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

          
   
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  1. #8926
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I think the opera's sheer length (that CD recording includes four discs) discourages many houses/companies from staging it. The role of Arnold is also enormously difficult, though Spyres is up to the challenge.
    I started watching the DVD last night and am maybe half an hour in. Well, Florez ought to be a good Arnold anyway. Other than that I have not been very keen on Rossini at all for some reason. Maybe burnout after OD-ing on Barber of Seville a few years ago.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  3. #8927
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Mention in a review of the tenor aria "Cielo e mar" from this opera reminded me that I hadn't listened to it in some time. This is an excellent recording, and there's lots of music for the baddie Barnaba, sung by Sherrill Milnes.

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  5. #8928
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Another review (of a video recording of an attempted recreatation of Giorgio Strehler’s 1965 Salzburg Festival production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail) prompted me to listen to the live audio recording (digitally remastered monaural) of one of the original Salzburg performances. I can’t even find a photo of the CD cover any more, but here are the specifics:

    Conductor/orchestra: Zubin Mehta, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    Vienna State Opera Chorus
    Cast: Fritz Wunderlich (Belmonte), Anneliese Rothenberger (Konstanze), Gerhard Unger (Pedrillo), Reri Grist (Blonde), Fernando Corena (Osmin), Michael Heltau (Pasha Selim)
    Orfeo C 392 952 1 2 Cs)

    It would be sad if this recording were no longer available -- that stellar cast is hard to improve upon.

  6. #8929
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Been a while since I listened to this recording of the Fidelio Urfassung, and I think René Jacobs may give Toscanini some competition when it comes to rapid tempos. For me, Marlis Petersen's Leonore is this version's primary attraction.

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  8. #8930
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  10. #8931
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I’ve nearly finished reading a (huge) biography of John Hay, a Midwesterner who served as assistant private secretary to President Lincoln and later as U.S. Secretary of State in the administrations of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. The chapters dealing with his tenure at the State Department – specifically the descriptions of world events and domestic conditions – really place this opera’s plot in context. In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. became a world power, and Roosevelt in particular wanted to exercise the country’s new “muscle.” Pinkerton’s aggressive braggadocio is very reminiscent of TR’s cocky attitude, while Sharpless is reminiscent of Hay in his more tactful, sensitive approach. Nonetheless, Sharpless still manifests the attitudes of his time – i.e., his assumption that Butterfly’s child will be better off in the U.S. than in Japan – and he’s quite willing to acquiesce in Pinkerton’s plans to take the child away from his mother. Hay, for all his education and “refinement,” still displays the sort of casual racism characteristic of the period in his private correspondence and conversations, use of derogatory slurs included. That background detail really made me listen to Madama Butterfly in a new way.
    (Interestingly, the Russo-Japanese War – sparked by competition among the world powers to establish “spheres of influence” in the weak Chinese Empire -- broke out the same month that this opera had its world premiere.)

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  12. #8932
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    ^ For some reason, maybe the hairdoo, that does not look like Angela Gheorghiu. Wish I liked that opera because Kaufmann is always a good listen, but I just can't bear the story in this one.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  14. #8933
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    It's a tear-jerker, all right, and one really wants to boot Pinkerton in his posterior. That final scene when Butterfly realizes who Kate Pinkerton is seems almost unbearable, and one would like to boot Kate and Sharpless in their backsides as well. I love the music, though.
    Kaufmann has never sung Pinkerton in a staged performance because he dislikes the character so strongly.

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  16. #8934
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Always guaranteed to make one smile!

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  18. #8935
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  20. #8936
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  22. #8937
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    Siegfried
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  24. #8938
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  26. #8939
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  28. #8940
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    It’s unfortunate that many people know nothing more of this opera than the popular Polka. Weinberger’s lush, late Romantic score is based on Czech folk music and is full of wonderful, lyrical melodies. The libretto by Milos Kareš is based on the Bohemian folk tale of Babinsky, a sort of cross between Robin Hood (steals from the rich, gives to the poor) and a prankster. Schwanda (Švanda) is a village musician, a good-natured enough sort if one who is a little bit vain and too easily persuaded by Babinsky to go off on adventures. There’s a marvelous scene in the final act where Babinsky out-cheats the Devil at cards in order to liberate Schwanda from Old Nick’s clutches. This is a wonderful recording with Hermann Prey as Schwanda, Siegfried Jerusalem as Babinsky, and Lucia Popp as Schwanda’s loyal wife Dorotka. The only real “minus” is that it’s sung in Max Brod’s German translation instead of the original Czech. (There are CD recordings from Wexford and Dresden for those who want an original language performance.)
    If you like Smetana's The Bartered Bride, you would probably like Švanda.

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