Recently in Recordings
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
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Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
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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
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supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
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In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
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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.
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