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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
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.
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.