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

José Carreras Collection
30 Mar 2007

José Carreras Collection

A classic Seinfeld episode revolved around a brush with the “third” of the Three Tenors - the one whom no one could quite put a name to.

José Carreras Collection

José Carreras - Vienna Comeback Recital, 1988 (101 401)
José Carreras - La Grande Notte a Verona 1988 (101 403)
José Carreras - A Bolshoi Opera Night, 1989 (101 409)
José Carreras & Montserrat Caballé (101 413)
José Carreras - Salzburg Recital, 1989 (101 411)
José Carreras - Misa Crolla, 1990 (101 405)

ArtHaus Musik 101 417 [6DVDs]

$92.99  Click to buy

That would have been, of course, José Carreras, and ironically enough, he was the very reason for the “Three Tenors,” an event at least partly built around the celebration of the singer’s return to health after a frightening bout with leukemia.

Beloved before his illness for his handsome persona and beautiful timbre, with his survival Carreras meant even more to his core audience. As an acknowledgement of that devotion, ArtHaus Musik has boxed 6 DVDs as the “José Carreras Collection.” Many of his fans will have these titles in earlier media incarnations, but they may not be able to resist the call of the attractive packaging.

Before going into a few specifics about each title, a gentle declaration must come first - purely as singing, much of what Carreras produces in these concert appearances cannot match the standard he set for himself before the onset of his illness. In the middle range, some reminder of his appeal comes through. Too often he seems to force the tone, and if he lightens it too much, a wavery effect results. The top, unsurprisingly, fares poorest - often hoarse, sometimes painfully so. It is a tribute to the bond Carreras formed with audiences that he still manages to captivate them, and they give of their love unstintingly.

The ovation that greets Carreras in The Vienna Comeback has to touch one’s heart. He chose a fairly challenging program, in French, Spanish, and Italian, even ending the encores in Swedish for Grieg’s “Jeg elkser dig.” That was in September 1988. About a year later in Salzburg he offered a recital with some of the same selections, but the balance had shifted to somewhat lighter fare - more Tosti, some Guastivino, Halffter. Nonetheless, the top is as troublesome as ever. The ecstatic audience couldn‘t care less, insisting on the requisite 5 encores from the tenor.

Carreras only appears once in La Grande Notte a Verona, singing his crowd-pleasing “Granada.” The rest of the program is a gala affair of very variable vocal contributions and amusing reminders of late 1980s ABBA-influenced hairstyles, male or female. In 1990, Carreras sang a short program of 5 songs and then a “modern” mass setting called “Misa Criolla” from composer Ariel Ramirez. Lightly scored and sweetly melodic, this insubstantial piece poses no great challenge for Carreras, and able to relax, he delivers a pleasant performance.

The strangest of the 6 DVDs is A Bolshoi Opera Night. According to the booklet and credits, Carreras was a sponsor of this gala charity evening, but not only does he not sing, he does not even appear on stage (unless your reviewer blinked and missed him). Another hit-and-miss affair, as a gala this Bolshoi evening will appeal most to those with a fondness for stars near the end of their careers (Bergonzi, Kraus) and Gorbachev-era Soviet opera stars.

The most pleasing of the six CDs finds Carreras with the woman who in some sense discovered him, Montserrat Caballé. Singing solos and some duets, neither singer can be claimed to be in the best of voice, but their sheer joy in each other’s presence adds much more than a few tight high notes can subtract.

Perhaps as an even greater tribute to this fine tenor, a company can release some the filmed work of his from before his illness, when his voice was at its memorable best. The “José Carreras Collection” is for the most devoted fans.

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):