Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Placido Domingo – Great Scenes
19 May 2006

Placido Domingo — Great Scenes

Domingo-fans probably have all complete performances from which these scenes were culled, as they were widely broadcast in Europe during the eighties.

Placido Domingo – Great Scenes

Placido Domingo with Kiri Te Kanawa, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Carol Neblett, Anna Tomowa-Sintow

Kultur D 4048 [DVD]

$19.98  Click to buy

Moreover, the real Domingo-enthusiast will not be very happy with the strange selections. The DVD starts with a minute from a Vienna Fledermaus in which Frosch and the conducting tenor exchange a few jokes and the conductor sings a few phrases from ‘Celeste Aida’ to correct the jailer who had been humming the melody. Then comes the first selection from Ernani and it takes a few seconds before it dawns on you that the sleeve note is correct. Indeed you get the cabaletta of the first act aria ‘Mercè, diletti amici’ without the aria proper. Still, the cabaletta itself gets the two verses, no high note (Muti conducting and Domingo probably very much in agreement) and is a rounded piece. But in ‘La légende de Kleinzack’ the producers of this DVD go completely nuts. This is after all a classic A-B-A aria. After the A section and the middle part of the aria, everybody will expect the reprise of the main melody and the end of the aria. No way, the aria is simply cut off after two-thirds of the music. Therefore, one is not too surprised that the big final duet of Andrea Chénier, too, is given less than half its length and is cut from the moment the music really gets into a higher gear with ‘La nostra amor’. One wonders who made such decisions, all the more as 57 minutes are short value for a DVD.

One cannot help but wondering if the hand of Mr. Domingo is behind it all. In 1986 he produced a world première when he had the TV broadcast of La Gioconda delayed so that some “elder” high notes could be electronically inserted in places where he had cracked abominably. He had forgotten the radio broadcast that went directly into the air and his real ‘cielo e mar’ is still to be found on party tapes. Of course a small scandal erupted as Eva Marton was livid with fury. She, too, had missed a few notes and they were not edited and she loudly complained to the press.

The performances on this DVD are typical of Domingo in his middle period. The first period goes from 1966 (after a six year prologue) and ends in 1978 when the top was already shortening and he was barely able to sing a good high B. The second one goes till 1990 when he was still a fully committed tenor though avoiding high B roles and discreetly transposing (like he does with a semitone in ‘Ch’ella mi creda’ on this DVD). The third one up to today is well known for the no longer discreet transpositions that often embarrass his co-singers, as they have to adapt themselves to his weaknesses. That’s when he started talking about some tenors being in reality ‘baritenors’ like he did before the unveiling of the new Met Samson et Dalila production nine years ago, though in the 1974 book ‘The Tenors’ he boasted he would soon sing the C without any problem like he already did when practising. Typical for his whole career, however, are the brilliant and extremely beautiful lower and middle registers, which even after a strenuous activity of 45 years are still very much to be enjoyed. Typical, too, are the somewhat generalized interpretations he brings forth. It is always fine to hear them but one cannot say he has really probed the depth of his roles. He rarely disappoints; but he rarely does something unforgettable. Many of his predecessors and even one of his contemporaries (yes, that one) often succeeded in giving us ‘the magic phrase’; one or another utterance that you keep in your mind when listening to another singer. Bergonzi, Corelli, Di Stefano, even Del Monaco succeeded in doing this. Domingo doesn’t, at least not in opera though in some of his zarzuela recordings (the stuff he knew by heart long before he could read) everything comes together and he can be just wonderful (listen to his El ultimo romantico).

The 1982 Ernani on this DVD is not his best effort. The sound is sometimes nasal and comes out squeezed. Compare this with the opening of the La Scala season in 1969 and you immediately note the loss in richness. One year later, he is in better voice in Manon Lescaut touchingly acting young René des Grieux. The sound of the middle voice once again is golden though by that time the tessitura of the role lies already too high. He and Te Kanawa sing very flat in the climax of their final duet. As Dick Johnson he is very good indeed and the chopped up delivery that belongs to ‘Una parola sola’ suits his voice fine. In 1985 one hears that middle age as a singer has come. ‘Si fui soldato’ goes as follows ‘Va’ breath ‘la mia nave’ or ‘Ma lasciami breath l’onor’. And in the small part of the final duet we are allowed to hear he radically cuts short the note values. All productions on this DVD are fully traditional and sound and picture quality are excellent.

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):