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.
25 Aug 2006
This is a most sympathetic performance, though perhaps being a Fleming helps. In my small country on the frontier of Northern and Southern European influences, many musical styles made their entrance and became popular.
Until the seventies, Bel Canto on the radio meant broadcasts of Italian, French, German and Russian opera, operettas, zarzuela, the token Gilbert and Sullivan, canzoni napolentane and American love songs. Because of the eclectic mix, “O wie so trügerisch” and “Comme la plume au vent” sounded as familiar as “La donna è mobile” performed in half a dozen different languages.
And then there was Henri Goraieb, a well-known French pianist who programmed a Bel Canto program on France Musique, which was immensely popular all over Western Europe. Almost every week Goraieb presented selections from a seemingly inexhaustible collection of radio performances given in France from the forties until the sixties. Rarely recorded artist such as Marthe Luccioni, Georges Noré, Odette Turba-Rabier, Jeanne Guyllama, Raphael Romangioni, and many others now became household names. Even great names like Alain Vanzo became greater still with the broadcast of performances of the prime, and even exhumed recordings thought to be lost forever. Even the lesser “starry” singers were busily employed at French radio that they had almost a year’s workload. Singers like Joseph Peyron, Lucien Lovano and Geneviève Moizan found that a radio career was ideally suited to their personal needs.
Hence, this Snegurochka is somewhat of a feast of recognizance for this reviewer, who maybe is somewhat less objective than ought to be. This is not my first choice, however, if one absolutely needed an authentic and complete Russian version. There are some cuts in the performance, and the sound is a bit constricted, favoring the voices, which makes it difficult to judge the role of conductor Charles Bruck. Yet the ensembles go smoothly without hesitation, which may be due in part to strict rehearsals.
The performance begins with Solange Michel, a fine voice and a truly authentic Carmen, which nevertheless is only the second mezzo in the cast accompanying Rita Gorr in the role of Lel. For Gorr admirers, the voice is at its best with the well-known lush sound without stridency. The title role, sung b Janine Micheau, a fine lyric soprano with somewhat sweet and sour timbre French sopranos are famous for. Her voice is still fresh and beautiful, far less wooden that later recordings. Yet vocal honors certainly are awarded to Geneviève Moizan as Kupava. Her sound is wonderfully lyric, clear, and personal, a sound, which makes the listener sit up and take notice. Michel Roux is a sonorous and convincing Mizgir, and tenor Jean Giaudeau’s role is completely suited to his particular talents. All these singers have excellent pronunciation. Even the women are almost always clearly understandable.
So, if you want to know what French singing was all about before the run for original language performances, this is the recording for you. Hopefully Ponto will further delve into the rich heritage of French radio in the future.