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

Giovanni Simon 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.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered

Kathleen Ferrier Remembered, from SOMM Recordings, makes available on CD archive broadcasts of British and German song. All come from BBC broadcasts made between 1947 and 1952. Of the 26 tracks in this collection, 19 are "new", not having been commercially released. The remaining seven have been remastered by sound restoration engineer Ted Kendall. Something here even for those who already own the complete recordings.

Color and Drama in Two Choral Requiems from Post-Napoleonic France

The Requiem text has brought out the best in many composers. Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, and Fauré are among the most beloved works among singers and listeners alike, and there are equally wondrous settings by Berlioz and Duruflé, as well as composers from before 1750, notably Jean Gilles.

Matthias Goerne - late Schumann songs, revealed

Matthias Goerne Schumann Lieder, with Markus Hinterhäuser, a new recording from Harmonia Mundi. Singers, especially baritones, often come into their prime as they approach 50, and Goerne, who has been a star since his 20's is now formidably impressive. The colours in his voice have matured, with even greater richness and depth than before.

LALO and COQUARD: La Jacquerie

La Jacquerie—here recorded for the first time—proves to be a wonderful opera, bringing delight upon delight.

Urania Remasters Marriage of Figaro

Good news for lovers of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro: the famous Living Stereo recording, a co-production of RCA Victor and English Decca, is now available again, well remastered, on Urania.

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.

Jonas Kaufmann : Mahler Das Lied von der Erde

Jonas Kaufmann Mahler Das Lied von der Erde is utterly unique but also works surprisingly well as a musical experience. This won't appeal to superficial listeners, but will reward those who take Mahler seriously enough to value the challenge of new perspectives.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Richard Wagner: Siegfried, The 100th Covent Garden performance
24 Jul 2006

WAGNER: Siegfried, The 100th Covent Garden performance

“These probably unique documents may well owe their existence to the presence of Joan Sutherland in the cast and represent the earliest recordings of the great diva.

Richard Wagner: Siegfried, The 100th Covent Garden performance

Otakar Kraus, Joan Sutherland, Set Svanholm, Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra, Fritz Stierdy (cond.)

Pearl 0230 [CD]

$16.99  Click to buy

Their preservation in good state is thanks to the foresight and generosity of the Earl of Harewood”. Allow me to express some doubt on this statement to be found on the back note of these CDs. I don’t think that anybody in 1954 could know what flight the career of Sutherland would take. Nevertheless in the sleeve notes the producer repeats this presumption and further states that “unusually for the time, they (the records) were made on 33 1/3 rpm acetates instead of then more common 78 rpm discs lasting only 4 ½ minutes per side.” I’m even more surprised at this statement. I knew well the last technician at Flemish Public Radio who had cut quite a few acetates and who even possessed a turntable on which several acetates could be played at the same time. He explained to me that until the advent of the LP, it was quite common that an opera or even a long symphony was transferred from official 78 records to 33 1/3 acetates so that the audience wouldn’t have to wait every five minutes for a change of record. The trick for the technician was to record a few phrases more than necessary on the first acetate so that there would be no interruption at all when he started the second one and one got an uninterrupted flow of music.
But acetates were used (though they were very fragile) to record from time to time exceptional concerts or what the music producers thought to be exceptional. And that’s where my doubts come in with the above mentioned recordings. If they were recorded alone for Sutherland’s sake, there would be no first CD with 55 minutes of Siegfried and Mime. I think it far more logic that either the whole 1954 Covent Garden ring was recorded or even Siegfried alone and that a lot of records didn’t survive very long. Probably at one or another moment, George Lascelles remembered the performance of Sutherland. Lascelles is the founder of the British Opera Magazine and the General Manager of the English National Opera in the seventies. Lascelles maybe made inquiries with the BBC and these acetates were either all that survived or someone from Archives took out what he could find. After all, Lascelles and his operatic obsession was well known and the bosses at BBC didn’t easily say no to a man who, if his two full nieces Elisabeth and Margaret had met with an early accident, would have been king George VII (Lascelles father, the 6th earl of Harewood married the only sister of Edward VIII and George VI. Lascelles became no. 7 and always signed his articles with an aristocratic H.)

The question remains: is this remnant of Siegfried worth the investment? Sutherland fans needn’t doubt. The sound is unmistakably Sutherland, strong but sweet and very youthful and no hint of droopiness. I remember well the outcry when the Solti-Siegfried appeared. It was the first official recording of the opera and under the names of the main singers the box mentioned proudly in the best Hollywood tradition “and Joan Sutherland”. One critic wrote that he didn’t know that the woodbird was an eagle. By that time she was already in her Droopy Joan Phase and this performance under review is very superior. Now, if one isn’t a particular diehard Sutherland-admirer, those few minutes of singing may be too short to lure one into buying. Paul Kuën was for several years the Bayreuth Mime and his role is preserved in several recordings. Anyway, he is a prime example of Sprechgesang and his sound is definitely not a thing of beauty. Otokar Kraus as Alberich sings with a rather throaty sound. The surprise, if there is a surprise, is the Siegfried of Set Svanholm. The voice is unbelievably fresh and young after a career of 24 years and he makes a very believable ‘jung Siegfried’. Yes, he tends to flatten at the top and he knows extremely well how to pace his role, clearly sparing his vocal resources for the big outbursts. But then he is very fine and convincing. Nevertheless I doubt many people ever bought a set for Mr. Svanholm and if they did, they would probably prefer his complete recording of the role under Furtwaengler at La Scala, four years earlier.

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):