Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

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.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

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: Notturno

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 Sings Mahler Lieder

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.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

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.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

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 Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

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.

Amore e Tormento

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.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 

Verdi at the Old MET

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.

Italo Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre re

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. 

Così fan tutte from DG

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. 

Heart’s Delight: The Songs of Richard Tauber

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.

Adriana Lecouvreur from Decca

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.

Lawrence Brownlee’s Spiritual Sketches

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.

Great Wagner Conductors from DG

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 archives.

Great Wagner Singers from DG

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.

Adding Movie Magic to The Magic Flute

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?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Emmerich Kálmán: Lieder
26 Jan 2006

KÁLMÁN: Lieder

I wonder if a record company, any record company, would have taken the trouble of recording these songs if the composer had been Zoltan Kocsis or Deszö Ranki instead of Imre (his real first name) Kálmán?

Emmerich Kálmán: Lieder

Anna Korondi (soprano); Istvan Kovacs (baritone); Peter Stamm (piano)
Recorded Kleiner Sendesaal March 18th – 23th 2004

cpo 777 059-2 [CD]

 

Moreover it is no coincidence that the cpo label produced this CD as the firm has recently released a string of rare operetta recordings by Kálmán and that other Hungarian genius, Ferenc Lehár, which prove that a lot of lesser-known operettas are musically on the same level as acknowledged masterpieces yet are discarded solely and only for their silly libretti. It is by now well-known that Kálmán, like Lehár and that other genius, Leo Fall, first and foremost wanted a career as a composer of “serious” music. Co-students of Kálmán’s teacher were Bartók and Kodály. Kálmán at first had some artistic successes, which of course didn’t make him rich and he didn’t much believe in the inspired artist living in destitution in an ice cold attic (During his stay in banishment in the US in the forties he earned a lot of fees by conducting his own works, though that was peanuts compared to the amounts of money he made on the stock exchange). Between 1902 and 1906 he composed, among other things, 20 art songs on Hungarian texts. In 1907 these songs were even published as a cycle called Dalai, for which he received the Emperor Franz Joseph Prize from the city of Budapest. At the time he had almost finished his first big operetta success, Tatarjaras, which would later make the rounds of the world in the German version as Ein Herbstmanöver—it presently exists in recording only as Autumn Manoeuvres by the Ohio Light Opera company). The songs were first forgotten and then thought to be lost forever. Enter Stefan Frey, a German author who specializes in exemplary biographies of operetta composers (his Kálmán and Lehár biographies are a must for every operetta lover…..if they can read German). During his research for “Unter Tränen lachen — Emmerich Kálmán” he discovered a set of the Dalai cycle in the Budapest State library, where they had gone unnoticed for a century.

Note that in reality Dalai is not a real cycle with a continuing story like Die Winterreise. In fact it is just a collection of twenty songs. Most of them are on rather gloomy texts about fatherlessness, loneliness and dark nights. Then there are some songs he later used for his first singspiel, though there too is nothing that hints at the prodigious charm and joy of Countess Mariza or The Gipsy Princess. They are somewhat folk-style songs reminding me a bit of Stephen Foster, though without the American’s melodic inspiration. There is nothing laboured in the Brahms or Hugo Wolf way. With the last songs Kálmán clearly reveals he is thinking of operetta. The sad melancholy makes way for vivaciousness like in “Örök mamor” (track 3) or “Kurucok tabori” (track 18), which is officially the camp song of a crusader but is the nearest the composer reaches out towards Count Boni’s “Ganz ohne Weiber geht die Chose nicht” in Gipsy Princess. So these songs are always pleasant to listen to and, though the CD contains full texts with German and English translations, no deeper insights are conquered reading them while listening to the music.

There is a bonus of four pretty piano pieces à la Schumann, a composer Kálmán admired . One can easily imagine a young fine lady of good bourgeois stock playing them in front of a few admirers. All in all, I hesitate to admit it but the CD grows on you with repeated hearing while reading or typing. The two singers are not exactly world stars but serious dedicated artists. Baritone Istvan Kovacs (born 1972) has a warm and supple voice well schooled in Lieder and with some Don Giovanni’s behind the belt. Soprano Anna Korondi is one of those versatile singers (Lieder, World Premières of soon to be forgotten operas and some smaller roles in Richard Strauss and Wagner) who never turn into a big name but have a full workload. She has a nice, though somewhat undistinguished, lyric soprano that from time to time turns a little bit sour.

Jan Neckers

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):