GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: CK on October 05, 2007, 04:43:23 AM

Title: Fidelio
Post by: CK on October 05, 2007, 04:43:23 AM
I have a simple question: Do you like Fidelio?
From what I know, Beethoven's opera is not supposed to sound good.  I've heard the overture and I don't really like it.  I just want to know what you think.

O and didn't Beethoven write one opera?  What is Leonore??
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Wendell_E on October 05, 2007, 05:32:49 AM
I don't like it, I love it. 

Originally, the opera was called Leonore (the name of the character the leading soprano plays).  The revised version was called Fidelio (her name while she's in disguised as a man).

There are several recordings of the original Leonore.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: CK on October 05, 2007, 07:07:22 AM
But I don't get what's good about Fidelio.  Mozart's operas seem to be better at every way.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Catison on October 05, 2007, 07:12:50 AM
But I don't get what's good about Fidelio.  Mozart's operas seem to be better at every way.

Just out of curiosity, what exactly is "better at every way" mean?
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Anne on October 05, 2007, 07:21:42 AM
I love Fidelio.  Which recording you get is very important regarding how you will like, or not like, this opera.  I had watched 2 DVD's of it and did not like it.

Because it was Beethoven, I made the extra effort and tried a third recording.  This one was a CD conducted by Otto Klemperer and was highly recommended by Penguin Opera Guide; it gives out Rosettes for outstanding recordings.  Anyway,Klemperer's recording was awarded a Rosette in 1956 and has not been out of print since then.

I learned the opera by listening to each track until I could hum it.  Only then did I go to the next track.  This method made learning the opera easy and enjoyable.

Since then I have heard many people complain that they can't seem to enjoy it.  I just wish they would try the recording by Klemperer and use the method I did.  Hopefully that recording and method would work for them too.

Fidelio is a beautiful opera.  Beethoven put so many melodies in it compared to his other works.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Brewski on October 05, 2007, 08:11:20 AM
For years I didn't like Fidelio at all either, and really thought it one of Beethoven's misfires.  But then I saw this DVD of the Met's version with Karita Mattila as Leonore, who not only sings the part but acts it about as well as I can imagine.  I liked it so much I saw it live in 2006, again with Mattila but with a slightly different cast. 

In the DVD she is joined by Ben Heppner and Matthew Polenzani, among other excellent singers, and the production, by Jürgen Flimm (which debuted in 2000) is tremendously effective.  The first two acts are dark, gray, and grim, suiting the story, but in the final act, the desolation gives way to a brilliant, joyous finale. 

If you're inclined toward watching opera on DVD I would definitely give it a try.

--Bruce

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51N8HGX5WNL._SS500_.jpg)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Wendell_E on October 05, 2007, 08:39:45 AM
Just out of curiosity, what exactly is "better at every way" mean?

I was wondering that, too.  Especially since in his first post CK writes "I've heard the overture and I don't really like it."  Has he heard any of the rest of it.

I second the recommendations for Klemperer's EMI recording and the Met DVD, though I really wish the director hadn't decided to turn one of opera's most joyous finales into a mad scene for the seconda donna.  I usually just turn the monitor off during the finale and just listen to the music.

If I get a chance, I'll try to come back later and address the "what's good about Fidelio" question.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Brewski on October 05, 2007, 08:50:39 AM
I really wish the director hadn't decided to turn one of opera's most joyous finales into a mad scene for the seconda donna.  I usually just turn the monitor off during the finale and just listen to the music.

Is there another DVD that you find more satisfying?  (I haven't seen any other productions.)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Wendell_E on October 05, 2007, 08:54:00 AM
Is there another DVD that you find more satisfying? 

Not really.  Aside from that one little quibble, I think the Met one is fine.

I've seen the Covent Garden one with Benackova, and I saw the Bernstein/Vienna version when it was telecast a couple of decades ago.  As I recall, they were both pretty good, but I liked the Met best overall.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Marc on October 05, 2007, 09:25:20 AM
Fidelio is a beautiful opera.  Beethoven put so many melodies in it compared to his other works.

I like Fidelio, too. It begins with a smashing Ouverture, and there are some very enjoyable and good arias, ensembles and choruses, already anticipating on the Ninth Symphony (his Lifelong Work, so to speak). But, personally, I must admit that I prefer Mozart. How he does it, I don't know, but he's able to make me feel for really every character, especially in the Da Ponte trilogy. Maybe Mozart was more in love and could sympathize more with whatever any species of the homo sapiens than his 'successor' Beethoven? :-\

Recommendations? Well, the Bernstein/Vienna production has been mentioned, and I like both the studio-CD's and the live-DVD set, with a slight preference for the live-performance. Watching Bernstein conduct, and to hear and see Lucia Popp sing "O, wär ich schon mit dir vereint" is really very moving.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: yashin on October 05, 2007, 04:55:56 PM
I have never seen this opera live or on dvd unfortunately.  I do have 2 cd versions though.  One with Harnoncourt and one with Dohnanyi.  I quite like the latter.

My head was turned by the recent LSO live cd with Davis conducting and Brewer in the title role. Its a gorgeous recoding.  The sound and playing is superb.

I would like to see the DVD with Harnoncourt from Zurich.  The cast includes Polgar and Jonas Kaufmann
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: val on October 08, 2007, 03:31:44 AM
Fidelio is a beautiful opera, even if the characters have not the same presence and evidence of Mozart operas.
The Choral scenes, the great aria of Leonora, the monologue of Florestan and the extraordinary Finale are among the greatest moments in German opera.

However, I prefer Weber's Freischütz, composed in the same period, because it sounds more natural and with a better theatricall construction.

My favorite versions of Fidelio are:

Klemperer, with Ludwig and Vickers, very powerful and with an extraordinary cohesion.
Furtwängler, with Flagstad and Patzak, very dramatic, but with a poor sound.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: max on October 09, 2007, 09:20:47 PM
Fidelio is a beautiful opera, even if the characters have not the same presence and evidence of Mozart operas.
The Choral scenes, the great aria of Leonora, the monologue of Florestan and the extraordinary Finale are among the greatest moments in German opera.

However, I prefer Weber's Freischütz, composed in the same period, because it sounds more natural and with a better theatricall construction.

My favorite versions of Fidelio are:

Klemperer, with Ludwig and Vickers, very powerful and with an extraordinary cohesion.
Furtwängler, with Flagstad and Patzak, very dramatic, but with a poor sound.

That's strange. I listened to Der Freischütz on a Saturday afternoon and the opera it reminded me of most was Fidelio. That was 4 days before I read your post. Because of that I also wondered why Weber - himself a truly great composer - would consider Beethoven's music as that of a madman. I'm sure had Weber lived longer he would like Schubert have changed his mind eventually. Beethoven was still 'the man' at the time, Mozart being dead.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: val on October 10, 2007, 03:38:46 AM
Quote
max
 
That's strange. I listened to Der Freischütz on a Saturday afternoon and the opera it reminded me of most was Fidelio. That was 4 days before I read your post. Because of that I also wondered why Weber - himself a truly great composer - would consider Beethoven's music as that of a madman. I'm sure had Weber lived longer he would like Schubert have changed his mind eventually. Beethoven was still 'the man' at the time, Mozart being dead.


Der Freischütz was completed in 1820 and Fidelio's last version in 1814. In fact, Weber conducted the first of Fidelio in Prague. He admired this opera and was influenced by it: the Aria of Kaspar seems to be inspired by Pizarro's Aria in Fidelio. But the most intersting thing is that Weber, even under the influence of Fidelio, could create a masterpiece as personal and inspired as Freischütz.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: mangy on July 26, 2009, 05:56:03 AM
Until last week, the only time I had ever heard any of Beethoven's "Fidelio" was in Honolulu last year. At a concert given by a few members of the Hawaii Opera Company, the first selection was from the opening scene of "Fidelio." I was immediately enchanted by the lively repartee and abundant melodies. But I wasn't driven to listen to the "Fidelio" CD that has been untouched on my bookshelf for years. By accident, I revisited the opera a few days ago. I just happened to grab the CD on my way out to my car (that is my sanctuary for listening to opera). After hearing the 1962 Klemperer/Vickers/Ludwig performance, I kicked myself for disregarding "Fidelio" all these years. I even liked the nuances of the spoken dialogue. Whether the music is grandiose or meditative, "Fidelio" is a treat. I have heard only the Klemperer version, so I can't make comparisons. But I doubt that any other performance could be as earnest and enthusiastic.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 28, 2009, 01:23:55 AM
My first LP set of Fidelio was Karajan's, mainly because I'd seen Helga Dernesch perform the role of Leonore with Scottish Opera, and wanted a memento of her performance. I had always loved this set; however, when I came to replace LP with CD, I bowed to popular opinion, and purchased the Klemperer recording.

I am in a minority, I know (and I know this could well be because the Karajan was the one I'd got to know the opera with), but I was a mite disappointed with Klemperer, and a couple of years ago I replaced it with the Karajan. Returning to this performance after many years, it was exactly as I remembered; thrillingly dramatic, wonderfully played by the orchestra, and marvellously sung by a superb cast (all, mercifully, delivering their own dialogue). Many have said that they can hear the strain the role of Leonore puts on Dernesch, but I believe that they are being wise after the event (Dernesch, you will remember, retired from the opera stage for a while, after suffering a vocal crisis, and re-emerged a dramatic mezzo). To my ears, she sounds absolutely radiant, the climax to Abscheulicher!, shiningly and glowingly achieved. From her first entrance in the Act I canon, which is as a ray of light in the gloom of the prison, she is the very epitome of the faithful Leonore. I prefer her even to Ludwig on the Klemperer. Vickers is, if anything, even finer for Karajan than he was for Klemperer. Keleman's snarling bass-baritone seems to me just right for the evil Pizzaro (superbly matched by Karajan's blaring brass in his aria), and Ridderbusch makes a fatherly, kindly Rocco. With Jose Van Dam as Ferrando and Helen Donath as Marzelline (like Schwarzkopf, who sang the role for Furtwangler, an Eva of note), the cast could hardly be bettered. Karajan's tempi in the more dramatic moments of the score are usually that bit faster than Klemperer's (the moment when Leonore reveals herself is urgently thrilling), but he has plenty of repose in the more lyrical and reflective moments too.
 
Fidelio is a great opera, and there is no doubt the Klemperer is a great recording, but my personal preference is for Karajan, which works for me on a slightly more visceral level.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Rod Corkin on July 28, 2009, 01:36:22 AM
I have a simple question: Do you like Fidelio?
From what I know, Beethoven's opera is not supposed to sound good.  I've heard the overture and I don't really like it.  I just want to know what you think.

O and didn't Beethoven write one opera?  What is Leonore??

You don't know a great deal judging from this post, a decent performance of Fidelio is as good as it gets in the world of opera.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Harpo on July 28, 2009, 06:03:53 AM
For years I didn't like Fidelio at all either, and really thought it one of Beethoven's misfires.  But then I saw this DVD of the Met's version with Karita Mattila as Leonore, who not only sings the part but acts it about as well as I can imagine.  I liked it so much I saw it live in 2006, again with Mattila but with a slightly different cast. 

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51N8HGX5WNL._SS500_.jpg)

--Bruce


The last time we were in NY we had a choice between Fidelio and La Traviata at the Met. I chose the latter because it was more well known and I vaguely remembered from college that Fidelio wasn't that good. Well, we were bored with La Traviata (famous arias, but it took too long for one woman to cough and die) and wished we had tried Beethoven. I'm going to look for the DVD now to see what we missed.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Brünnhilde ewig on July 28, 2009, 06:06:23 AM
I never could get too excited about Fidelio, don't see Beethoven as an opera composer, but this one I put in my collection because Jonas Kaufmann gives something to the performance I have not seen, nor heard before, making the opera acceptable, at least to me:

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Valentino on July 28, 2009, 08:17:24 AM
Ah, the curly haired one. But of course.  ;D
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Brünnhilde ewig on July 28, 2009, 08:36:00 AM
Yeah, that one!  ;D

When Kaufmann sings the 'Gott! Wie Dunkel Hier! this most famous note in 'Gott' is on the button, no searching or diving for it, it's there and stays there. And the half-starved Fidelio does not weigh the usual 250 pounds, he is slim!  8)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Valentino on July 28, 2009, 08:51:10 AM
 ;D

You made me think of the rather matronly looking Carmen in the recent Norwegian Opera production. Like a mountain to climb, as a friend of mine quite acidly put it.

Thanks for the input. I must get myself a Fidelio of course, with a Leonore with waist.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on July 28, 2009, 10:11:50 AM
This DVD ought not to be overlooked.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lXQNqzj2L._SS500_.jpg)

Bernstein is very much on-form. There is nothing odd about the production. All the singing is excellent. Janowitz perhaps disappoints in only the climactic note of her main aria. She is perhaps surprisingly positive as a character, her acting is good. I don't know of any production where the singer playing main role makes a convincing man, but if you can suspend the disbelief, then it is a dramatic and satisfying performance with the VPO sounding dramatic and fervent.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: ChamberNut on July 28, 2009, 02:54:13 PM
This DVD ought not to be overlooked.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lXQNqzj2L._SS500_.jpg)

Bernstein is very much on-form. There is nothing odd about the production. All the singing is excellent. Janowitz perhaps disappoints in only the climactic note of her main aria. She is perhaps surprisingly positive as a character, her acting is good. I don't know of any production where the singer playing main role makes a convincing man, but if you can suspend the disbelief, then it is a dramatic and satisfying performance with the VPO sounding dramatic and fervent.

Mike

Haven't seen the DVD, but this was the first opera CD I've ever purchased!  :)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Marc on July 28, 2009, 08:42:33 PM
This DVD ought not to be overlooked.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51lXQNqzj2L._SS500_.jpg)

Bernstein is very much on-form. There is nothing odd about the production. All the singing is excellent. Janowitz perhaps disappoints in only the climactic note of her main aria. She is perhaps surprisingly positive as a character, her acting is good. I don't know of any production where the singer playing main role makes a convincing man, but if you can suspend the disbelief, then it is a dramatic and satisfying performance with the VPO sounding dramatic and fervent.

Mike

Recommendations? Well, the Bernstein/Vienna production has been mentioned, and I like both the studio-CD's and the live-DVD set, with a slight preference for the live-performance. Watching Bernstein conduct, and to hear and see Lucia Popp sing "O, wär ich schon mit dir vereint" is really very moving.

In short: agreement here! :)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on July 29, 2009, 12:00:00 AM
My first LP set of Fidelio was Karajan's, mainly because I'd seen Helga Dernesch perform the role of Leonore with Scottish Opera, and wanted a memento of her performance. I had always loved this set; however, when I came to replace LP with CD, I bowed to popular opinion, and purchased the Klemperer recording.

I am in a minority, I know (and I know this could well be because the Karajan was the one I'd got to know the opera with), but I was a mite disappointed with Klemperer, and a couple of years ago I replaced it with the Karajan. Returning to this performance after many years, it was exactly as I remembered; thrillingly dramatic, wonderfully played by the orchestra, and marvellously sung by a superb cast (all, mercifully, delivering their own dialogue). Many have said that they can hear the strain the role of Leonore puts on Dernesch, but I believe that they are being wise after the event (Dernesch, you will remember, retired from the opera stage for a while, after suffering a vocal crisis, and re-emerged a dramatic mezzo). To my ears, she sounds absolutely radiant, the climax to Abscheulicher!, shiningly and glowingly achieved. From her first entrance in the Act I canon, which is as a ray of light in the gloom of the prison, she is the very epitome of the faithful Leonore. I prefer her even to Ludwig on the Klemperer. Vickers is, if anything, even finer for Karajan than he was for Klemperer. Keleman's snarling bass-baritone seems to me just right for the evil Pizzaro (superbly matched by Karajan's blaring brass in his aria), and Ridderbusch makes a fatherly, kindly Rocco. With Jose Van Dam as Ferrando and Helen Donath as Marzelline (like Schwarzkopf, who sang the role for Furtwangler, an Eva of note), the cast could hardly be bettered. Karajan's tempi in the more dramatic moments of the score are usually that bit faster than Klemperer's (the moment when Leonore reveals herself is urgently thrilling), but he has plenty of repose in the more lyrical and reflective moments too.
 
Fidelio is a great opera, and there is no doubt the Klemperer is a great recording, but my personal preference is for Karajan, which works for me on a slightly more visceral level.



How did I miss this post, I could have written every word of it myself.

I used to have season tickets to Scottish Opera and caught all the roles Dernsch sang for them. Her Leonora was certainly world class. Then her voice was big and healthy. I recall in the last scene she pulled off her hat and her long blond hair cascaded to her shoulders, itself like a golden ray of light denoting the change from misery to joy.

I love that Karajan version, I like the way the spoken dialogue in the dungeon scene is handled, close and claustraphobic, plosive consonants within urgently whispered dialogue and above all spine tinglingly dramatic. Vickers is terrific, he overwhelms with his projection of a moral centre, suffering heroically.

Another aspect that I feel adds to the drama is that you move immediately from the joy of 'O namenlose Freude' into the triumph of the final scene without the interpolation of Leonora number III, which I feel hold up the drama a lot.

Keleman makes a terrific aggressive villain, his opening aria biting and dramatic.  Don't be fooled if you happen to have the EMI Karajan box, it wrongly attributes the part to Ridderbusch! All the voices sound in prime condition and any strain detectable at the top of Dernsch's range is slight. We would be grateful these days for a clutch of singers who could inject that beauty of tone and evenness of production into the role, no wobble, no squall, no uncertain pitch, no spreading of tone.

It really is a terrific set all round from acoustic to conducting, orchestra and the voices.

Another set to consider is the Haitink with Jessye Norman, she is excellent in the part. Clearly not one she would have performed on stage. I sometimes think there is a quiet collusion to downgrade recordings where the singers have not won their spurs in the role on stage. I would prefer to consider the issue on an individual basis. Of course, catching Vickers in a recorded Otello once he has worked through and refined his interpretation is as good as it gets, but Callas was fascinating in her recorded Carmen, Norman also makes a first rate job of the part and her Leonora has all the vocal attributes one could wish for. She brings out the nobility and the anguish, her voice is in excellent condition.

Haitink is of course sane and deeply musical, the Staatskapelle Dresden sounds wonderful. There is weight, but not bloat, perhaps some grit ought to be allowed, but it is a great orchestra performing at the top of its form.  The rest of the cast is very good, no weak links. Reiner Goldberg does not disappoint at his first entry, a steady clamant call. Haitink does as Karajan does with the final scenes, then the Leonora III is added as a bonus track after the end of the opera. A good solution, as it is a shame to lose such music.

Haitink can sometimes to me seem underdramatic,(his Verdi Don Carlos), but not here. I always stress that timing is but one indicator in a performance. The final scene timing is one second different from the Karajan performance across over 14 minutes of music. It has the same sweep and joy to it.

We are fortunate in having such a good selection of recordings. I also have the Flagstad Furtwangler on EMI, the Naxos set it terrific until Don Ferrando's infirm tones enter, to close, I have the same feeling about the Klemperer set as TL has. I was underwhelmed.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 29, 2009, 12:39:02 AM
How did I miss this post, I could have written every word of it myself.


I love that Karajan version, I like the way the spoken dialogue in the dungeon scene is handled, close and claustraphobic, plosive consonants within urgently whispered dialogue and above all spine tinglingly dramatic.
Mike

It may seem odd to praise the spoken dialogue in a recording of an opera, but, actually, I have always felt that this is one of those sets that gets it absolutely right. Judiciously pruned, it is delivered, by the singers, in a way that brings to mind a radio play. One example is the reduction of Leonore's and Florestan's dialogue before O namelose Freude, to just, "Leonore!" "Mein Florestan!". Do we need any more, when the succeeding duet so brilliantly expresses all the joy in their hearts?




Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 29, 2009, 06:34:12 AM
I have the Fidelio of Karajan/Vickers/Dernesh. After the reading the posts here I will take it out again. (Now that I listened to Traviata about 6 times over the past week.)

ZB
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Daverz on July 29, 2009, 05:53:08 PM
I love Fidelio, also.  My favorite recording is the Furtwängler from 1953 with Poell, Edelmann, Windgassen, Modl, Frick, and Jurinac, and the best transfer by far was on Andante, who had access to the original radio tapes.  It really sounds quite good.  It's an electrifying performance.  The Klemperer sounds quite studio bound in comparison.

http://www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com/search.php?row=0&brocode=14234

It's coupled with another live performance from 1944 conducted by Böhm.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Hollywood on July 29, 2009, 10:27:59 PM
Lucia Popp and Gundula Janowitz are my two favorite female opera singers so I have them both in the Bernstein performance of Fidelio, which was my first opera cd purchase as well.

You can see and hear Popp's performance, as Marcellina, of "Oh war' ich schon mit dir vereint" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIjym8C95V0



Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on July 30, 2009, 05:56:04 AM
Hollywood are you sure about Ludwig on a Bernstein version? The only Bernstein version that I know of has Popp and Janowitz. Is it a live version from somewhere?

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Rod Corkin on July 30, 2009, 07:36:23 AM
No mention of the Fricsay CD so far?? That's the version I play the most.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Que on July 30, 2009, 08:01:07 AM
I love Fidelio, also.  My favorite recording is the Furtwängler from 1953 with Poell, Edelmann, Windgassen, Modl, Frick, and Jurinac, and the best transfer by far was on Andante, who had access to the original radio tapes.  It really sounds quite good.  It's an electrifying performance.  The Klemperer sounds quite studio bound in comparison.

http://www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com/search.php?row=0&brocode=14234

It's coupled with another live performance from 1944 conducted by Böhm.


Yes!  :) Indeed!  :) Definitely! :)

(And still avaible - click picture)

That Böhm is pretty good as well, BTW.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CYFQ02ZSL._SS400_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Fidelio-Alfred-Poell/dp/B0006PV5ZI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1248969519&sr=1-1)

Q
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Hollywood on July 30, 2009, 08:41:09 AM
Hollywood are you sure about Ludwig on a Bernstein version?
Mike

Sorry about that Chief. I meant to say Gundula Janowitz but since I had Beethoven on the brain it came out Ludwig instead. Error noted and corrected. Danke Mike.  ;D
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Gabriel on August 02, 2009, 02:37:23 PM
I love Fidelio and I have never understood the heavy criticisms it sometimes receives. Other than the excellence of the music, it is amusing to analyze the differences between the three versions (1805, 1806 and 1814). There are recordings of each, and one - excellent - recording where the conductor (if I remember correctly) recorded his favourite version of each number (Gardiner for Archiv).
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Rod Corkin on August 03, 2009, 10:11:30 AM
I love Fidelio and I have never understood the heavy criticisms it sometimes receives. Other than the excellence of the music, it is amusing to analyze the differences between the three versions (1805, 1806 and 1814). There are recordings of each, and one - excellent - recording where the conductor (if I remember correctly) recorded his favourite version of each number (Gardiner for Archiv).
Gardiner's 'Leonore' CD is a mockery, an insult.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Gabriel on August 03, 2009, 10:29:39 AM
Gardiner's 'Leonore' CD is a mockery, an insult.

A musical insult?
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on August 16, 2009, 02:34:52 AM
This opera will be broadcast live from the London Proms this coming Sat. Baremboim is conducting. It will also be on TV. I will miss it, bit hope to pick it up on IPlayer.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: DarkAngel on August 30, 2009, 03:38:18 PM
No mention of the Fricsay CD so far?? That's the version I play the most.

I am also a big fan of the Fricsay/DG which is cheap used at Amazon

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41C4WNR15TL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

I think it is better than reviewer fav Bernstein/DG, and the popular Maazel/Decca was a big disappointment for me with
poor sound to boot.


For Klemperer/EMI GROTC, a great version but do yourself a favor and go for the live 1961 Testament version,
even better performance for the same price with good sound (don't worry that Ludwig is not present, still the better one overall)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41EFJ99VMYL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on June 28, 2011, 12:01:09 PM
Beethoven Fidelio: Abbado Lucerne forces from 2010, Nina Stemme, Kaufmann.

I have quite a few versions of this piece. It is a sort of Grail where it is rare for everything to conspire and provide the near perfect experience. Recently I reviewed an Otello with basically a vacuum at the centre of it. Here we have a Leonora where I would happily replace the singer with that from ANY of the other sets I have: Flagstad, Ludwig, Janowitz, Dernesch, Norman, Brewer, Schnaut, Nielsen, Modl.

I just don't like the actual sound that Stemme emits. I won't go into great detail; but here is one example, when she is reunited with Florestan she sings his name. What should be ecstatic is hard, wobbly and strained. Lots of critics like this voice. I have her on the Glyndebourne DVD of Tristan. I admired her acting and the visual distracts from her actual voice. The tone is sour, the approach seems somehow generalised. I have her altogether on three albums, this will be the last.

The recording is live, two performances and patching to produce the discs.

I have read reviews of the semi-staged performance which sounds like a bit of a mess. But we have no visual distractions here, just pure sound. If you can deal with a cast that is universally excellent on the male side, but has one OK female singer and one that to my ears is plain unpleasant; then go for it.

The orchestra is superb and Abbado provides the organic feel that I look for. It is not total excitement and spine tingles, but it is dramatic. The men are all superb: I have never heard Don Ferando sung with such line as Mattei provides, deeply touching too. Kaufmann is committed and his opening aria is a stand-out element. He is stressed by the upper reaches of it; but to sail through it glisteningly would be to miss much of the point of it.

What a pity Abbado did not choose a different Leonora. What a pity.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Superhorn on June 29, 2011, 07:18:23 AM
   I haven't heard this new Fidelio, but would certainly like to.  I recently borrowed the EMI
   Tristan  with Stemme and  Domingo from my library, and  she sounds quite beautiful on it.
   If she is a bad as you say on the new Fidelio, her vouice may have declined badly, which sometimes
   happens , and wobble and strain set in.  To bad.  Her voice sounds pristine and immaculate on the Tristan set,
   which was recorded only about six or seven years ago. 
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 29, 2011, 08:25:59 AM
You can hear Kaufmann on an earlier recording of Fidelio conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Zurich Opéra 2004.  But the visuals can be easily dispensed with. Here Leonora (Camila Nylund) and Florestan stand in a gutter and look straight out into space, singing "oh how wonderful to be in your arms at last", a directional idea suited more perhaps to Orpheus and Euridice when they were not permitted to look at one another.  This has got to be one of the silliest, most unbelievable stagings I have seen of any opera.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPZP4l7c26M&NR=1

ZN
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on July 01, 2011, 09:07:30 AM
   I haven't heard this new Fidelio, but would certainly like to.  I recently borrowed the EMI
   Tristan  with Stemme and  Domingo from my library, and  she sounds quite beautiful on it.
   If she is a bad as you say on the new Fidelio, her vouice may have declined badly, which sometimes
   happens , and wobble and strain set in.  To bad.  Her voice sounds pristine and immaculate on the Tristan set,
   which was recorded only about six or seven years ago.

The voice seems to be in the ear of the listener. People certainly experience the same sounds differently from one another. Here you go: the woman herself in the performance we are discussing. Let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Kvp8S0J1c

Compare it with this...a singer who garnered very little international acclaim. Too much competition back then. Gertrude Grob-Prandl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8MnB_eRsbQ

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: mjwal on July 01, 2011, 10:44:18 AM
Point taken. The Grob-Prandl is magnificent. If I were offered a free ticket to hear Ms. Stemme singing, i would politely decline. Her performance was what I would call a laboured catastrophe, painful to listen to.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 01, 2011, 03:33:29 PM
The voice seems to be in the ear of the listener. People certainly experience the same sounds differently from one another. Here you go: the woman herself in the performance we are discussing. Let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Kvp8S0J1c

Compare it with this...a singer who garnered very little international acclaim. Too much competition back then. Gertrude Grob-Prandl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8MnB_eRsbQ

Mike

I hate to say it, but if one wanted to illustrate declining vocal standards, then these two performances would be evidence enough.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 02, 2011, 09:17:02 AM
The voice seems to be in the ear of the listener. People certainly experience the same sounds differently from one another. Here you go: the woman herself in the performance we are discussing. Let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Kvp8S0J1c

Compare it with this...a singer who garnered very little international acclaim. Too much competition back then. Gertrude Grob-Prandl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8MnB_eRsbQ

Mike

Very interesting. I heard Stemme on some other clips and don't mind the voice as instrument. I am also a enthusiast of covering that reminded me of Scotto at times, but sorry to say, she just barks though this one.

It seems that Gertrude Grob-Prandl hardly sang in the US, only in San Francisco in 1953 (just taking this from her biography). Someone commented below the wonderful Abscheulicher that "She was absolutely famous in Italy for Turandot alone. Oddly, or perhaps not, she is never mentioned by Nilsson in interviews. She never appeared at the met, and speculation was that Rudolph Bing and Nilsson made sure that she never did." Well, what other reason could there be? Did anyone else hear about this?

ZB
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on July 02, 2011, 01:54:01 PM
I have read much the same; but who knows how reliable it is. Sometimes it ia about being in the right place at the right time.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Harry Powell on July 11, 2011, 03:49:39 PM
Hi,

Stemme had a beautiful voice indeed but, alas, a lyric one suitable for Sieglinde, Senta and the like. The shortgage of dramatic sopranos has driven her to heavy roles that have taken their toll on her voice. I think she would have been perfect for Leonore, but after much straining and pushing it's usual that a lyric voice shall not be able to sing its favourable roles. Soon she will be taking Brünnhilde and in few years we will see another gifted singer decline too early.

You cannot compare Stemme to Grob-Prandl, whot had a voice of pure steel - a real Hochdramatischersopran. Still, I feel she was too heroic. Historically speaking, Wagnerism has appropriated Leonore. This is role closer to Vitellia than to Isolde. I'll try to find out about G-P's failure to establish herself as a leading sopran.

Another "Fidelio" you have not mentioned is Erich Kleiber's live recording. A performance with much electricity about it. As for the Abbado set, criticism has been severe in Italy. The man has made "sound" his main obsession and a beautiful sound may detract from a Beethoven performance. In this, he has closely followed Karajan's steps. I do not care too much for "customized" voices like Kauffman's, but some days ago he made a fine impression in Valencia singing the role. I must admit he is really an interpreter. I alos liked him in the recent "Die Walküre" from the Met (at the cinema). I will try to listen to the whole thing.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Harry Powell on July 12, 2011, 01:29:52 PM
Hi,

Nilsson mentions this Grob-Prandl issue in her Memoirs. She obviously denies the whole thing, but one could say: excusatio non petita...
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Alberich on July 14, 2011, 02:28:52 PM
Fidelio has best villain aria ever: Ha! welch ein Augenblick, sung by Don Pizarro.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Josquin des Prez on August 27, 2011, 11:50:44 AM
No mention of the Fricsay CD so far?? That's the version I play the most.

Likewise.

This opera isn't has bad as many make it out to be but i don't think it compares favorably with those of Mozart. The latter loved writing operas, Beethoven didn't seem to be as fond of this medium. The results cannot but reflect those different attitudes.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Alberich on September 15, 2016, 08:38:11 AM
Out of curiosity, do you disagree or agree with often popular opinion that, apart from Rocco, the characters in Fidelio are flat and don't really develop? I kind of agree but I still enjoy their flatness, kind of a guilty pleasure. Of course I massively like Rocco's "roundness" as well. Pizarro is a very enjoyable over-the-top villain, with one of the greatest villain arias ever.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 15, 2016, 09:05:43 AM
Perhaps it depends how it is played, but Marzelline has a fairly rounded character in Act 1, but is then sidelined altogther after that. Mostly they are stock characters redeemed by the music. I see this topic has been resurrected after five years!

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jo498 on September 15, 2016, 09:59:31 AM
I think it is to some extent true that Fidelio is an opera about "ideas" rather than characters. However, I often have the impression that because Beethoven is such a great composer the small shortcomings of Fidelio (like the somewhat flat characters) have been exaggerated. The piece has been very successful on stage for about 200 years which should be enough to prove that it "works" on stage. And there are cardboard villains in other operas as well. Is Scarpia really so much more subtle than Pizarro?

Of course, in an Italian opera there would probably have been a duel between Fidelio and Jacquino because of the latters jealousy and Leonore/Fidelio would have had to sleep with Pizarro to get into the dungeons or whatever.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: ritter on September 15, 2016, 11:02:21 PM
....there would probably have been a duel between Fidelio and Jacquino because of the latters jealousy and Leonore/Fidelio would have had to sleep with Pizarro to get into the dungeons or whatever.
Just the thought of this makes me shudder. Giusto ciel!  ::)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 16, 2016, 12:42:25 AM
Pizarro is not given much to work with up against Scarpia whose character can be filled out a bit with a lot more music and stage time. I agree that Fidelio was an opera that was more about an ideal: how courage can obtain freedom from tyranny. I really prefer listening to it than watching a woman pretending to be a man and no one noticing the bleedin' obvious. Somehow I can more easily accept it when it is either a traditional trousers role or, where the castrato roles are involved.

Although it is a pity that Beethoven did not write further operas, I can't see him being drawn to most operatic plots. An LvB Barber of Seville...Cosi fan Tutti....! Clemency of Titus might have been up his street, or perhaps Orfeo. What might have been...

Considering what we hear is a revision of a first attempt, it is pretty amazing. It gets a lot of criticism, but none of Verdi's, Puccini's or Wagner's first operas see the light of day beyond a bit of musical archeology let alone are played in all opera houses on a regular basis.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jo498 on September 16, 2016, 01:34:57 AM
Why does hardly anybody complain about the Shakespeare pieces with women successfully posing as men (or the silly disguises (men only) in Cosi fan tutte or Don Giovanni)?

FWIW Fidelio was based on a real story and there are a bunch of credibly documented stories of women passing as men in the military or on ships in the 18th century for months or years! Leonore supposedly only has to keep it up for a few weeks.
It might not sound plausible to us but again I have the impression that (maybe because Fidelio is so impressive in other respects) we are far more picky than we would be with most other operas where similar (or more implausible) suspensions of disbelief are demanded.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 16, 2016, 05:14:42 AM
Yes, I was aware of the possibility of it being based on real life, also of women pirates etc, only discovered to be women at death. However, most female opera singers cannot manage even an approximate simulation of being a man. One who did it and was totally convincing is Sarah Connelly the English Mezzo. The evidence is on the Handel Julius Caesar DVD from Glyndbourne. Within five minutes I was no longer thinking of her as a woman pretending to be a man.

The Shakespeare disguises have never convinced me; but of course the history was that all the roles were played by men.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 16, 2016, 10:57:18 AM
Yes, I was aware of the possibility of it being based on real life, also of women pirates etc, only discovered to be women at death. However, most female opera singers cannot manage even an approximate simulation of being a man. One who did it and was totally convincing is Sarah Connelly the English Mezzo. The evidence is on the Handel Julius Caesar DVD from Glyndbourne. Within five minutes I was no longer thinking of her as a woman pretending to be a man.

The Shakespeare disguises have never convinced me; but of course the history was that all the roles were played by men.

Mike

Yes, that is the main problem I have with Rosenkavalier and Nozze di Figaro, and one of the problems I have with Adriane auf Naxos.

Actually, most females roles in Shakespeare were originally played by prepubescent boys.  So the audience in the Globe would have seen a preteen male pretending to be a woman who was pretending to be a man.....
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jo498 on September 16, 2016, 11:16:06 AM
There are some similar occasions in opera: Most famously when Cherubino (boy sung by a woman) is disguised as a girl. And there is a similar case in Handel's Alcina, I think, although with castrato roles sung by women it is not a big deal for a woman to "disguise" herself as a mezzosoprano singing young male hero.

It never bothered me at all in Fidelio.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 16, 2016, 11:17:58 AM
There are so many cross dressing traditions in theatre, pantomime, Kabuki, Indian Kalakathi dance, and so on. I am unclear how subversive or transgressive it was internded to be in the operas we have mentioned, or whether it was more of a musical device. Strauss seemed not to much like tenors, but love the female voice.

I do really prefer the to listen to most of these operas rather than watch them. We have to suspend disbelief so much for opera to succeed dramatically; but I need the internal world it creats to really work and not jar me back into losing that vital belief in what I see and hear.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Wendell_E on September 17, 2016, 02:57:00 AM
However, most female opera singers cannot manage even an approximate simulation of being a man. One who did it and was totally convincing is Sarah Connelly the English Mezzo. The evidence is on the Handel Julius Caesar DVD from Glyndbourne. Within five minutes I was no longer thinking of her as a woman pretending to be a man.


I thought Karita Mattila was pretty convincing in the telecast/DVD of Met production, and later when I saw her in the same production at Houston Grand Opera.  But most, yeah, Rocco & Co. would have to be blind and deaf not to notice something.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 17, 2016, 09:56:45 AM
A long time ago at a party I was introduced to an old woman who was being treated like a precious object to be papmered. She was long a widow and someone suggested to her an elderly man in the room in whom she might take an interest.  Her tart reply was spoken loudly, slowly and distinctly. "I NEVER dance with a man who has larger breasts than I do myself."

I saw Helge Dernsch sing Fidelio at the peak of her soprano years. She was wonderful and in the final scene there was a striking moment when she disclosed who she was, by pulling off her hat and allowing her long golden hair to tumble about her shoulders.

As you say however, the people on stage must have been overlooking her very clear endowments, despite them being strapped down.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 27, 2016, 02:19:27 PM


I saw Helge Dernsch sing Fidelio at the peak of her soprano years. She was wonderful and in the final scene there was a striking moment when she disclosed who she was, by pulling off her hat and allowing her long golden hair to tumble about her shoulders.


Mike

I saw that same production when it came to Newcastle upon Tyne, my first exposure to Fidelio, and also to Dernesch, whom I saw also the following year as a sublime and ultra feminine Marschallin.

I don't remember having any problems suspending belief in Fidelio, and Dernesch was superb, in a completely different league from her colleagues, good though they were. I was so taken by her performance that I bought the Karajan recording soon after it came out, and it's still my favourite recording of the work. Some say that they can hear the strain the role took on her voice, but I think they are being wise after the event. To my ears, she sound absolutely radiant. her entry into the canon in the first act gleaming through like a shaft of light.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on September 27, 2016, 02:45:46 PM
I agree with all of that about the recording. I bought it as soon as it was issued and have never understood the critically cool reception. It is regularily ignored in surveys. I like it best of the recordings I have and prefer Dernesch to Ludwig.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 29, 2016, 01:08:02 AM
I agree with all of that about the recording. I bought it as soon as it was issued and have never understood the critically cool reception. It is regularily ignored in surveys. I like it best of the recordings I have and prefer Dernesch to Ludwig.

Mike

I too prefer Dernesch to Ludiwg and I find Karajan's conducting incisively dramatic, the casting excellent from top to bottom. Definitely my favourite of all the recordings I've heard.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Dedalus on October 13, 2016, 08:22:14 PM
Here are my thoughts on Fidelio, typed on a phone, so hopefully I can get through this with a semblance of grammar.

I really like the opera, particularly the story. The music is good, but Mozart is just in another league in this respect I think.  I tend to really love strong female characters and boy is Lenore one of them. First of all, essentially all the events of the opera are orchestrated by her. She pretends to be a man and conconcts this plan to save her man and she carries through with it more or less flawlessly.

The pure baddassery (can I say that here?) of her is to me exemplified toward the end when the bad guy (forget his name) shows up with a knife to spoil the day and what does Lenore do? Prepared as she was for this contingency she pulls out a #!$@ing gun and essentially says "Ah hell no you don't. I came here to rescue my man, you're a piece of garbage, and we're gonna go now. Peace."

Honestly I even get chills thinking about the depth of her love for Florestan, how much she was willing to risk for him, and just how much planning went into her rescue attempt. Assuming a disguise for weeks, convincing people to help her without giving away her true intentions and all that.

A hero rescuing a damsel in distress is fine and can make for a wonderful story. However, sometimes it's nice to have a heroin saving her dude in distress and in this opera she totally kicks butt.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on October 13, 2016, 11:49:59 PM
Yep, I agree with all of that. One of the amazing things about the opera is that it was the only and therefore first opera that Beethoven wrote. It did go through one major overhaul to get it to the version we commonly hear now. But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?

A lot of the music is on such a spine tingling level, the quartet in Act 1, Leonora's big aria, the prisoners chorus and many other passages. I have always been uncomfortable at the way Marzelline is dealt with. Her developing relationship with Fidelio is thrust aside and she just has to look happy about it.

The first time I saw the opera the Leonora was a, then, young Helge Dernsch. She is tall and was very attractive. She was dressed as a man, was fairly convincing and sang excitingly. In the last scene when she declares who she is, she tore off her knitted hat and her real blond hair cascaded over her shoulders. It was so striking. So although I usually have problems watching a woman play a man and convince me, it worked well then.

What recording do you have of it and have you seen it in the theatre?

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jo498 on October 14, 2016, 01:50:58 AM
Yep, I agree with all of that. One of the amazing things about the opera is that it was the only and therefore first opera that Beethoven wrote. It did go through one major overhaul to get it to the version we commonly hear now. But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?
I think it received two overhauls (but the second one was more radical) and it would not have been an early debut even for the first version. But I agree that considering how much trouble he had with the piece and the tensions that still remain between the comic and heroic elements it is an amazing piece and it also has been on stage regularly since the 1820s.

Quote
A lot of the music is on such a spine tingling level, the quartet in Act 1, Leonora's big aria, the prisoners chorus and many other passages. I have always been uncomfortable at the way Marzelline is dealt with. Her developing relationship with Fidelio is thrust aside and she just has to look happy about it.
I have never really heard the earlier version but there was more of a Fidelio-Marzelline-lovestory in there. But this probably made the lack of resolution for Marzelline even worse and those Singspiel-style elements distracted from the heroic action therefore Beethoven was probably right to cut it.
The only way to handle it is probably to understand her crush on Fidelio as hope to break from the overfamiliar and the narrow petit bourgeois life she is accustomed to. I do find her aria ("Ach wär ich schon mit Dir vereint", especially the central section: "Die Hoffnung schon erfüllt die Brust..." that parallels semantically Leonore's "Komm Hoffnung, lass den letzten Stern") a moving and usually underappreciated piece that gives voice to these sentiments of being destined to a narrow domestic fate. An early piece of women's lib, so to speak. ;)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Dedalus on October 14, 2016, 05:46:38 AM
 I am not positive if Knight's post was directed at me, but I'll answer his final question.  The Fidelio I saw was the one on youtube directed by Harnocourt and has Jonas Kaufman as Fidelio.  It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSYUEAtZiZw

I have never seen Fidelio or any live classical show opera or otherwise ever in my life.  I don't have very much money, but I do have an internet connection, which has allowed me to enjoy a bunch of gems for free.

Not to mention the fact that even though I live near Kansas City there is next to no classical music scene.  There is an orchestra but the things it programs just aren't interesting to me.  It's been a while since I looked at what it has lined up, so maybe I should check and see if there is anything worth attending.  There is also the fact that if I did attend, it would certainly be alone, and I have some social anxiety issues so the whole thing just seems frightening to me.  I'd rather listen and watch in the comfort of my own home.  If I had a single friend into classical music that might change, but the fact of hte matter is that nobody I have ever spoken to in real life has any interest in it, and those are the polite ones.  Many people seem to have a reaction of implied revulsion to it, thinking I'm weird for liking it, etc... It doesn't stop me from mentioning it to anybody who asks about my interests--they asked after all.  But time after time I get only ambivalent to negative responses to this interest (among others, like the game of Go--if they've even heard of it).
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Brewski on October 14, 2016, 06:03:02 AM
I am not positive if Knight's post was directed at me, but I'll answer his final question.  The Fidelio I saw was the one on youtube directed by Harnocourt and has Jonas Kaufman as Fidelio.  It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSYUEAtZiZw

I have never seen Fidelio or any live classical show opera or otherwise ever in my life.  I don't have very much money, but I do have an internet connection, which has allowed me to enjoy a bunch of gems for free.

Not to mention the fact that even though I live near Kansas City there is next to no classical music scene.  There is an orchestra but the things it programs just aren't interesting to me.  It's been a while since I looked at what it has lined up, so maybe I should check and see if there is anything worth attending.  There is also the fact that if I did attend, it would certainly be alone, and I have some social anxiety issues so the whole thing just seems frightening to me.  I'd rather listen and watch in the comfort of my own home.  If I had a single friend into classical music that might change, but the fact of hte matter is that nobody I have ever spoken to in real life has any interest in it, and those are the polite ones.  Many people seem to have a reaction of implied revulsion to it, thinking I'm weird for liking it, etc... It doesn't stop me from mentioning it to anybody who asks about my interests--they asked after all.  But time after time I get only ambivalent to negative responses to this interest (among others, like the game of Go--if they've even heard of it).

Not to derail comments on Fidelio, but thank goodness for the Internet, which does make many operas -- and complete concerts -- available to anyone. Separately, it does make me a little sad that KC's orchestra (which is a good one) doesn't opt for more interesting programming. Many orchestras around the country are doing interesting things (probably food for another thread).

And hope you find a KC pal or two to discuss these things with, but in the meantime, glad you can talk about classical music here, with the rest of us weirdos!  8)

OK, back to Beethoven.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on October 14, 2016, 08:53:37 AM
Daedalus, Thanks for your reply. I hope you enjoy your time here. As Bruce suggests we are probably all wierd for most of the folk we encounter. Your isolation from people who share you interest must be quite tough, well, very tough. There sure is an amazing amout of free performances on Youtube, Kaufman is one of the very best tenors singing at the moment. He is especially good as Florestan.

What kind of music have you been enjoying, apart from Fidelio of course?

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 17, 2016, 06:47:30 AM
But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?




I can think of a few.

Debussy (Pelleas et Melisande)
Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Britten (Peter Grimes)

Of these, though, only Britten had further major successes in the genre.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Mahlerian on October 17, 2016, 06:49:08 AM
I can think of a few.

Debussy (Pelleas et Melisande)
Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)
Leoncavallo (Pagliacci)
Britten (Peter Grimes)

Of these, though, only Britten had further major successes in the genre.

And Britten only counts if you ignore Paul Bunyan, which was a major failure.

Berg's Wozzeck certainly qualifies, though, and he followed it up with another opera that was nearly equally successful.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Reckoner on October 17, 2016, 07:07:45 AM
But how many other opera composers produced a classic repertoire piece first time round?

Not sure about "classic repertoire piece", but Monteverdi, Bartok, Glass and Adams composed highly notable and revered (to varying degrees) operas at the first attempt.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 18, 2016, 05:14:29 AM
It's also interesting to note that the two major composers of opera in the nineteenth century (Verdi and Wagner) took a while to get it right.

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Alberich on October 18, 2016, 05:33:21 AM
It's also interesting to note that the two major composers of opera in the nineteenth century (Verdi and Wagner) took a while to get it right.

And their breakthrough opera was 3rd one, although nowadays Wagner's Rienzi is rarely performed whereas Nabucco is still quite popular (if not to the extent of, say, Rigoletto).
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Que on December 13, 2016, 03:18:32 AM
Cross post from the listening thread:

Beethoven: Fidelio, Act 2 [Furtwangler]....


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41WW169TZDL.jpg)


This is a recording of variable quality,ranging from good to quite poor [especially the opening overture]. This is a pity as it is an overall excellent live performance from all concerned. The overture, however, is electric. Flagstad and Schwarzkopf both sing wonderfully and the male voices are masterful and sonorous. Furtwangler directs a taut, masterful and powerful performance. A wonderful performance if you can get past the sound quality.


I love Furtwängler's way with Fidelio!  :) "Electric" is on the mark...

Furtwängler recorded the opera four times:
1) live in Salzburg 1948, (incomplete) with Erna Schlüter, Lisa della Casa, Julius Patzak,  Rudolf Schock et al;
2) live in Salzburg 1950, pictured above and previously issued by EMI;
3) live in Salzburg 1953, with Martha Mödl, Sena Jurinac, Wolfgang Windgassen, Rudolf Schock, Otto Edelmann, Gottlob Frick, Alfred Poell;
4) the "offical" EMI recording from1953 with almost identical cast as no. 3.

Since the 1st recording in incomplete (with a reportedly weak cast and badly recorded) and the commercial EMI recording is dull as as dish water and omits allmost al of the dialogues the real contenders are the 1950 and 1953 live recordings. I feel Flagstad is a clear miscast, but that is up to personal taste. She sings like an ocean steamer, which is too slow and heavy for this role and this music.... I am generally not so keen on Schwarzkopf and respond more to the aching, heartfelt beauty of Sena Jurinac' voice. The big trump of the 1948 performance has IMO is Julius Patzak. But overall I agree with John Ardoin's assessment his "The Furtwängler Record" and prefer the 1953 recording with tighter ensemble work and in an electric performance that propels the music in an arch of tension running from start to finish. The difference with the performance by same cast on the commercial recording is baffling....Furtwängler really did loose his magic in the studio... The main problem with the 1953 recording was the availability. I had in for years on an Italian "pirate" edition in rather muffled sound - the sound you get when you listen to a Xth generation copy...


Enter Andante Records (now defunct) with a restored recording directly taken from the radio tapes. Off course it is still live from Salzburg with those typical "boxy" acoustics and the noisy wooden stage. But the recording has good presence and is low on distortion. The issue is paired with another very fine live performance of Fidelio from 1944 by Karl Böhm.

Strongly recommended.  :)

Q
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: king ubu on December 13, 2016, 11:11:14 AM
Enter Andante Records (now defunct) with a restored recording directly taken of the radio tapes. Off course it is still live from Salzburg with that typical "boxy" acoustics and the noisy wooden stage. But the recording has presence and is low on distortion. The issue is paired with another very fine live performance of Fidelio from 1944 by Karl Böhm.

Strongly recommended.  :)

Q

Ordered - thanks!
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on December 14, 2016, 06:13:39 AM
I am currently listening to all of the versions of Fidelio that I own and I have been posting same in the Listening Thread. However, I am going to post my humble thoughts in this thread also just for consistency sake…


von Karajan:

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/193/MI0001193849.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)


From the very outset we have a powerful performance of the Overture and this quality of performance follows throughout the entire work. All of the voices are  powerful and blend well and I particularly like Donath’s crystalline voice.


Klemperer:

(https://img.discogs.com/lovPjM9DcM6HF_NOgWfpA6ZlXUo=/fit-in/300x300/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(40)/discogs-images/R-5148315-1385909243-4004.jpeg.jpg)


This is a very fine, strong performance. My impression is that it is no less intense than the von Karajan but that the music breathes more. The weight of Ludwig’s mezzo voice lends an appropriate sense of the tragic to the role I feel. However the male voices carry the performance for me in this version.


Bernstein:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2520/4067552239_2223af4ef9.jpg)


This is a wonderfully strong performance all the more so because all of the voices are individually superb and they blend homogeneously. I think that the spoken words in this performance somehow sound the most natural of those that I have heard so far.



Furtwangler:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41WW169TZDL.jpg)


This is a recording of variable quality,ranging from good to quite poor [especially the opening overture]. This is a pity as it is an overall excellent live performance from all concerned. The overture, however, is electric. Flagstad and Schwarzkopf both sing wonderfully and the male voices are masterful and sonorous. Furtwangler directs a taut, masterful and powerful performance. A wonderful performance if you can get past the sound quality.


I have three more to go and I will post those in a few days.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: Jo498 on December 14, 2016, 07:03:55 AM
Unfortunately, of Furtwängler's I only have the studio... not sure if I ever listened to the whole thing and now I am told that it suffers from the studio boredom not infrequent with that conductor...
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on December 20, 2016, 01:15:24 PM
Concluding my thoughts on the remaining versions of Fidelio in my collection....


(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_500/MI0000/959/MI0000959894.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)


Lighter textures offer great clarity of lines, if lacking a little weight; a very minor quibble as this is a fine performance throughout. Both male and female voices are very strong and work very well individually and together. Harnoncourt directs a very refined, taut performance that flows fluidly.



(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0003/199/MI0003199408.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)


The voice of Rachel Harnisch, although wonderful, is a bit too big for Marzelline for me. Nina Stemme is undoubtedly a show stopper. All of the voices are strong and powerful which leads to a powerful performance overall. It is still, however, not in my top rank; perhaps it suffers [for me] from having too many big voices competing with each other.



(http://www.popsike.com/pix/20140112/251423799985.jpg)


This is a wonderful version in every way. All of the voices sound like smooth, golden honey to me. The pacing is excellent, providing a good sense of drama and providing a sense of constant forward momentum. Fricsay conducts a taut, controlled performance but one that flows effortlessly.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: king ubu on December 21, 2016, 02:09:21 AM
Guess I have to finally dip into that second Fricsay box and listen to some of his opera recordings ... haven't received the Furtwängler yet, but I guess your posts here will lead to another round of "Fidelio" (and Gardiner's recording of "Leonore") spins sometime soon!

First version I got btw was the Bernstein, and I love how the (female) voices blend in the first part there - truly wonderful. But on a larger scale, I don't feel I have a grip of "Fidelio" quite yet. Will keep listening!
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on December 21, 2016, 07:50:10 AM
I have most of the recordings discussed on the last few posts. I have long enjoyed the Karajan and remember the excitement I had over the set when it was issued on LP. I thought the engineering was especially vivid and allowed close placement of the voices. I remain mystified as to why critics so often sweep it aside.

I also love the Bernstein, Janowitz was a surprise in the casting, but does very well apart from the pay-off to her big aria.

The Abbado was an intense disappointment to me, I clearly hear something different in Stemm's voice than most people. I can't stand the sour tone and the vibrato. Other than that, I enjoy the drama of the set and the other voices.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on December 21, 2016, 11:59:29 AM
Guess I have to finally dip into that second Fricsay box and listen to some of his opera recordings ... haven't received the Furtwängler yet, but I guess your posts here will lead to another round of "Fidelio" (and Gardiner's recording of "Leonore") spins sometime soon!

First version I got btw was the Bernstein, and I love how the (female) voices blend in the first part there - truly wonderful. But on a larger scale, I don't feel I have a grip of "Fidelio" quite yet. Will keep listening!

I must admit that it took me a while to fully come to terms with Fidelio but once I did it felt so simple and natural a work that I really did wonder what my issue was with it in the first place! So what better motivation for you than to break into your Fricsay set and give it another go  :)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on December 21, 2016, 12:03:21 PM
I have most of the recordings discussed on the last few posts. I have long enjoyed the Karajan and remember the excitement I had over the set when it was issued on LP. I thought the engineering was especially vivid and allowed close placement of the voices. I remain mystified as to why critics so often sweep it aside.

I also love the Bernstein, Janowitz was a surprise in the casting, but does very well apart from the pay-off to her big aria.

The Abbado was an intense disappointment to me, I clearly hear something different in Stemm's voice than most people. I can't stand the sour tone and the vibrato. Other than that, I enjoy the drama of the set and the other voices.

Mike

I am absolutely with you on the von Karajan version; I think that it is a wonderful version too. I am not a huge admirer of all of Abbado's body of work and although I did not go into it with any preconceived ideas I was somehow not surprised that I did not really like it.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on December 22, 2016, 01:51:48 AM
By coincidence, this was on my FB timeline today. Bernstein really manages that suspended moment and inner dialogue so terrifically well. Four minutes of bliss.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A9l1wKCv9nE


As for Abbado, he seems to be like Marmite for a lot of people. I loved a lot of his work, I was fortunate to be in choir for his performances a few times. I have read a fair bit of the kind of remarks, that get beople blocked on Twitter, about his work, some people simply detested him. Frankly, it is a mystery to me.

I recently bought the live Mark Elder set for about £6 on Amazon. It is well worth a listen. He is strong on structure and provides plenty of drama. The singers are all very good. I also recommend the Halasz on Naxos, it is very much an unjustly overlooked performance, it is excellent all round.

Mike

Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: ritter on December 22, 2016, 02:09:15 AM
As for Abbado, he seems to be like Marmite for a lot of people. I loved a lot of his work, I was fortunate to be in choir for his performances a few times. I have read a fair bit of the kind of remarks, that get beople blocked on Twitter, about his work, some people simply detested him. Frankly, it is a mystery to me.
...
Mike
I was lucky enough to see Abbado conduct a fully-staged Fidelio here in Madrid (IIRC as part of a mini-tour of the Lucerne production--the orchestra was the Mahler Chamber Orchetsra, not our local band), and must say his handling of the score was simply outstanding...he managed to blend the  Singspiel and heroic / oratorial aspects of the work into one marvelous unified whole. We had Clifton Forbis as Floretsan (not Kaufmann, alas), and Anja Kampe  as Leonore (vastly superior to Nina Stemme IMHO).

It was a memorable perfomance in all respects...Grande, Claudio Abbado!
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on December 22, 2016, 09:42:00 AM
By coincidence, this was on my FB timeline today. Bernstein really manages that suspended moment and inner dialogue so terrifically well. Four minutes of bliss.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A9l1wKCv9nE


As for Abbado, he seems to be like Marmite for a lot of people. I loved a lot of his work, I was fortunate to be in choir for his performances a few times. I have read a fair bit of the kind of remarks, that get beople blocked on Twitter, about his work, some people simply detested him. Frankly, it is a mystery to me.

I recently bought the live Mark Elder set for about £6 on Amazon. It is well worth a listen. He is strong on structure and provides plenty of drama. The singers are all very good. I also recommend the Halasz on Naxos, it is very much an unjustly overlooked performance, it is excellent all round.

Mike

Thank you for the recommendations, particularly the Halasz on Naxos. I bought his versions of the Liszt Symphonic Poems this year and I really enjoyed them finding them to be strong performances.

BTW, I really like Marmite  8)
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on January 05, 2017, 09:28:06 AM
I have just recently purchased the Halász version of Fidelio mentioned above and I wanted to add my thoughts here for the record....


(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41TeiwLHi6L.jpg)


We open with as good a performance of the overture as I have heard; full of drive and energy. This is followed by strong performances throughout by all concerned. The orchestra is very strong, ably supporting the vocalists. The performance never falters, has good forward momentum holding your interest and compares very favourably with most versions that I have heard. I think that it is very good and would definitely come with a recommendation.
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: knight66 on January 05, 2017, 02:39:41 PM
I am glad you enjoyed it, also a bit relieved. One man's meat and all that.

Mike
Title: Re: Fidelio
Post by: aligreto on January 06, 2017, 09:47:59 AM
I am glad you enjoyed it, also a bit relieved. One man's meat and all that.

Mike

A big hat tip to you for that one Mike  8)