Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 31748 times)

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Offline JCBuckley

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #720 on: October 16, 2017, 09:10:38 AM »
Spineur - many thanks for the reviews. I'm kicking myself for not making the trip to Paris. From what I can can gather, the DVD of the Wilson production suffers from lousy sound quality. And it costs a silly amount of money in the UK.

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #721 on: October 16, 2017, 09:21:21 AM »
Spineur - many thanks for the reviews. I'm kicking myself for not making the trip to Paris. From what I can can gather, the DVD of the Wilson production suffers from lousy sound quality. And it costs a silly amount of money in the UK.
I have also heard that the sound quality of the DVD is very poor.  For Debussy that just kills it.
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 Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #722 on: October 21, 2017, 03:28:53 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...
I decided to check this opera which I confess I had never heard of.  Light and pleasant music very much in Chabrier style.  As you said, the King Henri aria Beau pays, pays du beau soleil in act I is wonderful so is Ah viens Minka fidèle in act II as well as the duo "O rêve eteint" at act III.  All the orchestral preludes are indeed wonderful.  A pretty cool work.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 03:36:37 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 ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #723 on: October 21, 2017, 08:16:16 AM »
I decided to check this opera which I confess I had never heard of.  Light and pleasant music very much in Chabrier style.  As you said, the King Henri aria Beau pays, pays du beau soleil in act I is wonderful so is Ah viens Minka fidèle in act II as well as the duo "O rêve eteint" at act III.  All the orchestral preludes are indeed wonderful.  A pretty cool work.
Glad you liked it, cher ami... :)

You do know L'Étoile, no? Another jewel...

"Aussitôt que l'aurore,
aux doigts gantés de rose,
éclaire à son lever
les magasins de nouveautés
où le bon goût repose,
à nos vitrines apparaissent les clients"


Priceless!  8)
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 08:23:36 AM by ritter »
Ritter
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« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #724 on: October 21, 2017, 11:54:46 AM »
Some French Rossini tonight:



I haven't listened to Maometto II for quite a while, and it's been even longer since I've approached its revision as Le Siège... This seems to be the only recording of the work that more or less presents what Rossini offered the Paris audience in 1826.
Ritter
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« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #725 on: October 21, 2017, 01:32:24 PM »
There is also this Naxos CD.  I do not know either versions

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 anothername

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #726 on: October 21, 2017, 08:26:34 PM »


little bit of digging gets  you the best one can get.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #727 on: October 22, 2017, 12:07:03 AM »


The sound may not be great, the tenor roles may not be as well filled as they might be today, but, as a display of dramatic coloratura singing, Callas's Armida has to be heard to be believed. The power, the accuracy and the sheer insouciant ease with which she tackles the role's difficulties is unparalleled.

To my ears the Warner issue sounds duller than the Divina, though some may find it more comfortable to listen to. They also omit about 12 minutes of music (included in the Divina issue) that had voice interference on the tape.


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

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #728 on: October 22, 2017, 12:10:14 AM »


little bit of digging gets  you the best one can get.
Yes, two great female leads, of course (alhough I've never warmed to Mrs. Sills artistry, I must confess  :-[), but....in Italian translation, and in what I read is a spurious edition with interpolations from other Rossini works--including chunks of Le Siège's precursor Maometto II.

I must say, though, that in the French version I listened to, some of the singers might as well be singing in Italian, so poor is their pronunciation... ::)
Ritter
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« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #729 on: October 22, 2017, 12:35:04 AM »
I've never warmed to Mrs. Sills artistry, I must confess  :-[),

I'd say I appreciate her artistry, but have never warmed to her actual voice, which had too little colour and was a couple of notches too small for many of the roles she sang.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #730 on: October 22, 2017, 12:43:37 AM »
I'd say I appreciate her artistry, but have never warmed to her actual voice, which had too little colour and was a couple of notches too small for many of the roles she sang.
Yes, you've most eloquently epressed what I feel.... ;) It's the voice itself I don't find appealing.

Cheers,
Ritter
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« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #731 on: October 22, 2017, 08:09:38 AM »
Ritter and his Siège de Corinthe, inspired me in a coup de coeur purchase of another french opera by another italian composer



It is OOP so I had to resort to the audio file download from Opera-Rara web site.  Dom Sébastien is a very  very good opera.  The topic is relatively close to Meyerbeer L'Africaine/Vasco de Gama.  The music style is also quite close to Verdi Don Carlos.  So far I have listened only to the first CD.  I dare say, this is the best Opera-Rara I have listened so far.  Not so much the singers, but the opera.  Late Donizetti at his best.
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 ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #732 on: October 22, 2017, 10:44:32 AM »
Ritter and his Siège de Corinthe, inspired me in a coup de coeur purchase of another french opera by another italian composer



It is OOP so I had to resort to the audio file download from Opera-Rara web site.  Dom Sébastien is a very  very good opera.  The topic is relatively close to Meyerbeer L'Africaine/Vasco de Gama.  The music style is also quite close to Verdi Don Carlos.  So far I have listened only to the first CD.  I dare say, this is the best Opera-Rara I have listened so far.  Not so much the singers, but the opera.  Late Donizetti at his best.
I'm not really that much into Donizetti, but this Dom Sébastien is a work I have always wished to explore, exactly for the reasons you mention, Spineur (it's closeness to Don Carlos and to the grand opéra genre in general). Pity physical copies are very difficult to locate at reasonable prices  >:( (I'm not a download guy  :-[).
Ritter
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« Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
   Luxe, calme et volupté ».

Offline JCBuckley

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #733 on: October 22, 2017, 10:51:24 AM »
Revisiting this - a terrific performance with an amazing cast: Piau, Genaux, Basso, Stutzmann, Laurens. I'm assuming Naive's Vivaldi opera project is now dead in the water - but perhaps someone here knows more?

 


Offline Spineur

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #734 on: October 22, 2017, 11:28:55 AM »
I'm assuming Naive's Vivaldi opera project is now dead in the water - but perhaps someone here knows more?
I have no fresh information on the Vivaldi project but these days Naive is releasing a lot of new CDs.  There was the late Beethoven SQ by the Mosaiques quartet which got discussed on GMG.  This Bach also got quite good reviews


So you should keep an eye on the new release column !
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 Jeffrey Smith

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #735 on: October 22, 2017, 12:08:58 PM »
Revisiting this - a terrific performance with an amazing cast: Piau, Genaux, Basso, Stutzmann, Laurens. I'm assuming Naive's Vivaldi opera project is now dead in the water - but perhaps someone here knows more?

At the beginning Naive talked about a 100 CD series which would include 15 operas.  They actually released 15 operas, which means about 50 CDs worth of instrumental and sacred music remains unrecorded after deducting everything else that was issued, but no operas...and it's probably less of a financial and logistical challenge because of that. So perhaps someone will rise to the challenge.

Offline JCBuckley

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #736 on: October 22, 2017, 01:58:52 PM »
At the beginning Naive talked about a 100 CD series which would include 15 operas.  They actually released 15 operas, which means about 50 CDs worth of instrumental and sacred music remains unrecorded after deducting everything else that was issued, but no operas...and it's probably less of a financial and logistical challenge because of that. So perhaps someone will rise to the challenge.

Thanks for this, Jeffrey. I clearly misunderstood - I was under the impression that the opera series was intended to be more extensive than that.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #737 on: October 22, 2017, 02:07:17 PM »
Thanks for this, Jeffrey. I clearly misunderstood - I was under the impression that the opera series was intended to be more extensive than that.

There may have been plans for more: Naive expanded the scope of the series to include music not part of the Turin archive, so they may have meant to issue additional operas. But fifteen operas was the original number. It's the non-operatic music that suffered the most: less than half of the originally promised recordings were issued.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #738 on: October 23, 2017, 05:11:45 AM »


Moving on through Warner's Callas Live box set.

I didn't really know this performance that well, having previously only listened to excerpts in pretty atrocious sound. The sound here is massively improved (though it can't blot out the contribution of the prompter), but I'm still not sure why Warner decided to include it in the Callas Live box, especially considering that the studio version of the opera is considered one of the classics of the gramophone. If including this, then why not the superb live Un Ballo in Maschera from La Scala in 1957, which is a far better performance and far better recorded?

The only other singer of note is Di Stefano, and, without the firm hand of Serafin at the helm, he tends to be careless of note values and rhythm. Campolonghi's Rigoletto makes hardly any impression at all. The conductor, Umberto Mugnai, makes even more cuts than those traditional at the time and stage and pit are often out of sync; nor does he have any real idea of shaping the music and his tempi are all over the place.

Callas is a miracle. She could almost be a different singer from the one we have heard so far in this set, her voice wondrously lightened to dispel any associations with Abigaille, Kundry, Elena, Aida and Armida, the roles we have heard thus far. I dislike, as did she in later years, the decision to end Caro nome on a high E (actually an Eb as she transposed the aria down) rather than the rapturous trill on the lower E that Verdi wrote. It obtrudes on the air of gentle reverie that she has created in the aria itself. Apparently Callas did it to appease the Mexican audience's love of high notes, but she massively regretted it later.

It is also remarkable that when stage and pit fall apart, it is usually Callas (who was so blind she couldn't see the conductor) who brings things back on track.

It's interesting to have this snapshot of Callas trying out a role she wouldn't sing again except in the studio, and it is a great shame that she didn't keep it in her repertoire. Had she done so, we might have re-thought the role of Gilda, much as we did that of Lucia. That said, it is still to the studio set that I will turn if I want to hear Callas's Gilda.


« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 06:12:52 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 #739 on: October 28, 2017, 03:06:05 AM »


This live recording captures Callas's debut in front of one of her most loyal audiences. She appeared again at the house in 1953, 1957, 1958 (arguably her greatest performances of Violetta), 1959 and finally in 1964 and 1965 in the Zeffirelli Tosca, which was also her last ever appearance on stage.

Though this Norma would not be my first choice for the opera (that would be the live La Scala recording of 1955 with Simionato and Del Monaco), it is still a very good performance, with excellent contributions from Stignani, Picchi and Vaghi. Gui is also a welcome presence in the pit. Callas is in stupendous voice, but she is infinitely more subtle at La Scala in 1955. I also somewhat prefer Simionato to the rather mature voiced Stignani, who was twenty years Callas's senior. The voice is firm and seamless from top to bottom, but she sounds like the older woman, which skews the balance somewhat.

Worth hearing nevertheless.

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

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