Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 118912 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1700 on: June 09, 2019, 04:39:47 PM »
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1701 on: June 10, 2019, 10:29:31 AM »
After Schreker’s wonderful Der ferne Klang, some more familiar stuff :

Quote
Smetana’s Bartered Bride in the german translation that brought it success on german/austrian stages. The Bamberger Symphoniker was made up of expats from the Prague German Opera. The idiom is pretty much in their blood. Splendid singing. The star of the show is Gottlob Frick’s Osmin-like marriage courtier. I guess making fun of the stuttering character of Wenzel is not quite politically correct.



Splendid production. I have the original czech language version lined up for listening some time later.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1702 on: June 14, 2019, 01:51:09 AM »


Karajan's second recording of Aida was recorded, like the first one, in Vienna  in 1979 exactly twenty years later. For some reason, it is usually passed over in favour of the first, which starred the more obvious Aida cast of Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Simionato and MacNeil. Personally, I've always preferred this later one with a cast which, on paper, might seem lightweight, but actually works in practice very well.

Roughly contemporaneous with Karajan's Berlin recording of Don Carlo this Vienna recording, though still wide ranging, is much better, more natural, putting the voices in a more natural acoustic, and Karajan in so many places brings out the beauty and lyricism of the score. He paces the score brilliantly and is most attentive to his singers. Not that this is an undramatic reading. Far from it. Though tempi can be measured, Karajan is an experienced Verdian and still infuses them with energy. The orchestral climaxes are stunning and all the singers relish the text and sing off the words. It hardly needs be said that the Vienna Philharmonic play magnificently.

Freni is a little taxed in places, nor does she command the sheer beauty of sound Caballé does on the Muti recording, but what pleasure it is to hear the text so well enunciated, so clearly communicated. Her Aida is lyrically vulnerable and I actually prefer it to many who one might consider more vocally entitled. Carreras is likewise a lyrical Radames, and his voice was still very beautiful at this phase of his career. He too sings well off the text. I like, for instance, the reflective way he sings Se quel guerrier io fossi, becoming more forceful in the second part of the recitative when he sings about the applause of all Memphis, before softening his tone again when he sings about Aida. How much of this is Carreras, how much Karajan I don't know, but it makes for a more thoughtful reading than we often get.

Baltsa was also at her absolute vocal peak, though she is no barnstorming Amneris. She reminds us that Amneris is a young spoiled princess, used to getting her own way but also vulnerably feminine and a vaild rival for Aida. It is a very convincing portrayal and she is absolutely thrilling in the judgement scene. Cappuccilli is maybe not so implacable an Amonasro as Gobbi, but he also sings well off the words, and Raimondi and Van Dam are nicely contrasted as Ramfis and the King. The silken voiced Ricciarelli is luxury casting as the Priestess.

An excellent set, well worth investigating and, in my opinion, much more dramatically alive than the 1959 set, which has always seemed a little too self-consciously beautiful for my taste.


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

Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1703 on: June 14, 2019, 02:50:15 AM »
I have had this set in one format or another since it was first issued. I don’t connect all that well with Freni, I don’t think she dominates the soundscape where I like a voice with more heft. But there is a lot to enjoy. And Baltsa sounds seductive where a number in her part sound like harridans.

I wish the voices were a bit more forward. Karajan is for me too fond of sinking the voices into the orchestral textures. However, I enjoy the whole thing more than Karajan’s earlier recording.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1704 on: June 14, 2019, 03:07:00 AM »

I wish the voices were a bit more forward. Karajan is for me too fond of sinking the voices into the orchestral textures. However, I enjoy the whole thing more than Karajan’s earlier recording.

Mike

I was listening on headphones this time round and I didn't feel I had to strain to hear the voices as often happens on his Don Carlo, though the voices are occasionally submerged as you say. It is perhaps a less natural acoustic than, say, the new Pappano, but Karajan's cast is, for the most part, superior.

I know what you mean about Freni. The role cries out for a Ponselle, a Tebaldi or a Price, but afterwards I lstened to some of Karajan's first recording and, though Tebaldi is much more vocally entitled, I found Freni more communicative. I suppose it's one of the reasons I still enjoy Callas in the role, though I don't think she was ever that suited to it vocally. Her Aida is more alive to the drama than any, and the Nile duet with her and Gobbi's Amonasro has never been bettered. Serafin is rarely given enough credit, but his conducting at this point, possibly spurred on by his two soloists, is pure brilliance.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 03:11:14 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1705 on: June 14, 2019, 11:12:46 AM »
Cross posted from WAYLT thread:

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Act III

I made it!

Quite enjoyable, actually. For me the crux lies in having two outstanding singing basses in the roles of Ochs and Faninal, as well as a conductor who can make the orchestra sing, swing and swoon when appropriate. As for the female leads, they have been lucky on record. I think I have an idea for the next version I’ll buy. This one is excellent overall but a bit dated sonically. Plus, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish some of the voices when they sing in the same vocal range (Weber and Poell for example).

Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1706 on: June 18, 2019, 12:17:24 AM »
The recent Gramophone magazine had a long article on Pavarotti, interesting and informative. It was not a hagiographical piece, but an evaluation of him and there were some frank recollections of the very mixed blessing of working with him. I have his famous Puccini recordings, but the only Verdi I had of his was Otello and I ditched it.

I went on-line to look for bargains and found some. I am working my way through the arrivals.

Verdi Un Ballo, Pavarotti, Margaret Price, Bruson, Ludwig and Battle. The National Phil Orch is conducted by Solti.

The sound is glossy and very immediate, the feel is pretty red blooded. Pavarotti sings beautifully and is engaged. He does not blast it all out and really uses the words to propulse the music. He colours them and integrates the colours so that nothing sounds exaggerated. Price is just perfect for me with enough weight and her peerless phrasing and really fine acting. I never tire of hearing her. Bruson sounds much juicier than I had expected and I enjoyed his engagement with his role. Ludwig, well, this seems odd casting to me. I just don’t think she makes that much of an impression. Battle is fine, though these lad parts are really quite odd, I think they inadvertently draw attention to the guying and away from the focus on the drama. Actually, I find them flat out irritating.

Solti does provide a lot of bite and drama, but to my ears he also allows contrasts of space and time so as not to exhaust the listener. I liked the whole set a lot, just as much as the other versions that I have had for a long time. And with full libretto etc, under £4 for the set, it was a real bargain.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline knight66

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1707 on: Today at 06:23:15 AM »
Next up in the Pavarotti sets is the Decca studio Il Trovatore. Sutherland, Pavarotti Horne, Wixell, Ghiaurov conductor Bonynge

This seems a very odd set it was recorded in 1976, a little past the best of Sutherland, she was 50, but her singing still sounds accurate, no disturbing vibrato or any other noticeable problem. The cast looks good, but this is not Verdi as we expect him. The pulse is often slow, the rhythms are rarely lifted and there is a lack of drama. Giulini’s set has been criticised as slow, but it is dark and tense and has drama where this set sits in neutral. And it is evident that Bonynge has reshaped the piece as a bel canto opera somewhat akin to, say, Norma. Drama is kept in check until the final scene where things hot up.

Sutherland is not without expression, but it does not feel like she is putting her back into it. Pavarotti does not have the weight of voice for the heavier moments. di quella sounds constricted and he does not relish the words in the way we expect of him. Horne is fine, perhaps a bit lightweight for the part, which surprised me.

Overall, it lacks sweep, drama and weight. There is nothing awful here, but not much that sounds quite right.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1708 on: Today at 03:42:34 PM »
Next up in the Pavarotti sets is the Decca studio Il Trovatore. Sutherland, Pavarotti Horne, Wixell, Ghiaurov conductor Bonynge

This seems a very odd set it was recorded in 1976, a little past the best of Sutherland, she was 50, but her singing still sounds accurate, no disturbing vibrato or any other noticeable problem. The cast looks good, but this is not Verdi as we expect him. The pulse is often slow, the rhythms are rarely lifted and there is a lack of drama. Giulini’s set has been criticised as slow, but it is dark and tense and has drama where this set sits in neutral. And it is evident that Bonynge has reshaped the piece as a bel canto opera somewhat akin to, say, Norma. Drama is kept in check until the final scene where things hot up.

Sutherland is not without expression, but it does not feel like she is putting her back into it. Pavarotti does not have the weight of voice for the heavier moments. di quella sounds constricted and he does not relish the words in the way we expect of him. Horne is fine, perhaps a bit lightweight for the part, which surprised me.

Overall, it lacks sweep, drama and weight. There is nothing awful here, but not much that sounds quite right.

Mike

+ 1

 The cd reissue has ditched the ballet, a sound decision considering the general slackness of the performance. And yet I keep liking it. For some reason it reminds me of these silent movies where every gesture and facial expression is exaggerated.  :)

 

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