Recently in Recordings
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
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can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of
Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at
Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced
disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and
supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
25 Jan 2005
SCHUBERT: Alfonso und Estrella
New artists are taking greater chances with repertory, looking for niches to call their own. Dawn Upshaw explores new music, Cecilia Bartoli eighteenth-century Italian song, and in this live recording up-and-coming artists Eva Mei and Rainer Trost take on the lead roles in Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella. Mei and Trost’s sympathetic singing with the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro lirico di Cagliari conducted by Gérard Korsten breathes life into this choppy opera, which Liszt famously condemned as a work of only historical interest.
Franz Schubert, Alfonso und Estrella
Eva Mei, soprano - Rainer Trost, tenor - Markus Werba, baritone - Alfred Muff, bass - Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Lirico di Cagliari - Gérard Korsten, conductor - Luca Ronconi, director
Dynamic CDS 451/1-2 [2CDs]
New artists are taking greater chances with repertory, looking for niches to call their own. Dawn Upshaw explores new music, Cecilia Bartoli eighteenth-century Italian song, and in this live recording up-and-coming artists Eva Mei and Rainer Trost take on the lead roles in Schubert's Alfonso und Estrella. Mei and Trost's sympathetic singing with the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro lirico di Cagliari conducted by Gérard Korsten breathes life into this choppy opera, which Liszt famously condemned as a work of only historical interest.
Long a source of head scratching for music historians, Schubert operas remain relatively unloved and unheard. He composed three operas, six singspiele, incidental music to Rosamunde, and a three-act melodrama, Die Zauberharfe, some of which were never completed. The master of the song found little success in the aria. Arguably, Schubert was best suited for the miniature, songs and piano works, while he was not at the top of his game in opera and the symphony — a bit like Paul Simon and his Caveman. While their songs abound in nuance, their theatrical works lack drama.
Schubert composed Alfonso und Estrella during the autumn of 1821, with a libretto by Franz von Schober, his friend, jack-of-all-trades, and no Da Ponte. They toiled together happily during a getaway to St. Pölten, outside Vienna. On their return they could not find a theater to perform the three-act opera about young love overcoming warring factions. Famous singers, including Anna Milder-Hauptmann, gingerly avoided the project, while Michael Vogl openly knocked it.
Soprano Eva Mei is no stranger to Rossini, Schubert's popular contemporary. She has triumphed in La cambiale di matrimonio and Il barbiere di Siviglia. In addition, she has delighted audiences on stage in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Strauss's Four Last Songs. Trost is best known for his delectable Mozart, (Don Ottavio, Tito and Tamino), showing promise singing at the Met and Covent Garden.
Together their voices bring to light the most convincing numbers in Alfonso und Estrella. After a dullish overture, songs and recitatives, and intrusive choruses, we are treated to the lovely aria O wenn ich je dir wert gewesen, performed with subtle mastery by Mei. Mei pinches some of the high notes and relishes the low ones. Her capable coloratura is humbled by the fact that Schubert has given her few songs to sing that the chorus does not barge in on. Her musicality is highlighted in her ability to blend her voice with Trost's in the spirited duets that close out Act One. Mei and Trost are also perfectly compatible in the charming duet of Act Two, Lass dir als Erinn'rung zeichen. Trost is given little space to shine in this opera. In the short Wenn ich dich Holde sehe, he completes vocal gymnastics smoothly amid the Viennese trifles. He has a bright tenor voice and like Mei gives an intelligent performance. He also possesses fine vocal control and a gift for timbre.
The other roles are nicely interpreted, particularly Jochen Schmeckenbecher's majestic baritone as Mauregato. The choir sounds beautifully throughout and the orchestra remains steady in its challenging role as both accompanist and early German vehicle for the drama in this appealing recording.
Lewis & Clark College