Recently in Recordings
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
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.
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
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.
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.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
Recording Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is for a
record label equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest: it is the zenith from which a label surveys its position among its rivals and appreciates an achievement that can define its reputation for a generation.
Few people who love opera in general and bel canto in particular have never heard the comment made by Lilli Lehmann, veteran of the inaugural Ring at Bayreuth in 1876, that singing all three of Wagner’s Brünnhildes—in Die Walküre, Siegfried, and
Götterdämmerung, respectively, all of which she sang to great acclaim—pales in comparison with singing the title rôle in Bellini’s Norma.
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.
23 Jun 2006
Renato Bruson — Live in Concert
One sign that a media market has really come into its own, economically speaking, is the appearance of items previously released in other formats, items that one struggles to imagine a wide market for. DVDs must be doing fairly well, then, in the classical market.
Here we have
a release from a company called "Fabula Classics" of a 60 minute
recital from 1983, with Renato Bruson singing 6 arias (mostly Verdi,
with 2 by Donizetti) and the Swiss-Italian Radio orchestra
performing the Barbieri di Siviglia sinfonia and the intermezzos from Manon Lescaut and I Pagliacci.
Undoubtedly, Renato Bruson deserves to have a record of his
singing at the peak of his career preserved. He has been one of the
sturdiest, most skilled of baritones, especially in the Italian
repertory. This particular recital, as filmed, doesn't do him justice.
First, the source film hasn't been improved by the transfer to DVD. The
video comes across as washed out, except for the brilliant blue of the
hall's seats (and it doesn't seem to have been a sell-out, considering
the scattered empty seats). Second, the camera work can serve as a
standard for perfunctory direction. Bruson enters for an aria,
acknowledges the audience, which is shown applauding, then the
conductor waits for a nod from the singer before giving the downbeat.
The aria then features close-up of the singer, then a stage view,
alternating occasionally with a pan of the musicians. The crowd shows up again at aria's end, to applaud Bruson before he exits. Repeat 6 times.
With a singer of Bruson's talent, no recital would be without some distinction. He begins with a rarity from Donizetti's La Favorita, "Vien
Leonora," and after "Di Provenza," features "Atanto amor" from the same
opera. In this relatively unfamiliar music, Bruson offers style and
masculine tone. However, by this third aria of the recital, a certain
sameness of technique and approach also makes itself felt, and that
sense lingers through Iago's credo, an aria from I Vespri Siciliani's
Monforte ("In braccio alle dovizie") and Rodrigo's death scene.The
hall's acoustic, or the placement of the microphones, also has the
voice a bit too up front, with an unpleasant fuzziness to Bruson's
louder singing, especially at high notes.
The booklet essay, by Arrigo Quattrocchi, has some insightful comments
about Bruson's career. Not all those comments, unfortunately, are borne
out by the recital. More of Bruson's "beautiful, burnished sound" would
especially have been appreciated. That essay appears in four languages,
and then the aria's texts are printed in Italian. The DVD does not
offer subtitles in any language.
Conductor Bruno Amaducci leads the Swiss-Italian radio Orchestra in the effective, if not exciting, instrumental selections.
All singers have fans eager to own every produced featuring their favorites. Only for Bruson fans can this DVD be recommended.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy