Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 86902 times)

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1420 on: December 05, 2018, 11:00:34 AM »
I prefer Böhm’s earlier Decca Flute, with not a weak link and singers clearly used to work as a team. Böhm’s conducting is slightly more alert, too. But then, Wunderlich... ::)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1421 on: December 07, 2018, 03:01:55 AM »
I prefer Böhm’s earlier Decca Flute, with not a weak link and singers clearly used to work as a team. Böhm’s conducting is slightly more alert, too. But then, Wunderlich... ::)

Ah yes, Wunderlich. Simoneau was a great singer and a great Mozart stylist, but his voice doesn't have quite the heroic ring of Wunderlich, who is absolutely ideal. I treasure this performance above all for it being one of the few studio recordings, featuring Wunderlich in a complete role.

That said, I think I still prefer Böhm's second recording to his first, especially on the male side, Crass a firmer voiced Sarastro, and with superb contributions from Hotter as the Speaker, and King and Talvela as the Two Armed Men. The ladies are not quite so distinguished, it's true, but on the first Güden strikes me as a bit too pert, Loose too soubrettish. Evelyn Lear is the weakest link on the second recording, no match for such as Lemnitz, Seefried, Margaret Price, Te Kanawa, Janowitz or Popp certainly, but at least as good as Güden. So I'll stick with Böhm II.



« Last Edit: December 07, 2018, 04:30:41 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1422 on: December 07, 2018, 03:24:13 AM »


Great singing never goes out of fashion and, though this recording dates from 1961 and therefore uses modern instruments, it still holds its head up amongst the many HIP recordings now available, not least for the 28 year old Janet Baker's incomparable Dido.

Downsides are the somewhat hammy witches, led by Monica Sinclair, but whenever Baker is before the microphone, the performance takes wing, culminating in the most emotionally devastating When I am laid in earth I've ever heard.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 05:48:23 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 #1423 on: December 09, 2018, 01:37:22 AM »


Gergiev's Boris Godunov was originaly issued in tandem with the original 1869 version, but this reissue is just the 1872 revision, which differs in quite a few respects, not least in the inclusion of the Polish act, which introduces us to Marina, superbly sung here by Olga Borodina.

The all Russian cast is a good one, particularly in the lower voices. Vaneev's Boris is not as powerful as those of Christoff, Ghiaurov or Talvela, but he is excellent in the more humane aspects of the character, especially with his son Fyodor. No complaints about the other singers and Gergiev paces the score well.
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Offline Que

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1424 on: December 09, 2018, 05:26:23 AM »
Jean-Baptiste Lully called this a "Pastorale héroïque", but I'm pretty sure it qualifies for this thread...  :)


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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1425 on: December 09, 2018, 06:07:07 AM »


Common opinion (and memory) tells us that Callas, having recorded the role of Turandot a little late in her career, is wobbly and vocally unstable, that Schwarzkopf is out of her element, Fernandi a complete non-entity, Serafin reliable but uninspired and the mono recording not up to the demands of this aurally spectacular opera.

Well memory, and therefore common opinion, turned out to be rather faulty on this occasion.

In one respect, that of the recording, it is correct. The mono sound is boxy and this, of all operas, cries out for the kind of aural spectacular we get in say the Mehta and Karajan performances. It is a great shame for the performance, led with a wonderfully natural sense of rhythm and balance by Serafin fully deserves a better aural soundscape. He even manages to make much more musical sense of Alfano's ending, which becomes much less of an anti-climax than usual. However no amount of re-mastering can disguise the fact that the mono sound cannot contain the splendours of the performance.

So to the singers.

Schwarzkopf might not sound quite Italianate, it is true, but her Liu is gorgeously sung and phrased right from the first moments when she sings that breathtaking piano top note on Perché un dì...nella reggia, mi hai sorriso. . Then in Signore, ascolta, she manages a perfect mesa di voce on the final note, as intrsucted in the score. Another highlight is the little mini aria before Tu che di gel sei cinta, again beautifuly shaded and shaped. It's a performance full of veiled sighs and tears and I like it very much.

Fernandi makes much more of an impression than I remembered, with a fine ring to his voice. His phrasing is occasionally a little four square, but, taken on his own terms, it is a thoroughly acceptable performance, if without the personality of a Bjoerling, Corelli or Pavarotti. Zaccaria is a sonorous, warmly sympathetic Timur.

As for Callas, well of course I might have wished that she'd recorded the role even three years earlier, when she sang a vocally resplendent In questa reggia on her Puccini Recital, and certainly there are times when the role is obviously stretching her to her limits, but her voice is a lot more secure than she is usually given credit for, and indeed we've heard much wider vibratos and wobbly singing from many of the singers who have followed, especially from some of the ones who are around now. What we also get is the most psychologically penetrating traversal of Turandot's psyche as you are likely to hear. This Turandot is not just a mythical creature with spendid top notes, she is a real person. We understand that it is Turandot's insecurity and fear that make her so cruel. We also understand why so many princes could have fallen under her spell. One might argue that Turandot is after all just a fairytale, and doesn't require such a degree of psychological complexity, and it's certainly a valid point. However I, for one, find the insights Callas brings to the role make it so much more interesting.

So, in all but matters of sound, I would call this a great Turandot.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 06:09:41 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1426 on: December 09, 2018, 09:03:03 AM »


Common opinion (and memory) tells us that Callas, having recorded the role of Turandot a little late in her career, is wobbly and vocally unstable, that Schwarzkopf is out of her element, Fernandi a complete non-entity, Serafin reliable but uninspired and the mono recording not up to the demands of this aurally spectacular opera.

Well memory, and therefore common opinion, turned out to be rather faulty on this occasion.

In one respect, that of the recording, it is correct. The mono sound is boxy and this, of all operas, cries out for the kind of aural spectacular we get in say the Mehta and Karajan performances. It is a great shame for the performance, led with a wonderfully natural sense of rhythm and balance by Serafin fully deserves a better aural soundscape. He even manages to make much more musical sense of Alfano's ending, which becomes much less of an anti-climax than usual. However no amount of re-mastering can disguise the fact that the mono sound cannot contain the splendours of the performance.

So to the singers.

Schwarzkopf might not sound quite Italianate, it is true, but her Liu is gorgeously sung and phrased right from the first moments when she sings that breathtaking piano top note on Perché un dì...nella reggia, mi hai sorriso. . Then in Signore, ascolta, she manages a perfect mesa di voce on the final note, as intrsucted in the score. Another highlight is the little mini aria before Tu che di gel sei cinta, again beautifuly shaded and shaped. It's a performance full of veiled sighs and tears and I like it very much.

Fernandi makes much more of an impression than I remembered, with a fine ring to his voice. His phrasing is occasionally a little four square, but, taken on his own terms, it is a thoroughly acceptable performance, if without the personality of a Bjoerling, Corelli or Pavarotti. Zaccaria is a sonorous, warmly sympathetic Timur.

As for Callas, well of course I might have wished that she'd recorded the role even three years earlier, when she sang a vocally resplendent In questa reggia on her Puccini Recital, and certainly there are times when the role is obviously stretching her to her limits, but her voice is a lot more secure than she is usually given credit for, and indeed we've heard much wider vibratos and wobbly singing from many of the singers who have followed, especially from some of the ones who are around now. What we also get is the most psychologically penetrating traversal of Turandot's psyche as you are likely to hear. This Turandot is not just a mythical creature with spendid top notes, she is a real person. We understand that it is Turandot's insecurity and fear that make her so cruel. We also understand why so many princes could have fallen under her spell. One might argue that Turandot is after all just a fairytale, and doesn't require such a degree of psychological complexity, and it's certainly a valid point. However I, for one, find the insights Callas brings to the role make it so much more interesting.

So, in all but matters of sound, I would call this a great Turandot.

I have listened to that in the old CD remastering, not the new Remastered version.  My biggest problem with the sonics was how they recorded the Emperor, barely audible and suggesting he was three studios away from the microphone.  Maybe they wanted to suggest that the Emperor was a remote and distant (and not merely elderly) personage, not directly involved in the action.  As it was, that problem got in the way of my enjoying anything else in the recording.  Does the new mastering fix that problem?


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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1427 on: December 09, 2018, 09:57:13 AM »
I have listened to that in the old CD remastering, not the new Remastered version.  My biggest problem with the sonics was how they recorded the Emperor, barely audible and suggesting he was three studios away from the microphone.  Maybe they wanted to suggest that the Emperor was a remote and distant (and not merely elderly) personage, not directly involved in the action.  As it was, that problem got in the way of my enjoying anything else in the recording.  Does the new mastering fix that problem?

I can't say that I noticed it being a problem when I listened today, so maybe they have. Which of the Callas re-masters did you have. The black box Callas edition were the ones with the most problems.
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Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1428 on: December 09, 2018, 10:10:01 AM »
I can't say that I noticed it being a problem when I listened today, so maybe they have. Which of the Callas re-masters did you have. The black box Callas edition were the ones with the most problems.

This one, which the credit listing on the back says is the 2008 remastering.


I'm pretty sure I gave it away when I got the remastered set, as I did with any other recording I had which was also in the Remastered set.


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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1429 on: December 09, 2018, 10:55:32 AM »
This one, which the credit listing on the back says is the 2008 remastering.


I'm pretty sure I gave it away when I got the remastered set, as I did with any other recording I had which was also in the Remastered set.


I assume you’re referring to this set ?




I have this one:


A review of which concentrates on the remastering (check for the review by R.W. Should be the first one):
https://www.amazon.ca/Callas-Complete-Studio-Recordings-Enhanced/dp/B00G2IS2HM/ref=sr_1_47?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1544381372&sr=1-47&keywords=Maria+callas+edition


How would you say this set compares to the remastered one (with the original jackets) ?

Thanks in advance !

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1430 on: December 09, 2018, 05:21:05 PM »
I have the new one, with the red box, but have only heard the recitals, which I had as a separate set.  I am about halfway through the remastered Live box. What I have heard justifies the claim that these new remasterings are in general superior to the old ones.


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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1431 on: December 09, 2018, 07:01:43 PM »
Thanks ! The remastered box is on sale at JPC. Food for thought...

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1432 on: December 10, 2018, 01:13:58 AM »
The general consensus is that the latest Warner box is better than the Callas edition, and better than those that appeared in the Great Recordings of the Century series, but not always better than EMI's original transfers.

I have the Warner box and I'm happy with it.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1433 on: December 10, 2018, 02:08:30 AM »


There are a bewildering array of editions (and recordings) of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and consequently none of them is entirely recommendable. I'm not sure Bonynge's are always the right choices, and it could be argued that including spoken dialogue rather than recitative goes against Offenbach's express wishes, for all that he never completed them. That said, I've always enjoyed this performance, not least for Domingo's youthful take on a role he sang many times. This is one of his best, most characterful recordings.

As usual, when one singer takes on all the soprano roles, Sutherland is more successful in some parts than others. Her Olympia is, as expected, spectacular, but her Giulietta is not particularly seductive and her Antonia suffers somewhat from her mooning manner and mushy diction. However there is no denying the beauty of the voice itself. Bacquier is a strong presence as the villains and Hugues Cuénod excellent as the four servants.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 04:37:22 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1434 on: December 11, 2018, 06:38:25 AM »


Excellent performances of Puccini's tryptich, though, of the three, only Suor Angelica would be my absolute top choice.

A word first about the presentation of this budget release. These days I suppose we have to become used to not getting texts and translations, but documentation is really of the minimum, and tracking of the CDs is at ludicrous; just one for Il Tabarro, and two each for Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.

Nothing really wrong with Maazel's conducting, which is spacious and warm throughout, though he misses some of the high spirits of Gianni Schicchi.

Despite the excellent performances of Scotto and Domingo in Il Tabarro, I still prefer the old mono recording conducted by Vincenzo Bellezza, which is dominated by Gobbi's darkly menacing, but troubled Michele. It is one of his greatest achievements on disc, and, good though Wixell is, he doesn't begin to match Gobbi in emotional range. Scotto and Domingo are far preferable to their counterparts on the older recording, but Gobbi is irreplaceable.

In Gianni Schicci, Gobbi is up against himself in an earlier recording, conducted by Gabriele Santini with a degree more urgency than we get here. Gobbi is as sharply characterful as ever, but the other soloists on that earlier recording are a tad more individual than those on this one, and it just generates a bit more fun and high spirits. Domingo, expertly lightening his voice, manages Rinuccio surprisingly well, but it's still a bit like getting a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and Ileana Cotrubas is a charming Lauretta, if not quite eclipsing memories of Victoria De Los Angeles on the earlier recording.

When it comes to Suor Angelica, I would have to admit that Scotto's top notes can be afflicted with hardness and unsteadiness, but that she presents the most intense, most psycholgically penetrating traversal of the role I've heard. Between them Scotto and Maazel turn what is often a piece of quasi religioso sentimentality into a mini psychodrama about the effects of repression, almost echoing some of the themes in Powell and Pressburger's darly intense movie Black Narcissus. Much as I like recordings featuring De Los Angeles and Ricciarelli, this one is much more gripping as drama. It's defnitely the prize of the set.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1435 on: December 11, 2018, 08:51:08 AM »


Very nice version of this beloved operetta. Boskovsky paces it naturally, which for a viennese operetta, means with inimitable lilt. I don’t think that kind of ebb and flow can be imported. All the singers are excellent. The three principals sing and act spiritedly. Standouts among the supporting cast are Fischer-Dieskau’s Falke and Fassbänder’s Orlovsky. The recording from 1972 is naturally balanced and wide-ranging. A wonderful pair of discs.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1436 on: December 11, 2018, 09:10:59 AM »

 and tracking of the CDs is at ludicrous; just one for Il Tabarro, and two each for Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi.

The lack of tracks was the case on the original full-price release.  It was an odd quirk of early CD mastering - I think - when some operas tracked Acts and sub-divided them using index markers which soon fell out of favour.  I personally don't worry about the lack of documentation since I find either a) I have other sets with libretti etc or b) sufficient info is available online.  My only observation is that this lack of tracking implies that Sony have not remastered the set for re-release.  What marks out their orchestral bargain re-releases is the 24-bit remastering which in some instances has had a substantial impact on the quality of the sound.

Offline Alberich

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1437 on: December 11, 2018, 09:15:40 AM »
Vedernikov recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Invisible City of Kitezh. Very impressive.
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Offline Alberich

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1438 on: December 11, 2018, 11:17:47 AM »


Returned once more to this exhilarating recording of R. Strauss's seldom heard gem. If Hofmannsthal would have written the final libretto, maybe this would have been more popular?
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1439 on: December 11, 2018, 07:28:29 PM »
This looks intriguing. Has anyone seen it? As I understood it, each singer has a 'dance partner' that expresses what the singer is singing. It definitely comes across as quite different! But the singing has been generally well received too. I like dancing, but I'm not sure if the two go together here.

Be kind to your fellow posters!!