Author Topic: Mozart Operas  (Read 3309 times)

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Offline knight66

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Mozart Operas
« on: October 13, 2018, 01:46:42 AM »
There is not a thread on the operas, neither is there one on the opera I am about to write about. There is probably a thread for each specific movement of each Mahler symphony.........

Le Nozze di Figaro

Riccardo Muti, Vienna Phil, Thomas Allen, Margaret Price, Kathleen Battle, Jorma Hynninen, AnnMurray, Kurt Rydl

Muti is not my go-to guy for Mozart. Several years ago I bought his version of Cosi Fan Tutti on EMI. I feel it is underrated and enjoyed it and the terrific singing a good deal. I encountered this Figaro set second hand on Amazon for £5.50 including post. It arrived with its 318 page booklet. The draw for me was the cast. Over the years Mozart operas have been very fortunate with a number of mouthwatering sets including Solti’s which I regard as one of his most idiomatic sets, really beautiful. There is Giulini also, always there casting a shadow and amongst others that I own there is the Currentiz, which I regard as too hard driven and badly handicapped by a certain singer.

The Muti is fast, but he allows plenty of space where appropriate. The pacing is sensible, slower in the arias than the HIP performances, but faster than old Bohm school, natural, lyrical, often tender. He generates a tension where needed, the last act is very well paced in a great arc. All the singing is first rate. Battle’s voice is a good counterpoint to Price, each sing beautifully and there is no mistaking which is which. The men are less clearly differentiated, but are excellent and sing with face.

A litmus paper test for me is whether the final reconciliation gives the impression of suspending time, it does, how could it not with Price spinning the sinuous line given to her?. Any performance that muffs this passage has substantially failed overall.

This encouraged me to look for the Don Giovanni by Muti. No way do I need yet another, but at £2.70 including post, why not? I spent about £30 on a seat for a none to thrilling concert yesterday. So, I encounter these absurd bargains and don’t hesitate. There is a well priced boxed set of the three da Ponte operas by Muti available....if anyone is interested.

Mike
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2018, 10:03:43 AM »
The Figaro I ended up loving the most was Ponelle’s film for Harnoncourt. Fischer Dieskau is so very funny! It’s not so much the impression of time standing still in the garden scene which counts for me, it’s a moving, humane, believable  reconciliation of count and countess.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 10:06:29 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline shirime

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2018, 12:38:22 AM »
Ah I thought this was gonna be more about the operas themselves rather than great recordings and reviews of the operas.

But would it be alright to use this as a general thread? Because I do have questions about them!

I would very much be interested in broadening my knowledge of the operas, how they were composed and where they were premiered, the forms and styles used in each one of them, but I'm not familiar with most of the operas. Ones I know: Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte.

How was Mozart's handling of opera seria? How much of the da capo form was retained and at what point, if any, did new forms evolve from the da capo aria? What sort of themes are explored in his most well known opera seria?

Online Jo498

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2018, 12:58:51 AM »
That would be Idomeneo. I don't know by heart how many of the arias are dacapo. The piece is fairly dramatic and very worth your while.

Note also that among his late operas Mozart brings opera seria elements into the opera buffa and Singspiel respectively. The huge "Martern"-Aria from the Abduction is pure opera seria, so are the arias of the Queen of Night in Zauberflöte and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni as well as the countess in Figaro are, to an extent, opera seria figures.

The most daring stylistic mix of all is Zauberflöte. It is both an indication of Mozart's powers of integrating the disparate elements and our historical distance that we hardly recognize this. There is opera seria with the Queen, popular Singspiel with Papageno, even slapstick in the comical scenes and dialogues, freemason symbolism, a Bachian choral prelude (scence of the Armed Men), Gluckian Pathos in some of the priest scenes etc...
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Online Biffo

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2018, 01:58:27 AM »
Ah I thought this was gonna be more about the operas themselves rather than great recordings and reviews of the operas.

But would it be alright to use this as a general thread? Because I do have questions about them!

I would very much be interested in broadening my knowledge of the operas, how they were composed and where they were premiered, the forms and styles used in each one of them, but I'm not familiar with most of the operas. Ones I know: Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte.

How was Mozart's handling of opera seria? How much of the da capo form was retained and at what point, if any, did new forms evolve from the da capo aria? What sort of themes are explored in his most well known opera seria?

Mozart's penultimate opera was also an opera seria - La Clemenza di Tito. It has a moth-eaten libretto that had been set numerous times before, the theme of the opera is the benevolence of the ruler - Tito pardons his would-be assassins. The rest of it is the usual opera seria stuff - A wants to marry B but B is secretly in love with C, D thinks she should marry A meanwhile E is in love with D etc etc etc.

Miraculously, Mozart managed to breathe life into this tired old rubbish and wrote some beautiful music. The most celebrated aria is the  rondo for Vitellia 'Non piu di fiori'.

For a time, after Mozart's death Tito was his most popular opera and fairly widely performed despite being in a now practically obsolete genre.

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2018, 03:05:50 AM »
It's been a long time since I last listened to and dived into Mozart opera stuff, but his development in composing them, either being buffa or seria, is quite fascinating iirc.
Most of his many youth operas are traditional operae seria. And there are a lot of them.

The best known of course are the mature two:

La Clemenza di Tito, his last one, is quite revolutionary, because it broke from the usual seria model (and the original libretto, which was also shortened) in eliminating the da capo arias and adding ensemble scenes and large modern arias.

Idomeneo is more traditional in its entire length, but it also already lacked the life long aria's with lots of ornamentation.

There's much more to say... but... maybe later (shortage of time right now).

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2018, 03:41:27 AM »
The Figaro I ended up loving the most was Ponelle’s film for Harnoncourt. Fischer Dieskau is so very funny! It’s not so much the impression of time standing still in the garden scene which counts for me, it’s a moving, humane, believable  reconciliation of count and countess.

That was Karl Bohm, wasn't it? A classic, at any rate.

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2018, 04:58:22 AM »
That was Karl Bohm, wasn't it? A classic, at any rate.



Yes there’s a fabulous bit where Figaro is trying to outwit him about Cherubino etc, and the count knows there’s something fishy going on, and yet can’t quite get to the bottom of it, Fischer Dieskau is a wonderful aristocratic buffoon at that point, memorably funny. The music Mozart writes for that scene is very very good!
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2020, 11:46:41 PM »
The operas are about all I listen to by Mozart; but they are a world unto themselves.  I am currently focused on Die Zauberflöte.  Oddly what reminded of the opera and was the catalyst to listen was a Morse episode, "Masonic Mysteries."  I've always enjoyed John Eliot Gardiner's opera recordings, e.g. Così fan tutte so I decided to begin with his recording.



Die Zauberflöte has been the one I've hardly listen to at all.  I plan on listening to (or at least parts of) Jacobs, Bohm, Abaddo, and a few others.

I'd enjoy hearing about your favorite recordings of Die Zauberflöte.

Offline knight66

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2020, 12:49:21 AM »
My longterm favourite of Magic Flute recordings is the Klemperer. It as a stellar cast, no dialogue, yet somehow it does not as a result feel like excerpts. The conducting is not ultra slow, the pacing feels natural. No one comes close to Klemperer in elevating the duet for the two armed men to feel so transcendent. I recommend it. I also like the Abbado which is well sung and has quite a bit of dialogue. It is well done, and the music often overlaps with the end of the dialogues, that helps prevent it from sounding stilted.

For something completely different, I stumbled on a French version, excerpts only.
https://open.spotify.com/album/1t5HljTWuFr8EwYhWiCnS6?si=wFh0ejRNQymaWkkNDTChww

I was surprised how well it sounds and it has an interesting cast, especially the tenor.

Finally and again different, there is the Chandos Mackerras in English, well worth exploring.

Mike
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Online Biffo

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2020, 01:56:22 AM »
Bohm (DG,1964) is my long-standing favourite having first bought it on LP. I also have Karajan's digital recording on LP but don't listen to it very often. I also enjoy Klemperer from time to time.

Online Tsaraslondon

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2020, 04:01:32 AM »
Bohm (DG,1964) is my long-standing favourite having first bought it on LP. I also have Karajan's digital recording on LP but don't listen to it very often. I also enjoy Klemperer from time to time.

I lean towards Böhm too, if only for Wunderlich's peerless Tamino. Fischer-Dieskau may not have been a natural for Papageno on stage (I believe he never played the role in the theatre) but on disc it works very well. We also have the excellent Franz Crass as Sarastro, Hotter as the Speaker and James King and Marti Talvela as the Two Armed Men, who are all excellent. The ladies are not in the same class and Evelyn Lear can sound a little tremulous, certainly no match for Popp, Margaret Price, Te Kanawa or Janowitz, who sing Pamina on other recordings, but Roberta Peters has the virtue of at least sounding dangerous and has no problem getting round the notes. As ever in Mozart, Böhm, though probably a bit slow in places for modern tastes, is authoratative on the podium.

For a HIP version, I enjoy the 1990 Christie. I haven't heard the Jacobs, however.
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2020, 05:42:57 AM »
My longterm favourite of Magic Flute recordings is the Klemperer. It as a stellar cast, no dialogue, yet somehow it does not as a result feel like excerpts. The conducting is not ultra slow, the pacing feels natural. No one comes close to Klemperer in elevating the duet for the two armed men to feel so transcendent. I recommend it. I also like the Abbado which is well sung and has quite a bit of dialogue. It is well done, and the music often overlaps with the end of the dialogues, that helps prevent it from sounding stilted.

For something completely different, I stumbled on a French version, excerpts only.
https://open.spotify.com/album/1t5HljTWuFr8EwYhWiCnS6?si=wFh0ejRNQymaWkkNDTChww

I was surprised how well it sounds and it has an interesting cast, especially the tenor.

Finally and again different, there is the Chandos Mackerras in English, well worth exploring.

Mike

I planned on listening to his recording, but was unsure if there were only one, ditto McKerras, but I didn't know it was sung in English.   Doesn't much help, since I can't really understand them even when they are singing in a language I happen to speak.

Bohm (DG,1964) is my long-standing favourite having first bought it on LP. I also have Karajan's digital recording on LP but don't listen to it very often. I also enjoy Klemperer from time to time.

Yep, also on my list, and I'm glad you stipulated his 1964 recording - there is one from 1956? - did he record it just twice or or there still others.

I lean towards Böhm too, if only for Wunderlich's peerless Tamino. Fischer-Dieskau may not have been a natural for Papageno on stage (I believe he never played the role in the theatre) but on disc it works very well. We also have the excellent Franz Crass as Sarastro, Hotter as the Speaker and James King and Marti Talvela as the Two Armed Men, who are all excellent. The ladies are not in the same class and Evelyn Lear can sound a little tremulous, certainly no match for Popp, Margaret Price, Te Kanawa or Janowitz, who sing Pamina on other recordings, but Roberta Peters has the virtue of at least sounding dangerous and has no problem getting round the notes. As ever in Mozart, Böhm, though probably a bit slow in places for modern tastes, is authoratative on the podium.

For a HIP version, I enjoy the 1990 Christie. I haven't heard the Jacobs, however.

Jacobs and Christie are both on my to-do list.  Spotify has all of these plus many more.  I should be busy - but more realistically I'm sure to feel like moving on to other things long before I exhaust Magic Flute recordings.

Thanks for your comments!
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 05:44:29 AM by Old San Antone »

Offline André

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2020, 08:39:04 AM »
Both of Böhm’s recordings are highly recommendable. They have a very different character, each cast and orchestra bringing special qualities that are not duplicated in the other.

+1 for the Klemperer. It still reigns supreme cast-wise and Klemperer’s handling of the proceedings is uniquely authoritative. This may very well be one of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s best recordings ever (execution and sound).

For a recording that is almost as good, the Keilberth is hard to challenge, with a near perfect cast and excellent mono sound. It has just the right amount of dialogue, which I find important in that work.

These may be old recordings, but all four have a feeling of ensemble style and unity of purpose that seems to have been lost somewhere after the seventies. Zauberflöte is an opera I have heard in dozens of versions, most of them marked by one or two outstanding vocal performances but never with the stylistic unity and all-around vocal excellence heard in those mentioned above.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2020, 07:14:06 AM »
The operas are about all I listen to by Mozart ...

Arggghh!  Clutches heart, sinks to the ground.   :'(
You are missing much, my good man - the last three symphonies, the wind concertos, the serenades, the prime piano concertos, the Sinfonia Concertante, the last string quartets, the last piano sonatas ....
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Offline Scion7

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2020, 07:28:38 AM »


picked this up while in port and had to hang on to it without listening to it while under the sea off the coast of the Kola peninsula - so I just read the inserts that came with it for weeks
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Offline Old San Antone

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Re: Mozart Operas
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2020, 08:20:35 AM »
Arggghh!  Clutches heart, sinks to the ground.   :'(
You are missing much, my good man - the last three symphonies, the wind concertos, the serenades, the prime piano concertos, the Sinfonia Concertante, the last string quartets, the last piano sonatas ....

I didn't say I had never listened to the rest of it.    ;)     I used to listen to Mozart a lot, all of the forms you mentioned.  It's just now I seem to be spending time with the operas almost exclusively.