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.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
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.
02 Aug 2006
Mirella Freni and Cesare Siepi Live in Concert
In summer doldrums? Spend a delightful hour with two great artists in a rare joint appearance, as Fabula Classics has resurrected for DVD a 1985 Cesare Siepi and Mirelle Freni televised recital.
As with a
recently reviewed Renato Bruson concert, this event took place in
Lugano, Switzerland. Once again, Bruno Amaducci conducts the
Swiss-Italian Radio orchestra. They do a decent run-through of Otto
Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor curtain raiser, and later a dramatic Don Giovanni
overture. Other than that, the focus is on two great singers; one
somewhat late in his career, one in her prime, but both providing
generous listening pleasure.
Siepi appears first, and just to watch his tall, gentlemanly figure
take the stage prompts anticipation.With a modest nod to the audience,
he begins with a tasty rare morsel, Jupiter's berceuse from Gounod's Philemon et Baucis. There
can't be many bass arias as light and tuneful as this, and though
Siepi's vocal production does give evidence of the length of his
career, the handsomeness of his tone and the commanding technique
more than compensate.
Freni follows with Margherita's prison solo from Boito's Mefistofele.
The singer's innate sweetness and vulnerability make this an especially
successful aria for her. The two Puccini selections ("Vissi d'arte" and
"O mio babbino caro") are lovely enough but more generic in approach.
Siepi turns to Verdi's for Fiesco's "Il lacerato spirito" from Simon Boccanegra and the great Filippo II scene from Don Carlos. With
his characteristic restraint and dignity, Siepi underplays the hurt of
Filippo, which allows the aria to truly build in pathos. On the other
hand, the Fiesco aria could have used a little more edge.
Freni took on the role of Don Carlos's
Elisabetta around this time, and she manages the supremely challenging
"Tu che le vanita" very well, but without quite the dramatic commitment
to make the long selection (11 minutes) thoroughly captivating.
After the Don Giovanni overture,
Siepi sings a playful catalog aria; to have this great Don take on
Leporello might seem a bit odd to some, but his Don is not scanted.
Soon Freni joins him as Zerlina, and their "La ci darem la mano" caps
the concert beautifully, only leaving the wish that the program had
included more duets.
The booklet has a short essay and the texts are in their original languages. No subtitles are provided.
Los Angeles Unified School District, Secondary Literacy