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

          
   
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  1. #1636
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    I'm about halfway through this Lucrezia Borgia and I CAN HEAR EVERY WORD THE PROMPTER SAYS. I'm horrified. Did no sound engineer actually listen to it? Renée not coping very well either, lots of scooping and a rather harsh tone. Even Michael Fabiano can't make up for the irritation.
    Oh dear -- that sounds like the sort of thing one might encounter with one of the "budget" labels. From a major opera house, one expects better. I would guess reviews will not be kind.

  2. #1637
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Oh dear -- that sounds like the sort of thing one might encounter with one of the "budget" labels. From a major opera house, one expects better. I would guess reviews will not be kind.
    I haven't heard this since recordings from the late 70s. I've emailed them to tell them about it - at least they can pay attention in future recordings. I haven't listen to Moby Dick yet - I'll be interested if there is the same problem.
    Natalie

  3. #1638
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Sends chills down my spine - everytime:

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  4. #1639
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    I couldn't resist the cover.

  5. #1640
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Somebody also needs to tell the SFO's subtitle writer that just because Orsini is sung by a mezzo, and just because there is a bit of mild and rather unexpected snogging between Orsini and Gennaro, this does not mean that the character should be referred to as "she".
    Natalie

  6. #1641
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Clayton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    ...Orsini... ...character should be referred to as "she".
    ?!!!!

    So bad it's funny!

  7. #1642
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    The fine folks in 'Frisco are making themselves look like a pack of total amateurs.

  8. #1643
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    The fine folks in 'Frisco are making themselves look like a pack of total amateurs.
    Here is what the nice lady at Frisco opera said to me (very promtptly I must say) in reply to my complaint about the prompter:
    Dear Natalie – thank you for your interest in SFOpera and our Borgia DVD.

    We are sorry to hear that you find the prompter so present. I am happy to explain our process to you - our recordings are live, and as you know in opera we do not mic the singers, as they are not amplified, so we position mics on the stage and over the pit. This means that the prompter is also picked up by the mics as is page turning in the pit or audience coughs etc. 90% of the prompter is “mixed” out in post-production, but there is a % where this is not possible, due to where the singer on stage is in relation to the prompter.

    It is a complex challenge for us. But is does represent the live sound, as if you were here in the house listening to the performance.

    We appreciate your comments and support – I am happy to send you a complimentary DVD of Moby-Dick (an opera which did not require a prompter) if you can share with me your mailing address. Thank you for being an opera supporter – please do try to come to a live performance should you find yourself in SF or perhaps there is an opera company near you!
    My question (and I said this in a reply) - Why do other houses not have the same issues? This is the first recoding for ages where I have been able to hear the prompter. Why don't they use body mikes? Is it that they are scared of being accused of amplification? Also it's not live sound as experienced in the theatre - where I personally have never been able to hear a prompter. I don't think NZ opera even uses one.

    Also - why did Lucrezia Borgia, after all a staple repertoire piece, require a prompter, and Moby Dick didn't, despite being new? Is it the language? But surely the memory load is no different. It was interesting that the prompter was most audible when Fleming was on stage - busy diva, no time to really memorise?
    Natalie

  9. #1644
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    Nat, I can try to clarify some points on the choice of not using body mikes.

    Yes, it can be that they do not want people to think they amplify their singers. But it is also an aesthetic decision.

    Levalier mikes, in the case of live theater presentation, are usually placed on the actor/singer forehead, right in the middle, so their position does not vary in relation to the source. This choice has many implications on how your material will sound: the voice of each character will always be in the foreground, and usually sound a little muffled and somewhat disconnected from the space he/she is in. Also it will sound the same wherever he/she is on stage, even if facing the audience from his back (does this make any sense?). It is also a huge pain for the actors/singers as they have a capsule on their heads, a wire taped to their bodies and a transmitter hidden somewhere in their clothes. Of course, it does have its advantages, like a much higher editability (but with a more laborious editing process).

    Using planted shotgun microphones on the stage brings, let's say, more life to the voice. It doesn't only record the voice itself, but also some of the ambient the voice is in, which makes the sound belong to the space. Both mikes also differ on physical constitution, and the shotguns are more likely to deliver the most natural sounding results due to their structure and the way they work. Downs are: a) your sound will vary accordingly to the position your actor is in (as it would live, but it can get bad), and b) undesirable sound can get to the mike and might not be edited out because your actor is speaking/singing at the same time. In a way, it is closer to the live experience.

    So it is up to the sound engineer to chose what he likes best (and also what fits his budget). I personally dislike opera recordings made with levalier micophones, especially when postproduction isn't the most careful. I remember I was very annoyed watching Willy Decker's Otello from Liceu because I could clearly listen to the microphones opening and closing. But then having the prompter on your final sound is just as absurd.
    Last edited by Festat; November 21st, 2013 at 10:40 PM.

  10. #1645
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Did a quick run through of ROH Troyens and the visual spectacle is very impressive but.......overall I like the Gardiner Troyens better.

    I was especially unhappy with dance elements of ROH production, handled much better in Gardiner version for me. Also I think for Dido I prefer Susan Graham.......

  11. #1646
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Here is what the nice lady at Frisco opera said to me (very promtptly I must say) in reply to my complaint about the prompter:


    My question (and I said this in a reply) - Why do other houses not have the same issues? This is the first recoding for ages where I have been able to hear the prompter. Why don't they use body mikes? Is it that they are scared of being accused of amplification? Also it's not live sound as experienced in the theatre - where I personally have never been able to hear a prompter. I don't think NZ opera even uses one.

    Also - why did Lucrezia Borgia, after all a staple repertoire piece, require a prompter, and Moby Dick didn't, despite being new? Is it the language? But surely the memory load is no different. It was interesting that the prompter was most audible when Fleming was on stage - busy diva, no time to really memorise?
    Washington National Opera does not use prompters - the closest I ever saw was back in my supering days at the Kennedy Center where, from the stage I could see Conductor John Mauceri mouthing the words to the singers at the same time he was conducting (although I suppose it's possible he was just singing along..). There might be another prompting technique I'm not aware of, but there is no "black box" perched at the apron of the stage.

  12. #1647
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    This morning I listened to Johnny Spielt auf (Ernst Krenek, 1927), which turned out to be a much more interesting piece than I anticipated. It probably will take a few more listens before I get the hang of it:

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    Then later, during my walk:

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    Donizetti's Linda di Chaumonix is actually a very nich opera, which is a little surprising considering how infrequently it is staged. Reading a little bit about it, the reason for that seems to be a complicated libretto for a semiseria opera, i.e., serious with buffo moments. The Opera Rara recording is very good - I thought the soprano (Elise Gutierrez) was excellent, and sounded a bit like Beverly Sills. I was little leery after buying it because I'm not crazy about the Opera Rara Il Pirata I bought some months ago, and they are not cheap!

  13. #1648
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    A fine example of how NOT to place your microphones on a live recording. While the ROH Orchestra is full and round, all the cast sound off axis most of the time, especially Baltsa.

  14. #1649
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Festat View Post
    A fine example of how NOT to place your microphones on a live recording. While the ROH Orchestra is full and round, all the cast sound off axis most of the time, especially Baltsa.
    I haven't listened to this in a while, so will give it another go to see what you mean.

    I'm generally not crazy about live recordings because I don't like all of their idiosyncrasies - poor mike placement, some recordings haven't edited out audience noises (some are really bad with coughing and sneezing included), etc. That said, no one currently is doing studio recordings any more, so I keep running to recordings dating from the 70s. Only problem there is, especially with Italian opera, it gets hard to find anything without Pavarotti who, good as he was, is distinctive and ubiquitous.

  15. #1650
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Before I started watching the video, I located a plot synopsis at the Bavarian State Opera's web site and read through it. In the process, I came across this summation from the second act:

    "Giove's jealous consort Giunone (Juno) suspects that her husband's visit to earth is not only the result of his concern for the ravishes wrought by war and now decides in her turn to pay earth a visit. She immediately comes across Calisto, who in her despair innocently tells her how Diana was at first so loving and then so cold and cruel towards her for no apparent reason. Giunone knows her husband well enough to suspect immediately what has actually happened. Her suspicions are confirmed when Giove, in the form of Diana, comes into view with Mercurio and arranges another assignation with Calisto. Giunone angrily swears to be revenged on her rival, Calisto."

    Oh right, I thought; the girl is clearly innocent of any evil intent, but that dimwitted Juno decides to target Calisto instead of her alley cat of a husband! Operas and mythology; you gotta love' em!

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