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

          
   
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  1. #1381
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    I have one question here: Wasn't Gluck German (Christoph Willibald Gluck)? I understand that he lived in Paris for a while and composed a couple of operas in French, but he didn't move to Paris until he was nearly 60! So, I think he belongs to the Germans and not on your list of top French opera composers.
    Well, he did write several operas in French (15, not a couple), and many of those are among his major ones, with a couple of exceptions (his Italian language ones contain a couple of his best works but most of the really good ones are in French, not to forget that he redid those major Italian hits in French as well). Yes, I know, he was German (Bavarian) but so were Meyerbeer and Offenbach, and Lully was born in Italy, and who doesn't list these three among the French?

    I kind of list composers as belonging or not to a national body of works by looking at their main operas and for what stages/languages they were composed. So, it's hard to list Handel as a German composer, don't you agree? The vast majority of his major operatic works is made of pieces in Italian, composed in Italy, and with Italian librettists, then he moved to England and switched to English for his oratorios. Even Mozart, he was vastly influenced by the Italianate style and traveled to Italy to learn the ropes, and his very best operas are in Italian. But I do give Mozart to the Austrians because he also composed significant pieces in German, and his musical influences weren't only Italian. But, you know, operas also take librettists, and when you think that the three best Mozart operas were done in the Italianate style, with a librettist from Italy (da Ponte), then it's a bit hard to call these, Austrian operas.

    Similarly, would you call The Rake's Progress a Russian opera? No, it's an American opera regardless of his place of birth; Stravinsky used some American musical language in it, set to music a libretto in English, was over here and was already naturalized American when he composed it, so, it's an American piece. Was Menotti an Italian composer? Sure, he was born in Italy and did start composing operas in Italian, but virtually all his major works were composed in English, in America, so I list these as American operas as well.

    In my opinion, it makes more sense to think of it this way. Composers were quite mobile throughout history, and people moved to different European courts as work became available (or, later, some even moved here to the US), and would almost always try to adapt to that country's traditions and musical language in order to be successful, so it makes more sense to list them according to where they were doing their trade (since this did influenced heavily the kind of musical language they were composing in), as opposed to a mere place of birth.

    All these foreign born composers, when they did their pieces in French, used a *very* French style, so, I don't get too caught up with the place of birth. If you look at Gluck's major works Iphigénie en Aulide, Iphigénie en Tauride, Armide, Alceste (the French one), Orphée et Euridice (the French one), and Echo et Narcisse, it's all in French. So I think of these as French operas when considering the French operatic body. He also did some minor ones in French as well - La Fausse Esclave, L'ile de Merlin, Le Diable à Quatre, Cythère Assiégée, L'arbre enchantée, L'ivrogne corrigé, Le Cadi Dupé, La rencontre imprévue, and La Fête d'Apollo.

    How can you list Gluck with the German operatic body? Of his 49 operas (counting remakes), only one was in German, and even that one was reworked from his best and most famous one which was originally in French, then renamed in translation Iphigenie auf Tauris.

    If we were to consider Gluck as not belonging to French opera, then we'd have to list him as Italian, not German, since most of his operas were in Italian, with Metastasio and other Italians as librettists - but like I said, not his major successes, which were almost all in French.

    By the way, the scholarly book quoted by deNoget above does list Gluck as French, so at the very least I'm not alone in this.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 6th, 2013 at 05:23 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #1382
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    Well, he did write several operas in French (15, not a couple), and many of those are among his major ones, with a couple of exceptions (his Italian language ones contain a couple of his best works but most of the really good ones are in French, not to forget that he redid those major Italian hits in French as well). Yes, I know, he was German (Bavarian) but so were Meyerbeer and Offenbach, and Lully was born in Italy, and who doesn't list these three among the French?

    I kind of list composers as belonging or not to a national body of works by looking at their main operas and for what stages/languages they were composed. So, it's hard to list Handel as a German composer, don't you agree? The vast majority of his major operatic works is made of pieces in Italian, composed in Italy, and with Italian librettists, then he moved to England and switched to English for his oratorios. Even Mozart, he was vastly influenced by the Italianate style and traveled to Italy to learn the ropes, and his very best operas are in Italian. But I do give Mozart to the Austrians because he also composed significant pieces in German, and his musical influences weren't only Italian. But, you know, operas also take librettists, and when you think that the three best Mozart operas were done in the Italianate style, with a librettist from Italy (da Ponte), then it's a bit hard to call these, Austrian operas.

    Similarly, would you call The Rake's Progress a Russian opera? No, it's an American opera regardless of his place of birth; Stravinsky used some American musical language in it, set to music a libretto in English, was over here and was already naturalized American when he composed it, so, it's an American piece. Was Menotti an Italian composer? Sure, he was born in Italy and did start composing operas in Italian, but virtually all his major works were composed in English, in America, so I list these as American operas as well.

    In my opinion, it makes more sense to think of it this way. Composers were quite mobile throughout history, and people moved to different European courts as work became available (or, later, some even moved here to the US), and would almost always try to adapt to that country's traditions and musical language in order to be successful, so it makes more sense to list them according to where they were doing their trade (since this did influenced heavily the kind of musical language they were composing in), as opposed to a mere place of birth.

    All these foreign born composers, when they did their pieces in French, used a *very* French style, so, I don't get too caught up with the place of birth. If you look at Gluck's major works Iphigénie en Aulide, Iphigénie en Tauride, Armide, Alceste (the French one), Orphée et Euridice (the French one), and Echo et Narcisse, it's all in French. So I think of these as French operas when considering the French operatic body. He also did some minor ones in French as well - La Fausse Esclave, L'ile de Merlin, Le Diable à Quatre, Cythère Assiégée, L'arbre enchantée, L'ivrogne corrigé, Le Cadi Dupé, La rencontre imprévue, and La Fête d'Apollo.

    How can you list Gluck with the German operatic body? Of his 49 operas (counting remakes), only one was in German, and even that one was reworked from his best and most famous one which was originally in French, then renamed in translation Iphigenie auf Tauris.

    If we were to consider Gluck as not belonging to French opera, then we'd have to list him as Italian, not German, since most of his operas were in Italian, with Metastasio and other Italians as librettists - but like I said, not his major successes, which were almost all in French.

    By the way, the scholarly book quoted by deNoget above does list Gluck as French, so at the very least I'm not alone in this.
    I knew I was going to get myself in trouble with that posting, but decided that since Gluck didn't move to Paris until he was 60, it begged the question.

    I certainly know and understand the point - and agree with your points about Meyerbeer (who, I believe, even changed his name) and Handel, who did almost all of his composing in England. Mozart, Italian? Mmm, No. You can try and make that case, but I, for one, will never buy it. (I've been dying to use that smilie..).

  3. #1383
    Member Recent member deNoget's Avatar
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    We've entered on the problems of late 19th century Nationalism and its codification in the standard repertoire. There seems to be something important about where a work comes from. It is very important that Wagner is German, and that Verdi is Italian.

    Is it important to find a category for Handel who was a German writing in Italian in England in a much more cosmopolitan time? Is it possible to classify all of those Italian operas for Vienna, which includes those by Mozart and Gluck?

    Vienna and Paris in the 18th century were cosmopolitan cities, where everyone wrote in a particular style and language, because that is what everyone did when you were there. This continued into the 19th century, especially when writing for the Paris Opera. Lully, Gluck, Cherubini, Spontini, Meyerbeer wrote French music while in France. But did Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi? Is their music for the Paris Opera Italian or French? What about all of the Italian music performed at the Theater Italian in Paris, where they imported all of the bel canto repertoire?

    And what about the fact that all of this music originally written in French is best known today in Italian versions?

  4. #1384
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    I knew I was going to get myself in trouble with that posting, but decided that since Gluck didn't move to Paris until he was 60, it begged the question.

    I certainly know and understand the point - and agree with your points about Meyerbeer (who, I believe, even changed his name) and Handel, who did almost all of his composing in England. Mozart, Italian? Mmm, No. You can try and make that case, but I, for one, will never buy it. (I've been dying to use that smilie..).
    Well, I didn't make that case for Mozart. If you read me again, I said: "But I do give Mozart to the Austrians because he also composed significant pieces in German, and his musical influences weren't only Italian." I just said that it is hard to call his top three operas - not him as a composer - Austrian operas. Does Le Nozze di Figaro look, feel, and sound to you as a Teutonic opera? But sure, Mozart was an Austrian composer, who also happened to compose some very Italianate operas. If you had to pick a truly Germanic opera, representative of that culture's musical language and style, would you really pick Le Nozze di Figaro, rather than say, Der Freischütz?

    PS - I did exaggerate a bit Handel's Italian period - he only composed three operas while he lived in Italy - Rodrigo, Aggripina, and Rinaldo (the latter, sort of; he composed it for London but borrowing extensively from his own Italian compositions when he lived in Italy between 1706 and 1710; Rinaldo premiere in 1711). However even after he moved for good to London in 1712, he continued to be heavily influenced by the Italianate style and continued to set Italian libretti to music. But yes, in any case, if we don't consider his operas to belong to the Italian body of works, then we'll have to consider him English, not German - he by the way did acquire British citizenship by naturalization. It is said of his operas: "During the 36 years in which Italian opera was his principal concern, Handel adhered closely to the typical form of the era." So, his operas were in Italian, and with Italianate style, although by that time he had moved to London and had adopted British citizenship. But, you know, it wasn't really British music that he was composing.

    Again, I think it makes much more sense to draw the borders of these national styles by language and stylistic considerations rather than by place of birth of the specific composers. When someone is sitting in a room in London and starts to write down music of an Italianate style on top of an Italian libretto, for me the person is composing Italian opera even if when he looks out the window he sees the Big Ben instead of the Basilica di San Marco (and certainly, regardless of where the person was born). Presumably, if he hopped on a wagon and traveled somewhere else, he'd still be jotting down the same Italianate notes on the music paper. It's not like the air in London changed the nature of his piece into a British piece.

    So, we were discussing French opera a bit ago. For me, French opera and opera in French by non-French composers most of the time are stylistically indistinguishable one from the other. A while ago we were discussing how Verdi and Rossini, two musical geniuses, were able to mimic perfectly the French style of musical language when they were composing pieces for the French stages, over French libretti. We are talking about people who knew music in and out and upside down. They could do anything they wanted with their music, and were perfectly able to write in the proper musical language they were aiming for. Case in point, Les Vêpres Siciliennes. Verdi composed it mimicking the Grand Opéra style of Meyerbeer, because he did it for Paris Opéra. It is listed everywhere as Grand Opéra, not as Romantic Italian opera. So, I'd call Les Vêpres a French opera. It doesn't mean I call Verdi a French composer - I'm just calling this piece, a French piece. That's similar to what I said of Mozart. Yes, sure, he was an Austrian composer, but Le Nozze di Figaro is an Italian opera - although, let me nuance it a bit: not entirely. Mozart did blend some Teutonic style into his Italian operas. But his Italian ones are definitely not the typical Teutonic opera, and are much closer to the Italianate tradition. On the other hand, Die Zauberflöte is much more Teutonic, in the Singspiel tradition.

    Take the case of I Lombardi - and this responds a bit to deNoget's post above, which I only saw after I posted this one. When Verdi decided to adapt it to Grand Opéra style to show it in Paris (under the name of Jérusalem), he did re-write the score to make it more French-sounding, and he added a ballet. So, Jérusalem is a French Grand Opéra, while I Lombardi is an Italian opera. So, you have the same composer, pretty much the same piece split in two, but one is Italian, the other one is French.

    The Brazilians love to call Carlos Gomes one of their own. However his operas are *decisively* Italian. Even the one with a major Brazilian theme - Il Guarany - couldn't be more Italian (he wrote it for La Scala). You close your eyes and if you don't look at the Brazilian Indian main character with his typical native costume, what you hear in the music, is just exactly similar to the style of Verdi. Carlos Gomes traveled to Italy to learn his trade, and his compositions were exactly, to the last note, entirely, 100% Italianate.

    So, when I consult a book on the history of Italian opera, Carlos Gomes' Il Guarany is listed there as an Italian opera (true, I'm talking of a real book and its index), and the chapter on Carlos Gomes considers him to be a composer of Italian opera, even though he had no link of citizenship whatsoever with Italy, and returned to Brazil after his Italian studies (he did go back and forth for the rest of his life and married an Italian woman, then died in Brazil). It makes sense to me. His operas Fosca which he wrote for La Scala and Salvator Rosa which he wrote for the Carlo Felice in Genoa, are even more Italianate than Il Guarany. They don't have an ounce of Brazilian spirit in them. Why should they be called Brazilian operas? Just because the composer was born in Brazil? They are Italian operas, composed by a Brazilian; that's what they are.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 7th, 2013 at 11:52 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #1385
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Revisiting Manon Lescaut.

    Listening to:



    Watching:

    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

  6. #1386
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Just recieved and finished listening to the new Gergiev Parsifal.
    It comes beautifully packaged in a thin clam shell box with a thick beautiful
    booklet.
    The recording is just beautiful and so are the singers and conducting.
    The side breaks are done perfectly. Act 1 on the first 2 discs. Acts 2 and 3 each complete on discs 3and 4.
    HIGHLY recommended.
    Going to listen to act 1 again.

  7. #1387
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Die Frau Ohne Schatten, Solti.
    GREAT recording.

  8. #1388
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Before Callas signed EMI contract in 1953 she did Mexico city tour 1950-52 with Di Stephano and gave us some truely amazing raw performances, yes the live sound is not good but Callas blazes like a super nova here

  9. #1389
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Angel View Post




    Before Callas signed EMI contract in 1953 she did Mexico city tour 1950-52 with Di Stephano and gave us some truely amazing raw performances, yes the live sound is not good but Callas blazes like a super nova here
    the recordings are bad, but the performances are amazing.

  10. #1390
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    This Gergiev Parsifal is rapidly becoming a favorite.

  11. #1391
    Senior Member Involved Member StLukesGuildOhio's Avatar
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    Well... since it's free (as if I won't be elbowing Alma to be among the first to lay his filthy hands upon the Deluxe Limited Edition ) I'm currently listening to Anna's latest.



    Listen to the Verdi album in its entirety for one week only, courtesy of NPR Music:

    http://bit.ly/VerdiFirstListen

    Now if only it weren't after midnight and the wife weren't already asleep I'd be blaring this at concert-hall level!
    "Suppose you were an idiot ... And suppose you were a member of
    Congress .. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

  12. #1392
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StLukesGuildOhio View Post
    Well... since it's free (as if I won't be elbowing Alma to be among the first to lay his filthy hands upon the Deluxe Limited Edition ) I'm currently listening to Anna's latest.



    Listen to the Verdi album in its entirety for one week only, courtesy of NPR Music:

    http://bit.ly/VerdiFirstListen

    Now if only it weren't after midnight and the wife weren't already asleep I'd be blaring this at concert-hall level!
    Hey, people, be nice and instead of just listening for free, also buy the Deluxe Edition of the album (which is in pre-order at Amazon), so that sweet Anna can afford all the beautiful girlie things that she craves!

    [clicky], with the CD, a bonus DVD, extended liner notes, free mp3, and all, for the bargain guaranteed pre-order price of $21.09, eligible for Prime.

    I've placed my order already.

    -----------

    Now, seriously.

    What we have here is La Bellissima at the very peak of her considerable artistry. You all know that I'm a great admirer, but even I was utterly surprised when I listened to this.

    Anna is not just her usual sensational self in this album - she is, beyond that, truly extraordinary. In these dark Verdi pieces she shows an order of magnitude of vocal quality that matches all and any of her legendary predecessors who have tackled this repertory.

    Anna has always possessed an immensely beautiful timbre of voice. She has added to it not only the meatier and darker tone of a mature singer, but also the technical mastery that she has perfected over time, now that she commands several years of experience.

    I'm sure that this album is being (and will be) received by the public and critics alike with the greatest acclaim, but whatever is said of it in the present, may still fall short of what it deserves. See, we are her contemporaries, therefore we lack sufficient degree of separation to fully appreciate what she has done here.

    Had she recorded this album several decades ago (in a hypothetical time-travel leap), today we'd be reading about it in books on the history of opera, and scholars would be heralding it as one of the best operatic recordings of all time. Yes, that's what this is, folks. It's the stuff of legend. The vocal impact that Anna has achieved here is similar to what a Maria Callas could do when her voice was at her healthiest.

    With this album, Anna has cemented her position as the leading soprano of her generation. I don't know of any other CD that would justifiably be considered to be much better than this one, among the present-day singers. Certainly there are other worthy efforts, but like I said, Anna has at the very least matched them all. Ever since technology has allowed us to preserve the instruments of the operatic singers, great artistry has been committed to records, and several examples of the finest kind do exist - but Anna Netrebko can now look back and feel deservedly proud that she has done just as much as her illustrious predecessors.

    After listening to this thing of beauty, how can Anna still have detractors? What kind of misguided fool can still say that Anna is only successful because of her looks? This album should seal the deal and shut all the doubters up. Anna Netrebko is one of the best sopranos that this art form has ever produced, period.

    I look forward to seeing her live on stage performing full operas in this repertory. Anna had already treated us to great fun when she portrayed the girlie "-inas." We loved her already for that. But now, what she will be singing for us, will freeze our blood in our veins and will send shock waves down our spines. Be prepared for Anna's Lady Macbeth and the likes, folks. Get your salts with you, because it won't be for the faint of heart.

    --------

    PS - The one aspect I don't like is the photoshopped cover art. Anna is rounder now, but there is no reason to be ashamed of her current looks (they're just fine, for me), and I don't even think *she* is ashamed. She has said in interviews that she doesn't mind her extra kilos, which have accumulated with maternity and maturity. So, why does DG need to photoshop her for the cover? She is naturally beautiful with or without some extra kilos; no need for artificial thinning and retouches. Anna is a real woman with curves, not some anorexic waif, and she should be portrayed on her covers the way she really looks.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2013 at 02:11 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  13. #1393
    Senior Member Involved Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Let's get this thread back some sanity now:

    Well, I'm slowly making my way through the Keilberth stereo Ring.
    My initial impression is that the recorded sound is wonderful, the voices are amazing, but the conducting is so so.
    The tempis , to me, are somewhat erratic and Keilberth doesn't seem to have
    control over the orchestra like Krauss or Bohm.
    These are still wonderful recordings though and a must for all Wagnerians.

  14. #1394
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    PS - The one aspect I don't like is the photoshopped cover art. Anna is rounder now, but there is no reason to be ashamed of her current looks (they're just fine, for me), and I don't even think *she* is ashamed. She has said in interviews that she doesn't mind her extra kilos, which have accumulated with maternity and maturity. So, why does DG need to photoshop her for the cover? She is naturally beautiful with or without some extra kilos; no need for artificial thinning and retouches. Anna is a real woman with curves, not some anorexic waif, and she should be portrayed on her covers the way she really looks.
    Netrebko is Miss September:

    Name:  September Anna.jpg
Views: 98
Size:  92.6 KB

    Shall I crack it open and see if La Bellissima made the centerfold?
    Last edited by tyroneslothrop; August 15th, 2013 at 11:42 PM.
    “The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.”
    ― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

  15. #1395
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    PS - The one aspect I don't like is the photoshopped cover art. Anna is rounder now, but there is no reason to be ashamed of her current looks (they're just fine, for me), and I don't even think *she* is ashamed. She has said in interviews that she doesn't mind her extra kilos, which have accumulated with maternity and maturity. So, why does DG need to photoshop her for the cover? She is naturally beautiful with or without some extra kilos; no need for artificial thinning and retouches. Anna is a real woman with curves, not some anorexic waif, and she should be portrayed on her covers the way she really looks.
    Surely she has enough clout to insist that the cover is a photo she wants?
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

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