Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 431135 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2600 on: July 04, 2021, 12:53:01 AM »


I finish my survey of the Berlioz operas with Dame Janet Baker's superb recording of the final scenes, which only make me regret further that she was not on the Davis recording, made around the same time. Good though Veasey is, and I consider her one of the finest Didons on disc, Baker here surpasses her achievement. Every inch the wronged queen, Baker sings with passion and intensity and a wide range of colour.

The score is wonderfully well played by the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Alexander Gibson and there are excellent contributions from Bernadette Greevy, Gwynne Howell and Keith Erwen.

Anybody who loves this opera should also have this disc in their collection.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 58326
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Mostly Austro-Germanic and Soviet/Russian repertoire
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2601 on: July 06, 2021, 07:01:13 PM »
Careful Tsaralondon or you’ll overdose on Berlioz. ;) As much as I love this composer’s music, you can have too much of a good thing.
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2602 on: July 06, 2021, 10:31:08 PM »
Careful Tsaralondon or you’ll overdose on Berlioz. ;) As much as I love this composer’s music, you can have too much of a good thing.

I've been doing a Berlioz binge actualy, listening exclusively to Berlioz and really immersing myself in his world. If his music's a drug, then I'm totally addicted.

PS At present I'm in the middle of doing a comparison of ten different recordings of Les Nuits d'Eté.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2021, 01:10:53 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 58326
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Mostly Austro-Germanic and Soviet/Russian repertoire
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2603 on: July 07, 2021, 07:16:25 PM »
I've been doing a Berlioz binge actualy, listening exclusively to Berlioz and really immersing myself in his world. If his music's a drug, then I'm totally addicted.

PS At present I'm in the middle of doing a comparison of ten different recordings of Les Nuits d'Eté.

Indeed! I love Berlioz’s music as well and upon noticing that you are doing a comparison of different recordings of Les nuits d’été, I bought this recording, which I don’t think you listened to in your traversal of this work, but I wanted to buy it because I LOVE Gens’ voice:

"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2604 on: July 08, 2021, 12:14:03 AM »
Indeed! I love Berlioz’s music as well and upon noticing that you are doing a comparison of different recordings of Les nuits d’été, I bought this recording, which I don’t think you listened to in your traversal of this work, but I wanted to buy it because I LOVE Gens’ voice:



I considered buying the Gens, but sampled it on Spotify first. It's very fast, the fastest I've ever heard and the fast speeds mean we lose some of the deeper associations. Gens' voice is lovely, her legato excellent, but I find it all a bit cool for my taste and I'm not sure Berlioz should ever be cool.

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

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 58326
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Mostly Austro-Germanic and Soviet/Russian repertoire
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2605 on: July 08, 2021, 05:22:04 AM »
I considered buying the Gens, but sampled it on Spotify first. It's very fast, the fastest I've ever heard and the fast speeds mean we lose some of the deeper associations. Gens' voice is lovely, her legato excellent, but I find it all a bit cool for my taste and I'm not sure Berlioz should ever be cool.

For me, this is excellent! I like interpretations that are different from ones that I already own. Looking forward to hearing this one. 8)
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline VonStupp

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 755
    • Amazon Public Profile
  • Location: Breadbasket, USA
  • Currently Listening to:
    Backtracking through my catalog
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2606 on: July 08, 2021, 06:19:07 AM »
For me, this is excellent! I like interpretations that are different from ones that I already own. Looking forward to hearing this one. 8)

As delicate and soulful as Berlioz's Les nuits d'été can be, I think it holds up to a wide variety of interpretations quite well. The last time I listened to this work was Leontyne Price/Fritz Reiner/CSO and Anne Sophie von Otter/James Levine/BPO, and I couldn't imagine a wider difference.
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2607 on: July 08, 2021, 08:10:50 AM »


Callas's endlessly fascinating Carmen is never quite the same from one listen to another. I hear something new every time I listen to it.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 58326
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Mostly Austro-Germanic and Soviet/Russian repertoire
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2608 on: July 08, 2021, 07:04:24 PM »
As delicate and soulful as Berlioz's Les nuits d'été can be, I think it holds up to a wide variety of interpretations quite well. The last time I listened to this work was Leontyne Price/Fritz Reiner/CSO and Anne Sophie von Otter/James Levine/BPO, and I couldn't imagine a wider difference.

I think many of his works hold up against different interpretations. There’s an old saying that goes there’s more than one way to skin a cat. As I get older, my rigidness towards a work being played a certain way in order for me to enjoy it is slowly falling to the wayside.
"When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something." - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2609 on: July 10, 2021, 01:26:38 AM »


One of my most memorable operatic evenings was a 1983 performance of Carmen with Baltsa and Carreras at Covent Garden. According to the Royal Opera performance annals, Colin Davis conducted, Leona Mitchell was Micaëla and Benjamin Luxon was Escamillo, but all I can remember is the performances of Baltsa and Carreras, who were both amazing. Baltsa was no hip swinging vamp, but a bare footed wild cat, a free spirit, whilst Carreras brilliantly conveyed José's innocence and gradual disintegration.

As I say this was 1983. Though the production was a revival, Baltsa and Carreras had brought many of their ideas on performing their roles from the Ponnele production in Vienna, which, I believe, had been Baltsa's debut in the role.

When the Karajan set came out, I pounced on it eagerly, but it turned out to be something of a disappointment and has never lived up to the stage performances. The biggest problem is Karajan himself. The score is beautifully played by the Berlin Philharmonic of course, but Karajan rather loves it to death, some of it unbearably slow. Ricciarelli is totally miscast as Micaëla. (Considering he'd just recorded her as Turandot, where she is also totally miscast, I have no idea what sort of voice he thought she had.) Karajan chooses a very full edition of the score with spoken dialogue but then uses a cast of actors, recorded in a completely different acoustic, who don't sound in the least like the singers they are supposed to be. Baltsa and Carreras are fine, but the spontaneity of the live performances is missing.

I keep the recording as a memento of those wonderful Covent Garden performances, but really it's not that good a recording and not a patch on the Callas set, Guiraud recitatives and all.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2021, 01:29:32 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2610 on: July 11, 2021, 11:38:38 AM »


Bizet's second most popular opera in a recording, which I believe was the first to use Bizet's original score, before it was "improved" after his death.

Cotrubas is the best of the soloists, a lovely, touching Leïla, whilst Vanzo, a little over the hill, is a stylish Nadir. Sarabia and Soyer complete the cast and Prêtre conducts efficiently, if without finding anything ery special to say.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2021, 11:50:16 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11195
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2611 on: July 20, 2021, 12:43:11 PM »
Cross-posted:



Not quite the same storyline as Shakespeare’s play or other operas - or the Prokofiev ballet, for that matter. That’s because  Felice Romani based his libretto not on Shakespeare, but on Mathieu Bandello’s story published in 1554. It was also one of the sources that Shakespeare used for his own R&J. Some characters are different but the plot basics are the same. Feuding families, forbidden love, false death potion, real poison, etc.

Muti conducts with a welcome urgency, Baltsa sings very well but vocally it’s Gruberova who takes the honors. Live from Covent Garden, 1984.

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2612 on: July 20, 2021, 11:18:18 PM »
Cross-posted:



Not quite the same storyline as Shakespeare’s play or other operas - or the Prokofiev ballet, for that matter. That’s because  Felice Romani based his libretto not on Shakespeare, but on Mathieu Bandello’s story published in 1554. It was also one of the sources that Shakespeare used for his own R&J. Some characters are different but the plot basics are the same. Feuding families, forbidden love, false death potion, real poison, etc.

Muti conducts with a welcome urgency, Baltsa sings very well but vocally it’s Gruberova who takes the honors. Live from Covent Garden, 1984.

I always liked this performance, but the recording rather lets it down. It was a rush job apparently, a last minute decision by EMI because the production had been such an enormous success. I think rather higher of Baltsa than you do, but Gruberova is also very fine. It was revived the following season with Ricciarelli and Troyanos and, according to friends of mine who saw it, was even better. I did hera Ricciarelli sing Giulietta's main aria in concert once, and it was stunning. The role would have suited her like a glove.

All that said, my favourite recording of the opera is the Patané, with Sills and Janet Baker. Sills' rather lightweight voice was much more suited to Giulietta than it ever was to the Tudor Queens and Baker is, as always, a wonderfully sensitive and imaginative singer.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2613 on: July 26, 2021, 12:11:39 AM »


As I love the female voice so much, I resisted Britten's Billy Budd for a long time, thinking an opera for only male voices would lack colour. Was I wrong? It has now become one of my favourite Britten operas. I used to have the Britten recording on LP, but this Hickox recording in absolutely stunning Chandos sounds is easily its equal. A great recording of a wonderful opera.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7717
  • Location: USA
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2614 on: July 26, 2021, 02:53:19 AM »


As I love the female voice so much, I resisted Britten's Billy Budd for a long time, thinking an opera for only male voices would lack colour. Was I wrong? It has now become one of my favourite Britten operas. I used to have the Britten recording on LP, but this Hickox recording in absolutely stunning Chandos sounds is easily its equal. A great recording of a wonderful opera.
Don't recall ever hearing Billy Budd before but it has been on my list of things to listen to.  I enjoy Simon Keenlyside's voice (have one of his recital CDs--the "Tales of Opera" one).  Trying to remember whether or not I have any recordings with Philip Langridge? And, alas, I'm not familiar with John Tomlinson's voice.  When is the recording from?

PD

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2615 on: July 26, 2021, 06:42:25 AM »
Don't recall ever hearing Billy Budd before but it has been on my list of things to listen to.  I enjoy Simon Keenlyside's voice (have one of his recital CDs--the "Tales of Opera" one).  Trying to remember whether or not I have any recordings with Philip Langridge? And, alas, I'm not familiar with John Tomlinson's voice.  When is the recording from?

PD

It was recorded in 1999 and released the following year. Philip Langridge is a fine Britten singer and John Tomlinson is known for his Wagner, among other things, and sang major roles at Bayreuth every season between 1988 and 2006.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11195
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2616 on: July 26, 2021, 08:26:00 AM »
Cross-posted and edited from WAYL2 :




I’m not sure I understand the reputation of this opera. The orchestration is indeed magnificent, Heliane gets a soaring, show-stopping aria (Anna Tomowa-Simtow nails it) but the story is ridiculous even if one accounts for the obvious symbolist intents. An interesting, sometimes stunning work, but I find it hard to understand and root for its characters. I prefer Die Tote Stadt, where his tendency for sonic overload is kept in better balance IMO.

Also, I find that the whole first act is but a pretext to set the table for the story that unfolds in the next two acts. While dramatically useful, it is not on the same level as the rest of the work musically. I think it might have been better for Korngold to set just the last two acts, starting in media res so to speak. Lots of operas do just that. The rest of Heliane is gorgeous and the temperature keeps rising until the wonderfully cinematic end (riding off in the sunset, Fanciulla del West-like).

The set has no libretto but contains a small booklet with a track listing that includes the name of the characters singing in each track (useful). To access the libretto Decca directs us to a web site that no longer exists (404 this page could not be found).

Offline Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 19691
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2617 on: July 26, 2021, 09:03:32 AM »
The set has no libretto but contains a small booklet with a track listing that includes the name of the characters singing in each track (useful). To access the libretto Decca directs us to a web site that no longer exists (404 this page could not be found).

Typical customer service of the major companies....

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3423
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2618 on: July 26, 2021, 09:48:28 AM »
Typical customer service of the major companies....

How I miss the days of the luxury LP box sets. I remember the Colin Davis Les Troyens actually came with two large booklets, one with the libretto in French, English and German and the other with scholarly essays on the opera, plus biographies of all the singers, also in three different languages, and that was by no means unique.

Even most mid-price sets came with librettos at least. The practice persisted into the CD age, though often the booklets would be in minuscule, almost impossble to read print. The rot set in when they started sending you to an internet link where you could find the libretto. This link may have worked for a few months after the sets were issued, but they soon became broken. It's particularly frustrating for rarer works.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7717
  • Location: USA
Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2619 on: July 27, 2021, 03:18:53 AM »
It was recorded in 1999 and released the following year. Philip Langridge is a fine Britten singer and John Tomlinson is known for his Wagner, among other things, and sang major roles at Bayreuth every season between 1988 and 2006.
Thank you for the information!  :)

PD