Recently in Recordings
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
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
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.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
10 May 2005
Mara Zampieri: A Tribute to Verdi
The recurring practice in classical recording studios is “re-mastering” recordings of a legendary artist, sometimes focusing on those artists well known but not frequently recorded. Soprano Mara Zampieri is one of those veteran performers, who released only a handful of commercial recordings and no personal compilations. Myto’s new release, Mara Zampieri: A Tribute to Verdi, is proof why this singer has not been recorded more frequently.
Mara Zampieri: A Tribute to Verdi
Mara Zampieri (sopranao) sings arias from Nabucco, Ernani, Giovanna D'Arco, Attila, Stiffelio, Aida, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Froza del Destino
Myto 052.H102 [CD]
A recurring practice in classical recording studios is "re-mastering" recordings of a legendary artist, sometimes focusing on those artists well known but not frequently recorded. Soprano Mara Zampieri is one of those veteran performers, who appears in a relatively short list of commercial recordings and a few personal compilations. Myto's new release, Mara Zampieri: A Tribute to Verdi, is proof why this singer has not been recorded more frequently.
Born in Padua in 1951, she received her musical training at the Padua Conservatoire. She made her debut at 21 in the Fraschini Theatre in Pavia. She also was the winner of many prestigious international awards early on, including the AS.LI.CO of Milan. It seems, however, that this premature push in her music career led to a faltering technique, which is evident on practically every track on this recording, not to mention creates an unstable ground from which to perform Verdi.
The disc contains selections from Verdi's most popular heroines, Abigaille, Elvira, Givanna D'Arco, Odabella, Lina, Leonora, Violetta, Amelai, Leonora, and Aida. Unfortunately, Zampieri handles each role differently vocally speaking, not being consistent in her voice production or in her sensitivity and attention to detail in the music. Indeed, the sound can be very imposing, but the quality stays in the throat and doesn't bloom into the hall, which gives her timbre that "boy soprano" characteristic.
Some selections included are captivating, such as Odabella's "Liberamente or piangi... O nel fuggente nuvolo" from Attila. Zampieri exhibits sensitive phrasing and a sensible light and flowing vocal timbre. If only she performed in this way consistently in the rest of the disc!
Alas, one gem of an aria does not a recording make. Foolishly the recording's producers buried her best work in the middle of the disc, and exposed probably her worst work at the beginning. Zampieri's Abigaille is atrocious, particularly "Ben io t'invenni o fatal scritto." The dramatically disjunctive Verdian recitative, moving quickly from extreme high to low, takes her out of her best vocal core and into pinched high notes and tottery chest notes. She loses all grace in the line, something she mastered in the Attila. Her coloratura is also varied in tempo, from the sporadic in "Tutto sprezzo che d'Ernani" to outright rushing in Violetta's "Sempre libera."
There are many lyric sopranos performing on world stages today that would be able to undertake a recording such as this and execute each role, each aria with more musical competency. Not recommended.