Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 25479 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #600 on: August 15, 2017, 05:37:20 AM »
Somehow, for myself, I have come to the sad conclusion that the perfect recording of La Traviata doesn't really exist. But I'll have to revisit the Kleiber. Enjoyed Cotrubas and the entire Krips recording quite some.

I'd agree the perfect recording probably doesn't exist, but performance? I honestly don't think you could better the live Callas 1958 Covent Garden performance, better in fact than the one from Lisbon in the forthcoming Warner Liver Remastered box. Its emotional impact is so shattering that I can't listen to it too often.


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

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #601 on: August 15, 2017, 06:11:53 AM »
I'd agree the perfect recording probably doesn't exist, but performance? I honestly don't think you could better the live Callas 1958 Covent Garden performance, better in fact than the one from Lisbon in the forthcoming Warner Liver Remastered box. Its emotional impact is so shattering that I can't listen to it too often.
What about Theresa Stratas in Zeffirelli movie ?  I remember seing quite a few people in the movie theater crying at the end.  I have not bought the DVD since, so I never had a second critical viewing, but the first one really touched me.

I have also the Cotrubas recording, which is a fine one, although I almost never reach for a listening.  The problem with Traviata is over-exposure.  I have seen just too many performances.  The last one was no later than last fall at the Paris Opera with a staging of Benoit Jacquot (film director).  Besides the staging, I cant remember a thing.
A woman voice glides like the wind
Of black, of damp, of night
And all it touches in this flight
Suddenly is over.

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Offline Alberich

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #602 on: August 15, 2017, 06:42:26 AM »
Haydn's Lo speziale. I think this is the first opera from Haydn that I've heard.
"I am a shadowy reflection of you."

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #603 on: August 15, 2017, 07:05:07 AM »
What about Theresa Stratas in Zeffirelli movie ?  I remember seing quite a few people in the movie theater crying at the end.  I have not bought the DVD since, so I never had a second critical viewing, but the first one really touched me.

I have also the Cotrubas recording, which is a fine one, although I almost never reach for a listening.  The problem with Traviata is over-exposure.  I have seen just too many performances.  The last one was no later than last fall at the Paris Opera with a staging of Benoit Jacquot (film director).  Besides the staging, I cant remember a thing.

I love the Zeffirelli movie and Stratas is indeed very moving, but her actual singing of the role is not quite in the Callas class, and the coloratura of the first act, which didn't suit her particularly well even in the live recording I have of her doing it with Wunderlich in 1965, is even less cleanly articulated by the time of the movie.

I've seen and heard many performances of the opera too, but Callas slays me every time, particularly, as I said, in the 1958 Covent Garden performance.

I review it on my blog here https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/callass-covent-garden-traviata/



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

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #604 on: August 17, 2017, 10:08:35 AM »
Thanks for your comments Tsaras.  I need to fast on Traviata for a year or two.  I will appreciate it all the more when I return to it after a long time.

I am finishing the Diapason great recital box with yet another fantastic disk: Inge Borkh in an all Strauss CD with scenes from Salome and Elektra



For some reason I love Strauss, while I should have all the reasons not to.  Most of his composition have little structure and appear as a succession of musical scenes.  In term of illustrating the story contained in a libretto, it should have all the reason to fail.  And yet, I am so drawn into his music that it actually works.  Amazing !!

« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 10:10:20 AM by Spineur »
A woman voice glides like the wind
Of black, of damp, of night
And all it touches in this flight
Suddenly is over.

Anna Akhomatova

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #605 on: August 19, 2017, 02:56:44 AM »

For some reason I love Strauss, while I should have all the reasons not to.  Most of his composition have little structure and appear as a succession of musical scenes.  In term of illustrating the story contained in a libretto, it should have all the reason to fail.  And yet, I am so drawn into his music that it actually works.  Amazing !!

I have equivocal feelings about Strauss. I liked his music a lot more when I was younger, but these days I find much of it a tad overblown.

There are exceptions, of course. I love the Vier letzte Lieder and most of his other songs, both with and without orchestra. Among the operas Der Rosenkavalier remains one of my favourite operas, I still enjoy Ariadne auf Naxos, Capriccio and Salome (though not the Nilsson/Solti recording), but can't abide Elektra, which for much of the time just sounds to me like a load of women screaming at each other.

The orchestral works I have to be in the right mood for too. My favourites are Tod und Verklärung and Metamorphosen, but I can enjoy the others from time to time.

But not a composer I turn to that often.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #606 on: August 19, 2017, 03:04:07 AM »


Lord knows why this issue has a photo of Callas as Amina in La Sonnambula on the cover, but no matter, I quite like this performance, whilst acknowledging that it's not quite in the class of the 1955 Berlin Karajan performance.

Molinari-Pradelli provides sympathetic support (without Karajan's insights) and I rather like Gianni Raimondi's Edgardo.

Unfortunately the recording seems to have been made from somewhere in the orchestra pit, and the timpani section often drown out the singers.


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

Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #607 on: August 19, 2017, 03:26:45 AM »
... Strauss ... can't abide Elektra, which for much of the time just sounds to me like a load of women screaming at each other.

Have you seen the Chéreau production of "Elektra" with Evelyn Herlitzius in the title role? To me one of the most intense opera experiences ever - consider that I'm still pretty young (still this side of the big four for another short while) and have ignored opera for most of the past 20 years, that only changed around 4-5 years ago, a couple of years after I started listening to classical. Anyway, I found both the production and the music/singing/acting outstanding!

And apologies for not following up on your question re: Callas' London Violetta. I have bought that recording only fairly recently upon your recommendation and the enjoyed it a lot during it's only spin so far. I guess we can easily agree on Callas being the most outstanding and probably perfect Violetta, but that does not necessarily make it a perfect recording/production all in all - and that's what my comment was aiming at, not at the role of Violetta or at Callas.
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 Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #608 on: August 19, 2017, 03:57:50 AM »
Have you seen the Chéreau production of "Elektra" with Evelyn Herlitzius in the title role? To me one of the most intense opera experiences ever - consider that I'm still pretty young (still this side of the big four for another short while) and have ignored opera for most of the past 20 years, that only changed around 4-5 years ago, a couple of years after I started listening to classical. Anyway, I found both the production and the music/singing/acting outstanding!

And apologies for not following up on your question re: Callas' London Violetta. I have bought that recording only fairly recently upon your recommendation and the enjoyed it a lot during it's only spin so far. I guess we can easily agree on Callas being the most outstanding and probably perfect Violetta, but that does not necessarily make it a perfect recording/production all in all - and that's what my comment was aiming at, not at the role of Violetta or at Callas.

I suppose I should seek out your recommendation, but the opera just doesn't appeal to me anymore - neither the treatment of the subject matter or the music. I quite liked it when I was younger, but now I just can't stand all that high voltage screaming. I sometimes think Strauss himself might have had second thoughts, because he seems to have changed direction after composing it (Der Rosenkavalier followed by Ariadne, followed by Die Frau ohne Schatten).

I agree that the live Callas Covent Garden is by no means perfect, but, in all but matters of recording quality, it comes as close as you can get. Had it been recorded in studio conditions in modern sound, I doubt you'd get much better.

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

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #609 on: August 20, 2017, 07:58:30 AM »
In spite of Callas efforts to revive an interest in Gaspare Spontini operas, it has not really caught on.  La Vestale gets some rare performances once in a while.  His other operas Fernand Cortez and Olympie fate has been even worse.
Last year Le Cercle de l'Harmonie directed by Jérémy Rohrer revived Olympie at the Théatre des Champs Elysées and his production was subsequently performed in several European cities.

I was always curious about this opera created in 1819, as it is the last tragédie lyrique composed.  Spontini inspiration has always been Gluck and the italian bel canto, two traditions which seems hard to marry together.  In spite of a certain anachronism, his operas did meet some success (La Vestale and Fernand Cortez were performed more than 200 times).  On of his strongest admirer was Hector Berlioz, and after listening to Olympie, I can say that the second act did clearly inspired Berlioz writing in Les Troyens.

There is a podcast of Jéremy Rohrer production from the Concertgebow, which I listen today with Karina Gauvin



in the title role and Juliette Mars in the role of Statira the mother of Olympie who also happens to the the daughter of Alexander the great.  Much of the libretto is highly improbable even though it was inspired by a play of Voltaire.

The first act, follows a slightly romantic path of the tragédie Lyrique, but there is little action, as the identities of the main characters isnt known to any of the protagonists.

Their identities is finally revealed in the second act, which I found to be quite beautiful, in paticular the begining where Statira (mother of Olympie and the most interesting character) sings the beautiful aria "Oh déplorable mère" and is followed by several duos.

The final act is also pretty lively.  The opera has several possible endings.  The 1819 version chosen by Jérémy Rohrer has a happy ending where Olympie maries her lover.  In the 1926 version she throws herself in the fire.

If you are curious, the aria "Oh déplorable mère" has been recorded by Jennifer Borghi and can be listened to on soundcloud

https://soundcloud.com/outhere-music/spontini-olympie-o-deplorable-mere-jennifer-borghi-les-agremens-guy-van-waas

It lasts some 9 minutes and is really quite nice.

   
A woman voice glides like the wind
Of black, of damp, of night
And all it touches in this flight
Suddenly is over.

Anna Akhomatova

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #610 on: August 20, 2017, 11:00:22 AM »
In spite of Callas efforts to revive an interest in Gaspare Spontini operas, it has not really caught on.  [

Not quite correct. Callas appeared in one production of La Vestale, which opened the 1954 La Scala season. It was the first production she did with Visconti, and unveiled the new ultra-slim Callas. The production was stunningly beautiful, but the opera didn't take fire the way Cherubini's Medea had, and consequently it was never revived.



The same fate befell Visconti's equally stunning production of Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, also with Callas.





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

Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #611 on: August 21, 2017, 04:51:28 AM »
Will hear Gardiner conduct "L'Orfeo" tomorrow and am most excited about this!



To warm up, I played the Garrido recording for the very first time - it's excellent.
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 SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #612 on: August 22, 2017, 01:35:23 AM »
Anyway, I was deeply impressed by the great acoustic in Munich. I had asked Jens for pointers - thank you kindly! - and sat front row, almost centre, in the gallery, at the very top that is, with perfect view and indeed glorious acoustic - I never heard an opera sounding so good!

Ah, this is gratifying to hear! Very glad you enjoyed it.

Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #613 on: August 22, 2017, 03:58:36 AM »
Ah, this is gratifying to hear! Very glad you enjoyed it.

 :)

Actually after the concert at KKL in Lucerne on Sunday, in wonder how Gardiner's semi-staged performance of "L'Orfeo" is going to sound in there, tonight! I'll be sitting on the second balcony on the side (for the concert on Sunday, only first balcony was open, I sat there, too, and sound was indeed perfect, to my own disbelief) - when I heard him do the Matthäuspassion in there, I had expensive seats somewhere in the middle downstairs ... and the band and choir just didn't really fill that huge hall with their period instruments and it took me all of the first act to sort of adjust for our LOUD everyday noisescape to find into the music. Hope it will be better (and/or hope sitting right next to the stage this time will help to have a better sonic experience)
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 Mahlerian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #614 on: August 22, 2017, 08:04:04 AM »
Will hear Gardiner conduct "L'Orfeo" tomorrow and am most excited about this!



To warm up, I played the Garrido recording for the very first time - it's excellent.

Sounds amazing.  Be sure to give a full report!

Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #615 on: August 22, 2017, 02:26:59 PM »
Sounds amazing.  Be sure to give a full report!

It was an epiphany, actually! Outstanding. Gotta catch some sleep now, will leave for a (jazz festival) early tomorrow and then catch some more (no opera) of Lucerne Festival on Sunday. Sent a few lines to a friend on train way back home, will try and rework that into a short report, but probably only next week, when I'm back to normal  :)
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 Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #616 on: August 28, 2017, 02:11:07 AM »


Having recently been reminded of Josephine Barstow, a singer I saw quite a few times over the years in London, I thought I'd seek out this recording of Un Ballo in Maschera, which I hadn't heard since it was released back in 1989, when Barstow was already 49.

Generally quite a pleasant surprise. This was Karajan's last ever opera recording, I believe, and it's good to know that he went out on a high. His speeds tend to be on the slow side, but this never means a loss of momentum. The main problem for me was the slightly boomy recording, which loses focus in the climaxes. Domingo (his third outing in the role of Riccardo; the first for Muti, the second for Abbado) is superb, his singing as ever wonderfully musical, and he is totally inside the role, his singing of the final scene incredibly moving. Barstow, a late discovery for Karajan, is probably a bit past her prime, but comes close to Callas in detail and expression. She doesn't have Callas's thrilling individuality, but she is totally inside the role and her Amelia is certainly worth hearing. Nucci, whom I usually find a bit of a dry old stick, is more involved than usual, but no match for Gobbi on the Callas recording. Florence Quivar's Ulrica is somewhat dull, certainly not in the class of Simionato, Barbieri or Cossotto, but Sumi Jo is a delightful Oscar.

All in all, though, an enjoyable set.

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

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #617 on: August 28, 2017, 10:22:26 PM »

Having recently been reminded of Josephine Barstow, a singer I saw quite a few times over the years in London, I thought I'd seek out this recording of Un Ballo in Maschera, which I hadn't heard since it was released back in 1989, when Barstow was already 49... Barstow, a late discovery for Karajan, is probably a bit past her prime, but comes close to Callas in detail and expression. She doesn't have Callas's thrilling individuality, but she is totally inside the role and her Amelia is certainly worth hearing.


I'd be interested to know when Josephine Barstow was in her prime. Anything I heard of her was from shrill to unbearable to listen to.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #618 on: August 29, 2017, 12:42:27 AM »
I'd be interested to know when Josephine Barstow was in her prime. Anything I heard of her was from shrill to unbearable to listen to.

I don't think she sound in the least shrill on this Ballo, nor on Mackerras's recording of Gloriana.

My recollections of her are probably also coloured by the fact that I saw her on stage quite a few times, and she was never less than riveting. Her Violetta is still probably the most moving I have ever seen live (and I've seen Cotrubas and Gheorghiu), her Salome was thrilling (and looked good when stripped down to just a few bits of glitter at the end of the Dance of the Seven Veils), and her Katarina Ismailova in David Pountney's superb production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk pure theatrical electricity.

It was never the most beautiful voice in the world, I grant you, but I wouldn't class it as either shrill or unbearable to listen to. Rather like Teresa Stratas, she was (still is - she's playing Heidi in the Royal National Theatre's new production of Follies at the moment) a stage animal, and recordings don't do her justice.


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

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #619 on: August 29, 2017, 12:56:54 AM »
I don't think she sound in the least shrill on this Ballo, nor on Mackerras's recording of Gloriana.
My recollections of her are probably also coloured by the fact that I saw her on stage quite a few times, and she was never less than riveting. Her Violetta is still probably the most moving I have ever seen live (and I've seen Cotrubas and Gheorghiu), her Salome was thrilling (and looked good when stripped down to just a few bits of glitter at the end of the Dance of the Seven Veils), and her Katarina Ismailova in David Pountney's superb production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk pure theatrical electricity.
It was never the most beautiful voice in the world, I grant you, but I wouldn't class it as either shrill or unbearable to listen to. Rather like Teresa Stratas, she was (still is - she's playing Heidi in the Royal National Theatre's new production of Follies at the moment) a stage animal, and recordings don't do her justice.

I suppose I should listen to a few more samples, but I found her pushing the breath unbearable as Lady Macbeth in Verdi's opera. The acting is good but heck, Callas combined characterization with musicality. If Stratas can still sing, it is a proof she did know how to use her voice well.  Stratas' voice always seemed to float on the air, the way it should be.
"I write to discover what I know."
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