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

Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia
23 Dec 2006

ROSSINI: Il barbeire di Siviglia

Rossini’s comic masterpiece premiered in 1816, which means a big anniversary lies just a few years ahead.

Gioachino Rossini: II barbiere di Siviglia

Joyce DiDonato, Roberto Sacca, Dalibor Jenis, Carlos Chausson, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Orchestre et Choeurs de l'Opera National de Paris, Bruno Campanella (cond.)

TDK DVWW-OPBARB [DVD]

$28.49  Click to buy

But with an evergreen crowd-pleaser such as Il barbeire di Siviglia, companies won’t wait to put on new productions. San Francisco Opera debuted its revolving house set in recent years, and the Metroplitan just inaugurated a new production, favorably reviewed, this season. TDK now releases a 2002 staging from the Paris Opera, directed by Coline Serreau and designed by Jean-Marc Stehlè and Antoine Fontaine.

Under the creators’ conception, the Seville of the story remains under Moorish rule. In fact, the city seems to have been transplanted to a North African desert. Arab nomads accompany the Count as he walks through a desert landscape to serenade Rosina outside Dr. Bartolo’s stone and wood dwelling. Later, the interior of Bartolo’s home brings some welcome color, of turquiose and then gold. The final tableaux has the happy young lovers wandering off into an oasis of sprouting palm trees.

Why? Perhaps just because it looks cool. At least the creators had the good sense not to make the Count a European who rescues Rosina from her oppressive Arab master, which would have been a troublesome interpretation in this day and age. However, they have made Figaro a ridiculuously anachronistic figure, with a beach-umbrella hat and cell phones of various colors hooked to his sleeve. In other words, don’t think about it. Just enjoy the show.

The show can best be enjoyed once Joyce DiDonato’s Rosina appears. An appealing stage presence, DiDonato in her short career has already made her Rosina a classic interpretation: lively, clever, and always beautifully sung. The only singer near her class here is Kristinn Sigmundson, whose handsome bass makes Don Basillio a more appealing figure than usual.

The three other major male roles get adequate performances, not much more. Roberto Sacca’s Almaviva has the right energy but the tone isn’t especially attractive. Dalibor Jenis needs to expend a more energy in a role such as Figaro if he is going to deserve having the opera’s title. As Bartolo, Carlos Chausson does well by the character’s comic villainy; once again, the voice is nothing special.

Jeanette Fischer, the Berta, throws a few wild “hip-hop” moves in her very funny solo number.

Bruno Campanella conducts the score with the kind of affection that matters — an appreciation for Rossini’s orchestral color and flexibility.

With a cast that could match DiDonato’s inspiration, this DVD would be a must-see. As it is, lovers of this opera can still find much to enjoy, including an amusing credit sequence (under the overture) . And perhaps a helpful Opera Today reader can explain to this reviewer why, when Figaro schemes to get the house key from Dr. Bartolo, the subtitle has him wishfully thinking that with the key, “We’d be home and hosed.”

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):