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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?
Since its first performance at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo during Venice’s 1643 Carnevale, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea has been one of the most important milestones in the genesis of modern opera despite its 250 years of unmerited obscurity.
Though 2013 is the bicentennial of the births of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, the releases of Cecilia Bartoli’s recording of Bellini’s Norma on DECCA, a new studio recording of Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro from Opera Rara, and this première recording of Saverio Mercadante’s forgotten I due Figaro, suggest that this is the start of a summer of bel canto.
Recording Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is for a
record label equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest: it is the zenith from which a label surveys its position among its rivals and appreciates an achievement that can define its reputation for a generation.
Few people who love opera in general and bel canto in particular have never heard the comment made by Lilli Lehmann, veteran of the inaugural Ring at Bayreuth in 1876, that singing all three of Wagner’s Brünnhildes—in Die Walküre, Siegfried, and
Götterdämmerung, respectively, all of which she sang to great acclaim—pales in comparison with singing the title rôle in Bellini’s Norma.
Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, first heard in 1907, once seemed important. Arturo Toscanini conducted the Met premiere in 1911 with Farrar and later arranged some of its music for a 1947 recording with his NBC Symphony.
29 Nov 2005
Michele Pertusi - Recital
Bass-baritone Michele Pertusi’s voice is captured in this recital disc after only two years of formal studies. Taking this into account one can forgive what he calls “imperfections: a few, slight musical errors, some invented or switched words, a Neapolitan pronunciation that is not quite perfect, an English one which could be improved on, a few marred notes.”
If the dates in the liner notes are correct, it is difficult to imagine the singer is only nineteen years old at the time of this recital. His voice is richly colored, expressive, secure, with a smooth tone, and he displays the bravura of a seasoned performer. It is, for sure, an ambitious recital but Pertusi is not intimidated by the music, nor the public for whom he is singing. The recital includes selections by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, and songs by Tosti, Denza, de Curtis, Tagliaferri, Porter and Rodgers. For an encore the young singer chose songs by Bixio, and Falvo. He also reprises two previous selections: Verdi’s cabaletta from Attila, “Oltre quel limite,” and Denza’s song, “Vien!”
Though Pertusi has a well deserved reputation for his interpretations of Mozart and Rossini, in this recital he is at his best singing the four Verdi Arias, and in some of the songs.
In Ernani’s “Infelice, e tuo credevi,” Pertusi exhibits some of the flaws he mentions in the above quote, however, his overall delivery is emotional, and he executes an unexpected trill at the end of the aria. Don Carlo’s Filippo is not a role for a young bass, however, Pertusi sings “Ella giammai m’amò” as though he were much older. The listener feels the character’s pain through the pathos imbued by young Pertusi into his singing, and he ends the aria with a beautiful diminuendo which he floats over the faint, last notes coming from the cello. In “O tu Palermo” from Vespri Siciliani Pertusi faithfully follows the different emotions of the aria, and once again he ends the aria floating the seemingly endless final notes. In Attila’s “Mentre gonfiarse l’anima...Oltre quel limite...” Pertusi easily displays the melancholy in the aria with his lush, rich voice, and the soaring, fiery melody in the cabaletta. There is a well deserved call for “Bis,” several “Bravos” and long applause at the end of this piece.
Luigi Denza’s song “Vieni” and Tagliaferri’s “Passione,” reminiscent of Leoncavallo’s “Vesti la giuba” are filled with pathos and emotion which Pertusi easily provides in his interpretation.
English speaking audiences will delight in the singer’s rendition of Porter’s “So in Love” from Kiss me Kate, and Rodgers’ “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific.
The Parma Opera Ensemble ably provides accompaniment to the singer, at times sounding much larger than its ten members. The Ensemble has a solo, the “Sinfonia” to Rossini’s La Cenerentola.
The liner notes include a brief commentary by the singer and a candid interview with him, conducted by Stefano Olcese.
This recording, released twenty years after Pertusi made his operatic debut, is not for those who are seeking the mature singer, but for those who want a window into the singer’s early career. A delightful performance, for sure, where all is forgiven in exchange of the excitement and pleasure the young Pertusi provides the audience and CD listener, alike.