Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 412473 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2700 on: September 10, 2021, 02:00:38 AM »
Of (relatively) modern versions - ie not the classic recordings - I always rather liked Marriner's first operatic recording;



I like Baltsa very much as Rosina - peppy and with a bit of a bite but twinkling too.  Thomas Allen - a proper baritone acts the part to great effect.  All round a joyous performance full of vim and energy.  Il Barbiere was the first opera I played when I went to work at the Teatro Reggio in Parma in the mid '80's and to this day it remains a firm (nostalgic!) favourite.

I agree this is a very good set, and it's complete (unlike the Galliera and Gui). I used to have it on cassette (remember those?), but for some reason never bothered to replace it on CD, probably because I don't like the opera enough to want to have multiple versions of it.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2701 on: September 11, 2021, 12:51:09 AM »


This is the performance that catapulted Caballé to stardom  and also changed the course of her career, it being the first of the many bel canto roles she sang.

This is certainly a thrilling performance, much better than the rather dull studio version that she made shortly afterwards. It doesn't get off to the best of starts, with Jane Berbié's Orsini who tends to sing under the note. She is far outclassed by Shirley Verrett in the studio recording. Paskalis too is an improvement on Flagello, whereas Vanzo and Kraus come out about even. As for Caballé, she is in spectacularly beautiful voice and easily wins over the audience in an opera that was virtually unknown at that time.

So successful was her performance that she was invited back later in the year to sing the role of Elisabetta in Donizetti's equally unknown Roberto Devereux, excerpts from which are included in this fine set.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2021, 02:33:26 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2702 on: September 11, 2021, 01:53:07 AM »


This is the performance that catapulted Caballé to stardom  and also changed the course of her career, it being the first of the many bel canto roles she sang.

This is certainly a thrilling performance, far outclassing the rather dull studio version that she made shortly afterwards. It doesn't get off to the best of starts, with Jane Berbié's Orsini who tends to sing under the note. She is far outclassed by Shirley Verrett in the studio recording. Paskalis too is an improvement on Flagello, whereas Vanzo and Kraus come out about even. As for Caballé, she is in spectacularly beautiful voice and easily wins over the audience in an opera that was virtually unknown at that time.

So successful was her performance that she was invited back later in the year to sing the role of Elisabetta in Donizetti's equally unknown Roberto Devereux, excerpts from which are included in this fine set.
Nice review TL!  :)  Curious as to how you find the sound/recording quality to be?

PD

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2703 on: September 11, 2021, 02:32:04 AM »
Nice review TL!  :)  Curious as to how you find the sound/recording quality to be?

PD

It's perfectly acceptable, but obviously not studio quality. The sound on the main opera is better than the excerpts from Roberto Devereux which follow.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2704 on: September 11, 2021, 03:16:37 PM »
On the air today, a July 2021 broadcast from the Orange festival (Chorégies d’Orange). Samson et Dalila with Roberto Alagna, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Nicolas Courjal, l’Orchestre philharmonique de Radio-France under Yves Abel.



In a nutshell: fa-bu-lous. I was stunned to hear Alagna, 55, sing with such refulgence and ease of emission. Famous for his perfect diction, the tenor has had an uneven career, with a few instances of rough vocal patches some years ago. Normally when things start to go downhill, there’s no stopping the natural evolution of a voice. Alagna seems to have recovered incredibly well. His singing was commanding, authoritative, his interpretation sensitive and multi-faceted - never monolithic. As Dalila, Marie-Nicole Lemieux was strikingly intense both vocally an dramatically. I sometimes found her vibrato intrusive, but as a scheming, manipulative, domineering seductress she was totally believable. I found recensions in the french press unanimous: a stunning production. If it ever makes it to disc I’ll rush out and buy it.


https://www.classiquenews.com/critique-opera-orange-le-10-juillet-2021-saint-saens-samson-et-dalila-alagna-lemieux-abel-grinda/



https://www.olyrix.com/articles/production/4935/samson-et-dalila-saint-saens-7-10-juillet-2021-choregies-dorange-theatre-antique-abel-grinda-arrivabene-castaingt-andrin-lemieux-alagna-cavallier-veronese-berry-courjal-larcher-caton-orchestre-philharmonique-de-radio-france-article-critique-compte-rendu

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2705 on: September 11, 2021, 11:32:31 PM »


Maria Stuarda fell foul of the censors when it was first performed and had a very chequered performance history until the bel canto revival of the latter half of the twentieth century, since when it has beome one of Donizetti's most performed operas.

This live recording from La Scala in 1971 has at its heart two absolutely splendid performances in the Maria of Montserrat Caballé and the Elisabetta of Shirley Verrett. If the men (Ottavia Garaventa as Leicester, Raffaele Arie as Talbot and Giulio Fioravanti) are not quite in their class, they neverthelss acquite themselves very well. In any case this, of all Donizetti operas, is the woman's show.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2706 on: September 11, 2021, 11:38:18 PM »
On the air today, a July 2021 broadcast from the Orange festival (Chorégies d’Orange). Samson et Dalila with Roberto Alagna, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Nicolas Courjal, l’Orchestre philharmonique de Radio-France under Yves Abel.



In a nutshell: fa-bu-lous. I was stunned to hear Alagna, 55, sing with such refulgence and ease of emission. Famous for his perfect diction, the tenor has had an uneven career, with a few instances of rough vocal patches some years ago. Normally when things start to go downhill, there’s no stopping the natural evolution of a voice. Alagna seems to have recovered incredibly well. His singing was commanding, authoritative, his interpretation sensitive and multi-faceted - never monolithic. As Dalila, Marie-Nicole Lemieux was strikingly intense both vocally an dramatically. I sometimes found her vibrato intrusive, but as a scheming, manipulative, domineering seductress she was totally believable. I found recensions in the french press unanimous: a stunning production. If it ever makes it to disc I’ll rush out and buy it.



Very pleased to read this about Alagna. I always felt that, after a terrific start (I saw his superb Roméo at Covent Garden, which really put him on the map) he rather lost his way. I have his recordings of Roméo et Juliette, Werther, La Rondine and an interesting disc of Berlioz arias, and he is excellent in all of them, in fact I'd say his Werther is the best since Thill. Good to hear he's back on track.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2707 on: September 12, 2021, 05:33:39 AM »
Speaking of Alagna (and glad to hear that his voice has recovered), has Angela Gheorghiu been recording/performing lately--at least in terms of pre-Covid days?

PD

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2708 on: September 13, 2021, 01:24:01 AM »


This was almost a complete unknown, though I once did take a look at Midir's Faery Song as there was a possiblity of me singing the role in a production in Hereford (it didn't come to anything).

The music is rather lovely but it does meander a bit and is predominantly slow with little dramatic variety. It works well enough on record though.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2709 on: September 15, 2021, 12:22:37 AM »


Dame Janet Baker was a great believer in opera in the vernacular and in fact, apart from when the Royal Opera House took their production of La Clemenza di Tito to Milan, confined her operatic career to the UK, many of her roles being sung in English. I usually prefer opera in the original language, but, for a performance as fine as this, I'm more than willing to make an exception. For me Baker is the finest Maria on disc and brings a Callas-like intensity and specificity to the role. The confontation scene is absolutely thrilling, but Baker is also inifinitely touching in the final scenes. Mackerras is also a much more positive presence than Perlea on the Caballé studio set and the one from La Scala.

This 1973 performance is not in as good sound as the officially released one from 1982, which was first issued by EMI and then on Chandos. However I marginally prefer this earlier set for the Elisabeth of Pauline Tinsley and because Baker is in fresher voice.

There is a fuller review of this set on my blog https://tsaraslondon.com/2020/11/20/janet-baker-as-maria-stuarda/
« Last Edit: September 15, 2021, 01:28:05 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2710 on: September 16, 2021, 06:26:07 AM »


Callas's return to La Scala in 1960 after a two year hiatus finds her in variable voice and it is evident that she is treading carefully. She is still able to spin a Donizettian cantilena like no other, but notes above the stave are a little hit and miss, and she doesn't sound as secure here as she did in the studio recording of Norma a couple of months earlier. Her best singing is in the gentler moments of the score, of which there are many for Paolina and she is wonderfully touching in the final duet with Corelli's Poliuto.

Nonetheless this is an often thrilling performance with Corelli in fantastic form and superb contributions from Bastianini and Zaccaria.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2711 on: September 17, 2021, 12:17:18 AM »


Caballé sang the role of Elisabetta in this opera quite a lot and this 1977 performance finds her in good voice, though she takes the first scene to settle down. In her determinaton to give a dramatic performance, she occasionally overindulges in aspirates and explosive expression, but the luxury of the voice is not in doubt and she rises splendidly to the challenge of the final scene. Carreras is a splendid Roberto and Susan Marsee good, if not particularly memorable as Sara.

Gala also give us excerpts from a 1964 Naples performance featuring Leyla Gencer as a regal and commanding Elsiabetta, though the tenor, Ruggero Bondino, is hardly in Carreras's class.

In the performances of both Caballé and Gencer, the shadow of Callas is defnitely felt, and I find myself wondering what she would have made of the role.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 01:13:15 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2712 on: September 19, 2021, 04:22:40 AM »


Such a beautiful opera. I used to have the Neumann with Beňačková on LP, but this superb Mackerras just trumps it, I think. Fleming's Czech may not be as idiomatic (mine isn't good enough to tell) but she sings gloriously, mostly devoid of those mannerisms I sometimes find irritating. Heppner is also excellent as are the rest of the Czech cast. Terrific sound as well.

A good way to round off my mini Dvořák listening sessions which also took in the Cello Concertos and the final four symphonies.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2713 on: September 20, 2021, 03:19:37 AM »


Such a beautiful opera. I used to have the Neumann with Beňačková on LP, but this superb Mackerras just trumps it, I think. Fleming's Czech may not be as idiomatic (mine isn't good enough to tell) but she sings gloriously, mostly devoid of those mannerisms I sometimes find irritating. Heppner is also excellent as are the rest of the Czech cast. Terrific sound as well.

A good way to round off my mini Dvořák listening sessions which also took in the Cello Concertos and the final four symphonies.
Excellent choice!  I love that opera and that recording.  :)

Years ago, I was also interested in acquiring the Benackova set, but after sampling some of her singing on youtube (probably singing "O silver moon"), I decided at the time that her voice/style of singing didn't work for me and so passed on it.   :(

And good for you for diving into Dvorak.  Hope that you enjoyed your "swim".  :)

PD

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2714 on: September 20, 2021, 04:04:52 AM »
Excellent choice!  I love that opera and that recording.  :)

Years ago, I was also interested in acquiring the Benackova set, but after sampling some of her singing on youtube (probably singing "O silver moon"), I decided at the time that her voice/style of singing didn't work for me and so passed on it.   :(

And good for you for diving into Dvorak.  Hope that you enjoyed your "swim".  :)

PD

Ah the great mystery of individual taste!  Benakova definitely edges it for me.  Fleming obviously has a great voice but I find it all just a bit 'over-thought'.  You can almost hear her working out how to sound gorgeous.  Benakova has a less purely beautiful voice but speaks more directly.  All of the above to be caveated by the immortal phrse IMHO!!  I also rather like the good but slightly rawer Supraphon recording which brings out more drama than the tad plush Decca.  But I prefer the older Supraphon recordings generally from the Rudolfinum - for example Belohlavek's Dvorak Symphonies are very good but just fractionally soft-edged.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2715 on: September 20, 2021, 07:52:53 AM »
Ah the great mystery of individual taste!  Benakova definitely edges it for me.  Fleming obviously has a great voice but I find it all just a bit 'over-thought'.  You can almost hear her working out how to sound gorgeous.  Benakova has a less purely beautiful voice but speaks more directly.  All of the above to be caveated by the immortal phrse IMHO!!  I also rather like the good but slightly rawer Supraphon recording which brings out more drama than the tad plush Decca.  But I prefer the older Supraphon recordings generally from the Rudolfinum - for example Belohlavek's Dvorak Symphonies are very good but just fractionally soft-edged.
Well, I'll give her another shot then.  :D

And yes, like you, I love recordings from the Rudolfinum.

PD

Online JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2716 on: September 21, 2021, 11:01:52 AM »
[Crosspost from WAYLT2]

Meanwhile, this afternoon an operatic rarity.

The above is not the issue I'm listening to, but is the only Amazon listing that has an image with singers and performance details.  The one I am listening to is an Opera d'Oro release (with reasonably good sonics) that is listed here with no image.


Since it's Opera d'Oro, there's no libretto. Reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, that may be a good thing. The plot is wildly unhistorical (Philip Augustus gets himself killed in a duel while pretending to be the Duke of Burgundy on an embassy to the Holy Roman Emperor) but the music is well handled. There are no bel canto fireworks (the opera was composed for the 1830s Prussian court) but a good deal of melodies and ensemble singing. Think Rienzi (Wagner admired Spontini's operas, so it's probably no coincidence.) By necessity the performance is heavily cut; the original supposedly ran over four hours.

As an alternate to this performance, the only option is a recording from the 1954 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under Vittorio Gui with Corelli and Udovick, of which several versions seem to be available.  This 1970 performance seems to be harder to find. The one to which the image belongs is labelled "currently unavailable".
 I remember seeing a listing for a Myto issue but can't locate it now, and there don't seem to be any other options.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2717 on: September 21, 2021, 12:13:59 PM »
Ah the great mystery of individual taste!  Benakova definitely edges it for me.  Fleming obviously has a great voice but I find it all just a bit 'over-thought'.  You can almost hear her working out how to sound gorgeous.  Benakova has a less purely beautiful voice but speaks more directly.  All of the above to be caveated by the immortal phrse IMHO!!  I also rather like the good but slightly rawer Supraphon recording which brings out more drama than the tad plush Decca.  But I prefer the older Supraphon recordings generally from the Rudolfinum - for example Belohlavek's Dvorak Symphonies are very good but just fractionally soft-edged.

I think its acoustics or what engineers do with it has changed over the years. I was disappointed with the sound of the Czech Phil O/Rudolfinum in the recent Bychkov set of Tchaikovsky symphonies. ‘Soft-edged’ describes it well. Its tanginess and vibrancy have practically disappeared.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2718 on: September 22, 2021, 12:27:42 AM »
I think its acoustics or what engineers do with it has changed over the years. I was disappointed with the sound of the Czech Phil O/Rudolfinum in the recent Bychkov set of Tchaikovsky symphonies. ‘Soft-edged’ describes it well. Its tanginess and vibrancy have practically disappeared.
Sorry to hear that.  :( Most of the Supraphon recordings that I have are older ones.

PD

Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2719 on: September 25, 2021, 08:47:45 AM »


Although it boasts one of Strauss’ trademark soaring lyric soprano roles, Daphne for once lets us hear good parts for tenors (two of them!). Both require strong voices, but of a different character: lyrical and plangent with Leukippos, strongly siegmundian with Apollo. Wunderlich and King sing strongly and with great commitment in this live recording. As Daphne’s father, Paul Schöffler is authoritative but his intonation is sometimes suspect - maybe he was past his prime then (1968). Güden is in excellent voice and satisfies on all counts. I suspect that the competition (Popp and Fleming) must be at least as good, though. Böhm’s contribution is superb, the VSO excellent (glorious solo horn playing). This set takes some 10 minutes less than Haitink in an opera that is already on the short side of things. I wonder if there were any cuts ? If not, I guess that means that Böhm urges things along more than Haitink. A fine set.