Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 414033 times)

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Offline T. D.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2580 on: June 17, 2021, 12:02:40 PM »


What a joy this old recording is. It was based on tremendously successful stage performances at Glyndebourne and, though it was recorded at Abbey Road, has the atmosphere of a live performance.

Vittorio Gui's conducting captures to perfection the beguiling effervescence of Rossini's score in a way more modern versions can't quite match. Juan Oncina was a regular Rossini tenor at Glyndebourne and sang Lindoro, Almaviva and Ramiro there as well, though the Count was probably his greatest success. The Hungarian soprano Sari Barabas is delightful and there are also superb performances from Ian Wallace and Monica Sinclair.

Pure delight from beginning to end.

Agreed, I have a copy of this excellent recording. Once saw a live performance, which was great fun.

Offline T. D.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2581 on: June 18, 2021, 04:36:41 PM »
Since Le Comte Ory came up,



This is an excellent recording, but since I haven't seen the opera live, it doesn't have the same magic for me as Le Comte Ory. Maybe I should watch it on Youtube.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 06:12:53 PM by T. D. »

Online vers la flamme

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2582 on: June 19, 2021, 05:19:04 AM »
Cross post from "What are you listening to now" thread:



Giacomo Puccini: Tosca. Victor de Sabata, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano

First listen to this famous recording, which was sent to me by mistake. (I wanted the Karajan one with Leontyne Price.) So far so good. Anyone who knows me knows that I am far from an Italian opera aficionado, but I do find Puccini to be an interesting composer, and I would love to explore his music in more depth.

Any fans of this recording? I am not a frequent opera listener but am enjoying this.

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2583 on: June 19, 2021, 06:34:40 AM »
Cross post from "What are you listening to now" thread:

Any fans of this recording? I am not a frequent opera listener but am enjoying this.

I have yet to hear anyone in the role of Tosca who is better than, or even equal to, Callas. Gobbi has some equals as Scarpia, but no superiors. DiStefano, however, is merely adequate. So consider this an upgrade from the one you ordered.

If you want to hear Price in this role, get the one with Domingo (much better than DiStefano) and Milnes (full equal to Gobbi).

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2584 on: June 19, 2021, 06:56:37 AM »
Cross post from "What are you listening to now" thread:

Any fans of this recording? I am not a frequent opera listener but am enjoying this.

The De Sabata Tosca is rightly considered one of the greatest opera recordings of all time, so you can't really do much better, except perhaps in matters of sound, though the mono sound is very good indeed. Where I differ from JBS is in his assessment of Di Stefano, who I think is one of the best Cavaradossis on disc, and it is no surprise that he was also chosen for the Karajan with Leontyne Price, which would be my second choice. By the time Price recorded it for Mehta the voice had begun to sound breathy and hollow, almost like a lounge singer, and she is far preferable on the Karajan recording. Nor do I find Milnes anything like as convincing as either Gobbi or Taddei on the Karajan. Mehta doesn't do anything wrong, but he's nowhere near as inspired as either De Sabata or Karajan.

I've reviewed the De Sabata twice on my blog http://tsaraslondon.com/2017/01/09/tosca-1953/ and http://tsaraslondon.com/2020/11/06/callass-1953-tosca-revisited/ and I also did a comparative review of five Decca Toscas, which included the Karajan http://tsaraslondon.com/2020/12/08/a-clutch-of-decca-toscas/. Just in case you're interested.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2585 on: June 19, 2021, 08:17:15 PM »
Cross-post from the ‘Listening’ thread -

First-Listen Saturday

Mascagni
Cavalleria rusticana
Gian Giacomo Guelfi (baritone), Carlo Bergonzi (tenor), Fiorenza Cossotto (mezzo-soprano), Maria Gracia Allegri (contralto), Adriane Martino (mezzo-soprano), Roberto Benaglio (chorus master)
Teatro alla Scala
Karajan




Exquisite!
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Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2586 on: June 24, 2021, 03:31:56 AM »
Revisiting Reynaldo Hahn’s Le marchand de Venise, while reading the chapter dedicated to this work in Philippe Blay’s biography of the composer.


This is the only recording of the work circulating on CD, made live in 1978 at the Paris Opéra (where the work was first performed in 1935). It’s conducted by Manuel Rosenthal, and has  Michèle Command, Annick Dutertre, Éliane Lublin, Christian Pouliac, Armand Arabian, Marc Vento, Léonard Pezzino, Tibère Raffali et al. as soloists. The sound of the broadcast (only available from “private”  sources) is perfectly acceptable.

What a lovely and peculiar work this is! It takes the focus away from Shylock’s tragedy, and instead puts the love stories of the three couples at the centre. All this in Mozartian structure (a sort of The Rake’s Progress avant la lettre?), but with Hahn’s hyper-conservative, yet simultaneously highly personal, musical style (and great melodic invention). The work clearly places the singing in the forefront (no symphonic music drama this), but the discreet orchestral tapestry is very effective and delicately scored.

Interesting to read (in Blay’s book) the reactions of critics at the time of the premiere, ranging from “absolute masterpiece” to “boring, boring, boring” and “a bloated operetta”. I personally love the piece and, particularly, some of its set numbers (the quartet “L’amour, qui pourtant n’est pas bête” and the closing, Don Giovanni-like septet “Car il faut, que l’amour ait le dernier mot”) and it certainly is Hahn’s magnum opus. A work that deserves wider circulation, and should receive a modern, studio recording (Bru Zane, are you there?  ;)).
ritter
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2587 on: June 25, 2021, 12:32:05 AM »


Not actually an opera, though these days it is often staged. Berlioz called it a légende dramatique and I often think of it in the same vein as Alfred de Musset's "armchair theatre", a work to be heard rather than seen, leaving the imagination to fill in the blanks.

Davis's Philips recording is undoubtedly one of the best ever and Gedda is a superb Faust. A short review on my website, if anyone's interested https://tsaraslondon.com/2020/11/05/colin-davis-conducts-la-damnation-de-faust/
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2588 on: June 26, 2021, 06:38:02 AM »


What an opportunity missed! This could have been the best of all recordings of Berlioz's wonderful La Damnation de Faust. As it is, it is bighted by Prêtre's dull, routine conducting. "A sleepy competence settles over the proceedings," according to David Cairns in Opera on Record 2 and, though there are moments of vitality, the whole thing is strangely inert.

I keep it mostly for Baker's superb Marguerite, which might just be the best on record, her D'amour l'ardente flamme one of the most uniquely moving I've ever heard. Bacquier sounds as if he could have been an interesting Méphisto under a different conductor and Gedda proves how much more interesting he could be in the Davis recording of a few years later.

Recommended for Baker's wonderful singing, but not much else.

The filler is Baker's earlier version of La mort de Cléopâtre under Sir Alexander Gibson, who proves himself to be a much better Berlioz conductor than Prêtre.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2589 on: June 26, 2021, 08:53:51 AM »


Written on Skin is a work that recalls Wozzeck in some respects: length-wise (about 90 minutes), in its mirror-like language of voice/instruments, its structure made of multiple scenes and a few orchestral interludes. Every scene is conceived to be likel engravings in a medieval Book of Hours (it’s the story of a wealthy man who commissions such a book from an illuminator). Supposed to celebrate the man’s life, it instead liberates the carnal instincts of his wife, who falls for the artist. It does not end well.

Familiar plot, clever construction and portrayal of the characters that gives them depth, a fine balance of vocal/instrumental lines make this a successful operatic work. Colourful sets and creative lighting are probably an essential ingredient of a staged production. It was done in Amsterdam, New-York, Aix, Toulouse, Paris and Munich. The disc is an audio recording of the work’s premiere at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2012. The excellent soloists include Barbara Hannigan and Bejun Mehta.  I last listened to it in 2018 and, to tell the truth, didn’t recall much from that occasion. I’m glad I gave it another outing.

Offline Brewski

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2590 on: June 26, 2021, 09:24:08 AM »


Written on Skin is a work that recalls Wozzeck in some respects: length-wise (about 90 minutes), in its mirror-like language of voice/instruments, its structure made of multiple scenes and a few orchestral interludes. Every scene is conceived to be likel engravings in a medieval Book of Hours (it’s the story of a wealthy man who commissions such a book from an illuminator). Supposed to celebrate the man’s life, it instead liberates the carnal instincts of his wife, who falls for the artist. It does not end well.

Familiar plot, clever construction and portrayal of the characters that gives them depth, a fine balance of vocal/instrumental lines make this a successful operatic work. Colourful sets and creative lighting are probably an essential ingredient of a staged production. It was done in Amsterdam, New-York, Aix, Toulouse, Paris and Munich. The disc is an audio recording of the work’s premiere at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2012. The excellent soloists include Barbara Hannigan and Bejun Mehta.  I last listened to it in 2018 and, to tell the truth, didn’t recall much from that occasion. I’m glad I gave it another outing.

Most interesting comments, thanks! Glad it resonated more the second time. I saw the original production twice (once on video) and thought it utterly fascinating.

You might seek out his subsequent opera, Lessons in Love and Violence, also with Hannigan (who is just a wonder). There are excerpts on YouTube.

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2591 on: June 26, 2021, 11:03:22 AM »
Thanks Bruce, I’ll check for Benjamin’s Lessons:)

I had bought the Nimbus set in 2018, figuring it would be a good follow-up to Dead Man Walking which I had seen in 2013. As luck would have it, I *almost* got to see the Written on Skin in February 2020. The Montreal Opera was showing it (https://www.operademontreal.com/programmation/written-skin) but something intervened and I couldn’t attend :-X. It’s not often we get to see contemporary works here, and I don’t expect another occasion to see it will occur in my lifetime…

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2592 on: June 28, 2021, 06:43:53 AM »


I've now come to the operas in my Berlioz marathon, starting with his final opera Béatrice et Bénédict, which caused him a great deal less stress than Les Troyens, which was composed before it. To a libretto by Berlioz himself after Shakespeare, it is a delghtfully effervescent work, with pages of pure magic and you would never guess that Berlioz was in great pain at the time of its composition.

It has had quite a few successful recordings, three by Colin Davis himself, but this is, in my opinion, the best of the three, with Baker and Tear marvellous as the two eponymous lovers, and a superb supporting cast that includes Christiane Eda-Pierre, Thomas Allen and Jules Bastin.  Pure delight.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2593 on: June 29, 2021, 01:15:07 AM »


I love this opera more each time I hear it. What a wonderful score it is, full of marvellous energy and invention.

This 1972 recording was its first, but it has stood the test of time with a superb cast under Davis's brilliant leadership. I doubt Gedda ever did anything better and for me he has no equal as Cellini.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2594 on: June 30, 2021, 11:19:31 PM »


This recording is chiefly of interest for capturing Janet Baker in one of her greatest roles, a role which she unfortunately never got to record complete. Baker was stepping in at short notice for an indisposed Josephine Veasey and only knew the role in English so, incongruously, she sings in English whilst everyone else sings in French.

The performances were a dry run for Davis's seminal recording of the opera, which was recorded around the same time, though for some reason Berit Lindholm replaced Anja Silja as Cassandre, and she is not an improvement. Veasey of course sang Didon, but many of us wish that Baker had been engaged for the recording, especially when you hear the recording she made of the final scenes with Alexander Gibson, which I've never heard bettered.

Other than that, this recording cannot be preferred to the studio version. The sound is not great and is occasionally beset by static problems. However, even singing in English and in less than perfect sound, Baker gives the greatest performance of Didon I have ever heard, rivalled only by Verrett on the patchy Prêtre recording.

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

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2595 on: July 02, 2021, 07:39:14 AM »
Today I started listening to this recording:



Not usually a big fan of middle/early Verdi.  But this is a cracker and helped in no small part but the quality of the singing, playing & engineering.  Which led me to a series of - fairly obvious - thoughts;

  • How lucky we are to have a recorded legacy of the likes of Pavarotti/Caballe/Milnes recorded in such fine sound
  • How lucky the likes of Pavarotti/Caballe/Milnes were to be at their vocal peak when studio recordings of this quality were the norm
  • How unlucky current singers of similar (potential) stature who will never get to create a similar legacy
  • If Pavarotti et al were performing today think of all the roles they would NOT have recorded because the only recordings are made live/in the theatre
  • What a golden age when truly independant international record companies were rolling out their star performers in competing versions of repertoire - nothing close to that exists anymore

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2596 on: July 02, 2021, 08:00:53 AM »
Today I started listening to this recording:



Not usually a big fan of middle/early Verdi.  But this is a cracker and helped in no small part but the quality of the singing, playing & engineering.  Which led me to a series of - fairly obvious - thoughts;

  • How lucky we are to have a recorded legacy of the likes of Pavarotti/Caballe/Milnes recorded in such fine sound
  • How lucky the likes of Pavarotti/Caballe/Milnes were to be at their vocal peak when studio recordings of this quality were the norm
  • How unlucky current singers of similar (potential) stature who will never get to create a similar legacy
  • If Pavarotti et al were performing today think of all the roles they would NOT have recorded because the only recordings are made live/in the theatre
  • What a golden age when truly independant international record companies were rolling out their star performers in competing versions of repertoire - nothing close to that exists anymore

All very true !  :)

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2597 on: July 02, 2021, 10:12:00 AM »
All very true !  :)

Yet on the other hand:
--We have DVDs, so we can see and not merely listen.
--We have a broader choice of operas: both neglected composers and neglected workd by famous composers.  Think of all the music by (f.i.) Donizetti that wasn't recorded in that era, or the operas which the Bru Zane Foundation brings to notice.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2598 on: July 03, 2021, 12:48:21 AM »
Yet on the other hand:
--We have DVDs, so we can see and not merely listen.

Not always a good thing.  >:D


--We have a broader choice of operas: both neglected composers and neglected workd by famous composers.  Think of all the music by (f.i.) Donizetti that wasn't recorded in that era, or the operas which the Bru Zane Foundation brings to notice.

Not necessarily true. There were loads of rare operas issued in the 70s and 80s, featuring the stars of the day, and Sutherland, Sills and Caballé made sure that many of these were of the bel canto repertoire. I worked in a record store back in the 1980s and in those days, new opera recordings were pretty much a monthly occurrence.

Think also of projects like Philips's early Verdi series; studio recordings of all of Verdi's early operas featuring stars like Caballé, Ricciarelli, Norman, Cossotto, Domingo, Carreras, Bergonzi, Milnes, Cappuccilli, Raimondi etc. Such a project would be unthinkabe now.

 

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2599 on: July 03, 2021, 11:01:39 PM »


I have loved this opera for forty odd years now and have very fond memories of the LP set I owned; a big thick box with two booklets, one with the libretto and translations and the other with essays on the opera and cast biographies. What luxury indeed. These days you're lucky to get even the libretto, and when you do it's in minuscule print.

On balance I agree with Ralph Moore in his survey of recordings of the opera http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2019/Feb/Berlioz_Troyens_survey.pdf that it is still the best of all recordings of the opera. Berit Lindholm is probably the weakest link in the cast, but I don't object to her as mch as some people appear to do and Josephine Veasey gives one of her best performances on disc, second only to Janet Baker and Shirley Verrett as Didon.

The Nelson recording, which came in for so much praise when it was first issued, sounds small scale in comparison to me, where this one captures the epic grandeur of the score. I also prefer it to Davis's second recording as I think it has the better all round cast.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas