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

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Piero Cappuccilli: Recital
14 Jun 2006

Piero Cappuccilli: Recital

Can you believe it? With all the profound knowledge of my 24 years, I first visited the Verona Arena in 1968. On was Trovatore with Bergonzi, Gencer and, as Luna, Piero Cappuccilli.

Piero Cappuccilli: Recital

Arias from Pagliacci, Zaza, Rigoletto, Andrea Chénier, Nabucco, Il Trovatore, La forza del destino, Roberto Devereux, Hérodiade, Ernani, I Due Foscari, Les pêcheurs de perles, Don Carlo.

MYTO 055321 [CD]

$16.99  Click to buy

Not him again, I thought, as during the early sixties he was a regular of bel canto concerts at Flemish Public Radio where I worked. Well, I softened somewhat during the performance as he was in terrific form and had to encore “Il balen” (so did Bergonzi with “Di quella pira”).

Still, in retrospect, I don’t think my reaction was one of pure conceit as this magnificent CD proves so amply. All of the items derive from RAI concerts or RAI performances and, I presume, Myto got the original tapes as the sound is exemplary. For almost 80 minutes one gets a stream of that kind of beautiful dark sound which we all associate with the Italian baritone voice. And yet, after half an hour a little bit of tiredness sets in as a few things are lacking. There is no mellowness, no “morbidezza” in the voice which makes it less suited for Donizetti (as amply proved by his complete Lucia recording). The sound too is a bit rigid and not very supple. No one knew it better than Cappuccilli himself. After a tour of Germany in his early years, where he sang a lot of Figaros, he refused to sing another performance of Il Barbiere during the rest of his career. His use of dynamics is limited: forte and mezzo-forte but seldom a fine pianissimo. His phrasing, especially in Verdi, is almost perfect but there is rarely an unexpected insight which gives a small ‘frisson’. Introspection is not Cappuccilli’s forte and one sometimes longs for Gobbi’s far smaller voice and snarling but more interesting interpretations.

But a magnificent voice it is, homogeneous from the bottom to the high B-flat. Some tenors envied him. The CD starts with four arias from 1962. In Cascart’s “Zazà, piccolo zingara” the strength and weakness is immediately clear. The voice gleams with beauty and power but this is not the love song of an old man for a young girl like Gobbi so well suggests. The next four items date from four years later and here he is at his best: the strong and noble man in difficult circumstances, be it Nabucco, Trovatore or Forza. One hears the evolution of the voice: some of the shine is gone but the voice itself has become broader and more voluminous. A concert of 1967 reveals him in unexpected repertoire. His longing for Salomé in Massenet’s Hérodiade has little in common with the sick lovelorn uncertainty of the king the best of French baritones put in it. Cappuccilli sings straight on and there’s no doubt he’ll get the girl. In Ernani he misses the smoothness and introspection the very great like Battistini and Stracciari could put in Don Carlo’s abjuring his wild years. Cappuccilli’s contemporary Mario Sereni got those feelings far better.

On the other hand Cappuccilli has magnificent breath control—as a young man diving was his favourite sport and he attributed his long power to it—and sails up to a full and splendid high A; a feat those legendary baritones too did though nobody else in Cappuccilli’s generation. As an angry older Foscari he is at his very best while the duet from Pearl Fishers was probably just a courteous gesture towards his partner, Margherita Rinaldi. Myto added two bonuses: one is the last duet from Forza with Bergonzi, culled from a magnificent RAI performance that even surpasses the two gentlemen’s official Forza on EMI (though that set has the third tenor-baritone duet lacking in the RAI-concert). The last filler consists of two Don Carlo scenes with Bruno Prevedi. As Posa his breath control is ideal for the long drawn out phrases of the death scene. In short, this is Cappuccilli at his very best, surpassing his only solo album on Bongiovanni. That was a recording of a 1984 live recital and is not to be dismissed as he was a careful singer. He waited 15 and 18 years before singing Boccanegra and Macbeth. But of course the voice sounds less fresh than on this Myto.

Recently I listened to new recitals by nowadays baritones as Lado Atanelli and Carlos Alvarez, two singers lacking a bit of imagination too but proof that, as to pure vocal beauty and strength, nobody nowadays comes even close to the baritone from Trieste.

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):