Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 358065 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2500 on: May 04, 2021, 09:30:08 AM »
First-Listen Tuesday and a new arrival...

Zemlinsky
Der Zwerg, Op. 17
Juanita Lascarro (soprano), Machiko Obata (soprano), Soile Isokoski (soprano), Natalie Karl (soprano), Martina Rüping (mezzo-soprano), Iride Martinez (soprano), Anne Schwanewilms (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Collis (bass), David Kuebler (vocals)
Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Frankfurter Kantorei
James Conlon




I haven’t finished it, but first impressions are certainly favorable. Gorgeous music, but I have sneaking suspicion that the music will turn some dark corners later on.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Fritz Kobus

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2501 on: May 06, 2021, 09:46:13 AM »
My favorite L'elisir.  The soprano on this is awesome. The other singers are excellent too.  This is also on DVD and well worth the watch.





I have mixed feelings about Sutherland  (and Pavarotti) but this is an awesome Sutherland performance and overall perhaps the best La Fille on CD:


For some reason I have not been pleased with the Italian version, La Figlia del Reggimento.

Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2502 on: May 06, 2021, 10:46:13 AM »
I have mixed feelings about Sutherland  (and Pavarotti) but this is an awesome Sutherland performance and overall perhaps the best La Fille on CD:


I know it's bad form to quote oneself but I can't help it.

https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,26890.msg1353161.html#msg1353161

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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2503 on: May 08, 2021, 11:43:22 AM »
Cross-posted:

Quote


Mascagni’s unsinkable one-acter in an excellent performance, full of drama yet played and sung with great refinement. I think that this may be due to its London origin (Covent Garden). Something more torrid and slightly unkempt would have been expected if its origin was italian. The soloists are mostly excellent. Great characterization by Baltsa. Juan Pons’ Alfio is smoothly sung but undercharacterized. He sounds more annoyed than raving mad about his being cuckolded. MacNeil and Panerai are more telling in the role.

What a wonderful work this is ! At slightly under 80 minutes it is perfectly shaped, chockfull of great tunes and with superb balance between solos, duets, orchestral bits and of course that magnificent chorus. For the first time I noticed how similar the cascading chords that close the opera are to the coda of Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini.

This is the performance DG included in its Opera Collection featuring Domingo. He made another performance of Cav, conducted by Prêtre. Presumably that was done for a filmed production similar to that of Pagliacci (a tepid, dully recorded performance). I’m glad DGG chose the Sinopoli instead.

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2504 on: May 10, 2021, 12:51:04 AM »
[Domingo] made another performance of Cav, conducted by Prêtre. Presumably that was done for a filmed production similar to that of Pagliacci (a tepid, dully recorded performance). I’m glad DGG chose the Sinopoli instead.

He also recorded it for RCA, with Scotto and Pablo Elvira, Levine conducting. Of course, that wouldn't be in a DGG box.

I haven't heard the recording you mention (I think I'll have to now), but perhaps the refinement you mention may be due to Sinopoli's influence?

__________________________________________

I listened to quite a bit of Christa Ludwig last week: On the Met's Sirius/XM channel, they had a 1966 Frau ohne Schatten and a 1969 Rosenkavalier, both with Rysanek and Walter Berry, Böhm conducting. James King rounding out the Frosch quartet, Reri Grist as Sophie in Rosenkavalier, Gedda as the Italian Tenor. Also the Klemperer Fidelio, a German-language Carmen with Rudolf Schock and Hermann Prey, and the Suor Angelica with Sutherland. Haven't listened to her Bluebeard's Castle recording, but will soon.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2021, 01:09:06 AM by Wendell_E »
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2505 on: May 10, 2021, 04:00:25 AM »
He also recorded it for RCA, with Scotto and Pablo Elvira, Levine conducting. Of course, that wouldn't be in a DGG box.

I haven't heard the recording you mention (I think I'll have to now), but perhaps the refinement you mention may be due to Sinopoli's influence?

__________________________________________

I listened to quite a bit of Christa Ludwig last week: On the Met's Sirius/XM channel, they had a 1966 Frau ohne Schatten and a 1969 Rosenkavalier, both with Rysanek and Walter Berry, Böhm conducting. James King rounding out the Frosch quartet, Reri Grist as Sophie in Rosenkavalier, Gedda as the Italian Tenor. Also the Klemperer Fidelio, a German-language Carmen with Rudolf Schock and Hermann Prey, and the Suor Angelica with Sutherland. Haven't listened to her Bluebeard's Castle recording, but will soon.

That would be my conclusion as well. Sinopoli’s operatic performances are powerfully dramatic yet highly polished, with long singing lines the rule. I’m a big fan of his Forza del destino, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Frau ohne Schatten etc.

Offline Fritz Kobus

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2506 on: May 10, 2021, 07:06:36 AM »
Over the weekend L'elisir d"Amore (listed by Adinas):

Esposito
Devia
Gheorghiu
Cotrubas
Sutherland

As good as all these are, the Esposito set (conducted by Muus, live and on DVD) is so good that I have no reason to listen to the others. One that I will continue with though is the sung-in-English CHANDOS set, which is actually pretty good IMO:

Offline Fritz Kobus

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2507 on: May 11, 2021, 09:12:05 AM »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2508 on: May 11, 2021, 09:21:18 AM »
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Now onto Disc 2:

Strauss
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59
Christa Ludwig, Lucia Popp, et. al.
Wiener Philharmoniker, Chor der Wiener Staatsoper
Bernstein




Finished with Act II. This is shaping up to be so much better than Solti’s performance on Decca. I’ll resume with Act III either later on tonight or tomorrow morning.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Fritz Kobus

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2509 on: May 12, 2021, 02:40:58 PM »

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2510 on: May 13, 2021, 11:30:57 AM »


Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized) is a gorgeously lyrical work. The roles of Carlotta and Alviano are very demanding. Kudos to Anne Schwanewilms whose voice soars easily and with great purity. The role does not lie particularly high, but it’s the frequent forays in the upper third of the voice that make it a difficult role. In the tenor role of the hunchback Alviano Robert Brubaker similarly displays stamina right until the climactic ending. Superb contribution from Nagano and the excellent Deutsche Oper Berlin orchestra. Staged for the Salzburg Festival in 2005 in Vienna’s Felsenreitschule.

The only fault I can find is that baritone Michael Volle sweats profusely and some camera close ups are rather disgraceful. Other than that it’s very good. The scene where the cave reveals the abducted girls is striking. Gezeichneten comes in a box with 2 other 20th century works, Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten and Berg’s Lulu. I know of 4 different versions of the work. It may well be Schreker’s magnum opus.


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2511 on: May 13, 2021, 06:08:01 PM »


Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized) is a gorgeously lyrical work. The roles of Carlotta and Alviano are very demanding. Kudos to Anne Schwanewilms whose voice soars easily and with great purity. The role does not lie particularly high, but it’s the frequent forays in the upper third of the voice that make it a difficult role. In the tenor role of the hunchback Alviano Robert Brubaker similarly displays stamina right until the climactic ending. Superb contribution from Nagano and the excellent Deutsche Oper Berlin orchestra. Staged for the Salzburg Festival in 2005 in Vienna’s Felsenreitschule.

The only fault I can find is that baritone Michael Volle sweats profusely and some camera close ups are rather disgraceful. Other than that it’s very good. The scene where the cave reveals the abducted girls is striking. Gezeichneten comes in a box with 2 other 20th century works, Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten and Berg’s Lulu. I know of 4 different versions of the work. It may well be Schreker’s magnum opus.

Very nice, Andre. Anne Schwanewilms sings in one of the Strauss lieder recordings on Hyperion and has a lovely voice. I should revisit that recording.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline relm1

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2512 on: May 14, 2021, 05:19:24 AM »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2513 on: May 14, 2021, 05:40:29 AM »


Sweet! I just bought this recording yesterday.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2514 on: May 17, 2021, 10:06:38 AM »
Cross-posted

Quote


Once Verdi’s most popular opera, Il Trovatore has fallen victim to Toscanini’s famous quip: all it takes for a successful performance is the four greatest singers in the world. 50-75 years ago you could have filled a good-sized room with singers worthy of that statement. Nowadays you would have trouble finding suitable voices for a decent production. This performance shows what a little trickery and an adventurous mind for casting could achieve. Pavarotti has a splendid Manrico in his throat but I suspect he is a bit helped by microphones. Still, such refulgent tones and perfect diction should count for something. The object of his amorous attentions is the horse-sized Joan Sutherland. She did sing Leonora on the stage but she is not a natural for the role. Hers is such a big voice that a lot of wind is required to fill its sails properly. That means slower than usual tempos for the big voice to sound fully supported, but when it does, there’s no stopping her. Her account of Tacea la notte is wonderfully ardent and dreamy. She cannot fine down her voice to the diamantine, silky thread of tone required in the high reaches of D’amor sull’ali rosee but that doesn’t really detract from her portrayal. Wixell and Horne bring superb verbal acuity to their respective roles. Wixell has incisive tone and great legato (per me ora fatale is wonderfully alive). Horne’s gossamer trills in Stride la vampa show up her bel canto schooling to good effect. She proves herself a wonderful diseuse in her racconto, making the scene where she recalls the burning of her child a harrowing moment.

Bonynge is often thought a slightly slack and uninventive conductor but, given that having him conduct equals hearing his wife sing, and given that Sutherland’s singing has always benefited from broad tempos, it helps put his conductorial choices in the right context. His account of the opera is very attentive to all the singers’ needs and he leaves no orchestral detail unattended. This is not plush, but regal and powerful. Bonynge, Giulini and Karajan (Price, EMI) take the exact same time over their respective recordings (138-140 minutes) and, afaik they also are the slowest on record. That reflects the fact that their accounts are complete - no missing arias or second stanzas as is very common - but also that they allow Verdi’s rythms sufficient time to generate the requisite energy.

Not the best version as its casting is rather unusual, but a wonderful  account of the work nonetheless.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2021, 10:29:30 AM by André »

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2515 on: May 17, 2021, 12:21:06 PM »

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2516 on: May 18, 2021, 12:17:04 AM »


Once Verdi’s most popular opera, Il Trovatore has fallen victim to Toscanini’s famous quip: all it takes for a successful performance is the four greatest singers in the world. 50-75 years ago you could have filled a good-sized room with singers worthy of that statement. Nowadays you would have trouble finding suitable voices for a decent production. This performance shows what a little trickery and an adventurous mind for casting could achieve. Pavarotti has a splendid Manrico in his throat but I suspect he is a bit helped by microphones. Still, such refulgent tones and perfect diction should count for something. The object of his amorous attentions is the horse-sized Joan Sutherland. She did sing Leonora on the stage but she is not a natural for the role. Hers is such a big voice that a lot of wind is required to fill its sails properly. That means slower than usual tempos for the big voice to sound fully supported, but when it does, there’s no stopping her. Her account of Tacea la notte is wonderfully ardent and dreamy. She cannot fine down her tone to the diamantine, silky thread of tone required in the high reaches of D’amor sull’alli rosee but that doesn’t really detract from her portrayal. Wixell and Horne bring superb verbal acuity to their respective roles. Wixell has incisive tone and great legato (per me ora fatale is wonderfully alive). Horne’s gossamer trills in Stride la vampa show up her bel canto schooling to good effect. She proves herself a wonderful diseuse in her racconto, making the scene where she recalls the burning of her child a harrowing moment.

Bonynge is often thought a slightly slack and uninventive conductor but, given that having him conduct equals hearing his wife sing, and given that Sutherland’s singing has always benefited from broad tempos, it helps put his conductorial choices in the right context. His account of the opera is very attentive to all the singers’ needs and he leaves no orchestral detail unattended. This is not plush, but regal and powerful. Bonynge, Giulini and Karajan (Price, EMI) take the exact same time over their respective recordings (138-140 minutes) and, afaik they also are the slowest on record. That reflects the fact that their accounts are complete - no missing arias or second stanzas as is very common - but also that they allow Verdi’s rythms sufficient time to generate the requisite energy.

Not the best version as its casting is rather unusual, but a wonderful  account of the work nonetheless.

Our impressions are quite different. I listened to this recording quite recently and decided I didn't want to revisit it. Bonynge doesn't convince me as a Verdi conductor and I actually hear more orchestral detail in Karajan's mono recording, which was produced by Walter Legge. Of the singers, only Ghiaurov convinces me he is a Verdi singer, though he's a little past his best, as in fact are all the singers here. Sutherland has her usual problems with diction and her Leonora pales in comparison to those by Callas, Price and Plowright. Pavarotti is a bit thin and whiny, Horne out of her depth and Wixell just anonymous.

My two favourite recordings of the opera are quite different, but quite valid approaches. Karajan I is full of rhythmic swagger and verve and he brings out all sorts of incidental felicities in the score and his cast is superb. Like Pavarotti, Di Stefano is no doubt a bit light for Manrico, but he almost convinces with his own unique brand of slancio, and the rest could hardly be bettered. Panerai is actually my favourite Di Luna, fulfilling virtually all the vocal demands and sounds somewhat unhinged from the outset. Barbieri joins mezzos like Stignani and Simionato as one of the best Azucenas I've heard, Zaccaria gets the whole thing off to a rouing start and Callas's aristocratic Leonora is just hors concours in this role.

Giulini's is a much more thoughtful interpretation, quite a bit slower than Karajan I but not lacking in drama. Plowright's voice has exactly the right tinta for the role and I think this her most successful studio recording. Domingo's high notes might not have the heroic ping of someone like Corelli, or the boorish Bonisolli on Karajan II, but his Manrico is a fully rounded character, more of an intellectual than a hero. Fassbaender might seem an odd choice, but she makes a fascinating Azucena and I really like her performance.

I value your opinions, André, and we often agree, so your review of the Bonynge has made me wonder if my initial reactions were too harsh. Still, I can't say I have any real desire to hear it again.
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2517 on: May 18, 2021, 06:37:36 AM »
For good measure I listened to the Karajan recording yesterday night and my opinion of it has not changed. Di Stefano is overparted, forcing his tone badly in the high reaches of the role. His series of quadruplets in Di quella pira are unclean throughout. This is not just a fancy detail. Verdi has carefully written out the vocal line with these dotted 16th notes quadruplets over the words pira (pyre) and fuoco (fire) to suggest the flicker of the flames:
.

That rythmic pattern is repeated 13 times during this short aria. Many tenors ignore the dots and fail to suggest the intended effect. A singer like Del Monaco, not known for musicological finesse, articulates them cleanly while singing the line with the requisite swagger :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWlQzkJRVVk


Di Stefano has a basic tone that is appealing but he is sloppy with such things. I’m not blaming di Stefano for not being del Monaco, but his musicianship is not what it could be.

Azucena has 20 written trills in her part. They must be heard cleanly - Horne does it, Barbieri (otherwise quite good) not as well. Panerai is excellent with the words, but please don’t tell me you’re not hearing his vocal distress on the top notes.

Callas offers an object lesson in how to spin a true verdian line. Her ascent on the words Prima che d'altri vivere in a single breath is miraculous, and so on. She simply cannot be faulted on anything.  But just listen to her 1953 take on D’amor sull’ali rosee from to find her in truly glorious, unassailable mettle - IOW in more secure voice than in the recording:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFggRqk16Zo


Like I said, the Bonynge version is not a first choice, but it is much better than what you describe. You have listened to it so I know you are objective in your opinion. It’s not that we're not hearing the same thing, simply not putting the same value on certain stylistic traits or individual artistic achievements. To me that’s entirely normal and healthy.

My overall recommendation for a ‘best version’ also happens to be the Giulini version. If it does not scale the heights of some individual performances from the competition, it is still easily the strongest overall, and an outstanding achievement by any measure.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 08:19:36 AM by André »

Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2518 on: May 18, 2021, 09:28:23 AM »
Tangentially, I have this DVD with Pavarotti


Which is horrible because of the acting. Pavarotti was not the only offender, but he was the worst, a classic case of hamminess.
The acting was so bad I didn't notice the singing.

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Offline JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2519 on: May 18, 2021, 02:37:40 PM »


Essentially a pasticcio with which Vivaldi had a tenous relationship. May have written a bit of the music. May have arranged the interpolated arias. May have merely approved of it. May have not even known it exists. (He did write an opera to the libretto and with the title used here, but that score has been lost. This score derives from it, very much altered.)

Ignoring the subject of its link to Vivaldi, it's a 2 hour session of nice Baroque opera.

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