Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Women's Voices: a sung celebration of six eloquent and confident voices

The voices of six women composers are celebrated by baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and soprano Yunah Lee on this characteristically ambitious and valuable release by Lontano Records Ltd (Lorelt).

Rosa mystica: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir

As Paul Spicer, conductor of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, observes, the worship of the Blessed Virgin Mary is as ‘old as Christianity itself’, and programmes devoted to settings of texts which venerate the Virgin Mary are commonplace.

The Prison: Ethel Smyth

Ethel Smyth’s last large-scale work, written in 1930 by the then 72-year-old composer who was increasingly afflicted and depressed by her worsening deafness, was The Prison – a ‘symphony’ for soprano and bass-baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Songs by Sir Hamilton Harty: Kathryn Rudge and Christopher Glynn

‘Hamilton Harty is Irish to the core, but he is not a musical nationalist.’

After Silence: VOCES8

‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’ Aldous Huxley’s words have inspired VOCES8’s new disc, After Silence, a ‘double album in four chapters’ which marks the ensemble’s 15th anniversary.

Beethoven's Songs and Folksongs: Bostridge and Pappano

A song-cycle is a narrative, a journey, not necessarily literal or linear, but one which carries performer and listener through time and across an emotional terrain. Through complement and contrast, poetry and music crystallise diverse sentiments and somehow cohere variability into an aesthetic unity.

Flax and Fire: a terrific debut recital-disc from tenor Stuart Jackson

One of the nicest things about being lucky enough to enjoy opera, music and theatre, week in week out, in London’s fringe theatres, music conservatoires, and international concert halls and opera houses, is the opportunity to encounter striking performances by young talented musicians and then watch with pleasure as they fulfil those sparks of promise.

Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players: a world premiere recording

“It’s forbidden, and where’s the art in that?”

John F. Larchet's Complete Songs and Airs: in conversation with Niall Kinsella

Dublin-born John F. Larchet (1884-1967) might well be described as the father of post-Independence Irish music, given the immense influenced that he had upon Irish musical life during the first half of the 20th century - as a composer, musician, administrator and teacher.

Haddon Hall: 'Sullivan sans Gilbert' does not disappoint thanks to the BBC Concert Orchestra and John Andrews

The English Civil War is raging. The daughter of a Puritan aristocrat has fallen in love with the son of a Royalist supporter of the House of Stuart. Will love triumph over political expediency and religious dogma?

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony and Choral Fantasy from Harmonia Mundi

Beethoven Symphony no 9 (the Choral Symphony) in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor, Op. 80 with soloist Kristian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi.

Taking Risks with Barbara Hannigan

A Louise Brooks look-a-like, in bobbed black wig and floor-sweeping leather trench-coat, cheeks purple-rouged and eyes shadowed in black, Barbara Hannigan issues taut gestures which elicit fire-cracker punch from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies (Vol.2) - in conversation with Adrian Bradbury

‘Signor Piatti in a fantasia on themes from Beatrice di Tenda had also his triumph. Difficulties, declared to be insuperable, were vanquished by him with consummate skill and precision. He certainly is amazing, his tone magnificent, and his style excellent. His resources appear to be inexhaustible; and altogether for variety, it is the greatest specimen of violoncello playing that has been heard in this country.’

Those Blue Remembered Hills: Roderick Williams sings Gurney and Howells

Baritone Roderick Williams seems to have been a pretty constant ‘companion’, on my laptop screen and through my stereo speakers, during the past few ‘lock-down’ months.

Bruno Ganz and Kirill Gerstein almost rescue Strauss’s Enoch Arden

Melodramas can be a difficult genre for composers. Before Richard Strauss’s Enoch Arden the concept of the melodrama was its compact size – Weber’s Wolf’s Glen scene in Der Freischütz, Georg Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Medea or even Leonore’s grave scene in Beethoven’s Fidelio.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gaetano Donizetti: Linda di Chamounix
21 Mar 2007

DONIZETTI: Linda di Chamounix

I am surely not the only one who doesn’t understand why this sparkling score is not performed more often.

Gaetano Donizetti: Linda di Chamounix

Edita Gruberova (Linda), Don Bernardini (Carlo), Monika Groop (Pierotto), Ettore Kim (Antonio), Stefano Palatchi (Prefetto), Anders Melander (Marchese), Ulrka Precht (Maddalene), Klas Hedlund (Intendente). Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Friedrich Haider

Nightingale Classics NC 070561-2 [3CDs]

$45.49  Click to buy

It is one of Donizetti’s best and can easily stand comparison with Bellini’s Sonnambula which has the favours of opera managers. The Donizettean melodies are tuneful, the ensembles impressive and the self-borrowing inconspicuous though for opera lovers acquainted with the same composer’s Maria Stuarda, it can be a shock to meet the impressive Elisabeth and choir scene once more at the end of the first act in Linda di Chamounix. In an interview the conductor of this set reveals the difficulties he had in setting up a concert performance while a theatrical one is almost impossible to get. The main reason seems to be the naïve libretto where the heroine becomes mad and is returned to sanity when she is reunited with her beloved (the same theme as in I Puritani which is regularly performed). I fear the real problem seems to be the sad fact that such a libretto (rich boy loves poor girl, is not allowed to marry her, she gets mad and is cured when his mama relents) doesn’t pass muster with directors as it seems to be old fashioned in their eyes (which it isn’t; think of the horror nowadays in the eyes of parents when their college educated boy would introduce a girl with elementary schooling and no money at all). As a result there are not too many Linda’s on record available and most of them are barbarously cut. Happily this set under review has only a few minor cuts; the major one a cut of only a few minutes in the second act duet between Linda and Carlo and I wonder why that one couldn’t be restored.

The cast is a good one. Indeed, it is even an excellent one though name fanciers will at first shrink back a bit as it seems a bunch of second rate singes were just rounded up to assist the prima donna in a performance on her own label. Though most of the singers didn’t make it to the big league as we can now be sure of 14 years later after the recording was made, they are all worthy performers. Take American tenor Don Bernardini. He is indeed a little bit throaty but the voice is agreeable an manly. He has a fine sense of style and is excellent in his duets where he proves he can embellish his second verses. Finish mezzo Monica Groop will be somewhat better known as an excellent Mozartean and she brings a mellifluous voice to the role of Pierotto and proves that the role is worthy of a good Dorabella. Korean baritone Ettore Kim was not 30 when he recorded his role of Antonio and the sound is attractive and very Italianate. And as he was already singing Jago and Scarpia at the time one wonders if he is not one of those many talented Korean singers who damaged their material by singing too early and too heavy. On this set his fine lyric baritone blends very well with Stefano Palatchi’s firm but charming bass and their duet is sung with elegance and panache. Of course the reason of being of the recording lies with Edita Gruberova and this seems to be one of her best ones. It is probably no coincidence that she chose Friedrich Haider to be the conductor. He is one who allows his prima donna some leeway; not objecting to some interpolated top notes and indeed encouraging her though in the essay accompanying the set he tells that some were eliminated as being not compatible with the preceding music. It is indeed remarkable that none of Gruberova’s lunges beyond high C strikes one as sorely sticking out. She clearly enjoys singing the score and brings her outstanding technique to it, trilling and embellishing wherever it is suitable and in character. Maybe the voice (on record, less in the theatre) has not enough natural vibrato and sounds a bit stiff but this may depend upon personal taste. Anyway the main hit of the opera ‘O luce di quest’anima’ is brilliantly sung and she is equally fine and convincing in the madness scene. Friedrich Haider, one of the few conductors who actually enjoys accompanying singers, brings his love for belcanto and the prima donna to the score though without overly indulging her. His baton never comes to a stand still and his tempi are chosen with a fine eye on the balance between dramatic truth and the singers wishes. [Refer to his fine performance of Roberto Devereux] As there are so few recordings of Linda di Chamounix available this is a worthy addition to the catalogue. The live performance at La Scala with Alfredo Kraus and Margherita Rinaldi is too heavily cut to be a competitor. Only the Devia-Canonici-set is a rival to the Gruberova recording and probably it will be one’s individual liking of the singers that decides which one to purchase.

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):