• Die Tote Stadt

    Die Tote Stadt
    Munich Radio

    Paul Karl Friedrich
    Marie/Marietta Maud Cunitz
    Frank Benno Kusche
    Fritz Hans Braun
    Brigitta Lillian Benningsen

    Conductor Fritz Lehmann

    This version comes from a radio broadcast with the orchestra and choir of the Bayerischen Rundfunks. Lehmann gets a good answer from the orchestra, and this is a very analytic performance, with a nice instrumental texture.

    Singing is not at the same level, unfortunately. The best one comes from Karl Friedrich, that with limited means is able to offer us a sober portrait of Paul. On the other hand Maud Cunitz, with similar vocal resources, sounds acid and out of tune.

    Though the two main roles are the most important, Franck, Fritz and Brigitta are also key to a good performance. In this case, the first scene, of a fascinating beauty, between Frank and Brigitta is sung very poorly, and the rendition of "Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen" by baritone Hans Braun is definately second (or even third) rate.

    This is recommended only for lovers of Die Tote Stadt, though the orchestra is really good.

    Overall: C

    Die Tote Stadt
    Munich Radio

    Paul René Kollo
    Marie/Marietta Carol Neblett
    Frank Benjamin Luxon
    Fritz Hermann Prey
    Brigitta Rose Wagemann

    Conductor Erich Leinsdorf

    Again the Bavarian orchestra and choir tackle Korngold's beautiful but difficult score. Now, twenty-three years later, they are conducted by Erich Leinsdorf, and again the result is very good. Most centered in the sensuality, in the pure joy of this irresistible music, that the analytical approach of Lehmann, but also a very valid reading, especially in a splendid Second Act.

    René Kollo sings an interesting Paul. His main shortcomings are in some poorly produced top notes, and the feeling of listening to an old boxer rambles on his old fights, instead of a man desperately missing his dead wife, in the great monologue of First Act.

    Carol Neblett, with similar problems in the top notes, offers a convincing portrait of Marietta. She was coached by Maria Jeritza herself, and is the best Marietta on record.

    The first scene between Frank and Brigitta is not really exciting, but later Mr. Luxon compensate in his dialogues with Paul. Hermann Prey's Pierrot lied is a wonderful piece, a reference, though a little bit too slow.

    Recommended for all Opera lovers.

    Overall: B+

    Die tote Stadt

    Royal Swedish Opera

    Paul Thomas Sunnegardh
    Marie/Marietta Katarina Dalayman
    Frank Anders Bergström
    Fritz Per Arne Wahlgren
    Brigitta Ingrid Tobiasson

    Conductor Leif Segerstam

    This is a live recording, but in acceptable sound.

    The Royal Swedish orchestra is not the Munich orchestra, nor Segerstam's reading is close to either Leinsdorf's or Lehmann's. He concentrates too much on the potency, the building of Korngold's sound wall, but misses the details, the many orchestral nuances that made this opera so unique.

    Thomas Sunnegardh is imitating Mr. Kollo, but it's far from the original.

    Katarina Dalayman is the best part of this recording. The top notes are a little bit throttled, but she does depict Marietta, the young dancer. Not so much, Marie, the dead wife.

    Both baritones are barely adequate, but Ingrid Tobiasson's Brigitta is really poor.

    The justification for this recording was in its budget price, but with Leinsdorf's being available now also as a budget option, it's not really a good choice.

    Not recommended.

    Overall: D

    Die tote Stadt

    Wiener Philarmoniker

    Paul Torsten Kerl
    Marie/Marietta Angela Denoke
    Frank Bo Skovhus
    Fritz Bo Skovhus
    Brigitta Daniela Denschlag

    Conductor Donald Runnicles

    Kerl and Denoke are regulars of the opera, that have been singing, together or separate, several times. Also conductor Runnnicles. This performance from Szalburg are their best achievement.

    Runnicles gives us a version more agile, a little bit restless, less romantic that the other conductors. It adapts very well to a superb First Act that to the rest of the opera, but it's a great performance. The Viennese orchestra, as usual, is just fantastic.

    Torsten Kerl is a very solid Paul, and this is his best performance in the role. He doesn't have the perfect vocal instrument to sing the role (who has?), it lacks some power and also the top notes are very demanding for him. He uses falsetto sometimes, but in this case taking advantage to introduce an interesting component, something unreal that really mix well with the story and the score.

    Denoke's voice is not Marietta's, either, but she manages to produce the notes, they seem to be struggling in her throat, just striving to leave her body... but they are finally released. She is convincing enough in the long oneiric scene.

    Skovhus is able to defend the double role of Frank/Fritz, again singing the Pierrot's lied too slow, but his first scene with Daniela Denschlag's Brigitta is really good.

    Recommended to all Opera lovers.

    Overall: B+

    Die Tote Stadt

    Frankfurter Opern und Museumsorchester

    Paul Klaus Florian Vogt
    Marie/Marietta Tatiana Pavlovskaya
    Frank/Fritz Michael Nagy
    Brigitta Hedwig Fassbender

    Conductor Sebastian Weigle

    Weigle is an old hand at this opera, having conducted it a few years before, at Liceu. The Frankfurt orchestra is underrated, it's one of the best German orchestras and we can hear why in this recording.

    Vogt is the best Paul singing the role today, and this is his only official recording. Maybe it's not one of his brightest days, but it's always a great portrait of the complex and tormented young widower. His uncanny ability to let his voice float in the most lyrical parts of the score is just amazing.

    Tatiana Pavlovskaya is a nice singer, but Marietta is a little bit too much for her at this stage in her career. Perhaps her performance would have been worthy of a better judgment in a DVD, as her acting ability was good enough, and the Frankfurt production, quite interesting.

    Michael Nagy is a Frankfurt habitué, that sings anything from Wolfram to Papageno to Marcello... and it shows. Hedwig Fassbender was a rather adequate Brigitta.

    Recommended to lovers of Die Tote Stadt.

    Overall: B-

    Die Tote Stadt

    Orchestre Philarmonique de Strasbourg

    Paul Torsten Kerl
    Marie/Marietta Angela Denoke
    Frank Yuri Batukov
    Fritz Stephan Genz
    Brigitta Brigitta Svenden

    Conductor Jan Latham-Koenig

    This is a failed production.

    To start with, Kerl is singing well, but his acting skills are cruelly exposed. However, Angela Denoke, in a bad day, is singing much worse that in her Szalburg recording, but she carries her acting duties diligently. The supporting cast is uniformly mediocre.

    Latham-Koenig, a nice conductor for other works, is here miles away from the right mood to play Die Tote Stadt. It really sounds as elevator music, a rather dull accompaniment of the action. The orchestra is not a protagonist, as it should.

    But the weakest element is the staging. There are really some details in pretty bad taste as turning Paul's obsession to keep some mementos of his dead wife into an active necrophilia; the progressive bombardment affecting the scenery; the apparition of the infant Korngold to play in the piano Marietta's lied... However, the main issue is the absolute disregard to the spirit of the opera, murdering Frank in the oneiric scene and the suicide of Paul, that is unable to wake from his reverie.

    Recommended only for Eurotrash lovers.

    Overall: C

    Die Tote Stadt

    Orchestra & Choir Teatro La Fenice

    Paul Stefan Vinke
    Marie/Marietta Solveig Kringelborn
    Frank/Fritz Stephan Genz
    Brigitta Christa Mayer

    Conductor Eliahu Inbal

    In this production, Pier Luigi Pizzi is really respecful of the libretto, the music and the intention of the Korngolds. However, it's rather dull and a little bit boring.

    Stefan Vinke is not Paul. He can't sing this role. Wonder why someone, himself included, pretended that he can.

    Kringelborn is not in her best form (I've heard her singing a much better Marietta in Madrid), but she at least kind of manage with the score requests and she is a decent actress.

    Genz sings Frank... or Fritz... or both, who cares?. Christa Mayer is an average Brigitta.

    Veteran conductor Eliahu Inbal tries, but this is not really the best repertoire for La Fenice orchestra.

    Recommended to lovers of Die Tote Stadt.

    Overall: C

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