Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simon Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

Urania Remasters Marriage of Figaro

Good news for lovers of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro: the famous Living Stereo recording, a co-production of RCA Victor and English Decca, is now available again, well remastered, on Urania.

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

24 May 2005

ADAM: Si J’etais Roi
LEHÁR: Rose de Noël

Accord has gone back to the vaults for an attractively packaged series called “Opérette.” On the evidence of two of the sets, these releases feature recordings made in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. The booklets are entirely in French (and offer no librettos whatsoever), but even a French-challenged persons such as your reviewer can understand the inside front cover, which appears to explain that the recordings are the efforts of “L’Academie Nationale de l’Opérette.” This organization appears to have as its rationale — all right, raison d’etre — the preservation, if not resuscitation, of the great French tradition of light musical entertainments. With bold, bright colors decorating the packaging, the sets come across as delectable candy boxes — but how much sweetness one will enjoy when partaking of the series does depend on a taste for the bouncy, frivolous world of operetta.

Adolphe Adam: Si J'etais Roi
Soloists; Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire
Richard Blareau, conductor
Accord Opérette 476 2104 [2CDs]

Franz Lehár: Rose de Noel
Soloists; orchestra and chorus
Felix Nuvulone, conductor
Accord Opérette 472 871-2 [2CDs]

Accord has gone back to the vaults for an attractively packaged series called "Opérette." On the evidence of two of the sets, these releases feature recordings made in the late 1950s and early '60s. The booklets are entirely in French (and offer no librettos whatsoever), but even a French-challenged persons such as your reviewer can understand the inside front cover, which appears to explain that the recordings are the efforts of "L'Academie Nationale de l'Opérette." This organization appears to have as its rationale — all right, raison d'etre — the preservation, if not resuscitation, of the great French tradition of light musical entertainments. With bold, bright colors decorating the packaging, the sets come across as delectable candy boxes — but how much sweetness one will enjoy when partaking of the series does depend on a taste for the bouncy, frivolous world of operetta.

The Lehár set, titled Rose de Noel, is a bit of a curiosity. No such title would be found in a catalog of Lehár's works. A Professor Rekai and Paul Bonneau adapted the music from a number of Lehár's German operettas [see Editor's Note below], and a Raymond Vincy concocted the French libretto with a new story line. As such, the end product calls to mind some Opera Rara sets of adapted Offenbach, such as Christopher Columbus. Opera Rara, in that set, offered an index of which numbers had been appropriated from which Offenbach operetta; Accord does not offer this helpful information. A couple of the tunes do sound familiar, but as operetta music tends to always sounds familiar, even when first encountered, no specific conclusions can be deducted from that fact.

At any rate, the set is quite short — on two discs just barely over 80 minutes total time, and of course, that includes quite a bit of dialogue. The performances have wonderful Gallic flair, and for Lehár fans, the appeal of hearing the music without a Teutonic tone may have great appeal. For others — the 80 minutes may feel much, much longer.

The Adam presents quite another story — though still somewhat short and dialogue heavy, especially on disc two. Here is a delightful series of tunes from a composer all but forgotten, except for his ballet score Giselle and the great but sadly over played Oh Holy Night. In fact, some music in act two (Pour le royal banquet) shares the same snappy rhythm as Adam's tremendous tenor showpiece from the opera of the same name, Der Postillon von Lonjumeau (as recorded on Capriccio 60-040-2). Adam offers a greater variety of mood and tempo than Lehár does, although it would be stretching the truth to claim that the music suggests a long-lost gem. The entertainment quotient, however, is very high.

For fans of French tenor head voice, Andre Mallabrera puts on quite a display. His light soprano counterpart, Liliane Breton, warbles a bit more than one would accept from even a beloved canary. The chief counterweight to these high, sweet voices is the graceful baritone of Rene Bianco. Richard Blareau's direction manages the neat trick of keeping the soufflé fresh and never in risk of deflation for 90+ minutes.

The inside covers feature numerous pictures of other titles in this Opérette series, perhaps the most well known title being Offenbach's La Belle Helene. If that set has the native tang and flair of these two sets, it might be quite a pleasure.

It might take the online shopper some time to find from where these sets can be ordered, and of course, reading French will allow for at least a basic understanding of the plots, as a synopsis is provided. For a colorful, tuneful glimpse at a world long gone, the Opérette series looks to have a wonderful viewing platform to offer.

Chris Mullins
Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy

[Editor's Note: The Accord Opérette series is available in the U.S. through Premiere Music Distributors and in Europe through Amazon.fr and other vendors.

A question has arisen as to the source of Lehar's music for Rose de Noel. The music for Rose de Noel was based on 17 unpublished airs found in the Budapest Conservatory by Professor Rekaïaut;. These were for a new unpublished and unperformed work that was to be titled Premier battement de coeur (First beating of the heart), the scenario for which was by journalist Karl Kristof. Permission to use the airs was obtained from Mme. Paphazaïaut;, sister and sole heir to Lehar.

Bonneau realized the score because Rekaïaut; had trouble getting out of Hungary, although he eventually did, and Vincy wrote the livret. It was well received and given 415 consecutive performances at Maurice Lehmann's Châtelet.

Click here for additional details and citations to source materials.]

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):