioned Tristan und Isolde, I was thinking more of the libretto. Though the opera is called Le roi Arthus, the libretto concentrates on the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, though Guinevere is a very different character from Isolde. Like Tristan, Lancelot betrays Arthur by sleeping with Guinevere and they in turn are betrayed by Mordred, just as Melot betrays Tristan und Isolde to Mark.

Nor do I think the music sounds in the least like Wagner, though you can hear the Wagnerian influences. It is still very French, and Chausson has his own voice.

As for making the singing voice another instrument of the orchestra, I'm not sure what you are driving at. The voices are never submerged into the orchestral texture and usually carry the main arc of the melody as they do in most operas, and as the voice does in Poème de l'amour et de la mer, which can be seen in some ways as a concertante work with the voice as the soloist.

In Le roi Arthus, though it would be hard to isolate passages into arias and duets (just as it is in Wagner) there are still plenty of sections which closely resemble conventional recitative, necessary for carrying forward the story.

« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 03:37:32 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #761 on: November 12, 2017, 04:17:05 AM »
I'm assuming Naive's Vivaldi opera project is now dead in the water - but perhaps someone here knows more?

Apparently not. I just saw this looking through the mdt.com pre-release chart this morning:

https://www.mdt.co.uk/vivaldi-dorilla-in-tempe-i-barocchisti-diego-fasolis-naive-2cds.html
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #762 on: November 14, 2017, 12:48:40 AM »


Warner have done what they could with pretty intransigent sound, and it does sound better than I've heard it before, but it's still not good.

This was an important production in Callas's career, being the first time she worked with Visconti, who was lured into directing opera by the prospect of working with Callas. Sets and costumes were stunning and Callas enjoyed a great success, but it was more of a succès d'estime. La Vestale, though popular in its day, resists any attempts to bring it back into the regular repertoire, possibly because it is often unfairly compared with Bellini's Norma.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #763 on: November 14, 2017, 06:28:01 AM »


A friend of mine gave me a private copy of this ultra OOP recording.  He told me there was also an american recording of it.
Anyway, this is an excellent opera at the level of Sansom and Dalila, and much much better than Saint Saens Proserpine recently recorded by the Palazzetto Bru-Zane foundation.

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Of black, of damp, of night
And all it touches in this flight
Suddenly is over.

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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #764 on: November 14, 2017, 06:29:28 AM »


A friend of mine gave me a private copy of this ultra OOP recording.  He told me there was also an american recording of it.
Anyway, this is an excellent opera at the level of Sansom and Dalila, and much much better than Saint Saens Proserpine recently recorded by the Palazzetto Bru-Zane foundation.


I've wanted that for a while now, but only obscene prices! One day...
Offenbach gets a raw deal in recordings considering his talent! For a discussion of this outstanding composer too little recorded: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,5572.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #765 on: November 17, 2017, 01:08:31 AM »


An oddity in Callas's repertoire is explained by the fact that she was actually supposed to be singing one of her speciality roles, that of Leonora in Il Trovatore. In the event, and only days before the performances, Del Monaco declared himself indisposed, but well enough to sing Chenier rather than Manrico! Who can understand the vicissitudes of tenors? Maybe he just didn't want to sing with Callas and hoped she would pull out, as she didn't know the role of Maddalena. But Callas always loved a challenge and decided to learn the role.

The opera belongs firmly to the tenor (and Del Monaco had a fabulous success)but the soprano role is a somewhat muted presence. In addition a large part of the audience, who had hoped for a Tebaldi substitution, were against her from the outset, and one wonders why she bothered. She had scored a great success on the opening night in Spontini's La Vestale and would go on to sing in two more Visconti productions that season, both of which topped what they had achieved in the Spontini opera. Indeed the La Traviata they did together remains one of the most famous productions in operatic history.

In the event, she sings with all her customary musical intelligence and skill, but the role does not allow her to make anything like the effect she would have done as Leonora in Il Trovatore.

The sound of this La Scala broadcast has never been good, and Warner haven't been able to do much to rectify that, though it does sound rather better than the awful EMI one previously available.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 06:12:13 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline vandermolen

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #766 on: November 18, 2017, 07:49:24 AM »
Heard this live in London yesterday - a great experience:

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline maxbeesley

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #767 on: November 20, 2017, 02:19:42 AM »
I am listening Verdi's Don Carlos and Britten's Peter Grimes.

Offline Alberich

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #768 on: November 20, 2017, 09:30:09 AM »
I am listening Verdi's Don Carlos and Britten's Peter Grimes.

Haven't listened much to Britten but Don Carlo/s is one of my favorite Verdi operas of all time. I enjoyed it immensely when I first heard it in Finnish National Opera few years ago. And to think that often enough when I see opera live before first listening to recording of one, the performance feels disappointing. With Don Carlos, however, it wasn't that way at all.

My only regret is that the version I saw live was the heavily cut four act-version. That Fontainebleau act is so amazing I wished I could have seen it live. On the whole, I think I enjoy this opera still more in italian than in original (in this case) French and thus it is great that there exists 5-act italian version.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #769 on: November 20, 2017, 02:34:05 PM »
Revisiting the Callas Parsifal:



Despite my favourable disposition to Callas and conductor Vittorio Gui, and the fond,  nostalgic memories of having listened to excerpts of this in my teens, I must say that this performance--taken as a whole--verges on the disastrous  >:(. The orchestra is decidedly third-rate (particularly poor in the brass section  ::)), and it all sounds under-rehearsed and routine. It would appear as if Italian radio used the occasion to showcase (then) rising stars, but they could just as well have chosen any other work for this. Christoff displays his powerful instrument, but is as unnuanced a Gurnemanz as I have ever encountered. Panerai as Amfortas fares better: very lyrical, but it is an approach that suits the role I'MO. Africo Baldelli (who never made it to stardom, and vanished completely AFAIK) is very poor in the title role from any point of view. The flower maidens are a motley crew  (led by Lina Pagliughi, a singer I've never warmed to).

And then we come to Callas, the set's only redeeming virtue. Her particular tone, which I have always found "beautiful in its ugliness" suits the role of Kundry perfectly, as this is one of the most psychologically complex and tormented characters in operatic history. Her brief appearances as the "wild" Kundry of Act I or of the exchanges with Klingsor in the first scene of Act II, aren't really that remarkable  (even if her initial screams here are chilling, and rivalled only--of the recordings I know--by those of Gwyneth Jones in Bayreuth 20 years later). But then, the seductress later on in Act II is quite another thing. I have always thought that this is the one occasion where the mature Wagner really requires singing that should approach something close to bel canto (even writing an almost imperceptible trill at the beginning of "Ich sah das Kind" or, here "Ho visto Il figlio sul materno sen"  ;)). And Callas, of course, is sans pareil (here and elsewhere) in combining "canonical" singing with deep expression and emotion. What is also stunning is her singing line  (a miracle, I'd say, as the Italian translation of the sung text is rather clumsy, the syllables not fitting the notes properly in many instances).

Vittorio Gui does what he can with his orchestra, and Act I is quite unsuccessful and (to me, at least ) boring. In Act II, things pick up, with a stirring introduction, and some nice orchestral details and very eloquent phrasing. Act III will have to wait until tomorrow. Of course, we'll only have two words by Callas there  ("Dienen, dienen...", or will it be "Servire, servire ..".?  ;D ) , but perhaps Gui can do something interesting with the Good Friday music.

EDIT: Nothing really remarkable in Act III. Boris Christoff improves as Gurnemanz here, and the lead is not any better than before. Even in the Good Friday Spell some lines are cut. Gui treats this segment with much care and love, and does some nice things with his poor orchestra.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:35:54 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #770 on: November 21, 2017, 01:27:32 AM »
Revisiting the Callas Parsifal:



Despite my favourable disposition to Callas and conductor Vittorio Gui, and the fond,  nostalgic memories of having listened to excerpts of this in my teens, I must say that this performance--taken as a whole-'verges on the disastrous  >:(. The orchestra is decidedly third-rate (particularly poor in the brass section  ::)), and it all sounds under-rehearsed and routine. It would appear as if Italian radio used the occasion to showcase (then) rising stars, but they could just as well have chosen any other work for this. Christoff displays his wonderful instrument, but is as unnuanced a Gurnemanz as I have ever encountered. Panerai as Amfortas fares better: very lyrical, but it is an approach that suits the role I'MO. Africo Baldelli (who never made it to stardom, and vanished completely AFAIK) is very poor in the title role from any point of view. The flower maidens are a motley crew  (led by Lina Pagliughi, a singer I've never warmed to).

And then we come to Callas, the set's only redeeming virtue. Her particular tone, which I have always found "beautiful in its ugliness" suits the role of Kundry perfectly, as this is one of the most psychologically complex and tormented characters in operatic history. Her brief appearances as the "wild" Kundry of Act I or of the exchanges with Klingsor in the first scene of Act II, aren:t really remarkable  (but her initial screams here are chilling, and rivalled only--of the recordings I know--by those of Gwyneth Jones in Bayreuth 20 years later). But then, the seductress later on in Act II is quite another thing. I have always thought that this is the one occasion where the mature Wagner really requires singing that should approach something close to bel canto (even writing an almost imperceptible trill at the beginning of "Ich sah das Kind" or, here "Ho visto Il figlio sul materno sen"  ;)). And Callas, of course, is sans pareil (here and elsewhere) in combining "canonical" singing with deep expression and emotion. What is also stunning is her singing line  (a miracle, I'd say, as the Italian translation of the sung text is rather clumsy, the syllables not fitting the notes properly in many instances).

Vittorio Gui does what he can with his orchestra, and Act I is quite unsuccessful and (to me, at least ) boring. In Act II, things pick up, with a stirring introduction, and some nice orchestral details and very eloquent phrasing. Act III will have to wait until tomorrow. Of course, we'll only have two words by Callas there  ("Dienen, dienen...", or will it be "Servire, servire ..".?  ;D ) , but perhaps Gui can do something interesting with the Good Friday music.

I'm not a big Wagnerian and I've always found Parsifal a hard nut to crack (parts of it I find sublime, but in others I find my mind wandering) but I tend to agree with you about this recording; and surely this, of all operas, demands at least modern stereo sound to do it full justice.

That said, Callas's Kundry is, as you say, much more than just a curiosity, and makes it doubly regretful that there are no recordings of her Isolde or Brunnhilde. Rumours persist that the Tristan und Isolde she did in Genoa, with Max Lorenz as Tristan, was broadcast, but nobody has yet come up with a recording. It was conducted by Serafin and also would have been sung in Italian, despite the presence of Lorenz in the cast.

After all opera in the vernacular is not that unusual. Why, even in the 1970s. Helga Dernesch, Austrian by birth, learned the role of the Marschallin in English for her role debut with Scottish Opera (with Dame Janet Baker as Octavian). When the production was revived the following year, Scottish Opera reverted to the original German.

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

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #771 on: November 21, 2017, 03:04:14 AM »
...makes it doubly regretful that there are no recordings of her Isolde or Brunnhilde. Rumours persist that the Tristan und Isolde she did in Genoa, with Max Lorenz as Tristan, was broadcast, but nobody has yet come up with a recording. It was conducted by Serafin and also would have been sung in Italian, despite the presence of Lorenz in the cast.

After all opera in the vernacular is not that unusual. Why, even in the 1970s. Helga Dernesch, Austrian by birth, learned the role of the Marschallin in English for her role debut with Scottish Opera (with Dame Janet Baker as Octavian). When the production was revived the following year, Scottish Opera reverted to the original German.
Oh yes, rumours of that Tristan abound, but I've read somewhere that Max Lorenz's widow Lotte denied its existence.

It's probable that this Tristan was bilingual, i.e. Lorenz singing his part in German, and the rest of the cast singing in Italian. This was not unusual at the time. There's actually a Tannhäuser from Naples in 1950 under Karl Böhm (which I've never heard, to be honest) with Hans Beier singing the title role in the original German, and Renata Tebaldi as Elisabeth and the rest of the cast singing in translation.

There's also a 1936 Parsifal from the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires under Fritz Busch, in which AFAIK the soloists sing in German, and the chorus (!) in Italian . This performance (or, actually, a similar one held some years later in the same theatre under the same conductor) is used by Manuel Mujica Láinez in his novel El gran teatro (the action of which takes place entirely during the performance). It has not been translated into English I believe.

Of course, Mujica Láinez's relation to opera is much stronger, as he wrote the libretto (based on his novel) for Alberto Ginastera's superb Bomarzo , which we had the rare opportunity to see fully staged here in Madrid earlier this year.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:31:11 AM by ritter »
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Online GioCar

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #772 on: November 22, 2017, 10:06:23 PM »
Woke up early this morning as usual, I have some extra time :) before going to work, so, in preparation of my Sciarrino matinée of next Sunday at La Scala, I'm listening to:




Just finished Act 1, with that hauntingly beautiful scene between Macbeth and Lady M.
Now Act 2, with those quotations from Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera that always give me goosebumps.

Sciarrino surely is the most interesting (i'd say greatest ;)) living opera composer, imho.

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #773 on: November 23, 2017, 07:59:41 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/xi062TEqy3M</a>

The orchestra has a Toscanini-like intensity that must have been incredible to witness live.
Wunderlich is singing for his life, died a little more than a year later.
The sob in his throat sometimes obliterates the pitch but it carries a visceral punch.
Stratas is amazing as well.
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #774 on: November 23, 2017, 08:26:28 AM »
Somehow I feel not enough attention is given to opera conductors who can add that extra sparkle, motivating the singers to higher heights. Only Patane's last name was given in the roster for the above Traviata, not saying if it were Franco, the father or the son Giuseppe. As it turned out, thanks to a bit of Googling, it was the latter. It is not surprising he had mentoring by the best:

Patane, who was born in Naples, Italy, (1932) began playing piano at the age of 6. He made his debut at 19, conducting a Naples performance of Verdi's "La Traviata."

In the next 10 years, he was understudy to such renowned Italian conductors as Victor De Sabata, Antonio Guarnieri, Tullio Serafin and Gabriele Santini.

In 1961, Patane became the first Italian to conduct Richard Wagner's "Lohengrin" in Linz, Austria, and in 1962 he became conductor of the German Opera in Berlin.

In 1970, he was named best Italian conductor, and in the following years he was hailed in appearances in San Francisco, Chicago and at New York's Metropolitan Opera House.

He knew 1,500 musical scores from memory, including 250 separate operas, according to Bavarian Radio Orchestra spokesman Rainer Tief.


http://articles.latimes.com/1989-05-31/news/mn-913_1_vienna-national-opera-munich-city-opera-italian-conductor
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Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #775 on: November 23, 2017, 01:04:56 PM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

Offline jessop

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #776 on: November 23, 2017, 09:38:01 PM »
Woke up early this morning as usual, I have some extra time :) before going to work, so, in preparation of my Sciarrino matinée of next Sunday at La Scala, I'm listening to:




Just finished Act 1, with that hauntingly beautiful scene between Macbeth and Lady M.
Now Act 2, with those quotations from Don Giovanni and Un ballo in maschera that always give me goosebumps.

Sciarrino surely is the most interesting (i'd say greatest ;)) living opera composer, imho.

Oh absolutely one of the greatest (of all time? Possibly.....) And the ACT 2 quotations are almost chilling I would say!

Offline Le Moderniste

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #777 on: November 23, 2017, 09:49:02 PM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

It's an incredible opera, I don't listen to it as often as him instrumental works though.


(but then, Schoenberg isn't half as commonly listened to by me, as latter/other dissonant 20th century composers)

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #778 on: Today at 12:49:20 AM »
Taking another stab at this

Maybe one day I will like it better: but it contains all the cold dissonant strain that makes me not particularly like Schonberg.

Funny that Boulez has top billing with the name of the opera about 1/4 of the largest font.
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Offline jessop

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #779 on: Today at 04:09:56 PM »
Funny that Boulez has top billing with the name of the opera about 1/4 of the largest font.

Well, this is from a Boulez-based series of reissues so it isn't much of a surprise........ ::)

The first pressing looked like this:


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