Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 447641 times)

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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2840 on: November 30, 2021, 07:07:06 AM »
Yep...probably a wink at Ulysses' short stop in Gotland on the way back to Ithaca... ;)

When checking possible theories, it appeared that actually, some have suggested a Scandinavian & Baltic origin for the Ulysses/Odysseus travels & myths, including the writers Felice Vinci and John Larsen. The theories have however mostly been dismissed by conventional scholars, and overall characterized as 'a fascinating and charming dream'.

But interesting to think that if taken literally, one theory would imply that Odysseus was born about 5 km from where I spent most of my childhood, in Odsherred, Denmark, and that he lived a good deal of his life in just the same area :)

https://www.saxo.com/dk/baltic-origins-of-homers-epic-tales_felice-vinci_epub_9781594776458
https://nome.unak.is/wordpress/tag/ulysses/
critique: http://www.paabo.ca/reviews/BalticHomericVinci.html
http://odisse.dk/index.html (Danish)

As a (further) side remark, back in August, some archaeologists claimed to have found parts of the original, Trojan horse in situ - at the correct, Turkish location, that is: https://greekreporter.com/2021/08/10/archaeologists-discover-trojan-horse-in-turkey/
« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 07:35:31 AM by MusicTurner »

Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2841 on: November 30, 2021, 07:12:44 AM »
Interesting (albeit a bit far-fetched :D). Many thanks, had never read anything about that...
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Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2842 on: November 30, 2021, 08:06:05 AM »
When checking possible theories, it appeared that actually, some have suggested a Scandinavian & Baltic origin for the Ulysses/Odysseus travels & myths, including the writers Felice Vinci and John Larsen. The theories have however mostly been dismissed by conventional scholars, and overall characterized as 'a fascinating and charming dream'.

But interesting to think that if taken literally, one theory would imply that Odysseus was born about 5 km from where I spent most of my childhood, in Odsherred, Denmark, and that he lived a good deal of his life in just the same area :)

https://www.saxo.com/dk/baltic-origins-of-homers-epic-tales_felice-vinci_epub_9781594776458
https://nome.unak.is/wordpress/tag/ulysses/
critique: http://www.paabo.ca/reviews/BalticHomericVinci.html
http://odisse.dk/index.html (Danish)

As a (further) side remark, back in August, some archaeologists claimed to have found parts of the original, Trojan horse in situ - at the correct, Turkish location, that is: https://greekreporter.com/2021/08/10/archaeologists-discover-trojan-horse-in-turkey/
That would have been cool!  8)  ;D

PD

p.s.  I read an article about that (on BBC website I believe re the Trojan horse)!  :)

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2843 on: November 30, 2021, 06:30:01 PM »


  • Hardly ever performed these day, but Mascagni's L'Amico Fritz I enjoy rather more than quite a lot of verismo works that are more regularly given.

    If not quite erasing memories of Mafalda Favero and Tito Schipa in the famous Cherry Duet, Freni and Pavarotti are nonetheless at their youthful best and Vicente Sardinero is excellent as David. I don't much care for the blowsy mezzo of Laura Didier Gambarella in the breeches role of Beppe, but Gavazzeni conducts with evident love of this charming score.

    A winner.

    I bought that recording a few years ago, but well before then I had this version

    Which I think is just as good. It is a charming opera, one that should be better known. It could be easily fitted into a double bill with Cav.Rust. instead of Pagliacci.
    The Alagna/Georghiu recording btw terms Davide in the cast listing a "rabbi", rather amusingly and for no obvious reason, since he does nothing particularly rabbinical (or even Jewish) during the opera.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2844 on: December 01, 2021, 01:58:45 AM »
  • I bought that recording a few years ago, but well before then I had this version

    Which I think is just as good. It is a charming opera, one that should be better known. It could be easily fitted into a double bill with Cav.Rust. instead of Pagliacci.
    The Alagna/Georghiu recording btw terms Davide in the cast listing a "rabbi", rather amusingly and for no obvious reason, since he does nothing particularly rabbinical (or even Jewish) during the opera.

I'm sure he's referred to as a Rabbi somewhere in the notes for the Gavazzeni recording as well, because I knew that.

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2845 on: December 01, 2021, 01:59:08 AM »


Cavalleria Rusticana is the opera that first turned me on to opera as a teenager. My parents had the Varviso recording with Souliotis, Del Monaco and Gobbi and my father also owned the piano score. I listened to it over and over again and would also spend hours playing the music on the piano. Mind you, even back then I recognised that Del Monaco was a bit shouty, and Di Stefano made a better impression on me when I finally heard the Callas recording.

Of course it is now known that Callas was never scheduled to record Santuzza, that the originally scheduled mezzo was indisposed and Callas, having sung the role in Greece, stepped into her shoes. We should be thankful that she did, because, though she never sang the role again, Santuzza is one of her greatest recorded roles. She is also surrounded by a terrific cast, right down to the flirtatiously bitchy Lola of Anna Maria Canali, who helps turn Lola and Santuzza's brief confrontation into a mini bitch fest. Turiddu is one of Di Stefano's best roles and Panerai makes a splendidly virile Alfio. With Serafin in command of the orchestra and chorus, it remains one of the top recommendations for the opera, despite the ancient mono sound, which does overload in places.
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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2846 on: December 01, 2021, 05:06:37 AM »
Rimsky-Korsakov - The Golden Cockerel - Manolov, soloists, Sofia National Opera /Capriccio 2CD

First listen, a cheap acquisition, and the only R-K opera I have on CD (some others are on LP, though mostly rather old recordings, and of course I have the Orchestral Suite, in several versions).

Not that well-known soloists, but very well performed and recorded, I hear nothing really awkward in the difficult singing, lots of good things, and am pretty sure I'll be listening more to this, plus pick up further R-K operas in the series, if I see them. The MusicWeb review has a bit of criticism, but I think its points are rather insignificant.

The sound world is quite exotic, reminding for example of Szymanowski at times, such as his orchestral songs, IMHO.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2021, 05:22:47 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2847 on: December 03, 2021, 01:59:05 AM »


Von Stade is ideally cast in Massenet's charming take on the Perrault tale, but why oh why did they cast a tenor in the role of the Prince, a role that Massenet assigned to a mezzo soprano? It totally upsets the balance of the duets. I find myself constantly trying to imagine what the music would sound like with two women in the leading roles.

This is doubly frustrating because, in all other respects, this is a wonderful performance. Von Stade, as she is on video in Rossini's opera, is the perfect Cinderella and I can't imagine the role being better sung by anyone. Ruth Welting is also excellent as the Fairy and there are characterful performances from Jane Berbié and Jules Bastin as Madame de la Haltière and Pandolfe and Teresa Cahill and Elizabeth Bainbridge as the sisters. Nicolai Gedda does what he can with the Prince, but can't really disguise the fact that he is singing in the wrong octave.

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2848 on: December 03, 2021, 02:37:21 AM »


oh why did they cast a tenor in the role of the Prince, a role that Massenet assigned to a mezzo soprano? It totally upsets the balance of the duets. I find myself constantly trying to imagine what the music would sound like with two women in the leading roles.


In the notes by Barrymore Laurence Scherer in the original LP release, there's this sentence:

Quote
In a recording, of course, physique du costume matters not at all, but oral delineation of character is of the utmost importance, especially in an unfamiliar work. Hence, the role of the Prince is sung in the present performance by tenor Nicolai Gedda.

I always thought that was nonsense, even from my first hearing of the recording, which was my first encounter with the opera. If anything, I have no problem accepting that Octavian, Cherubino, etc. are young men on recordings. It's only in live performance that I sometimes have difficulty accepting it, though some singers pull it off very well. I was very happy to finally hear the role sung by a mezzo when I saw it at the New York City Opera in 1983.

Thank goodness no record company has followed that "oral delineation" argument in recordings of Der Rosenkavalier and Le Nozze di Figaro! Though there is an EMI Contes d'Hoffmann with a baritone Niclausse.

Though the CD release of the recording does have Scherer's notes, that particular line I quoted above has been edited out. I smell a coverup!

« Last Edit: December 03, 2021, 02:41:14 AM by Wendell_E »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2849 on: December 03, 2021, 03:08:23 AM »
In the notes by Barrymore Laurence Scherer in the original LP release, there's this sentence:

I always thought that was nonsense, even from my first hearing of the recording, which was my first encounter with the opera. If anything, I have no problem accepting that Octavian, Cherubino, etc. are young men on recordings. It's only in live performance that I sometimes have difficulty accepting it, though some singers pull it off very well. I was very happy to finally hear the role sung by a mezzo when I saw it at the New York City Opera in 1983.

Thank goodness no record company has followed that "oral delineation" argument in recordings of Der Rosenkavalier and Le Nozze di Figaro! Though there is an EMI Contes d'Hoffmann with a baritone Niclausse.

Though the CD release of the recording does have Scherer's notes, that particular line I quoted above has been edited out. I smell a coverup!

As you say, utter nonsense.

EMI also cast Karajan's first Die Fledermaus with a tenor Orlovsky. I almost forgive them because Rudolf Christ, the tenor in question characterises the role brilliantly. In fact I rather prefer him to Regina Resnik's rather fruity Orlovsky on his second recording. But a tenor Prince in Cendrillon is just about as debilitating as a tenor Orlovsky, Cherubino or Composer would be.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 05:11:47 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2850 on: December 03, 2021, 05:59:00 PM »


This is the set that made me discover the opera over 35 years ago. I knew the main arias before but the sweep and colour of the full score were revealed to me through Molinari-Pradelli’s urgent, biting conducting. I had never before heard an opera where the choruses are so important. The popolo di Pekino are indeed as important to this opera as most of its characters. It’s often the choruses that are found wanting in some otherwise well cast productions. That is emphatically not the case here. Gira la cote sizzles, Perché tarda la luna makes me shudder, the shouts of Parla, parla! Il nome, il nome! at Liù’s death sound almost sadistic.

It is well known that Puccini didn’t live to complete the last scene. I’m not sure it would have made that 3rd act much different. The fact is that as a work Turandot starts with just about the most musically and dramatically compelling first act ever composed and somehow loses a bit of steam steadily as it progresses. Nevertheless that first act - and the Act 2 appearance of Turandot and the ensuing Riddle scene - are enough to ensure it a place among the peaks of the operatic repertoire.

Neither Nilsson nor Corelli were the most subtle of singers. Both display sometimes dubious intonation in the vocal line’s  treacherous, awkward intervals. When singing f and ff their display of missile-like vocal fireworks is simply glorious. As Liù Scotto sings extremely well, but I sometimes find her singing lacks simplicity. That’s a (small) fault shared by other singers (Caballé, Price, Tebaldi). I find a straight approach to the vocal line (Schwarzkopf for example) works better in conveying the slave girl’s simple, pure love for Calaf. All the secondary roles are well taken. I like the bite and sneer brought to their characterization by the three Masks - well done.

The sound is bright and immediate, but lacks a bit of depth and warmth. Nonetheless it is still very serviceable. I find this version brings Puccini’s score to life like no other, thanks to the conductor, orchestra and chorus. As for the singers they are among the best that could be summoned for what are, after all, some of the biggest operatic shoes in the closet. Recommended along with the Serafin, Karajan and Mehta versions. The latter is still the best recommendation. There are other fine versions, but then minuses start to add up.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2851 on: December 03, 2021, 06:19:52 PM »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2852 on: December 04, 2021, 01:36:09 AM »


I've always preferred Massenet's version of L'Abbé Prévost's novel to Puccini's. It seems to me that Massenet captures much better the spirit of the novel.

And this 1955 recording is a classic, which, as far as I'm concerned, has never been bettered. Monteux's direction is absolutely right from first note to last and the opera is brilliantly cast with, apart from De Los Angeles, an all French cast. Legay, who sings Des Grieux, has a voice perhaps a mite too small for the role and one notes a flicker of strain in Ah, fuyez but he is quite superb in the Dream and really affecting. Michel Dens and Jean Borthayre are perfectly cast as Lescaut and Guillot, but of course it is the superb performance of Victoria De Los Angeles, which puts the seal on this set and I think it possibly the best thing she ever did on record, and I'm not forgetting her Mimi and Butterfly.

All in all the set captures a style of performing French opera , which I fear is now lost to us.

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2853 on: December 05, 2021, 03:39:17 AM »
As you say, utter nonsense.

EMI also cast Karajan's first Die Fledermaus with a tenor Orlovsky. I almost forgive them because Rudolf Christ, the tenor in question characterises the role brilliantly. In fact I rather prefer him to Regina Resnik's rather fruity Orlovsky on his first recording. But a tenor Prince in Cendrillon is just about as debilitating as a tenor Orlovsky, Cherubino or Composer would be.

Karl Böhm's 1971 Decca recording also has a tenor Orlofsky, Wolgang Windgassen! And of course, there's C. Kleiber's 1976 recording with Ivan Rebroff. Why, Carlos, why?
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2854 on: December 05, 2021, 06:25:09 AM »
Listened to Sergei Rachmaninov's opera Francesca da Rimini yesterday.



Loved it! I don't always go for opera but this was an enjoyable one, and quite short, so it wasn't hard to keep up my sometimes limited attention span.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2855 on: December 05, 2021, 09:56:03 AM »
Listened to Sergei Rachmaninov's opera Francesca da Rimini yesterday.



Loved it! I don't always go for opera but this was an enjoyable one, and quite short, so it wasn't hard to keep up my sometimes limited attention span.

All of Rachmaninov's operas are in one-act, so I think you'll enjoy The Miserly Knight and Aleko, too.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2856 on: December 06, 2021, 01:54:40 AM »


A load of quasi religious twaddle really, but enjoyable enough if you don't take it too seriously. Apparently Massenet was not a religious man, but composed quite a few operas on religious themes "because the public seem to like that kind of thing", which I suppose gives you some indication of what to expect.

There have been a number of recordings, many of them quite extensively cut. The Moffo recording was complete, but she was practically voiceless by the time it was recorded, so this more recent recording with Fleming in top form pretty much sweeps the board.
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Offline MusicTurner

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2857 on: December 06, 2021, 02:26:07 AM »


A load of quasi religious twaddle really, but enjoyable enough if you don't take it too seriously. Apparently Massenet was not a religious man, but composed quite a few operas on religious themes "because the public seem to like that kind of thing", which I suppose gives you some indication of what to expect.

There have been a number of recordings, many of them quite extensively cut. The Moffo recording was complete, but she was practically voiceless by the time it was recorded, so this more recent recording with Fleming in top form pretty much sweeps the board.

Well-written and interesting, thank you.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2858 on: December 07, 2021, 01:38:04 AM »


Sticking with Massenet (I recently listened to Cendrillon, Manon and Thaïs) I turn to Werther, which I first saw in a Glyndebourne Touring Production by Sir Michael Redgrave back in the early 1970s. I loved the opera then and still do, and it's one which has been extremely lucky on disc, the prime contenders, in my opinion, being the first under Elie Cohen with Thill and Vallin, the Davis with Carreras and Von Stade, the Plasson with Kraus and Troyanos, the Pappano with Alagna and Gheorghiu and this one.

The prime attraction of this Prêtre version for me is the wonderfully affecting Charlotte of Victoria De Los Angeles, even if she was, by 1969, coming to the end of her career as an opera singer. Gedda sometimes sounds a bit too effortful, but still sings stylishly. Excellent performances from Roger Soyer as Albert and, especially, Mady Mesplé as Sophie. Prêtre is in wilful mood and rushes some of his fences. Still, I find this recording an involving performance. It somehow adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2859 on: December 08, 2021, 01:07:53 AM »


Another excellent recording of Werther. The LSO play wonderfully for Pappano and the sound is superb. Alagna is, as always, at his best in French opera and this is one of his best recordings. Gheorghiu is an affecting Charlotte, but can't disguise the fact that the role lies a bit too low for her.

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