Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 153091 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1720 on: July 24, 2019, 10:55:48 PM »
It certainly makes dramatic sense to use the same soprano for the various soprano leads and Offenbach did intend them to be sung by the same singer, but, quite early on, they were allocated to different singers because of the difficulty of finding one singer who could bring them off both vocally and dramatically.

That was certainly the case back in the 1950s. Callas might have done it, but, when asked to do so, she famously replied, "But my dear, would you pay me three fees?"

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1721 on: July 28, 2019, 12:31:29 AM »


I was keen to hear this set after it was the reviewer's first choice for the opera in BBC's Building a Library programme, and it is very good indeed, though the sound of this live recording, made at the Salzburg Festival in 1981, rather lets it down. The solo voices are well recorded, but the sounds becomes boomy and congested when orchestra and chorus are at full tilt. Furthermore there are quite a few bangs and thuds associated with live performance.

That said the performance itself is thrilling with Domingo in superb voice and even more inside the role than he is on the Bonynge set. That of course has Sutherland in the female roles and it has to be said that Malfitano doesn't command her beauty of  tone. On the other hand, she is a much more convincing vocal actress. For all that Offenbach intended the roles to be sung by the same singer, the demands of each are quite different, and I often prefer to hear them sung by different singers as they are in the superb John Schlesinger Covent Garden production with Domingo again as Hoffmann, but with Luciana Serra as Olympia, Ileana Cotrubas as Antonia and Agnes Baltsa (a mezzo) as Giulietta. Malfitano rises to the challenge superbly however and reconciles me to the casting of the same singer.

The rest of the cast is also excellent with Ann Murray superb in the dual role of Niklausse/The Muse and Van Dam perfection in the roles of the four villains, vocally more resplendent than Bacquier on the Bonynge recording. Rémy Corazza is also excellent in the comic roles, if not quite erasing memories of Hugues Cuénod on the Bonynge set.

James Levine, whom I sometimes find too bombastic in Verdi, surprised me, his conducting both exciting and lyrical and the Vienna Philharmonic play superbly.

The Bonynge profits from superb Decca sound of course, but, in all other respects, I think I prefer this one.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 10:39:08 PM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1722 on: August 23, 2019, 11:15:09 AM »
This, as part of a DHM budget box (and therefore no hint of a libretto or synopsis)


The spoken dialogue between the musical numbers, is replaced by narration spoken in the person of Samiel, by the actor performing that role.  With my minimal German,  that doesn't make much of a difference. One technical complaint: the finale of Act II, the Wolf's Glen scene could easily have been included in CD 1, but instead is marooned on CD2, with Act III.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1723 on: August 25, 2019, 12:52:23 AM »


Katia Ricciarelli is a name that does not come up too much these days and yet she recorded extensively for conductors such as Abbado, Karajan and Maazel and appeared regularly in the major opera houses of Europe and the USA. I've been listening to quite a bit of her work recently and must say I find her very impressive. Though I wouldn't necessarily place this recording at the top of the list of recordings of Luisa Miller, it is a very strong consider and Ricciarelli might just be my favourite Luisa. The other main contenders would be Cleva with Moffo, Bergonzi and MacNeil and Maag with Caballé, Pavarotti and Milnes and picking an outright winner is indeed difficult.

This recording was made during performances of the opera at Covent Garden, though in the stage performances Wurm was sung by Richard Van Allan, who appears on the Maag recording, and Federica by Elizabeth Connell. Unfortunately neither replacement can be considered a success. I know Wurm is an unpleasant character, but does he have to sound quite as nasty as Wladimiro Ganzarolli does here? Elena Obraztsova is also miscast, standing out in the wrong way, her singing bowzy and overblown. She sounds as if she has strayed in from the wrong opera and is certainly no match for Shirley Verrett on the Cleva recording.

The rest were all part of the Covent Garden cast of 1979 with the virtues that has of a cast being well sung in. Maazel has a tendency to be over-emphatic (of the conductors the wonderfully imaginative Maag would be my favourite) but all three principals are on fine form. Domingo, at his mid-career best, is a committed Rodolfo and Bruson an excellent Miller, but it is Ricciarelli who puts her seal on the performance. Not vocally qute as assured as either Caballé or Moffo, she presents the most fully rounded, most affecting Luisa of the three and she is the main reason I would revisit this set.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1724 on: August 25, 2019, 08:46:04 AM »


The conducting here is what stands out most favourably. Great flair and perfect pacing, nice woodwind contributions. Gui keeps the music moving along and every aria/duet falls nicely within Da Ponte’s fizzy narrative.

Unfortunately none of the singing performances attains the « Great Recordings of the Century » level. Bruscantini as Figaro is not funny and has little vocal face. Calabrese is a mean count with a good but unexceptional voice. Stevens as Cherubino is all wrong for the part. Sciutti is a nice, pert Susanna, but Gueden, Freni, Seefried or Popp have better voices and bring more character to the part. Sena Jurinac brings great sensitivity to her singing and her voice is at its creamy best. It’s always a good sign when one is not tempted to reach for comparisons.

Figaro has been blessed with all-star casts from many labels, so there’s a lot to choose from, making for a crowded top tier. Despite some nice features, this one does not belong to them.

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1725 on: August 25, 2019, 09:00:34 AM »


The conducting here is what stands out most favourably. Great flair and perfect pacing, nice woodwind contributions. Gui keeps the music moving along and every aria/duet falls nicely within Da Ponte’s fizzy narrative.

Unfortunately none of the singing performances attains the « Great Recordings of the Century » level. Bruscantini as Figaro is not funny and has little vocal face. Calabrese is a mean count with a good but unexceptional voice. Stevens as Cherubino is all wrong for the part. Sciutti is a nice, pert Susanna, but Gueden, Freni, Seefried or Popp have better voices and bring more character to the part. Sena Jurinac brings great sensitivity to her singing and her voice is at its creamy best. It’s always a good sign when one is not tempted to reach for comparisons.

Figaro has been blessed with all-star casts from many labels, so there’s a lot to choose from, making for a crowded top tier. Despite some nice features, this one does not belong to them.
I would be a bit more benevolent with some of the singers (particularly Jurinac and Sciutti), but do agree with you that the star of thus recording is Vittorio Gui...a great opera conductor!
ritter
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1726 on: September 07, 2019, 03:41:49 PM »
Not listening now, but will later  :D. I just bought these two:



My first ever Mignon. This opera has plenty of well-known bits (the Overture, the Mignon and Philine arias, Wilhelm Meister’s Adieu, Mignon, courage! but it is rarely recorded.



I already have the cd version of this opera on Decca, but clearly my appreciation should be increased by this rare production from the LA Opera conducted by James Conlon (a Braunfels specialist). Désirée Rancatore sings the difficult part of the Nightingale.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1727 on: September 08, 2019, 08:56:43 AM »
Not listening now, but will later  :D. I just bought these two:



My first ever Mignon. This opera has plenty of well-known bits (the Overture, the Mignon and Philine arias, Wilhelm Meister’s Adieu, Mignon, courage! but it is rarely recorded.



I already have the cd version of this opera on Decca, but clearly my appreciation should be increased by this rare production from the LA Opera conducted by James Conlon (a Braunfels specialist). Désirée Rancatore sings the difficult part of the Nightingale.

I always rather wished that Von Stade had been cast as Mignon rather than Horne, who sounds a bit heavy to me.

I don't know the Braunfels at all.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1728 on: September 10, 2019, 01:58:25 AM »
I always rather wished that Von Stade had been cast as Mignon rather than Horne, who sounds a bit heavy to me.



Me, too. Horne would have been a fun Frédérick. She recorded his aria "Me voici dans son boudoir". I much prefer the composer's Hamlet, in any case.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 02:02:47 AM by Wendell_E »
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