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Thread: What opera have you been listening to, lately?

          
   
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  1. #421
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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  3. #422
    Senior Member Involved Member Nervous Gentleman's Avatar
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    I was listening to "Moses" only a few days ago, but it was an in-house recording from 1988 and probably a bootleg; so the sound was not too good. I'll have to get this. Thanks.

  4. #423
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    I loved this one... a rather outrageous libretto... but is there any other kind?
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  5. #424
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Any thoughts... opinion? I quite liked Pascal Dusapin's Perelŕ, Uomo di Fumo.
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  6. #425
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cedric View Post
    Attachment 893

    What a luxury of having five superstars in one opera! I especially like Bjoner's Kaiserin.
    Ooooh! Die Frau ohne Schatten and Keilberth... I'll need to look into that. Not too long ago you could barely find this opera. Now there are a wealth of excellent recordings. I have four:









    And yet I've been ogling the Sinopoli:



    And now Keilberth!?
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  7. #426
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    I was never sure whether I'd be into an opera by Bartok... although I quite like his music. Nevertheless... I figured I couldn't lose with this recording with such classic performers... and for only $7 US:



    I finally got around to listening to it last weekend... and I was absolutely blown away. It certainly enters my list of favorites.

    Over the past week my studio mates have not been in... and so I have been able to listen to whatever I like without complaints. I used the time to listen to a couple of recordings of old favorites:



    A lovely Cosi fan tutte...



    A strong Don Giovanni. I still prefer the Giulini and Krips recordings... but a worthy performance.



    For some time I have struggled with Stravinsky. I was never able to relate to him as well as I could Richard Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, or Bartok (although I'd take him over Schoenberg). Recently I have been listening to a number of Stravinsky's works, and they have really begun to resonate with me. I was especially intrigued with Le Rossignol. Of course Natalie Dessay doesn't hurt matters.



    OK... it's not opera... but it's BACH dammit! And an incredible Bach at that. Yes... I know it's not HIP... and I have Gardiner's and Herreweghe's Mass in B-minor... and I'm looking at Minkowski's and Suzuki's... but Richter's interpretation offers up such a wall of glorious sound... not unlike Klemperer's "old school" recording. A necessity for the Bach lover.

    And right now?



    A solid performance all around... and again a steal at $7 US.
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  8. #427
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StLukesGuildOhio View Post
    I was never sure whether I'd be into an opera by Bartok... although I quite like his music. Nevertheless... I figured I couldn't lose with this recording with such classic performers... and for only $7 US:
    Try the DVD. I have this version below. Looks a little dated, but enjoyable performance and very stylised in the interpretation made for filming.


  9. #428
    Schigolch
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    Quote Originally Posted by StLukesGuildOhio View Post
    Any thoughts... opinion? I quite liked Pascal Dusapin's Perelŕ, Uomo di Fumo.
    Unlike you I didn't like very much either Perelŕ or Medeamaterial, both watched in the theater, but was reasonably interested with the DVD of Faustus.

    Roméo et Juliette (1988) was Dusapin's first opera. It's short (around 75 minutes), and it features two Juliettes and two Roméos, before and after the Revolution (represented by an orchestral interlude). There is singing in French, English and Latin.... Only the Revolution here is a kind of operatic Revolution of our two lovely singers, Juliette and Roméo...

    A boring experience.


    Perelŕ, that I didn't like, but it's clearly better than this one, is complete in youtube:


  10. #429
    Senior Member Involved Member Nervous Gentleman's Avatar
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    Re: Bartók's "Bluebeard's Castle"

    The 1963 German-language version filmed in color by the great British director Michael Powell (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, Tales of Hoffmann, etc.) is also well worth seeing. There's an English subtitled copy of this commercially-unavailable and seemingly forgotten film adaptation floating about on the internet. For those who would like to see it, I have posted it to YouTube:


  11. #430
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Not only Kaufmann and Stemme, but Peter Mattei comes in as Fernando at the end and warms the cockles of my heart. Kaufmann's first note in Gott! Welch Dunkel hier! has to be heard to be believed.



    Nice to listen to old favourites again:

    Natalie

  12. #431
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    It took long enough to get here, but I finally got my hands on the new studio recording of Carmen with the one-and-only Jonas. So far, I like what I've heard, though Kozená’s Carmen seems a bit . . . ladylike.

    As soon as I've finished listening to the entire recording, I'll write a brief "review."

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  14. #432
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Yesterday was a day for "light"... melody-laden opera/operettas:



    Richard Tauber was a singer of incredible natural fluidity... perfectly suited for Viennese operettas... which is what he was most known for. I have the marvelous Dutton recording of his songs/arias from Lehár. This disc featured less well-known composers of Viennese operettas (beyond Strauss, Lehár, Flotow, and Lortzing) including Oscar Straus, Robert Stolz, Emmerich kalman, Paul Abraham, and Jaromir Weinberger. Some real joyful singing

    *****



    I played this... in the Jeffrey Tate recording... Sunday night...



    ...and was so blown away I had to play it again. I've actually owned Karajan's recording of Hänsel und Gretel for at least 5+ years... but for whatever reason never got around to listening to it. A huge loss on my part. For an opera often described as a folk opera/fairy-tale opera/children's opera, Hänsel und Gretel could not boast of a greater pedigree. The tale upon which the opera was based was first collected and given serious literary consideration by the Brothers Grimm. The tale was related to the brothers by a certain young girl by the name of Dörtchen Wild... who would become Mrs. Wilhelm Grimm.

    Engelbert Humperdinck was a precocious protégé of Richard Wagner who had spent time at the "master's" side dutifully copying the score of Parsifal. It was his sister, Adelheid Wette, who requested that Humperdinck set to music her children's play of Hänsel und Gretel. She was so delighted with the result, that she insisted her brother expand his efforts... and compose an entire opera. Humperdinck was not immediately thrilled with the request... after all, as a sworn Wagnerian, he took a lofty view of the operatic calling. What would Wagner think!? And what chance did such an undertaking have in competition with those "upstart" Italian operas with all their sex and violence passed off as social commentary?

    Humperdinck's sister prevailed... luckily for us... and the opera was composed and set for production at the same theater in Weimar where Wagner's Lohengrin had premiered. The Kapellmeister who accepted the opera was none other than Richard Strauss. Sensing the importance of the event, Strauss engaged the distinguished conductor of the Munich Opera, Hermann Levi (Wagner's favorite) to conduct the premier. When the singer employed to perform Gretel took ill, the premier was postponed for a week... and Levi was no longer available... so Strauss conducted the premier himself.

    Hänsel und Gretel is almost a magical achievement in its seeming simplicity... its child-like joy... its folk-like melodies... and its spontaneity... in spite of the sophistication of the work: the mature, adult sub-texts, the sensuality and complexity of the orchestration... built heavily upon Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal with its spiritually uplifting moments of grace and benediction. Even the melodies that resonate with the honest simplicity of true folk music are largely Humperdinck's originals... masterful pastiches.

    The work not only impressed Richard Strauss, it proved a smash hit. In London crowds flocked to Daily's Theater for the biggest show of the Christmas season, 1884. Gustav Mahler, then head of the Hamburg Opera, proclaimed Hänsel und Gretel to be a "masterpiece". Hänsel und Gretel holds the distinction of having been the first opera performed in its entirety on the radio in Europe (on the BBC) in 1923, and in the United States in 1931. In spite of the popularity of the work, for whatever reason it was never recorded before WWII... and after the war there was some hesitation in performing a piece in which the Witch puts children in an oven coming fresh upon the memories of Auschwitz.

    Thus this performance by Herbert von Karajan, recorded in 1953, became the first recorded version of Hänsel und Gretel... and arguably the best. Karajan, in many ways, was ideally suited to the task... his great-grandfather, Theodor von Karajan, after all, had been a close friend of the Brothers Grimm. Karajan's cast was ideal... including Elisabeth Grümmer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Joseph Metternich. In spite of Karajan's reputation as a task-master and perfectionist, he avoided spending much time in rehearsals, responding to and delighting in the opera's spontaneous nature. The overture comes from the first performance by the orchestra... a test run-through during which Karajan kept the tape recorder running having learned this tip from Thomas Beecham.

    The entire experience can only be described as "delicious".

    Interestingly enough... there was one sour note to it all. Following the release of this recording, Wieland Wagner sent a letter to the producer Walter Legge exclaiming dismay that his old friend could have been involved in recording such a "mediocre, second rate" opera... something only made worse by the fact that he had employed such masterful performers who undertook the project with such undeniable relish and skill. Karajan and Legge both laughed off the comment and accepted it as the finest endorsement.



    *****

    Following on the heels of Hänsel und Gretel seemed difficult. Surely any "heavy" or "serious" work would come of as leaden and pretentious in contrast. Thus I continued in the same vein... listening to the second operetta of this disc... the classic, Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehár. There are two other fine recordings of this opera that I have... the famous version conducted by Lovro Von Maticic, and the relatively recent performance by John Eliot Gardiner. This recording, conducted by Otto Ackermann, was part of a series of recordings made by EMI after the war of classic German operettas. Many employ the same singers... as did the later Von Maticic performance. All of them are truly special.

    Ackermann's Die lustige Witwe... indeed of all of his operetta recordings... are special in that he and his magnificent crew of singers... Elisabeth Schwarzkopgf, Nicolai Gedda, Erich Kunz, Emmy Loose, and Otakar Kraus... grew up with and loved this music... and after the horrors of the war it undoubtedly represented the best of a German/Austrian culture tainted by the Nazis.

    [/QUOTE]
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  15. #433
    Senior Member Veteran Member Aksel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
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    It took long enough to get here, but I finally got my hands on the new studio recording of Carmen with the one-and-only Jonas. So far, I like what I've heard, though Kozená’s Carmen seems a bit . . . ladylike.

    As soon as I've finished listening to the entire recording, I'll write a brief "review."
    I'm also working my way through this. In general I like it very much, although there are some secondary characters *cough*Escamillo*cough* that maybe should have taken a second look at their French before the recording. Also, I'm a little disappointed that so much of the dialogue has been cut.

    Kozena's Carmen will be a subject of much debate, no doubt, but I totally understand her approach, especially given Simon Rattle's description of Carmen as an opera of 'secrets and whispers'. And the whole 'kids in love' thing works really well. It's like a little more West Side Story and a little less Cougarville.

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  17. #434
    Schigolch
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  19. #435
    Schigolch
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