Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 63398 times)

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Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #640 on: September 10, 2017, 10:48:26 AM »
Interesting thoughts, Spineur. But one could argue that Boulez  "debussyized" Wagner, rather than "wagnerizing"  Debussy.  I'd say Boulez's association with (and admiration for) Debussy's music far predated his involvment with Wagner and Bayreuth, and his lightening of textures in Wagner  (cliché as this may sound) actually comes  from a particularly debussyite (or Gallic if you will) perspective.  This, of course, is all a gross generalization on my part.

The Desormière will always hold a special place in this opera's discography, and rightly so IMHO.

Perhaps the upcoming Rattle release, with Gerhaher and Kožena, is the modern recording we're awaiting.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #641 on: September 10, 2017, 06:54:22 PM »
I agree with most of you: a new high quality version of this opera would be most welcome, and I am really looking forward the live performance at the end of the month.

Out of the limelight there is a high quality "modern" (1978) version which puts all the pieces of the Pelléas puzzle together like no other recording I've heard (I've owned five): Baudo and the orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon.

It's general neglect is most likely due to the fact it originated on Eurodisc, which was never part of a major worldwide distribution web to begin with. Not helping things is Eurodisc's current absorption into Sony, which has much more of a vested interest in all things Boulez (including his Pelléas). So the likelihood of Baudo's recording ever seeing the light of day again is slim at best.

Anyone who knows Martinon's EMI Debussy recordings will find a kindred spirit in Baudo. The two conductors' conceptions spring from the same root, at least as far as the orchestra is concerned.

The singing is wonderfully sympathetic, and the overall sound is warm, rich, and wide-ranging. It has earned its way to the top of the heap in my household, ousting Karajan, Abbado, Haitink, Dutoit, and even Cluytens. 

Don't give up on the "modern" version before trying out Baudo (athough, sadly, it's long OOP).



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 #642 on: September 11, 2017, 01:59:20 AM »
Out of the limelight there is a high quality "modern" (1978) version which puts all the pieces of the Pelléas puzzle together like no other recording I've heard (I've owned five): Baudo and the orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon.

It's general neglect is most likely due to the fact it originated on Eurodisc, which was never part of a major worldwide distribution web to begin with. Not helping things is Eurodisc's current absorption into Sony, which has much more of a vested interest in all things Boulez (including his Pelléas). So the likelihood of Baudo's recording ever seeing the light of day again is slim at best.

Anyone who knows Martinon's EMI Debussy recordings will find a kindred spirit in Baudo. The two conductors' conceptions spring from the same root, at least as far as the orchestra is concerned.

The singing is wonderfully sympathetic, and the overall sound is warm, rich, and wide-ranging. It has earned its way to the top of the heap in my household, ousting Karajan, Abbado, Haitink, Dutoit, and even Cluytens. 

Don't give up on the "modern" version before trying out Baudo (athough, sadly, it's long OOP).





The Baudo has had at least one reissue on RCA. It can be had quite cheaply second hand on Amazon UK.

Kenneth Furie, writing in the Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera likes Baudo's conducting, but is less admiring of his soloists. His top choices are Ingelbrecht and Ansermet II, with Boulez, Baudo and Desormière coming in as additional recommendations. Mind you, he is very down on Karajan, which I enjoy, and I find I quite often disagree with him on other operas, Così fan Tutte, for instance.

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

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #643 on: September 11, 2017, 03:50:57 AM »
The Baudo has had at least one reissue on RCA. It can be had quite cheaply second hand on Amazon UK.

Kenneth Furie, writing in the Metropolitan Opera Guide to Recorded Opera likes Baudo's conducting, but is less admiring of his soloists. His top choices are Ingelbrecht and Ansermet II, with Boulez, Baudo and Desormière coming in as additional recommendations. Mind you, he is very down on Karajan, which I enjoy, and I find I quite often disagree with him on other operas, Così fan Tutte, for instance.

I've read critiques of recordings of Pelleas in which the order of preference is completely opposite Furie's. So I'm not sure what end Furie's opinion serves in the overall picture. He's just one of many critics with an opinion.

All I know is, from my perspective, Baudo's recording is worth seeking out.
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

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #644 on: September 11, 2017, 04:04:50 AM »
So much talk of Pelléas, that I decided to revisit this set (Act 3 only):


This is a powerful performance of Debussy's wonderful opera. First of all, the singers give very careful attention to the text, even the non-native French speaking Pelléas of Hans Wilbrink (who commits only minor mistakes, e.g. "ta petite menne sur ses lèvres" instead of "petite main". Still, he is a youthful and very engaging lead.

Denise Duval is a bit too mature for her rôle, and is a bit unsteady at moments (as is the case in her a capella scene at the beginning of the act). I know it's a preconception, but I cannot avoid picturing her Mélisande dressed in Chanel from head to toe.  ;) . Michel Roux is an excellent Golaud, but I'm afraid Rosine Brédy is insufferable as Yniold (trying to convey a childish, white voice, and ending up speaking instead of singing in the process).

Vittorio Gui (who I've read somewhere was actually praised by Debussy himself when the Italian conductor was a very young man) leads an expertly constructed performance, with real dramatic thrust which, nevertheless, is never ponderous or "flashy". I get the feeling he went for some roughness in some of the string and brass passages, which actually makes the score even more effective (but this might also be a result of the so-so sound quality). Also, he manages to separate the different sound planes (all those solo woodwind lines supported by the orchestra) very clearly.

I've read critiques of recordings of Pelleas in which the order of preference is completely opposite Furie's. So I'm not sure what end Furie's opinion serves in the overall picture. He's just one of many critics with an opinion.

All I know is, from my perspective, Baudo's recording is worth seeking out.
I'll certainly try to do so, even if I must confess that Jean Martinon's recordings of Debussy's orchestral music--that you found more or less akin to Baudo's handling of the opera--really did nothing for me, despite my high expectations and general admiration for that conductor   :( .

Thanks for the tip, DD.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 04:15:07 AM by ritter »
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Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #645 on: September 11, 2017, 05:18:36 AM »
Just ordered the Baudo reissue on the RCA label, as it only cost 5-6 euros on the secondary market.  I am actually quite fond of Lyon orchestra.  Gabriel Bacquier as Golaud also drew my interest.

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #646 on: September 11, 2017, 02:27:17 PM »
Just ordered the Baudo reissue on the RCA label, as it only cost 5-6 euros on the secondary market.  I am actually quite fond of Lyon orchestra.  Gabriel Bacquier as Golaud also drew my interest.

Nice! Regarding Bacquier, Gramophone has this to say about his Golaud: "Bacquier is superb, capturing every nuance from tenderness to abrupt anger...or agonizing frustration".

And about Command's Melisande: "[she]...makes a shy, fey, Melisande, who remains an enigmatic figure" (important here).

And about Dormoy's Pelleas: "The big surprise of this set is the Pelleas, a sensitive singer...".

In fact, Gramophone goes on to give high praise overall to the cast: "[Baudo]...is fortunate to have a cast without a single weak member".

So perhaps our good Mr. Furie needs to give this version a re-hear!
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 Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #647 on: September 11, 2017, 02:31:37 PM »
I'll certainly try to do so, even if I must confess that Jean Martinon's recordings of Debussy's orchestral music--that you found more or less akin to Baudo's handling of the opera--really did nothing for me, despite my high expectations and general admiration for that conductor   :( .

Thanks for the tip, DD.

Hmm...that's unfortunate. Well, if the day comes you need a new Pelleas at least you know this one exists! :)
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

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #648 on: September 12, 2017, 11:32:37 AM »
Anna Bolena, Gaetano Donizetti



CD 1 for tonight.  Callas has always a great legato, even in complicated Bel Canto.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #649 on: September 12, 2017, 03:20:52 PM »
Anna Bolena, Gaetano Donizetti



CD 1 for tonight.  Callas has always a great legato, even in complicated Bel Canto.

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/

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

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #650 on: September 13, 2017, 11:59:05 AM »
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/
Just finished CD2.  For once I will join your praises for this recording.  Not only Callas is perfect but so is the orchestra and chorus.  I dont think I heard Giuletta Simionato nor Gianni Raimondi & Nicola Rossi-Lemeni before but I found them quite good in their respective role.  As you say in your excellent review, the main melodic line is outlined perfectly with Callas legato.  I dont always agree with the choices she makes in her role characterization, but here she is clearly very close to Donizetti portray of Anna Bolena as a victim.  A very nice recording to have.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #651 on: September 13, 2017, 12:58:51 PM »
  I dont always agree with the choices she makes in her role characterization, but here she is clearly very close to Donizetti portray of Anna Bolena as a victim.  A very nice recording to have.

I'd aver that all Callas's characterisation choices always came directly from the music. She was such a musical singer and such a superb musician, that she always closely adhered to what the composer actually wrote. Indeed Grace Bumbry once said that if you wrote down what you heard Callas sing, you would reproduce exactly the composer's markings. We are talking here not just of the notes, but the expression marks in the score. Whatever her choices, they were always backed up by what was in the score.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #652 on: September 14, 2017, 11:43:01 AM »
Maria Callas, Carmen, 1964 stereo, EMI. Sounds good, real good. Great melodies and themes throughout. I'm new to opera, and this is my way in, obviously. Would I like anything else?

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #653 on: September 15, 2017, 12:05:14 AM »


Janet Baker has always been my yardstick for the role of Dido. Her superb recording with Anthony Lewis, though performed with modern instruments, could be seen as being part of the dawn of the HIP movement. That said, I've always thought I should have an alternative on original instruments, but resisted because none of the Didos I heard quite did it for me.

This one seemed to have slipped by me. Had I known the wonderful, late lamented Lorraine Hunt Lieberson had recorded the role, I'd have bought it years ago.

Not sure about the witches (but then I'm not sure about them on the Baker recording either), but the rest is superb, and Hunt Lieberson is as movingly communicative as ever.

« Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 12:48:23 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 #654 on: September 15, 2017, 01:03:20 AM »
Maria Callas, Carmen, 1964 stereo, EMI. Sounds good, real good. Great melodies and themes throughout. I'm new to opera, and this is my way in, obviously. Would I like anything else?

I've been thinking about this a lot, and actually I'm not sure where one would go after Carmen. It's something of a one off. Nothing else really like it in Bizet's oeuvre, nor by any other composer.

For "great melodies and themes" try Rigoletto maybe. If you like Callas, there's a superb recording featuring her and Gobbi. This was the first of Verdi's triumvirate of middle period masterpieces. The others are Il Trovatore and La Traviata. All of the operas he wrote after that show Verdi's increasing dramatic skill, until his final two masterpieces, the tragic Otello and the comic Falstaff.



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

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #655 on: September 15, 2017, 01:12:20 AM »
Maria Callas, Carmen, 1964 stereo, EMI. Sounds good, real good.

I'm quite surprised, honestly. I should have thought that any music dating from 1875 is too old and too simple for your taste.



(sorry, couldn't resist!  ;D  :P   )
Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.. - Mozart

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #656 on: September 15, 2017, 01:16:45 AM »
I'm quite surprised, honestly. I should have thought that any music dating from 1875 is too old and too simple for your taste.



(sorry, couldn't resist!  ;D  :P   )

Surprised me too, but didn't even Boulez eventually come round to some of the music he despised in his youth?

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

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #657 on: September 16, 2017, 10:18:35 AM »
Tonight: Inghelbrecht 1962 version of Pélleas et Melissande:
 100% french cast: Jacques Jansen, Micheline Grancher, Michel Roux, André Vessières



Fantastic diction.  French in opera is a discourse, and when the articulation is perfect so is the melody.  Hearing this, one realizes how unforgiving the language is compared to italian or even german.  Inghelbrecht orchestra is also very good. This is a place where Abbado version holds its ground very well: the Wiener Philarmoniker sound is marvelous and the rendering on disk is significantly better due to the progresses in sound engineering.

I'll add the overall impressions when I am done through the 3 CDs.


Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #658 on: September 16, 2017, 11:14:29 AM »
Surprised me too, but didn't even Boulez eventually come round to some of the music he despised in his youth?

Well, let's keep things in proportion, please!...  ;D  >:D  :P
Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.. - Mozart

Offline king ubu

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #659 on: September 16, 2017, 12:30:34 PM »
Tonight: Inghelbrecht 1962 version of Pélleas et Melissande:
 100% french cast: Jacques Jansen, Micheline Grancher, Michel Roux, André Vessières



Fantastic diction.  French in opera is a discourse, and when the articulation is perfect so is the melody.  Hearing this, one realizes how unforgiving the language is compared to italian or even german.  Inghelbrecht orchestra is also very good. This is a place where Abbado version holds its ground very well: the Wiener Philarmoniker sound is marvelous and the rendering on disk is significantly better due to the progresses in sound engineering.

I'll add the overall impressions when I am done through the 3 CDs.

That one needs reissue!

I'd love to be able to live through the wonderful live experience at Zurich opera again, btw. Not an all-french cast, but a near perfect night for sure, with the orchestra and the singers finding together and with that magic of sung dialogue indeed happening for the entire lenght. Alain Altinoglu conducted and it got very clear that he knew how to handle it. One of the greatest nights at the opera ever, as far as I'm concerned.
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.
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Fick mich, lieber Peter!

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