Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 446663 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2820 on: November 21, 2021, 12:18:56 PM »
Cross posting from the main forum.



A few years ago I came across the Libera Me from this performances on youtube and I was totally knocked out by Norman's performance. Shortly after it disappeared from youtube and I searched in vain to see if the complete performances had ever been issued. Eventually the complete performance did surface on youtube, but I was thrilled to find earlier this tear that it had been issued on disc by BR Klassik.

I have the earlier of Muti's commercial recordings, which was recorded round about the same time as this 1981 performance. It also features Baltsa and Nesterenko, but has Scotto and Luchetti in the soprano and tenor roles. It is a performance I've always enjoyed, but it has to be said that this live one trumps it. It doesn't have the precision of the studio effort, but there is a real sense of occasion and the soloists could hardly be bettered.

This is the only instance I know of Norman singing the soprano part and she is absolutely magnificent, just as intelligent as Scotto, but more comfortable in the upper regions of the role, where Scotto can be squally. Carreras is at his youthful, honeyed best, his voice still very beautiful and singing with wonderful commitment. Baltsa and Nesterenko are even finer than they were in the studio version.

Muti's conducting is urgently dramatic, but also tender and lyrical. In short this is one of the best performances I've ever heard of the work and might just now become my favourite.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2821 on: November 22, 2021, 06:53:48 PM »
BTW these Bychkov recordings are from a very cheap box currently selling for 12.99€ at JPC:



The Strauss, Wagner and Verdi are superb, with state of the art sound. The Rachmaninoff disc, too except I’m not overly fond of these particular scores  :-\

Are these discs hybrid, Andre? If they are, I'll definitely be acquiring this set.
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Offline André

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2822 on: November 23, 2021, 02:19:50 PM »
Are these discs hybrid, Andre? If they are, I'll definitely be acquiring this set.

You mean can they be played as regular CDs ? Yes, that’s it. I don’t own a SACD player.

Online JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2823 on: November 23, 2021, 05:36:55 PM »
NP

First ever listen to this opera.
The CD set I have carries over the cover art of the LP issue above. A later CD issue was seemingly produced by a design team that didn't realize the opera was not set in Paris 1910.

Full cast listing

The booklet has a lengthy essay diving into the compositional and performance history, plus a musicological analysis, in English and French, but only the German portion has a synopsis of the action on stage. (Did they think Germans weren't up on their Homer?)  So non-Germanophones must actually read the libretto to see where it diverges from Homer (most important omissions seem to be cutting out Telemachus entirely, and making the finale less violent: only the suitors are killed, not the disloyal maids, and in place of the confrontation with the suitors' families, the people of Ithaca acclaim their returned king.)
« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 05:44:34 PM by JBS »

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2824 on: November 24, 2021, 03:58:40 AM »
NP

First ever listen to this opera.
The CD set I have carries over the cover art of the LP issue above. A later CD issue was seemingly produced by a design team that didn't realize the opera was not set in Paris 1910.

Full cast listing

The booklet has a lengthy essay diving into the compositional and performance history, plus a musicological analysis, in English and French, but only the German portion has a synopsis of the action on stage. (Did they think Germans weren't up on their Homer?)  So non-Germanophones must actually read the libretto to see where it diverges from Homer (most important omissions seem to be cutting out Telemachus entirely, and making the finale less violent: only the suitors are killed, not the disloyal maids, and in place of the confrontation with the suitors' families, the people of Ithaca acclaim their returned king.)

I had this set on LP with the cover detailed above and now have the same CD issue you posted.

I do like the opera. The music is rather beautiful, but it's a bit lacking in dramatic event. It works well enough as an aural experience though. This is a fine recording of it too.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2825 on: November 24, 2021, 04:20:13 AM »
I had this set on LP with the cover detailed above and now have the same CD issue you posted.

I do like the opera. The music is rather beautiful, but it's a bit lacking in dramatic event. It works well enough as an aural experience though. This is a fine recording of it too.
+1

I too had this recording of Pénélope on LP in its original garb, and now with the floral fin-de-siècle cover. IMHO, the best bit probably is the prelude, but the whole thing is beautiful (despite it being very static). And Jessye Norman, as usual, is outstanding!

Fauré made a reduction of the prelude for solo piano, which works wonderfully well IMO:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/SL4YEgSZXwk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/SL4YEgSZXwk</a>

EDIT (THREAD DUTY):

Act II of Parsifal, in Daniel Barenboim's 1991 studio recording.


This, of course is the "Kundry act", and what a Kundry! Waltraud Meier was for decades the greatest exponent of the role, and here she is in extraordinary form. Barenboim is a Wagner conductor to reckon with, perhaps slightly of the traditional, "reverential" type, but the results here are first-class: a Berlin Philharmonic in excellent shape, the marvels of this wonderfully scored piece apparent in each bar, and the conductor manages to shape of the whole act perfectly. Gunther von Kannen is sounds simultaneously elegant and tormented as Klingsor (and this fits the rôle perfectly). Siegfried Jerusalem is perfectly adequate as Parsifal, singing with class, but I tend to find this tenor somewhat anonymous (even the two times I saw him live in this opera).
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 05:27:46 AM by ritter »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2826 on: November 24, 2021, 07:57:26 AM »
You mean can they be played as regular CDs ? Yes, that’s it. I don’t own a SACD player.

Yep and thanks for the feedback. At that price, it's rather enticing I must say.
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Offline T. D.

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2827 on: November 24, 2021, 09:58:09 AM »


EDIT (THREAD DUTY):

Act II of Parsifal, in Daniel Barenboim's 1991 studio recording.


This, of course is the "Kundry act", and what a Kundry! Waltraud Meier was for decades the greatest exponent of the role, and here she is in extraordinary form. Barenboim is a Wagner conductor to reckon with, perhaps slightly of the traditional, "reverential" type, but the results here are first-class: a Berlin Philharmonic in excellent shape, the marvels of this wonderfully scored piece apparent in each bar, and the conductor manages to shape of the whole act perfectly. Gunther von Kannen is sounds simultaneously elegant and tormented as Klingsor (and this fits the rôle perfectly). Siegfried Jerusalem is perfectly adequate as Parsifal, singing with class, but I tend to find this tenor somewhat anonymous (even the two times I saw him live in this opera).

[Emphasis added] Agreed. Meier "owned" the role of Kundry for a long time, and she was near peak form at the time of this recording. Good observations on Barenboim and Jerusalem as well.

I attended a 1992 NY Met Opera Parsifal with Meier and Jerusalem, but Levine conducted.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 10:15:20 AM by T. D. »

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2828 on: November 24, 2021, 01:14:56 PM »
First listen to Vincent d’Indy’s Fervaal, in this super-budget release of a 1962 French radio performance:


D’Indy’s L’Étranger, AFAIK his only other opera to have been recorded (on the Accord label), made a very week impression on me when I listened to it some years ago. This is a more ambitious work, and the prelude has been recorded often (by Monteux, for instance). According to Wikipedia, some refer to this as the “Parsifal français”. I am inclined to say it’s a “Parsifal de pacotille”  ::).  The admittedly very adroit orchestration doesn’t compensate for the obvious lack of worthwhile thematic material or development, and the originally Swedish plot, transplanted to the South of France to make it more “national”, seems uninteresting.

The radio performance (in tolerable sound) is undistinguished.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 01:18:47 PM by ritter »
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2829 on: November 28, 2021, 09:23:31 AM »
Revisiting Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol after a long hiatus.


This was the works’s first recording ever (it’s from 1955), in French translation, and is utterly charming. The cast includes some of the most distinguished French vocalists of the time (Janine Micheau and Jean Giraudeau are outstanding), and André Cluytens’ handling of the score is, as could be expected, masterful.

Very enjoyable!  :)
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2830 on: November 29, 2021, 01:19:12 PM »
Another vintage opera recording tonight chez ritter (ordered last week from melomania in Paris, and landed today  :)).


This recording of L’Heure espagnole is possibly the first ever made of Ravel’s “other” opera (it’s never had the success of L’Enfant et les sortilèges, but IMHO is a wonderful work in itself). It was made live in concert in wartime (but post-liberation) Paris —December 1944—, soon after Manuel Rosenthal returned to conducting the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française. What a wonderful conductor of Ravel this man was (his set of the orchestral works with the orchestra of the Opéra, from the late 50s, is among my favourites). Concepción is the delightful Geori Boué, and the rest of the cast is unknown to me (except for Roger Bourdin), but they are all excellent, and the diction is crystal-clear, making this the conversation piece it should be. The sound is remarkably good for the age of the recording.

The booklet has a lengthy and very interesting discussion between Rosenthal and musicologist (and Ravel biographer) Maurice Marnat.

I now realise this is the fifth recording of the work (I already had Leibowitz, Ansermet, Maazel, and Maderna), but rarely have I enjoyed it as much as this time.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2831 on: November 30, 2021, 02:45:07 AM »


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.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2832 on: November 30, 2021, 02:51:12 AM »


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.
Lovely recording of a lovely opera! I revisit it (as well as the earlier version conducted by the composer himself) every so often, and it never fails to charm (particularly the second act, full of nostalgia and longing).
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2833 on: November 30, 2021, 03:00:22 AM »
Lovely recording of a lovely opera! I revisit it (as well as the earlier version conducted by the composer himself) every so often, and it never fails to charm (particularly the second act, full of nostalgia and longing).

I'm not big on verismo, but I much prefer this to those overwrought operas like Fedora, Adrianna Lecouvreur and even Andréa Chénier, which seem to be performed far more often.

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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2834 on: November 30, 2021, 03:47:30 AM »
I'm not big on verismo, but I much prefer this to those overwrought operas like Fedora, Adrianna Lecouvreur and even Andréa Chénier, which seem to be performed far more often.
+1

I'm not into the cruder areas of verismo either. I think we've talked about Fedora, which is a bête noire for me, in the past. Burt somehow, I treat Mascagni as an exception. Cavalleria rusticana is not an example of finesse by any means, but it has some great music and works very well, I really like Iris, and think there's some brillant stuff in the hardly ever performed (and excessive in most ways) Parisina.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2835 on: November 30, 2021, 04:25:29 AM »
+1

I'm not into the cruder areas of verismo either. I think we've talked about Fedora, which is a bête noire for me, in the past. Burt somehow, I treat Mascagni as an exception. Cavalleria rusticana is not an example of finesse by any means, but it has some great music and works very well, I really like Iris, and think there's some brillant stuff in the hardly ever performed (and excessive in most ways) Parisina.

I like Cavalleria Rusticana too and, to a slightly lesser extent I Pagliacci. I don't know either Iris (save for a couple of arias) or Parisina. Maybe I should give them a try.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2836 on: November 30, 2021, 04:54:37 AM »
Iris is a floral-orientalist-symbolist hodgepodge (one of Luigi Illica's most outlandish creations), and with a very crude dénouement (the title character ends in a gutter, and is transfigured in a sort of choral Liebestod à la italo-japonnaise). And yet, it's attractive. There's several pirated sets with Magda Olivero, who sang the role often. My favourite, though, is live from Rome in 1956 under --you guessed it  ;)-- Gavazzeni, with Clara Petrella, di Stefano and Boris Christoff. The sound, alas, is subpar.

Here's my favourite bit from Act I with Petrella from that recording:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/mBsnQ4FVHHY" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/mBsnQ4FVHHY</a>

Parisina is a much more exalted and ambitious work. Mascagni said he'd set D'Annunzio's play in toto ("even the commas" :D) , and the result was so excessive that on the second performance, the fourth (and last) act was struck altogether (and nobody seems to have cared). Yet, it has some extraordinary moments (particularly the second act, with an interplay of choruses that is quite masterly). If you want to explore it, get the Gavazzeni recording on Bongiovanni (live from Rome). The Actes Sud from Montpellier (with Gavazzeni's by then widow, Denia Mazzola) is let down by a very inadequate tenor. The only apparently 100% complete recording (from Italian Radio) features Emma Renzi, but is only available from "private" sources (I don't have it, but it's on YouTube).

Here's Act II from that ultra-complete recording:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/flISHv3AX98" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/flISHv3AX98</a>
The first seven minutes or so, with the choruses, are superb IMHO, as is the title character's arioso Sono carica d'oro...Bene morró d'amore from around 15'30" to 22'30" (but it really gets going at 18'25"). The concluding duet (where the choruses come back) goes on and on and on, but just listen for some minutes starting at around 47' and you'll see that Mascagni tried to outdo himself here (the repeated phrase "La notte viene", at ca. 53'55" is quite something).
« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 07:49:02 AM by ritter »
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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2837 on: November 30, 2021, 05:39:23 AM »
NP

First ever listen to this opera.
The CD set I have carries over the cover art of the LP issue above. A later CD issue was seemingly produced by a design team that didn't realize the opera was not set in Paris 1910.


It's a Carl Larsson drawing from his idyllic, very Swedish, provincial house at that time ('Azalea' 1906), so an even more remote illustration choice ...
« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 05:44:41 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2838 on: November 30, 2021, 06:38:32 AM »
It's a Carl Larsson drawing from his idyllic, very Swedish, provincial house at that time ('Azalea' 1906), so an even more remote illustration choice ...
Yep...probably a wink at Ulysses' short stop in Gotland on the way back to Ithaca... ;)
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #2839 on: November 30, 2021, 06:46:11 AM »
Lovely recording of a lovely opera! I revisit it (as well as the earlier version conducted by the composer himself) every so often, and it never fails to charm (particularly the second act, full of nostalgia and longing).

+1