Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 235673 times)

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Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1840 on: January 14, 2020, 01:42:51 AM »
Thanks for the comment (I am curious about the other versions, too!). Could you post again the url link? I can’t open it. The german libretto will be fine. At least I’ll know who sings what. There are 5 female roles in the opera, so it’s confusing at times  :D.
Sorry, there was a typo in my reply to you (which is now corected). The link is https://opera-guide.ch/operas/penthesilea/libretto/de/.

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ritter
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1841 on: January 14, 2020, 02:10:30 PM »

Fantastisch !  :D

Muchas gracias, señor !

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1842 on: January 14, 2020, 06:04:19 PM »
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Britten
Death in Venice, Op. 88
Michael Chance (counter-tenor), Philip Langridge (tenor), Alan Opie (baritone)
BBC Singers, City of London Sinfonia
Richard Hickox




One of the greatest operas I’ve ever heard and one that I still rank highly. Apparently, Pears said that Death in Venice was an ‘evil opera’ and it was killing Britten. I think this is true to some extent. As told in the documentary by John Bridcut titled Britten’s Endgame, that Britten was supposed to have heart surgery but ignored his doctor’s wishes and continued to work on this opera. The subject matter is also risky as it is essentially about a man who falls for a young teenaged boy. Britten was certainly wrestling with some demons of his own. The music itself harkens back to some of that Gamelan-influence found in the ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas. For those that loved The Turn of the Screw, will most definitely find much to savor here. I doubt I’ll finish this entire opera tonight as I’ve got some other works I need to get to, but for anyone who hasn’t heard this Hickox performance and enjoy this opera, then please run out and buy it.

A great article found here with some video presented by Colin Matthews:

https://brittenpears.org/explore/benjamin-britten/music/work-of-the-week/40-death-in-venice/
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1843 on: January 15, 2020, 02:53:31 AM »
"The subject matter is also risky as it is essentially about a man who falls for a young teenaged boy."

I would say, as Viconti did about the novella and the film, that it is about a man who beomes obsessed with an idealised form of beauty. Apparently Hollywood moguls were also concerned about the subject matter and requested that the boy be turned into a girl - as if lusting after an under age girl were more acceptable than lusting after a boy. I know that Visconti strove to make the boy fairly androngenous. I don't know if that were the case in the original production of the opera, but I was actually at drama college (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) with Robert Huguenin, who played Tadzio in the first production. In fact we danced together in a modern piece entered in a Royal Society of Arts Choreography Production by one of our movement teachers at Guildhall. He was a very good looking young man, quite short in stature. He would have been in his late teens at the premiere, but presumably looked younger.

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

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1844 on: January 15, 2020, 11:28:15 AM »
"The subject matter is also risky as it is essentially about a man who falls for a young teenaged boy."

I would say, as Viconti did about the novella and the film, that it is about a man who beomes obsessed with an idealised form of beauty. Apparently Hollywood moguls were also concerned about the subject matter and requested that the boy be turned into a girl - as if lusting after an under age girl were more acceptable than lusting after a boy. I know that Visconti strove to make the boy fairly androngenous. I don't know if that were the case in the original production of the opera, but I was actually at drama college (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) with Robert Huguenin, who played Tadzio in the first production. In fact we danced together in a modern piece entered in a Royal Society of Arts Choreography Production by one of our movement teachers at Guildhall. He was a very good looking young man, quite short in stature. He would have been in his late teens at the premiere, but presumably looked younger.



Very interesting, Tsaraslondon. What would you say is your favorite Britten opera and why?
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1845 on: January 15, 2020, 12:13:58 PM »
Very interesting, Tsaraslondon. What would you say is your favorite Britten opera and why?

I'm not sure which would be my out and out favourite.

The Turn of the Screw was the first Britten opera I ever saw and it made a definite impression on me. That first production made the ghosts very insubstantial so you never knew whether they actually existed or only existed in the Governess's imagination. I've seen others which make the ghosts much more real and the work can take both approaches. Its ambiguity is one of the things I like about it, plus the miraculous scoring, of course.

Peter Grimes would probably come next, a magnificent masterpiece, which is now more or less a repertory standard. It has a cumulative power that rarely fails in performance and, yet again, I've seen quite a few different productions. Its depiction of the power of the mob is quite terrifying.

Next would come Billy Budd, an opera I resisted for quite some time, because I didn't like the idea of an opera with no female voices. I need hardly have worried. Britten creates amazingly colourful soundscapes with his all male cast and, dramatically, it too has an inexorable power. Vere is a fascinating character because of his ambivalence, Billy is an example of pure goodness without being cloying and Claggart a vilain as black as Iago. As in Grimes, the depcition of the sea is superb.

I have no hesitation in claiming Britten as the pre-eminent opera composer of the post World War II age, and one of the greatest of any age. The only operas I never took to were Owen Wingrave and Albert Herring, but I should probably give them another try.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1846 on: January 15, 2020, 01:30:25 PM »
I liked Albert Herring !  :D Admittedly light and slight but, being based on one of Maupassant’s best short novels, I couldn’t help liking it. Britten in a rare instance of comic mood.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1847 on: January 15, 2020, 03:29:30 PM »
I'm not sure which would be my out and out favourite.

The Turn of the Screw was the first Britten opera I ever saw and it made a definite impression on me. That first production made the ghosts very insubstantial so you never knew whether they actually existed or only existed in the Governess's imagination. I've seen others which make the ghosts much more real and the work can take both approaches. Its ambiguity is one of the things I like about it, plus the miraculous scoring, of course.

Peter Grimes would probably come next, a magnificent masterpiece, which is now more or less a repertory standard. It has a cumulative power that rarely fails in performance and, yet again, I've seen quite a few different productions. Its depiction of the power of the mob is quite terrifying.

Next would come Billy Budd, an opera I resisted for quite some time, because I didn't like the idea of an opera with no female voices. I need hardly have worried. Britten creates amazingly colourful soundscapes with his all male cast and, dramatically, it too has an inexorable power. Vere is a fascinating character because of his ambivalence, Billy is an example of pure goodness without being cloying and Claggart a vilain as black as Iago. As in Grimes, the depcition of the sea is superb.

I have no hesitation in claiming Britten as the pre-eminent opera composer of the post World War II age, and one of the greatest of any age. The only operas I never took to were Owen Wingrave and Albert Herring, but I should probably give them another try.

Interesting. I’m with you on Albert Herring --- I found nothing particular noteworthy about it. I haven’t heard Owen Wingrave yet, but plan to get around to it soon. I love The Turn of the Screw, Peter Grimes, and I’m not sure how I feel about Billy Budd but there were some great moments in it for sure. Noye’s Fludde was quite a revelation to me as well. I feel that Britten was not only one of the great opera composers, but one of the greatest composers of any time. Now that I’ve really gotten his music under my skin and into my blood, it’s hard to shake it. I’m more and more impressed with his music as the days pass.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 03:31:55 PM by Mirror Image »
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Online ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1848 on: January 17, 2020, 01:38:37 PM »
Act III of Götterdämmerung from this Ring (of eventful gestation), Naděžda Kniplová in memoriam:


Mme. Kniplová, who died on January 14 just two months shy of her 88th birthday, sings Brünnhilde in this “forgotten” budget Ring from 1968. She had sung the role in Die Walküre under Herbert von Karajan the previous year at the Salzburg Easter Festival.

This was the cover of Götterdammerung when it was released in the US by Westminster (the original release was in Europe by Fratelli Fabbri):



But that’s nothing compared to the cover of The Walküre, one of the true classics in the field  ;D:

« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 02:55:01 PM by ritter »
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Offline j winter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1849 on: January 21, 2020, 12:59:31 PM »
Well, I'm off to the Volkswagon dealership...
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline j winter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1850 on: January 21, 2020, 01:30:57 PM »
On a semi-related note, I'm still working through the Ring, now onto Siegfried.  Watched Levine's DVD yesterday, listening to Bohm today.  I'm greatly enjoying it... I really should have done this years ago, but for whatever reason I guess I just wasn't ready for the trip.  The parallels are so obvious and striking with so many of my favorite books, films, etc., everything from Tolkien and Spenser and Malory to how John Williams uses leitmotifs through all the Star Wars soundtracks...

I am attacking it one opera at a time, on multiple fronts:

First off, to get the general plot in my head, I re-read P. Craig Russell's excellent graphic novel adaptation.  Don't laugh -- it's actually very well done, reasonably faithful to the libretto, and it's an easy way to get a good quick grasp of the plot, with beautiful visuals.



Following that up with Levine's DVD.  I'm enjoying that quite a bit, particularly James Morris's Wotan.  I know some folks say it's a bit unimaginative as a production, but as an introductory performance of the Ring I think it's very well done (there's something to be said for Macbeth set on a Scottish heath, versus a corporate skyscraper or an Edwardian palace).

After that, I find I'm grounded enough that I can generally follow along with recordings without the text, and thus start sampling various approaches.  Having several recordings ripped to my phone means I can listen in the car and while taking a walk, though I do like to re-listen to certain passages while reading along when I can... the Penguin libretto I mentioned a few posts above is a very nice reading translation, much better than the subtitles on the Levine DVD for example.

As for recordings, I have Solti, Karajan, and Janowski SD on disc, and have recently ...ummm... acquired digital copies of Bohm, Haitink, Krauss, and Neuhold to supplement things.   

Anyhoo, keeping myself amused...  8)   
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1851 on: January 22, 2020, 07:52:33 AM »
From the ‘Listening’ thread -

Britten
Gloriana, Op. 53
Josephine Barstow (Elizabeth), Philip Langridge (Essex), Della Jones (Lady Essex), Jonathan Summers (Charles Blount), Alan Opie (Cecil), Yvonne Kenny (Lady Rich), Bryn Terfel (Henry Cuffe), Richard van Allan (Walter Ralegh)
Welsh National Opera, Sir Charles Mackerras




This is my first-listen to this opera. Britten in twisted Elizabethan mode. :) I’ve known the symphonic suite from this opera for years, but it’s nice to hear all of this music in context of the opera. Fantastic so far.
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1852 on: January 22, 2020, 09:40:11 AM »
I think Gloriana is a terrific work, and vastly under-rated. I loved it when I first saw it many years ago in a splendid ENO production starring Sarah Walker, which exists on video. The Mackerras recording is excellent and well up to the standard of all the others in the Decca catalogue.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1853 on: January 22, 2020, 09:50:32 AM »
I think Gloriana is a terrific work, and vastly under-rated. I loved it when I first saw it many years ago in a splendid ENO production starring Sarah Walker, which exists on video. The Mackerras recording is excellent and well up to the standard of all the others in the Decca catalogue.

Very good to read. Yes, you just don’t hear this opera spoken of in the same breath as Peter Grimes or Billy Budd, but it’s remarkable.
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline San Antone

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1854 on: January 22, 2020, 09:52:56 AM »
I had wondered why it was not included in the original "Britten Conducts" box - Wikipedia says why:

Quote
Several in the audience of its gala opening were disappointed by the opera, which presents the first Elizabeth as a sympathetic, but flawed, character motivated largely by vanity and desire. The premiere was one of Britten's few critical failures, and the opera was not included in the series of complete Decca recordings conducted by the composer. However, a symphonic suite extracted from the opera by the composer (Opus 53a), which includes the Courtly Dances, is often performed as a concert piece.

 8)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1855 on: January 22, 2020, 10:23:40 AM »
I had wondered why it was not included in the original "Britten Conducts" box - Wikipedia says why:

Quote
Several in the audience of its gala opening were disappointed by the opera, which presents the first Elizabeth as a sympathetic, but flawed, character motivated largely by vanity and desire. The premiere was one of Britten's few critical failures, and the opera was not included in the series of complete Decca recordings conducted by the composer. However, a symphonic suite extracted from the opera by the composer (Opus 53a), which includes the Courtly Dances, is often performed as a concert piece.

 8)

Failure or not, I enjoyed this opera tremendously. Britten wasn’t afraid to dish out criticism of others or of certain composers, but when the mirror was turned on him, he often found himself unable to bode well with any criticism. A deeply flawed human being, but one that I still find endearing --- warts and all.
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1856 on: January 22, 2020, 10:41:57 AM »
8)


Failure or not, I enjoyed this opera tremendously. Britten wasn’t afraid to dish out criticism of others or of certain composers, but when the mirror was turned on him, he often found himself unable to bode well with any criticism. A deeply flawed human being, but one that I still find endearing --- warts and all.

+1 - very enjoyable "festival" work - Britten might have passed on conducting it himself but Mackerras does a very good job I reckon

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1857 on: January 22, 2020, 11:19:08 AM »
+1 - very enjoyable "festival" work - Britten might have passed on conducting it himself but Mackerras does a very good job I reckon

Yes, it does smell of festivals, indeed and I suppose this is a particular reason why it sounds the way it does. It’s like Britten decided to write some court music and, knowing good and well that there will be people listening, he twisted in some sour lemon to musical proceedings. I love this opera and, again, it’s remarkable just how different Britten could write, but yet you would never mistake this music for anyone else’s.
"The old idea of a composer suddenly having a terrific idea and sitting up all night to write it is nonsense. Nighttime is for sleeping.” - Benjamin Britten

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1858 on: January 22, 2020, 03:54:26 PM »
On a semi-related note, I'm still working through the Ring, now onto Siegfried.  Watched Levine's DVD yesterday, listening to Bohm today.  I'm greatly enjoying it... I really should have done this years ago, but for whatever reason I guess I just wasn't ready for the trip.  The parallels are so obvious and striking with so many of my favorite books, films, etc., everything from Tolkien and Spenser and Malory to how John Williams uses leitmotifs through all the Star Wars soundtracks...

I am attacking it one opera at a time, on multiple fronts:

First off, to get the general plot in my head, I re-read P. Craig Russell's excellent graphic novel adaptation.  Don't laugh -- it's actually very well done, reasonably faithful to the libretto, and it's an easy way to get a good quick grasp of the plot, with beautiful visuals.



Following that up with Levine's DVD.  I'm enjoying that quite a bit, particularly James Morris's Wotan.  I know some folks say it's a bit unimaginative as a production, but as an introductory performance of the Ring I think it's very well done (there's something to be said for Macbeth set on a Scottish heath, versus a corporate skyscraper or an Edwardian palace).

After that, I find I'm grounded enough that I can generally follow along with recordings without the text, and thus start sampling various approaches.  Having several recordings ripped to my phone means I can listen in the car and while taking a walk, though I do like to re-listen to certain passages while reading along when I can... the Penguin libretto I mentioned a few posts above is a very nice reading translation, much better than the subtitles on the Levine DVD for example.

As for recordings, I have Solti, Karajan, and Janowski SD on disc, and have recently ...ummm... acquired digital copies of Bohm, Haitink, Krauss, and Neuhold to supplement things.   

Anyhoo, keeping myself amused...  8)   


Someday, I'll hit The Ring, myself.

But today:
Britten
The Turn of the Screw
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline San Antone

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #1859 on: January 22, 2020, 04:16:10 PM »
Someday, I'll hit The Ring, myself.

But today:
Britten
The Turn of the Screw


I keep trying to listen to the Ring, I even ordered those graphic novel versions since they looked so cool.  About every 2-3 years I make an attempt.  So far I've only gotten through Das Rheingold and Act 1 of Die Walkyrie. 

Who knows?

 8)