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

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.

The "Lost" Songs of Morfydd Owen

A new recording, made late last year, Morfydd Owen : Portrait of a Lost Icon, from Tŷ Cerdd, specialists in Welsh music, reveals Owen as one of the more distinctive voices in British music of her era : a grand claim but not without foundation. To this day, Owen's tally of prizes awarded by the Royal Academy of Music remains unrivalled.

Early Swedish opera - Stenhammer world premiere

The Feast at Solhaug : Henrik Ibsen's play Gildet paa Solhaug (1856) inspired Wilhelm Stenhammer's opera Gillet på Solhaug. The world premiere recording is now available via Sterling CD, in a 3 disc set which includes full libretto and background history.

Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 2

Honours yet again to Oehms Classics who understand the importance of excellence. A composer as good, and as individual, as Walter Braunfels deserves nothing less.

The Tallis Scholars: Josquin's Missa Di dadi

‘Can great music be inspired by the throw of the dice?’ asks Peter Phillips, director of The Tallis Scholars, in his liner notes to the ensemble’s new recording of Josquin’s Missa Di dadi (The Dice Mass). The fifteenth-century artist certainly had an abundant supply of devotional imagery. As one scholar has put it, during this age there was neither ‘an object nor an action, however trivial, that [was] not constantly correlated with Christ or salvation’.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Flaviano Labo – Vol III
27 Sep 2006

Flaviano Labo – Vol III

According to Giancarlo Landini, author of the very interesting and detailed sleeve notes, Labo “has been sorely neglected, if not totally forgotten”.

Flaviano Labo – Vol III

Arias and duets from Lucia di Lammermoor, Luisa Miller, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Aida, La Gioconda, Tosca, La Bohème, Manon Lescaut, Don Carlo, Cavalleria Rusticana, Turandot, Das Land des Lächelns. Live Recordings 1958

Bongiovanni GB 1192-2 [CD]

$15.50  Click to buy

Well, for a totally forgotten tenor this third solo album (in reality, the fourth as Bongiovanni also brought out a long joint concert with Magda Olivero) is not a bad track record. In reality the tenor from Piacenza is now better represented in many collections than during his lifetime where he was indeed shamefully neglected. A DG Don Carlo and a Supraphone Lucia plus a Manon Lescaut highlights with Anna Moffo makes up almost all his official output. And then there was the strange solo album he recorded. In Europe Decca put a shabby ten-inch record on the market while in the States London preferred a fine LP with colour photograph and some extra arias (When do we get that album in the Classic Recitals series?).

Happily, Bongiovanni and other labels have corrected the omissions and a lot of Labo’s live performances can nowadays be bought. Therefore I’m sure that signor Bongiovanni didn’t produce the record under review solely to correct history’s injustice. I presume that the sales figures of the three other albums were not bad at all; and there is good reason to believe so as proved by this exciting record. “The biggest voice to come out of such a slight frame” an old Met stalwart told me. But it is not only the volume that impresses an audience. This is the real Verdi voice: a big burnishing sound with all the necessary virility for the great roles. A musical voice, too, even when he often lets it quiver from emotion without becoming unstylish. If Lauri-Volpi had still been with us he definitely would have added an extra chapter in his fascinating ‘Voci parallele’ as on record nowadays Rolando Villazon and Flaviano Labo have so much in common as to colour and singing though two differences remain: Labo had far more decibels and an easier top. It says something about the dearth of Verdi tenors that Villazon nowadays is on top of the world while Labo in his time had much stiffer competition.

Maybe Labo’s only weakness was that he phrased musically but never probed very deeply into his roles. His remains a very beautiful voice yet without that flash of insight that made other tenors so unforgettable. His ‘Quando le sere’ is an example: well sung, with a few not too obtrusive sobs but without the personality of Carlo Bergonzi. The voice, too, lacks some of the honeyed sounds one knows from Gigli or Di Stefano in arias like ‘E lucevan’ or ‘Che gelida’ (but what a glorious C). But at his best, he is superb. His ‘Cielo e mar’ is an example for every tenor. Here he proves he can sing softly when necessary, though it is the shine and strength of the top notes that make his glory. That he was musical, is proven by his ‘Ah si, ben mio’ where the legato is perfect while he doesn’t forget the trill. The conductor (no name given) tries to pester him by rushing ‘Di quella pira’ at a breakneck speed but Labo’s breath control is such that he sings along and still has enough for a good top C. There are some duets with Protti, Mattiucci and Zeani (all singers like Labo who never became household names) which are testimony to the richness in great voices of those days. Of course this is not a CD for high quality sonic fanatics; but the sound is quite acceptable for the times. For the lovers of exciting tenor singing, this will be quite an addendum to their collection.

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):