Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 108591 times)

0 Members and 3 Guests are viewing this topic.

Online Biffo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1540 on: February 09, 2019, 07:27:14 AM »
The Wagner Project - this two-disc album contains familiar vocal numbers sung by Matthias Goerne accompanied by Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Harding also contributes several orchestral numbers. I wish I could be more enthusiastic but Harding' s contribution varies from dull to competent. He sinks Goerne's 'Wotan's Farewell' with his dullness, for example. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra play beautifully in the Parsifal excerpts but these can be had better elsewhere.

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6465
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1541 on: February 09, 2019, 01:32:02 PM »


I listened to Frau ohne Schatten some time last week. I will probably repeat it soon. The general concensus is that it’s a complex work, some going as far as to accuse it of being purposely confusing. It is not so. Hoffmannsthal’s libretto is straight out of the symbolist current. It is certainly more elaborate than, say, Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, but one only need to pay attention and read along to know what’s going on - and why. It is in good company, starting with Zauberflöte and extending down to Henze’s L’Upupa (a wonderful work).

Sinopoli’s version hails from a series of performances at the Semperoper, Dresden. There is the occasional rustle of stage movement, but no stomping (singers must have been wearing slippers), almost no coughs. Practically perfect conditions, then. All the singers are more than adequate. The Dyer’s Wife has a slightly shaky start but recovers quickly. Deborah Voigt’s Empress is powerful and well vocalized. Both sopranos sing very well but do not possess voices one recognizes instantly, which may be a problem in a few scenes. Ben Heppner’s Emperor is excellent. Barak is solidly sung by the excellent Franz Grundheber, a noted Wozzeck. The role of the Nurse is dramatically and vocally the kind of part in which a strong singing actress (Martha Mödl for example) can easily steal the show. Hannah Schwarz is solid on all counts - a tower of strength. The voice of the Falcon and the Voice from Above could be more secure (that falcon has lead in its wings), but the Messenger Spirit is strong.

Orchestra and sound are very good. I expected more fireworks, but this is a performance that shows its strengths on the stage, not in the pit. The booklet notes are the best I’ve ever read for an opera production. They survey all aspects of the work, literary, philosophical, musical, in excellent prose - no obfuscating gobbledygook, thank God.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 01:34:06 PM by André »

Online ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5546
  • Fernand Léger: Nature morte aux fruits
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1542 on: February 09, 2019, 01:46:17 PM »
It’s been ages since I last listened to Sinopoli ‘s FroSch.i recall enjoying it a lot (even if it maintains the “standard” cuts to the score of early recordings—Böhm, Keilberth...). I should remedy that sometime soon. And yes, Hanna Schwarz is great (as is her magnificent Klytemnästra in Sinopoli’s recording of Elektra).

The recording’s genesis is peculiar, though. IIRC, the stage performances at the Dresden Semperoper had another Emperor, not Ben Hepper. So, all the scenes in which the character appears, were recorded in the studio and spliced into the composite of live takes.
Ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Et avec le fer de sa houe il cassa la glace
De la source ou jadis riaient les naïades... »

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6465
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1543 on: February 09, 2019, 01:50:29 PM »
The booklet says "based on live performances". Pretty much like the caption "contains real juice"  :D.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 06:17:19 PM by André »

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6465
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1544 on: February 09, 2019, 06:09:59 PM »


This, Eugène Ysaÿe’s only opera (1930) is something both familar and strange. Strictly bound by the 17th century rule of the three unities, it takes place in a continuous time frame, on a single set and is entirely based on the character’s actions. No subplot, no ‘One Month Later’, no ‘Meanwhile, in the Queen’s room’ or other distraction. Very much a verismo one-acter like Cavalleria, Il Tabarro or Pagliacci. Like them it is rather short (82 minutes). There’s a tenor and soprano couple, a baritone (the girl’s father) and a chorus that participates in or reflects on the events. That’s the familiar part.

Ysaÿe’s music adheres closely to the libretto (his own), with no orchestral set pieces, interludes and such. There's a couple of memorable themes that run through the opera. The strange part is the composer’s decision to write his libretto in a language that does not have any literary tradition. Walloon is a dialect spoken in eastern Belgium. It was purely phonetic. No books, no written works whatsoever. Ysaÿe phonetically wrote it using the common alphabet. Since then a revival of sort has taken place and a transliteration has been performed, sometimes using diacritics that are foreign to the French language. In 1951 a new production ’walloonized’ a few words that were too obviously french ! For this 2006 a written libretto was prepared. I quote fromthe notes:

Since for most dialect speakers Walloon is an exclusively oral language, writing it down poses the problem of how to render sounds that do not exist in French (...) this is why the libretto has been converted into a particular spelling convention (Feller’s), as is usual with texts in Walloon. It is a compromise between a phonetic rendering of the dialect and French orthographical conventions and enables such texts to be rendered in print in a coherent manner, making them easier to read.

The work’s title is a good example. Piére li houyeû = Pierre le houilleux (French: houille = coal) = Pierre the Coal Miner. The spelling in Walloon and French is close, but the phonetic rendering is so different that a French speaker today can’t understand a conversation in Walloon.

Anyhow, linguistic issues aside this is a fine work, a bit unrefined but powerful. Dramatic elisions are intelligently used and there are big set pieces for the two main characters as well as the all-important chorus. There are three main sung roles and they are taken by big voices. The role of Piére in particular has more than a tinge of the heroic. It reminded me of Michele in Il Tabarro. The production values are superlative. Deluxe presentation, with interesting period photographs, some taken by Queen Elisabeth, a close friend of the composer.  Obviously a prestige production from the Opéra royal de Wallonie, Liège. Recommended for the curious and open-minded operaphile.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 06:15:49 PM by André »

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1545 on: February 10, 2019, 04:05:31 AM »


This was Callas's first recording for EMI, made with Florence forces shortly after singing the role of Lucia there in early 1953. She had caused a sensation when she debuted the role in Mexico the previous year, rescuing the opera from its reputation as a silly little Italian opera in which some pip squeak coloratura soprano got to show off her top notes and flexibility. Callas's performances revealed a tragic power that few had suspected was there.

Her Lucia probably reached its apogee in the Karajan La Scala production of 1954, which travelled to Berlin in 1955 and Vienna in 1956, and we are fortuate indeed that the 1955 Berlin performance has been preserved in excellent sound. That recording would be my top choice of all the Callas Lucias now available, but this one has a good deal to commend it too, not least Gobbi's Enrico, who makes as much of the single-mindedly villainous character of Enrico as is possible. Panerai, on the La Scala set is excellent too, but Gobbi sings with more subtlety. Edgardo was one of Di Stefano's best roles, and he is in good form here, though Karajan on the Berlin recording, coaxes more elegance out of him.

And Callas? Well, she is in fabulous voice, the top fuller and in better control than in Berlin, but there, encouraged by Karajan's spacious tempi, she spins out the phrases to even greater length, at times sounding as if she is extemporising on the spot.

Serafin conducts in the best Italian lyric tradition, but of course makes the cuts traditional at the time. The recording is reasonably clear, but tends to overload at climaxes.

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

Online ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5546
  • Fernand Léger: Nature morte aux fruits
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1546 on: February 10, 2019, 09:35:38 AM »
First listen to this recording of Georges Enesco’s beautiful and noble Oedipe:



Despite the so-so (but perfectly tolerable) sound and the cuts in the score, this is turning out to be the most convincing recording of this masterpiece I know (the others being Lawrence Foster’s—with José van Dam—on EMI, and Michael Gielen’s—live from Vienna, with Monte Pedersen—on Naxos).

This is a live concert given in the Salle Pleyel a fortnight after the composer’s death—I presume it was a homage to him—, and AFAIK the first performance of the score after the 1936 Paris premiere. Charles Brück (who also recorded a magnificent French-language version of Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel) has a masterful grip of this complex score, and (as one reviewer put it) it sounds more “modern” and daring than in the later recordings. The cast are all native French speakers, and their renditions have a natural flow that is admirable. Xavier Depraz (despite some very occasional hoarseness) is simultaneously imposing and moving in the title rôle, Rita Gorr is appropriately menacing as the Sphinx, Geneviève Moizan is superb as Jocaste, Berthe Monmart is touching as Antigone, and so on even to the tiniest roles. The chorus is also first-rate: their screams near  the end of Act 3 (the blinding of Oedipus), replying to the lead’s “Ouvrez les portes!” are chilling.

A wonderful document.  :)

EDIT: The “transfigurative” finale of the fourth act of Oedipe is one of the most intense endings in opera I have ever encountered (despite the difference in style, the ending of Parsifal comes to mind). Stunning!
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 10:17:13 AM by ritter »
Ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Et avec le fer de sa houe il cassa la glace
De la source ou jadis riaient les naïades... »

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6465
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1547 on: February 10, 2019, 11:30:52 AM »
This looks great ! Too bad it’s unavailable outside of Europe, though.  :(

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1548 on: February 13, 2019, 02:57:25 AM »


Don Carlos has always been one of my favourite Verdi operas. It's a flawed masterpiece no doubt, but the characters are so beautifully drawn and the music displays Verdi at his most humane.

This Giulini recording can now be considered a classic, and remains, on balance, the best recording available. Not that it's that simple of course, for Don Carlos exists (and has been recorded) in a bewildering varierty of different editions. The Giulini represents Verdi's final revision, in Italian, of the five act version. I have three different recordings, all of different versions. IN addition to thise one, I have Karajan's four act Italian version and Abbado's five act French version, with appendices of music either cut or added for different performances.

Giulini's conducting is by turns magisterial and warmly sympathetic to his singers, though occasionally perhaps a tad too spacious. I'd have preferred a more propulsive tempo for Eboli's O don fatale, for instance.

His cast is excellent, Domingo at his golden toned best is more involved, less generic than was often the case in the many recordings he made in the 1970s, though he is even more inside the role by the time he recorded it in French with Abbado. Caballé is in gloriously rich voice for Elisabetta, Verrett excitingly vibrant as Eboli, that smoky lower register of hers used to great effect. Milnes is also at his best as the inherently noble Posa, but Raimondi is a little light of voice for the King, a role which really requires a darker, deeper bass sound. Still he contrasts nicely with the black-voiced Inquiistor of Giovanni Foiani. Simon Estes makes a strong impression as the Monk.

What a great opera this is, and how lucky we are to have this wonderful performance on disc.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Online ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5546
  • Fernand Léger: Nature morte aux fruits
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1549 on: February 13, 2019, 03:19:35 AM »


Don Carlos has always been one of my favourite Verdi operas. It's a flawed masterpiece no doubt, but the characters are so beautifully drawn and the music displays Verdi at his most humane.

This Giulini recording can now be considered a classic, and remains, on balance, the best recording available. Not that it's that simple of course, for Don Carlos exists (and has been recorded) in a bewildering varierty of different editions. The Giulini represents Verdi's final revision, in Italian, of the five act version. I have three different recordings, all of different versions. IN addition to thise one, I have Karajan's four act Italian version and Abbado's five act French version, with appendices of music either cut or added for different performances.

Giulini's conducting is by turns magisterial and warmly sympathetic to his singers, though occasionally perhaps a tad too spacious. I'd have preferred a more propulsive tempo for Eboli's O don fatale, for instance.

His cast is excellent, Domingo at his golden toned best is more involved, less generic than was often the case in the many recordings he made in the 1970s, though he is even more inside the role by the time he recorded it in French with Abbado. Caballé is in gloriously rich voice for Elisabetta, Verrett excitingly vibrant as Eboli, that smoky lower register of hers used to great effect. Milnes is also at his best as the inherently noble Posa, but Raimondi is a little light of voice for the King, a role which really requires a darker, deeper bass sound. Still he contrasts nicely with the black-voiced Inquiistor of Giovanni Foiani. Simon Estes makes a strong impression as the Monk.

What a great opera this is, and how lucky we are to have this wonderful performance on disc.
Very nice roundup of this excellent recording, Tsaraslondon! A classic, for sure, and successful at all levels. Don Carlo(s) is also a favourite of mine.  :) I have a feeling that its composer, attending to an important commission from a major foreign house, outdid himself in terms of the overall ambition of the work, and the orchestral aspect in particular.
Ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Et avec le fer de sa houe il cassa la glace
De la source ou jadis riaient les naïades... »

Offline JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1263
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1550 on: February 13, 2019, 02:25:05 PM »
This is an opera in which I have recordings featuring Domingo and Pavarotti. And Domingo always seem to win these matchups.

I do have a different, I think more effective cover. Its current CD incarnation is this



...and interestingly with a slight variance in the title...Don Carlo vs Don Carlos...
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 02:29:04 PM by JBS »

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1551 on: February 13, 2019, 03:36:33 PM »
The inset on yours is the cover of the original LP release (which I used to own). The one I detailed is of the first CD release.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6465
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1552 on: February 13, 2019, 05:23:28 PM »
This is an opera in which I have recordings featuring Domingo and Pavarotti. And Domingo always seem to win these matchups.

I do have a different, I think more effective cover. Its current CD incarnation is this



...and interestingly with a slight variance in the title...Don Carlo vs Don Carlos...

EMI must have mixed up the titles. Don Carlos is the french title, it became Don Carlo in the italian translation.

Offline JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1263
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1553 on: February 13, 2019, 05:43:20 PM »
EMI must have mixed up the titles. Don Carlos is the french title, it became Don Carlo in the italian translation.
Every Mistake Imagineable

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1554 on: February 14, 2019, 02:09:01 AM »
EMI must have mixed up the titles. Don Carlos is the french title, it became Don Carlo in the italian translation.

The five act version was sometimes referred to as Don Carlos to differentiate it from the four act Don Carlo, which was more usually performed back then. Italian was the more usual language for both versions.

The Visconti/Giulini production of 1958 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden was, I think, the first in the twentieth century to use the five act version (though it was still quite heavily cut), and they called it Don Carlos for that reason. Even the four act version was quite a rarity and wasn't held in the high esteem it is today. That Covent Garden production went a long way to putting it on the map.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 02:51:51 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Wendell_E

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1058
  • Location: Mobile, AL, USA
  • Currently Listening to:
    mostly opera and chamber music
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1555 on: February 14, 2019, 03:56:00 AM »
EMI must have mixed up the titles. Don Carlos is the french title, it became Don Carlo in the italian translation.

Or maybe they stuck with Carlos since that was the name of the actual historical person? I always call it Don Carlos, regardless of the language (or version) it's performed in.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 03:58:06 AM by Wendell_E »
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Offline Wendell_E

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1058
  • Location: Mobile, AL, USA
  • Currently Listening to:
    mostly opera and chamber music
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1556 on: February 14, 2019, 04:03:32 AM »
The five act version was sometimes referred to as Don Carlos to differentiate it from the four act Don Carlo, which was more usually performed back then. Italian was the more usual language for both versions.


Sometimes you'll see Don Carlos used even with the four-act Italian translation, as in the original LP cover of the Karajan recording.

« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 10:14:37 AM by Que »
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1557 on: February 14, 2019, 11:23:00 AM »
Sometimes you'll see Don Carlos used even with the four-act Italian translation, as in the original LP cover of the Karajan recording.



I have that recording, and I would like it more if it weren't for the sonics, which are all over the place, the dynamic range ridiculously huge and nothing like what you would hear in the theatre. One particularly bad example is the beginning of Act III, where, even with headphones, you have to turn the volume right up in order to hear Carreras's opening lines, only to be deafened by the first orchestral tutti that comes in.

Incindentally I read recently that the reason the ROH billed the Visconti production as Don Carlos rather than Don Carlo was because it was the first time they were doing the five act version. I'm not sure why the Karajan recording would have been billed in the same way.



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

Offline Wendell_E

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1058
  • Location: Mobile, AL, USA
  • Currently Listening to:
    mostly opera and chamber music
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1558 on: February 15, 2019, 03:56:26 AM »
Incindentally I read recently that the reason the ROH billed the Visconti production as Don Carlos rather than Don Carlo was because it was the first time they were doing the five act version. I'm not sure why the Karajan recording would have been billed in the same way.

Of course, both the five-and four-act versions were completely set to French texts by Verdi. The only time he composed to an Italian text was for the Philippe-Rodrigue scene for a Naples performance, but that's not the version of the scene that we usually hear. So there's no particular reason to prefer one version of the title because of version (4 or 5-act) performed, though it would make sense to prefer one because of the language of the performance.
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Offline king ubu

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4066
  • sic transit gloria mundi
    • ubu's notizen
  • Location: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Currently Listening to:
    all music
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1559 on: February 18, 2019, 02:46:31 AM »
Saw the new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni in Lucerne on Saturday - fantastic experience, although some of the singers were less than perfect ... but the production was great indeed, and it created a kind of maelstrom that sucked me in. The basic idea was that you see much of it from Giovanni's perspective - a live camera filmed over his shoulder, the images (in b/w) were projected onto a screen that closed off the larger part of the stage. The other characters were seen both in front of the screen and when they interacted with Giovanni in his perspective - often a voyeur's view through undergrowth - when they went behind the screen. Leporello turned into the main chararacter, the playmaker of the entire production actually. There were bridges over the pit on both sides, and Leporello actually acted from the stalls for some parts, and then went back onto the stage etc. The continuo fortepiano was located on the other bridge (but there was still enough room for entrances by various singers). The choir and some stage music were also placed on the balconys a couple of times, the small room was thus very well played (something which director Benedikt von Peter is doing quite often and indeed very well). Vuyani Mlinde as Leporello was outstanding, and the entire production, despite a less than ideal Anna/Ottavio (Rebecca Krynski Cox/Emanuel Heitz) couple (they're weak, or rather: uninteresting anyway and have too many arias ...), the full package was outstanding and pretty much of a piece. Clemens Heil conducted with a lot of care and the orchestra was playing very well. Special props to William Kelley for his fine continuo performance. And to Abigail Lewis and Flurin Caduff who are wonderful as Zerbina/Masetto. Jason Cox was a gruff, strong Giovanni, Solenn Lavanant Linke's Elvia was a bit shrill and almost too powerful at some moments, but pretty good. And Boris Petronje, finally, was good as the rather scary Commendatore.

The reviews I read are German only:
http://www.peterhagmann.com/?p=2000
https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/mozart-als-ego-shooter-ld.1451725

--

Sunday I felt like digging up some of the Giovanni recordings, familiar and as of yet unfamiliar ones ... I started by listening to these two:



The Walter is maybe a bit on the mild side, but still pretty good, except for sound ... Pinza is magnificient, and it's no coincidence that it's Sayão's Zerlina that gets scene applause for both her big arias. The cast is good, and if you can deal with historic sound, this comes recommended!

The same goes for the Moralt - in good sound now (1955), and with another quite even cast. Simoneau is an outstanding Ottavio (the finest?) and his arias, sung like this, are heavenly indeed (although plotwise I'll stick with Kierkegaard's verdict on cutting Ottavio and Anna some) ... London may be a bit too much on the powerful side as Giovanni, a tad too heroic maybe. The women are well cast, with Jurinac a great Elvira, Berry is just great as Leporello, and Waechter and Weber (Masetto and Il Commendatore) are good, too. Again, Moralt is not one to engage too actively in shaping the music, but he lets it flow quite beautifully, so it all works really well. Glad I (just recently) added this to my collection!

Up next are re-listens to Krips (one of my favourite opera recordings of all times), Giulini (close) and some more recent ones (Gardiner, Jacobs - not sure I ever fully played these yet) ... maybe I'll check out Furtwängler's take (the possibly finest from 1953 I don't have, 1951 and 1954 I think?), and definitely I want to check out Böhm at the Met, 1957, with a fine cast. Maybe I'll also check out Davis and Busch for the first time, and revisit Currentzis, though maybe that'll have to wait ... Krips, Giulini and Böhm for sure though.
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/

 

Don't Like These Ads? Become a GMG Subscriber!
For as little as 14 cents per day, subscribers get no advertising on the forum, a larger Inbox for your PM's, and a warm glow of knowing you are supporting the forum. All this and a groovy Subscriber badge too!
Click here to read more.