Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

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?

L’Incoronazione di Poppea from Virgin Classics

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. 

Saverio Mercadante: I due Figaro

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Victoria de los Angeles—Profile in Music
22 Apr 2006

Victoria de los Angeles—Profile in Music

For those without much time to read reviews, I can be extremely brief: hurry and buy this DVD. For all the others: the same advise though maybe they want to know the reasons for such a purchase.

Victoria de los Angeles—Profile in Music
Songs by Schubert, Brahms, Falla, Vives, Granados, Montsalvage, Nin, Mompou. Arias by Falla, Rossini, Wagner, Puccini.

Victoria de los Angeles, Gerald Moore, Patrick Harvey, Georges Prêtre, Felix Zanetti, Frederico Mompou

EMI Classics 0946 3 10203 9 1 [DVD]

$24.98  Click to buy

It takes half a minute watching this issue before one succumbs to the charm of the lady and the beauty of the voice. In the past, I’ve been somewhat immune towards some of her recordings, especially in repertoire where the voice is stretched and not very suitable, like in the heavier parts of Butterfly and that ill-advised Cavalleria where she is completely overwhelmed by Corelli. But the combination of looks and voice as here is to be seen is simply irresistible.

The concert starts with three popular lieder, Gerald Moore his virtuosic self as an accompanist. The voice is so warm, charming and exuberant that one forgets all carping. Her German is quite good, though not in the league of Schwarzkopf or Dieskau; but maybe that’s de los Angeles’ strength. One simply and immediately forgets that here is high Art with a capital "A" and realizes that Lieder can be performed just to enjoy them. Fifty years afterwards it strikes me (in her recordings as well) that de los Angeles is far more timeless and therefore more modern than her great German contemporaries, as she is not chewing on consonants or looking for hidden meanings. Of course, she is incomparable in Falla’s famous Jota and how she enjoys singing El retablo de Isabela by Vives. A song it is, but it could come straightforward out of one of the maestro’s magnificent zarzuelas like Dona Francisquita, Bohemios, Maruxa or La Generala.

The second part of this DVD consists of a BBC Profile in Music with opera arias and one song. De los Angeles starts out with Salud’s monologue from Vida breve and one almost shivers with emotion, knowing the sad fate that was awaiting the soprano herself only shortly afterwards. In Barbiere she is pure magic: the voice warm, playful and always with a smile in it. And the way she acts, it ought to be seen. This is a Rosina of one’s dreams. Maybe she is a little overparted in Tannhäuser, but it still is a treat to get Wagner sung in this almost lilting way. And as Cio Cio San she is heart breaking. The sets she is acting in are discreet but sufficient. One doesn’t see the orchestra and nevertheless wonders if the singing was done indirectly. Probably not as she has a lot of talking to do between arias; but then it only proves she was already highly proficient at synchronized lipping. A John Freeman is the conceited and very irritating interviewer throwing away opportunity after opportunity with his stupid questions e.g.: "whom do you like best to work with? Germans, Italians, English?" and a prime example of imbecility "are you interested in public affairs? in Spanish politics?" This at a time when Franco still had opponents during the civil war shot. De los Angeles stays calm, always smiling and laughing and speaking a rich American English with that beautiful speaking voice. With historical hindsight, we know that soon tragedy will unfold and the laughing Vicky (as she was lovingly called by her fans) will turn into herself, always friendly but aloof, never speaking her mind anymore. (Her husband cheated all the time on her while gambling away all her money and indebting her severely. She became pregnant again and her son suffered from diabetes. Her second son was born with the Down's syndrome. Though losing her voice, she had to perform into her seventies to survive. She could finally get a divorce but had to bury her eldest son. She died almost destitute.)

The third part of this DVD is devoted to a recital of well-known Spanish songs at Besançon. By 1967, the voice had thinned and the top was more problematic than ever but in this repertoire she can still sing with that rich middle voice and one hardly notices the decline. The bonus is a song recorded with the composer at the piano, filmed in fine colours. The picture quality is not perfect at first and when the camera has to move from medium to close there is some abruptness. But the quality soon improves (somewhat strange as it is the same kinescope) and, when we have reached Brahms, everything is as perfect as can be expected from those broadcasts. The sound, too, is perfect; and no admirer of vocal art can do without this issue.

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):