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?
06 Dec 2005
ROSSINI: Moise et Pharaon
Rossini's original Italian opera, Mose In Egitto, was re-adapted as Moise et Pharaon for Paris. A new libretto, the renaming of certain characters, some new music, a ballet and reordering of the original music make up the newer version.
It is certainly grand in the French manner and it receives a grand presentation in TDK's version. It was presented at the Teatro Arcimboldi when La Scala was in the process of renovation. The set designed by Gianni Quaranta fills the stage. Everything is large. His work is eye catching and seems quite appropriate. The director Luca Ronconi moves his forces around with aplomb, but it is difficult to create dramatic action in a piece that is relatively static. Despite a large cast that performs well, there is often the feeling that one is viewing a padded oratorio.
The chorus sings well and in the scenes which involve the chorus and principals, one gets a sense of what was to come later with Giullame Tell, as well as Rossini's successors Donizetti and Verdi.
Riccardo Muti is the gifted master of an orchestra that plays more than well. Muti is superb at controlling his orchestra and getting the most out of a cast that is never less than very good.
The Moise is the Russian Ildar Abdrazakov. He is properly noble in his acting and looks a plausible Moses. Vocally, the voice is a high lying bass, somewhat baritonal in nature. He has no trouble with the middle voice, nor the upward extensions. A couple of notes in the nether reaches are thin, but in all he is fine.
Barbara Frittoli is exceptionally ardent as Anai. She sings with great accuracy. In this version, a good deal of the ornamentation for all the voices has given way to straight forward dramatic thrust and it suits Frittoli well.
Giuseppe Filianoti as Amenophis, Pharaon's son, lives up to all the good things one has heard about this young man. His is a beautiful lyric voice. It is used with taste and his acting is excellent. He presents a fine figure on stage. Let us hope he stays in the lyric repertoire until his voice ripens He is quite ready and able to make a splash as the Duke of Mantua, Alfredo and Edgardo in Lucia right now.
Erwin Schrott as Pharaon brings a lovely baritone to his role. He acts with appropriate majesty. He too should continue to rise in the ranks.
Sonia Ganassi is luxury casting as Sinaide, Pharaon's wife. She hasn't much to sing other than to participate in the large chorale scenes. What she does do, she does well.
Tomislav Muzek is Moise's brother Eliezer . His is a higher lying tenor that Filianoti's. A nice voice of his sort. I only wish the costumers had done a better job with his wig. It makes him look like a nerd.
Giorgio Giuseppini is appropriately stern and unyielding as Osiride the Egyptian High Priest and presnts a voice that reflects his character well.
Nino Surgaladze sings her small role as Moise's sister touchingly.
The cast is rounded out by Antonello Ceron as an Egytian officer and Maurizio Muraro as a mysterious voice.
The ballet, which opens Act III is entirely forgettable. It actually intrudes on the opera. I realize that Rossini was only providing what Paris convention demanded. In these days of DVD, one may skip through it at fast forward or skip it entirely.
Throughout, the chorus plays an important role in this opera. Bruno Casoni is the chorus master. He has done a superb job with his group.
It is unlikely that another version of this opera will appear on DVD. There really is no need for one. This is an excellent production, well conducted and beautifully sung. You may find fault with what Rossini did with his original opera, but there is no arguing that what Muti's forces have done, is other than first-rate.