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

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’.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Lalo: Complete Songs

Edouard Lalo (1823-92) is best known today for his instrumental works: the Symphonie espagnole (which is, despite the title, a five-movement violin concerto), the Symphony in G Minor, and perhaps some movements from his ballet Namouna, a scintillating work that the young Debussy adored.

New from Opera Rara : Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe

Two new recordings from highly acclaimed specialists Opera Rara - Gounod La Colombe and Donizetti Le Duc d'Albe.

Félicien David: Herculanum

It is not often that a major work by a forgotten composer gets rediscovered and makes an enormously favorable impression on today’s listeners. That has happened, unexpectedly, with Herculanum, a four-act grand opera by Félicien David, which in 2014 was recorded for the first time.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Carl Maria von Weber: Der Freischütz; Oberon
26 Oct 2006

WEBER: Der Freischütz; Oberon

The demise of Tower Records adds another hurdle to the collector's challenge in acquiring rare performances on obscure labels.

Carl Maria von Weber: Der Freischütz; Oberon

Der Freischütz: James King, Margaret Price, Helen Donath, Karl Ridderbusch, Mario Ferrara, Anton Diakov, Andrezj Snarski, Mario Machì, Rolf Tasna, Carmen Lavani, Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Roma della RAI, Wolfgang Sawallisch (cond.)
Live recording, Rome, January 27, 1973

Oberon: Werner Hollweg, Hanna Schwarz, Olivera Miljakovic, Ingrid Bjöner, Julia Hamari, Joseph Hering, Siegmund Nimsgern, Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Roma della RAI, George Alexander Albrecht (cond.)
Live recording, Rome, February 7, 1973

Ponto PO-1045 [3CDs]

$17.98  Click to buy

The degree of that impediment feels steeper with the release on the Ponto label of two 1973 Rome RAI broadcast performances of Carl Maria von Weber's masterpiece, Der Freischütz, paired with his flawed but fascinating last work, Oberon. The Der Freischütz in particular captures an exemplary cast, under the idiomatic leadership of conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch. With that extra, visceral charge of a live performance (albeit not a staged one), Weber's opera comes to life as it hasn't consistently done in the studio. With the German-language Oberon (originally composed to an English libretto) as a supplement, this recording becomes a must-buy for lovers of early Romantic opera.

James King and Margaret Price, the Max and Agathe of Der Freischütz, are captured in their prime, and both invest their roles with both dramatic involvement and tonal appeal. Karl Ridderbusch's Kaspar has the requisite Satanic tinge in his dark delivery, and Helen Donath shines forth in her lovely act three showpiece. The whole performance hangs together so naturally that it revives the lingering question as to why this opera, once a mainstay of the repertory, now qualifies as a relative rarity.

And if Der Freischütz can be called rare, what to say about Oberon? It lives on today in its overture, set in the same mold as that of Der Freischütz's but with its own memorable thematic material. The booklet essay by Andrew Palmer relates how this opera's composition apparently literally proved fatal to von Weber. Perhaps if he had lived he would have been able to make or insist on revisions to the libretto that would make the piece more stageworthy. However, as a pure listening experience, the music need make no excuses. Although often more the work of an experienced craftsman than an inspired artist, that craftsmanship still supplies consistently appealing music. The cast doesn't quite match the standard set by that of Der Freischütz's, with Werner Hollweg's homely tone and Ingrid Bjoner's substantive soprano not always having the flexibility von Weber's score demands. So a better cast can be imagined, but this cast sings well enough to showcase the strengths of the opera. George Alexander Albrecht handles the baton here.

Ponto provides the referenced essay and artist biographies, but regrettably no synopses, except for some sketchy descriptions in the essay. Still, for the budget price Ponto asks, that omission can't mar the appeal of this entirely enjoyable set. Collectors, commence your search now.

Chris Mullins

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):