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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.
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
31 May 2006
JONES: The Geisha
Should Opera Today readers want to test where they would place themselves on a spectrum ranging from “completely politically incorrect” to “utterly politically correct,” the Hyperion Helios re-release of Sidney Jones “Japanese musical play” The Geisha surely will do the trick.
Whether one does or does not have a taste for this
genre — basically music hall Gilbert and Sullivan — the Asian
stereotyping and parody here will either strike one as innocuous,
perhaps at worst an unfortunate residue of a different time or place —
or as completely beyond the bounds of civil etiquette.
From “Chon Kina”:
I’m the smartest little geisha in Japan
And the people call me Roli Poli San....
Chon kina, chon kina
Chon kina, chon kina
Nagasaki, Yokohama, Hakodaate ho!
From “Jolly young Jacks are we”:
We’ve seen all sorts and sizes too-
Some rather quaintly dress’d ones;
But give me eyes of English blue-
Believe me, they’re the best ones!
And — hold on — from “The Toy Monkey”:
Nobody doubts that this horrid Japanese
Wives — orientally has got;
One, two, three, or as many as you please....
Click! Click! he’s a monkey on a stick....
So I’ll keep him alive
Till my English friends arrive-
When I’ll wish him a polite good-day.
That number — written by a Lionel Monckton and inserted into
Sidney Jones’s score — precedes the charming ditty,
“Ching-a-ring-a-ree.” We will not go there.
Hyperion evidently has no compunctions recording — and then
re-releasing — this material. The well-written booklet essay elaborates
on Jones’s career and times, but never ventures a word regarding the
material, other than to explain that Jones’s hit followed on the
success of The Mikado. The
score couldn’t hope for a better performance; Ronald Corp leads the New
London Orchestra and a fine cast of singers, including Christopher
Maltman and Sarah Walker.
Basically this is a series of songs, mostly relentlessly upbeat, in the
“toe-tapping” mode, but with a weepy ballad or two thrown in. Most all
the tunes start on the tonic and return there as often as possible.
After about 10 minutes, how good some of Wagner’s knottiest chromaticism
would sound. After 30 minutes, one longs for Wozzeck, some Moses und Aron, Die Soldaten. As the 75-minute mark approaches, keep any sharp objects away — the threat to do damage to one’s own eardrums is very real.
Evidently there is an audience for this music, as Hyperion has found
the original recording worthy of re-release on its “budget” label, Helios. If Jack Bauer, during next season’s 24,
must refrain from the more physical methods of extracting information
from hideous terrorists, perhaps he will avail himself of a boombox and
this recording, press the “repeat” button, sit back, and wait for the screaming to start. The world will be safe soon enough.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy