Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 426856 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2620 on: July 28, 2021, 08:02:16 AM »


I have always liked Gloriana, right from the first time I saw it in the early 1970s in a visually resplendent production by Colin Graham for Sadlers Wells Opera, with Ava June as the Queen. I saw it again when it was revived, this time with Sarah Walker and it is good that the production was finally captured on film.

The opera suffered from a deal of negative press after its rather cool reception in 1953 and consequently is absent from the series of recordings Britten made of all his operas for Decca. The opera was revived in the early 1990s, first by Welsh National Opera and then by Opera North with Josephine Barstow as Elisabeth and this spendid 1993 studo recording is based on these performances.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2621 on: July 28, 2021, 12:20:28 PM »
Act I from Les Troyens:



Of course, it’s magnificent. One of my favorite Berlioz works and one I really should become more and more acquainted with. I believe it’s his longest opera, too. I’ve always liked Berlioz, but it seems that I’ve really got under the skin of his music around last year or so when I acquired that Warner set. This acquisition led me to pull out some older recordings that were already in my collection.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2622 on: July 29, 2021, 11:18:30 PM »


Sticking with Britten , I've moved on to Hickox's excellent recording of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2623 on: July 30, 2021, 02:22:43 PM »
Cross-posted



Quite bowled over by this version of Don Carlos. Certainly one of Karajan’s most impressive contributions to the operatic world. Freni and Carreras may be a bit light for their roles but they sing with passion and commitment. Contrary to some who criticize this aspect of the performance, the recorded sound appears to me perfectly suited to the opera. Don Carlos is not a lyrical work, but a drama about the clash of mighty egos and powerful forces.

The uneasy cohabitation of state and church powers and the futility of human emotions when caught between them is perfectly conveyed by Karajan’s powerful conducting and the BP’s superlative playing. All the roles are cast from strength, with the small parts of the Monk/Charle V, Tebaldo and the Heavenly Voice particularly magnificent. I am not so enamored with Capuccilli’s rough and ready Rodrigo but at least he sings well. Raimondi’s Grand Inquisitor is imposingly sonorous. Apart from Cesare Siepi, I think it’s hard to come with a better Philip II than Ghiaurov’s. Baltsa is an alluring Eboli.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2624 on: July 31, 2021, 12:13:10 AM »
Cross-posted



Quite bowled over by this version of Don Carlos. Certainly one of Karajan’s most impressive contributions to the operatic world. Freni and Carreras may be a bit light for their roles but they sing with passion and commitment. Contrary to some who criticize this aspect of the performance, the recorded sound appears to me perfectly suited to the opera. Don Carlos is not a lyrical work, but a drama about the clash of mighty egos and powerful forces.

The uneasy cohabitation of state and church powers and the futility of human emotions when caught between them is perfectly conveyed by Karajan’s powerful conducting and the BP’s superlative playing. All the roles are cast from strength, with the small parts of the Monk/Charle V, Tebaldo and the Heavenly Voice particularly magnificent. I am not so enamored with Capuccilli’s rough and ready Rodrigo but at least he sings well. Raimondi’s Grand Inquisitor is imposingly sonorous. Apart from Cesare Siepi, I think it’s hard to come with a better Philip II than Ghiaurov’s. Baltsa is an alluring Eboli.

I like this set rather a lot too and I don't actually find Carreras and Freni too light for their respective roles. Carreras, in particular, gives one of his best performances on disc and Baltsa is a superb Eboli, my favourite on disc along with Verrett on the Giulini set.

However I do find the sound a major problem. Even listening with headphones the extraordinarly wide dymanic range of the recording makes for difficult listening, some passages so quiet you can hardly hear them, others absolutely ear-splitting. A typical example is the beginning of Act II scene i when Carreras is placed so far from the microphone you can hardly hear him. With the volume turned up high enough to be able to make out his voice the next orchestral tutti blasts you out of your seat. My impressions are more fully documented in my blog here http://tsaraslondon.com/2020/11/05/karajans-studio-don-carlo-2/ and here http://tsaraslondon.com/2017/04/09/verdis-don-carlos-a-comparison-of-three-different-recordings/.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2625 on: July 31, 2021, 12:14:51 AM »


Peter Grimes must surely be the most recorded opera of all post WWII operas and I don't think it's ever had a bad recording, right from this its very first, recorded in 1958. It stil sounds very good in this transfer.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2626 on: July 31, 2021, 05:26:51 AM »
I like this set rather a lot too and I don't actually find Carreras and Freni too light for their respective roles. Carreras, in particular, gives one of his best performances on disc and Baltsa is a superb Eboli, my favourite on disc along with Verrett on the Giulini set.

However I do find the sound a major problem. Even listening with headphones the extraordinarly wide dymanic range of the recording makes for difficult listening, some passages so quiet you can hardly hear them, others absolutely ear-splitting. A typical example is the beginning of Act II scene i when Carreras is placed so far from the microphone you can hardly hear him. With the volume turned up high enough to be able to make out his voice the next orchestral tutti blasts you out of your seat. My impressions are more fully documented in my blog here http://tsaraslondon.com/2020/11/05/karajans-studio-don-carlo-2/ and here http://tsaraslondon.com/2017/04/09/verdis-don-carlos-a-comparison-of-three-different-recordings/.

Listening with headphones is the last thing I’d recommend for listening to this version. A suitably large listening room reveals all the orchestral glory of this performance. I don’t mind the sometimes hardly audible parts. Placing Carreras far from the mic for the beginning of that Act II scene was a conscious decision, not an engineering defect, as he is coming from afar (he gets closer as it goes). I don’t mind being blasted out of my seat when it’s justified by the music  ;)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2627 on: July 31, 2021, 06:10:42 AM »
Listening with headphones is the last thing I’d recommend for listening to this version. A suitably large listening room reveals all the orchestral glory of this performance. I don’t mind the sometimes hardly audible parts. Placing Carreras far from the mic for the beginning of that Act II scene was a conscious decision, not an engineering defect, as he is coming from afar (he gets closer as it goes). I don’t mind being blasted out of my seat when it’s justified by the music  ;)

Great if you have that kind of listening environment but I'd hazard a guess that quite a large proportion of listeners live in small appartments in busy cities. If you want to be on speaking terms with your neighbours, headphones are often a must.  :laugh:

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2628 on: July 31, 2021, 07:09:51 AM »
Great if you have that kind of listening environment but I'd hazard a guess that quite a large proportion of listeners live in small appartments in busy cities. If you want to be on speaking terms with your neighbours, headphones are often a must.  :laugh:

Very true, and it goes for me as well. My wife being absent for a few days I arrange my listening schedule accordingly and let those loudspeakers rip !  :D

Right now listening to the Solti version (5 acts). Act I finished and II under way. A better Carlos, a matronly Elisbetta, a good Monk (though not on the level of the outstanding van Dam), and of course Fi-Di’s unique timbre and slightly overbearing voice acting. Orchestra and conducting are very good, the engineering a bit blasty but quite good. Will have to wait till the end to form an opinion on the whole, of course.

Offline Brewski

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2629 on: July 31, 2021, 07:15:43 AM »
Watching Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, live from the Bavarian State Opera (and free). The production is a little odd, but never mind, the singing (Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros) is excellent, as is the orchestra, all led by Kirill Petrenko.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2630 on: July 31, 2021, 07:01:20 PM »


Peter Grimes must surely be the most recorded opera of all post WWII operas and I don't think it's ever had a bad recording, right from this its very first, recorded in 1958. It stil sounds very good in this transfer.

What did you think of the newer Gardner recording on Chandos?
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2631 on: August 01, 2021, 12:21:18 AM »
What did you think of the newer Gardner recording on Chandos?

I've yet to hear it. I only have the Britten and the Davis on CD, but I'm keen to hear the Gardner. The sound is supposed to be sensational.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2632 on: August 01, 2021, 02:01:01 AM »


Today it's the turn of Davis's fine recording of Peter Grimes and Vickers's terrifyingly intense performance of Grimes. Britten repotredly didn't like Vickers in the role, but I do very much. The raw, animalistic power of his performance is cumulative and this recording, based on actual performances at Covent Garden that were also filmed serves as a fine memento of a great portrayal.
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2633 on: August 01, 2021, 07:18:04 AM »


Today it's the turn of Davis's fine recording of Peter Grimes and Vickers's terrifyingly intense performance of Grimes. Britten repotredly didn't like Vickers in the role, but I do very much. The raw, animalistic power of his performance is cumulative and this recording, based on actual performances at Covent Garden that were also filmed serves as a fine memento of a great portrayal.

Well said ! The accumulation of unhappy circumstances and poor judgment/social skills weighs on Grimes. That downward spiralling sounds inevitable in Vickers’ portrayal. How could Britten not appreciate that ?

Offline absolutelybaching

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2634 on: August 01, 2021, 09:14:41 AM »


Today it's the turn of Davis's fine recording of Peter Grimes and Vickers's terrifyingly intense performance of Grimes. Britten repotredly didn't like Vickers in the role, but I do very much. The raw, animalistic power of his performance is cumulative and this recording, based on actual performances at Covent Garden that were also filmed serves as a fine memento of a great portrayal.

I don't walk out of things often, but the Vickers Peter Grimes was one of the few productions I've literally heard about 20 minutes of and decided to walk. (The only other one I've done that for is Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten). I was young[ish] and I can't remember precisely what it was that made me walk now, but the over-wrought tenor had a lot to do with it. I get why Britten did like him, basically: the voice was all wrong (for someone brought up on Pears, that is).

Of course, with 20:20 hindsight, I wish I could report having actually seen Vickers in the role! Even if only to heap shame upon the performance from the perspective of having endured it. Sadly, at the time, and with the impetuosity of youth, walking seemed the better part of valour!

Offline T. D.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2635 on: August 01, 2021, 03:39:58 PM »


Today saw my first live opera in a long while! At "Bard Summerscape", upstate NY. Botstein conducted, so will use the above image.
Pretty good opera, but more than a little Wagnerian, and the plot is somewhat suggestive of Tristan as well. Good performances (as far as I can judge) and impressive production; the Bard summer festival spares no expense when it comes to opera.

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2636 on: August 01, 2021, 04:02:30 PM »
Wow ! I don’t think I’ll ever see this opera performed here in Montreal, despite the language connection  :-[.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2637 on: August 02, 2021, 12:25:48 AM »


Ronald Duncan's libretto has its problems, but the score has many great beauties and it is astonishing what sounds Britten can conjure up from his chamber orchestra of a mere twelve players. Baker is a beautiful and wonderfully sympathetic Lucretia and is no less superb in Phaedra, Britten's last vocal work which he wrote for her in 1975.

The rest of the cast could hardly be bettered with Pears and Harper  as the Male and Female Choruses, John Shirey-Quirk as a noble Collatinus and Bryan Drake and Benjamin Luxon sparring brilliantly as Junius and Tarquinius.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2638 on: August 02, 2021, 12:31:24 AM »
I don't walk out of things often, but the Vickers Peter Grimes was one of the few productions I've literally heard about 20 minutes of and decided to walk. (The only other one I've done that for is Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten). I was young[ish] and I can't remember precisely what it was that made me walk now, but the over-wrought tenor had a lot to do with it. I get why Britten did like him, basically: the voice was all wrong (for someone brought up on Pears, that is).

Of course, with 20:20 hindsight, I wish I could report having actually seen Vickers in the role! Even if only to heap shame upon the performance from the perspective of having endured it. Sadly, at the time, and with the impetuosity of youth, walking seemed the better part of valour!

Well I've just listened to the Pears/Britten and Vickers/Davis versions back to back and they are both marvellous recordings. However it is the Vickers/Davis version that I find much more shatteringly and intensely moving. I don't know if Britten would have come round to Vickers's way with the role, but he would surely have taken great satisfaction from the fact that his opera can take a variety of different approaches and is now probably the most often performed of all operas written after the second world war.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2639 on: August 03, 2021, 12:38:03 AM »


The Turn of the Screw was the first Britten opera I ever saw, in a wonderfully ambiguous atmospheric production by Anthony Besch for Scottish Opera, in which the ghosts remained quite insubstantial throughout. Did they exist or were they just figments of the Governess's over fertile imagination? It's an opera I have always enjoyed and I also remember Jill Gomez in an English Opera Group production and Jonathan Miller's wonderful production for English National Opera, this time with Valerie Masterson as the Governess.

It's something of a shame that Britten's recording was made before the advent of stereo, because, as a performance, I'm not sure it has ever been bettered. The cast is absolutely superb with Peter Pears in what was arguably his greatest role and Jennifer Vyvyan as a vividly neurotic Governess. But what really caps this performance is David Hemmings' ambivalent Miles. In any case, the sound of this mono recording is very clear and the diction of the principals absolutely exemplary. Why is it that so few singers sing words these days? Every single one of the singers on this recording gives a lesson in how to clearly enunicate text.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas