Author Topic: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?  (Read 508321 times)

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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3320 on: September 12, 2022, 12:17:40 AM »
The day after Elizabeth I's death, I thought I'd give Britten's Gloriana a listen. I've got Mackerras's CD set, but looking at Amazon Music, I saw they had a recording of the world premiere (8 June 1953), with Joan Cross, Peter Pears, Monica Sinclair, Geraint Evans, and Jennifer Vyvyan, John Pritchard conducting.

Yesterday, Olivier Py's La Monnaie production of Les Huguenots on YouTube. I liked it a lot, but could have done without Raoul and Marguerite de Valois having sex during their duet. I imagine it was staged quite differently when Sutherland and Corelli did it at La Scala.  ;D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OtetClXBpg
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3321 on: September 12, 2022, 01:25:44 AM »
. I liked it a lot, but could have done without Raoul and Marguerite de Valois having sex during their duet. I imagine it was staged quite differently when Sutherland and Corelli did it at La Scala.  ;D



 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: I certainly hope so!
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3322 on: September 14, 2022, 12:37:49 AM »




The 1955 La Scala Traviata heralds an enormous stride forward in Callas’s understanding of the role. The production had been meticulously rehearsed and prepared by Callas, Visconti and Giulini in their quest to breathe new life into a repertory work. There is no doubt that 1955 was Callas’s annus mirabilis, particularly at La Scala, where she sang in new productions of La Sonnambula, La Traviata and Il Turco in Italia, travelled to Berlin with Karajan and the La Scala company to give wildly successful of performances of Lucia di Lammermoor, the year of her second season in Chicago, where she sang with Bjoerling for the only time (in Il Trovatore) and then finished the year by opening the 1955/56 La Scala season in a new production of Norma, a performance also captured on disc and widely considered the greatest Norma of her career.

Those who only know Giulini from his studio recordings of opera might be surprised to hear the urgency of his conducting on this set. Speeds are often faster even than Kleiber on his famous studio recording, and wonderfully indicative of the hectic speed at which Violetta is living her life, though he gives his singers plenty of room to expand in the more lyrical parts of the score.

Though by this time she was pencil thin and looked gorgeous in the fin de siècle gowns Visconti had had designed for her, the voice was still in fine shape and, though I find her more moving in Lisbon and London, it has to be admitted that she is in much finer voice here. Di Stefano is an ardent, impulsive Alfredo, but Bastianini, though the voice is glorious, is a disappointingly monochrome Germont. Indeed, it is incredible Callas manages to give so much in the long Act II duet with so little coming back from her colleague.

The sound is not great, though this Ars Vocalis version is the best I’ve heard and the audience a palpable presence, erupting in a spontaneous bout of applause and bravas after Callas has delivered the most thrillingly intense Amami, Alfredo you could imagine. It is moments such as these that makes us prize these live recordings.

The live Bavarian State Opera performance of 1965 is a much smaller scale performance, and my main reason for acquiring it was for the Alfredo of Fritz Wunderlich. I think this might be the only recording of him singing a complete Italian opera in the original language rather than in German. Recorded the year before his untimely death, he does not disappoint, and the Italian language enables his beautiful voice to ring out with even more freedom. Dramatically, he was just about perfect for the role at this stage of his career, making one regret more than ever his early demise.

Stratas was only in her late twenties at the time of the performance. I’ve always thought her a first-rate actress with a second-rate voice, superb when you can see her, not so riveting when you can’t. Sempre libera is transposed down enabling Wunderlich to take the higher option when he interjects from the street. Even at this lower key, the coloratura is a bit of a mess, and she doesn't take the high option at the end. She is better in the later acts, very touching in the duet with Germont and delivering a moving last act.

Prey also sings very well, but he was about the same age as Wunderlich and unsurprisingly sounds much too young. He does however sing a lovely Di Provenza.

Patané’s conducting is fine, but not as revelatory as Giulini’s. All in all the main reason for hearing this set is Wunderlich’s gloriously sung Alfredo.
 
« Last Edit: September 15, 2022, 11:45:17 PM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3323 on: September 14, 2022, 01:05:56 AM »
(Cross-post from the WAYLTN thread)



Act 2

I had forgotten how exhilaratingly funny this opera is. The "Pace e gioia" scene always puts a big smile on my face, and Bastianini's nasal tone is absolutely fantastic, but the real showstopper in this performance is not even sung, but spoken: the "Un non so che nell'occhio!" moment. Bastianini utters it with such a feigned conviction and pain that I couldn't help bursting into an irrepressible laughter which persisted for a few minutes. Even now I chuckle remembering it. Pure genius from both librettist (I don't remember if the moment is in Beaumarchais' play too) and Bastianini.
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Offline Wendell_E

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3324 on: September 15, 2022, 12:36:31 AM »
Stratas... doesn't take the high option at the end [of the first act of Traviata].

Call me a pedant if you wish, but it's an interpolation, not an option.  :)
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3325 on: September 15, 2022, 12:50:25 AM »
Call me a pedant if you wish, but it's an interpolation, not an option.  :)

Ok, you're a pedant  ;D

You're right of course and actually it's the jarring transposition that bothers me more than the loss of a capping high note. In fact, I'd have been happier if Callas had omitted it in some of her later performances.

Very few sopranos sing what Verdi wrote at the end, which is to go down to the lower Eb, and I'd have to admit it is a bit anticlimactic. Those who don't attempt the top Eb still resolve to Ab above the stave.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Florestan

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3326 on: September 15, 2022, 01:31:01 AM »


Act I.

The vocal writing is rather taxing for these performers, but one can''t expect any combo currently available, even the best one can think of according to personal taste, to match the original cast which consisted of Grisi, Rubini, Tamburini and Lablache, the famous quartet which had premiered I Puritani the same year. They do a decent job nevertheless and the music is very good. The libretto is certainly silly and contrived by our contemporary taste but back then the opera was understood as a passionate protest against tyranny and a plea for the freedom of the common people --- it was Mazzini's favorite opera no less and a huge influence on Verdi''s I Due Foscari.

Live recording so lots of scenical noises and applauses --- but for an opera this actually enhances the thrill and excitement, which anyway are lessened to a considerable degree by not experiencing the real thing.

An interesting release which all Donizetti/belcanto/operatic fans should try.
"In religion, philosophy and morality, obedience; in art and literature, independence." - Ricardo Viñes

Offline San Antone

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3327 on: September 15, 2022, 04:21:21 AM »
Verdi - Luisa Miller

Directors   Jim & Jules, Oxymore, Opera Royal de Wallonie-Liege, Opéra National de Montpellier, Jean-Romain Sales
Starring   Choeurs de l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Luciano Montanaro, Cristina Melis



My first time listening or watching this opera.  I am about half way through and while it is enjoyable, I don't think it will be among my favorites.   This production is fine, singers adequate (all unknown to me), and the staging within the bounds of propriety.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3328 on: September 15, 2022, 05:40:24 AM »
Verdi - Luisa Miller

Directors   Jim & Jules, Oxymore, Opera Royal de Wallonie-Liege, Opéra National de Montpellier, Jean-Romain Sales
Starring   Choeurs de l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Luciano Montanaro, Cristina Melis



My first time listening or watching this opera.  I am about half way through and while it is enjoyable, I don't think it will be among my favorites.   This production is fine, singers adequate (all unknown to me), and the staging within the bounds of propriety.

That's a shame. It's commonly considered one of Verdi's best early operas. Maybe it's because of the staging  or the singing.

There are three excellent audio only versions, all of which I enjoy.







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

Online JBS

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3329 on: September 16, 2022, 10:22:01 AM »

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Offline San Antone

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3330 on: September 16, 2022, 02:22:34 PM »
That's a shame. It's commonly considered one of Verdi's best early operas. Maybe it's because of the staging  or the singing.

There are three excellent audio only versions, all of which I enjoy.







It was probably the staging which did not engage me.  I watched a Met traditional production with

CONDUCTOR: Bertrand de Billy
LUISA MILLER: Sonya Yoncheva
RODOLFO: Piotr Beczała
MILLER: Plácido Domingo
COUNT WALTER: Alexander Vinogradov
WURM: Dmitry Belosselskiy

and it was much better.  I came away feeling I had misjudged the work.  Thanks for the recommendations, I am familiar with all of them and will listen to one or two of them in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I've moved on to Un ballo - and another excellent production from the Met with

AMELIA: Sondra Radvanovsky
RICCARDO: Marcelo Álvarez
RENATO: Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It restored my faith in the current generation of singers.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3331 on: September 19, 2022, 11:14:13 PM »




The 1958 Lisbon Traviata was the first live Callas recording to be issued by EMI, who were no doubt keen to plug a gaping hole in their Callas discography. It is also the recording Warner chose to use for their Callas Live Remastered box set, though they appear to have used as source the EMI 1997 Callas Edition remaster, which is a bit brighter and harsher than this first EMI release, which was remastered, I believe, by Keith Hardwicke. Callas is not in as fresh voice as she was in either 1953 or 1955, but, whether by necessity or design, she has further refined her interpretation, the music being ever more subtly inflected. However, I feel that she is even finer in London just a few months later and that, as a total entity, that performance hangs together even better. Kraus is an asset, but I don’t prefer him to Valletti in Covent Garden and he can sometimes seem a little affected. Sereni is certainly an improvement on the boorish Bastianini and the boring Savarese, but he too occasionally resorts to some slightly affected phrasing. Ghione is an improvement on Santini in the Cetra recording, but not as interesting or vital as Giulini at La Scala, which, though the sound is more of a problem (not that this one is exemplary) I generally prefer.

Of course one of the main reasons the 1977 DG set set has remained a prime recommendation ever since its release, is the vital conducting of Carlos Kleiber. Like Giulini, speeds are often hectically fast, but he also paces the big emotional moments wonderfully. The other reason is the vulnerably touching Violetta of Ileana Cotrubas, whom I was lucky enough to see in the role at Covent Garden back in 1985, a last minute replacement for Lucia Aliberti, who was “let go” during rehearsals. She is my favourite Violetta after Callas and this would be my first all round choice for a studio La Traviata. Domingo and Milnes are good, but both are a little generic with little to distinguish their characters from other Verdi tenor or baritone roles, where Cotrubas is more specific. It’s easy to understand this was one of her best roles. She is not technically perfect, but she is infinitely human.
 
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3332 on: September 20, 2022, 11:19:06 PM »


So I come to the final recording of La Traviata in my collection and memory hasn’t served me ill. This is the most moving, most absorbing, most overwhelming performance of the opera I have ever heard. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have been in the house on that night in June 1958. It is often stated that she was in better voice in Lisbon a few months earlier, but I honestly don’t find that to be the case, despite the fact that she was reportedly suffering from a cold. The top Eb at the end of Act I is admittedly an unlovely note, but then so it was in Lisbon and I just feel sorry she felt constrained to sing it. In any case her passagework is still wonderfully fleet.

With Callas, though, more than ever it is impossible to separate the sound of her voice from what she is doing with it. She has now reduced the role to essentials and every utterance is put at the service of the music and its dramatic significance. At no point is she merely an opera singer spinning out notes. This is Violetta through and through and the performance has a veracity that I’ve never heard anywhere else. You forget that this is opera and are confronted with real tragedy. I have written a much more detailed critique of this performance for my blog, as it repays repeated listening, and you can read that here. http://tsaraslondon.com/2017/07/17/callass-covent-garden-traviata/


Nor is Callas is the only great thing about this performance. Rescigno, who could sometimes be something of a routineer, is here absolutely inspired, as he so often was when working with Callas. She also has what I think is the best supporting cast on any of her recorded performances. Valletti, a Schipa pupil, is superb, better I think than Kraus, who can seem a bit affected, and a much better musician than Di Stefano. Mario Zanasi is likewise a most sympathetic and thoughtful singer, who contributes enormously to the success of the Act II duet with Violetta. This is the only time I’ve come across him and I’m surprised he doesn’t seem to have had a major career. Furthermore there appears to be no competitiveness amongst the singers. You feel as if they are all working together to create the best performance that they can.

This was a BBC Radio 3 broadcast and, though it isn’t studio stereo, I find it quite listenable. In any case, anyone who loves Verdi and/or this opera should hear this set. I doubt you will ever hear one more involving.
 
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3333 on: September 21, 2022, 03:49:08 AM »


So I come to the final recording of La Traviata in my collection and memory hasn’t served me ill. This is the most moving, most absorbing, most overwhelming performance of the opera I have ever heard. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have been in the house on that night in June 1958. It is often stated that she was in better voice in Lisbon a few months earlier, but I honestly don’t find that to be the case, despite the fact that she was reportedly suffering from a cold. The top Eb at the end of Act I is admittedly an unlovely note, but then so it was in Lisbon and I just feel sorry she felt constrained to sing it. In any case her passagework is still wonderfully fleet.

With Callas, though, more than ever it is impossible to separate the sound of her voice from what she is doing with it. She has now reduced the role to essentials and every utterance is put at the service of the music and its dramatic significance. At no point is she merely an opera singer spinning out notes. This is Violetta through and through and the performance has a veracity that I’ve never heard anywhere else. You forget that this is opera and are confronted with real tragedy. I have written a much more detailed critique of this performance for my blog, as it repays repeated listening, and you can read that here. http://tsaraslondon.com/2017/07/17/callass-covent-garden-traviata/


Nor is Callas is the only great thing about this performance. Rescigno, who could sometimes be something of a routineer, is here absolutely inspired, as he so often was when working with Callas. She also has what I think is the best supporting cast on any of her recorded performances. Valletti, a Schipa pupil, is superb, better I think than Kraus, who can seem a bit affected, and a much better musician than Di Stefano. Mario Zanasi is likewise a most sympathetic and thoughtful singer, who contributes enormously to the success of the Act II duet with Violetta. This is the only time I’ve come across him and I’m surprised he doesn’t seem to have had a major career. Furthermore there appears to be no competitiveness amongst the singers. You feel as if they are all working together to create the best performance that they can.

This was a BBC Radio 3 broadcast and, though it isn’t studio stereo, I find it quite listenable. In any case, anyone who loves Verdi and/or this opera should hear this set. I doubt you will ever hear one more involving.
 
I've never been a great fan of La Traviata (or any of the works of the "romantic trilogy"), and no longer own any recordings of Callas in the role. But, after your comment, it seems that this would be the performance of choice if I decided to go for one of the multiple available. And the presence of Valletti is an added attraction. What a superb tenor!

Actually, many years ago, I had a double LP set (on the Melodram label?) of selections from Callas' Mexico performances, and I was struck by the beauty of Callas and Valletti in "Un dì, felice, eterea" (from 1951, I believe --in atrocious sound).

THREAD DUTY:

Some OTT cloak-and-dagger today, with Ponchielli's La Gioconda:


This 1957 recording has Previtali conducting with verve and gusto. Milanov is past her prime, but there are undeniably beautiful moments in her portrayal, and it is easy to unterstand why her career was so successful. As usual with her --in my experience at least--, the character is not really credible; what we get is an operatic diva playing the street singer. Di Stefano was starting his quick decline, but the tone is still beautiful. Warren is superb as über-villian Barnaba. The other ladies (Rosalind Elias --whom I saw live in another opera towards the end of her career-- and Belén Amparán as La Cieca) are very good.

I got this n the ultra-budget, no-frills Cantus Classics reissue, and the sound is just so-so in some orchestral bits (possibly sloppy transfer from whatever source they used).

Great fun!!!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2022, 04:53:43 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3334 on: September 21, 2022, 12:30:00 PM »
I've never been a great fan of La Traviata (or any of the works of the "romantic trilogy"), and no longer own any recordings of Callas in the role. But, after your comment, it seems that this would be the performance of choice if I decided to go for one of the multiple available. And the presence of Valletti is an added attraction. What a superb tenor!

Actually, many years ago, I had a double LP set (on the Melodram label?) of selections from Callas' Mexico performances, and I was struck by the beauty of Callas and Valletti in "Un dì, felice, eterea" (from 1951, I believe --in atrocious sound).

THREAD DUTY:

Some OTT cloak-and-dagger today, with Ponchielli's La Gioconda:


This 1957 recording has Previtali conducting with verve and gusto. Milanov is past her prime, but there are undeniably beautiful moments in her portrayal, and it is easy to unterstand why her career was so successful. As usual with her --in my experience at least--, the character is not really credible; what we get is an operatic diva playing the street singer. Di Stefano was starting his quick decline, but the tone is still beautiful. Warren is superb as über-villian Barnaba. The other ladies (Rosalind Elias --whom I saw live in another opera towards the end of her career-- and Belén Amparán as La Cieca) are very good.

I got this n the ultra-budget, no-frills Cantus Classics reissue, and the sound is just so-so in some orchestral bits (possibly sloppy transfer from whatever source they used).

Great fun!!!

Traviata was once my favourite Verdi opera, and I still love it, though it has been supplanted in my favourites now by Don Carlo, Otello and Falstaff. Still, when Callas is singing Violetta, and especially here, the opera can still transport me.

I've never been much of a fan of Milanov. However beautiful the voice, I just find her dull. I think I may have heard that Gioconda once, but it didn't really do it for me.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3335 on: September 21, 2022, 11:00:55 PM »


These are the only surviving excerpts from Callas's third performance of Leonora in Mexico in 1950, not 1957 as it says on the front cover, a mistake corrected on the back. She had made her debut in the role a few days earlier, but for this performance Leonard Warren was replaced by the Bulgarian Ivan Petroff, not to be confused with Russian Bass Ivan Petrov. Baum is the Manrico, but there is no doubt Callas and Simionato shared the vocal honours.

The disc is includes excerpts from the London/Barbirolli Aida, which I listened to complete soon after I started my Verdi marathon and is rounded with the last known recording of Callas's voice, made in the Théatre du Champs-Elysées in March 1976. Callas accompanies herself in Beethoven's Ah, perfido! and sounds in much more confident voice than she did in any of her fnal concerts with Di Stefano. With nobody else around, she was seemingly able to banish the demons that plagued her.
 
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Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3336 on: September 24, 2022, 11:40:03 AM »
All that talk in other threads about Franco Alfano and his completion of Puccini’s swan song has prompted me to revisit one of his post-Turandot operas, Cyrano de Bergerac, from 1936 (only Acts 1 and 2 tonight).



This curious Literaturoper, written by an Italian to French libretto (Henri Caïn adapted Edmond Rostand’s famous play) stands out for its orchestral writing, where one can sense German and French influences.

The ever enterprising Kiel Opera House revived it in the original French in 2002 (all performances I know about after WW2 —e.g. at La Scala in the early 50s with Ramón Vinay— were in Italian translation), and the performance cannot be faulted. Since then, several star tenors have performed and recorded it. It must work very well fully staged. Interesting and enjoyable.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2022, 11:55:03 AM by ritter »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3337 on: September 25, 2022, 01:19:32 AM »
All that talk in other threads about Franco Alfano and his completion of Puccini’s swan song has prompted me to revisit one of his post-Turandot operas, Cyrano de Bergerac, from 1936 (only Acts 1 and 2 tonight).



This curious Literaturoper, written by an Italian to French libretto (Henri Caïn adapted Edmond Rostand’s famous play) stands out for its orchestral writing, where one can sense German and French influences.

The ever enterprising Kiel Opera House revived it in the original French in 2002 (all performances I know about after WW2 —e.g. at La Scala in the early 50s with Ramón Vinay— were in Italian translation), and the performance cannot be faulted. Since then, several star tenors have performed and recorded it. It must work very well fully staged. Interesting and enjoyable.

I actually saw this opera when it was staged at Covent Garden in 2006. Domingo played Cyrano and Sondra Radvanovsky Roxane. It was a very colourful production, but I can remember very litle about it musically.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline ritter

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3338 on: September 25, 2022, 04:13:35 AM »
I actually saw this opera when it was staged at Covent Garden in 2006. Domingo played Cyrano and Sondra Radvanovsky Roxane. It was a very colourful production, but I can remember very litle about it musically.
Yep, it perhaps isn’t terribly memorable, but the orchestral writing really is superb.

Good day to you, Tsaraslondon!

THREAD DUTY:

Some Gluck today. John Eliot Gardiner conducts Iphigénie en Aulide (Lynn Dawson, Anne Sophie von Otter, José van Dam, John Aler, Gilles Cachemaille et al., Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon).

From the “Great Operas” box:



I think I prefer Iphigénie en Aulide to its more famous companion Iphigénie en Tauride. The work seems to combine the rigours of the tragédie lyrique with a real dramatic thrust in an admirable way. And what an overture!
« Last Edit: September 25, 2022, 04:31:55 AM by ritter »
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Offline KevinP

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Re: What Opera Are You Listening to Now?
« Reply #3339 on: September 28, 2022, 06:18:26 PM »

A contender for the worst cover art thread? That text is garish!