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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.
09 Feb 2007
ARNE: Six cantatas for a voice and instruments; Advice to Cloe
The English, though fundamental to the early music revival of the last half-century, have been rather remiss in exploring their native music dating from after the death of Purcell, and particularly that produced after the death of Handel.
The later eighteenth century was a period in
which the wealth of London attracted composers and performers too numerous to mention from
all over Europe. The stature of Haydn and Mozart has tended to obscure the great variety of vocal
and instrumental music enjoyed at the time, more conservative in idiom, less virtuoso, but
English music for the stage has always tended more to the comic, the witty song delivered with
an actor’s panache rather than a singer's bravura. The most durable productions of the musical
theater, the operettas of librettist Gilbert and composer Sullivan, are memorable not because of
the elevated heights they reach, but because of the completely English good humor they transmit.
It will take a Savoyard approach to revive the neglected works from the age of Thomas Arne, and
the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall and Ranelagh.
This disc, from American tenor Timothy Bentch and Hungarian soprano Mária Zadori, is a
premiere recording of a charming set of cantatas by Thomas Augustine Arne published by Walsh
in 1755, and fully scored for voice accompanied by strings and winds. The texts evoke the world
of the wealthy rake of the period, who believes in women and wine (School of Anacreon),
gathering rosebuds while ye may (Delia), winning a women's heart by plying her with wine
(Bacchus and Ariadne), revenging himself on a faithless lover by being faithless himself with
another (Lydia), and sleeping only after he is incapable of drinking more (Frolick and Free).
Indeed, this rake is a complete hellraiser and rapscallion — one might almost title these Six
Tenor Timothy Bentch does an excellent job of evoking the license and liberty of the wealthy
Londoner. His attractive tone is always in the service of the expression of the text, changing in
color and force as the poetry requires, reflecting the shifting moods of the speaker. Bentch is a
compellingly persuasive performer. I was less taken by soprano Mária Zadori, who has had a
long career with many recordings for Hungaroton. Her light soprano is verging on the fluttery,
and her English diction is flawed. The contributions of the Hungarian period-instrument band are
first rate, and the sound is fine.
A valuable disc, presenting important and little-known repertoire, with a tenor we will certainly
be hearing more from. Warmly recommended.