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

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gioachino Rossini: Matilde di Shabran
21 Mar 2007

ROSSINI: Matilde di Shabran

When Matilde di Shabran was premiered in Rome on Feb. 24, 1821, it was billed as a “melodrama giocoso” (which is the equivalent of an opera semiseria), somewhere between an opera buffa and an opera seria in character.

Gioachino Rossini: Matilde di Shabran

Annick Massis (Matilde), Juan Diego Florez (Corradino), Prague Chamber Choir

Decca 475 7688 4 DHO3 [3CDs]

$49.98  Click to buy

Such. opera semiserie generally have elements of both comedy and pathos. Matilde di Shabran, is unusual in that the pathos is mixed with some dramatic incidents, especially in Act II, but it also has quite a bit of buffoonery. It turned out to be the last light opera he wrote for Italy, although he did write two other such operas (Il viaggio a Rheims and Le Comte Ory) for France a few years later.

The libretto by Giacomo Ferretti was originally very long and complicated, and Rossini soon realized that he could not finish it in time. He turned to his friend, the composer Giovanni Pacini, for help, and Pacini composed something like six numbers. The version given in Rome also included some self-borrowings from earlier operas. Most of these were removed when the work was given in Naples on Jan.21, 1822. But one duet by Pacini apparently remained. This is the cabaletta to the duet between Matilde and Aliprando in Act I (track19—Ah di veder gia parmi), which Pacini later used in his opera Il Corsaro (Rome, 1831), where it was used as the stretta to a terzetto. This terzetto was recorded in its entirety by Opera Rara as part of their CD “Paventa insano”, which consists of excerpts from unusual Mercadante and Pacini works.

After Naples, where it was performed as Bellezza e cuor di ferro, Matilde was given all over Europe under one of its three titles (the third being Corradino). Outside Europe, it was produced in Brazil, Algeria, Mexico, and the U.S. (NYC on Feb. 10, 1834). It continued to be given regularly until around 1850. Florence, however, heard it as late as 1892, after which it disappeared for over 80 years. It’s first post-World War II revival was in Genoa in 1974, when the original 1821 version with Pacini’s additions was given. It vanished again, only to be heard in its revised version in Pesaro in 1996. Bruce Ford was originally scheduled to sing the tenor role, but withdrew, and was replaced by Juan Diego Florez, making an auspicious Italian debut. It was later given in Bad Wildbad, and then for a second time in Pesaro in 2004 with Florez again singing Corradino and Annick Massis as Matilde . It is this performance that is presented by Decca Classics.

The plot has some unusual aspects, featuring a different type of hero, Corradino, who is a combination of petty tyrant and mysoginist. Corradino starts out hating just about everybody, especially women and poets, but winds up getting the girl in the end. She is a bit of a spitfire, with a ready answer for everything. In the finale of Act I, she charms Corradino out of everything except his pants. Other characters include Isidoro, a wacky poet, Aliprando, the castle physician, and Edoardo, the son of Raimondo who owns a neighboring castle and is on bad terms with Corradin, as well as the Contessa d’Arco, who has designs on Corradino herself. The Contessa manages to throw suspicion on our heroine in Act II by claiming that she had freed Edoardo and producing a forged letter. Corradino believes the Countess, sentences Matilde to death by being thrown off a cliff into the raging torrent below, and orders Isidoro to do the dirty deed. Isidoro soon returns to announce that Matilde is dead, after which Edoardo relates that his jailer had been bribed by the Countess to loosen his bonds. Corradino is horrified at the thought of having put to death an innocent woman, when, surprise of surprises, she turns up, very much alive, and all ends well.

The libretto of the revised version has relatively few arias and duets, but an unusually high number of ensembles. Thus, there are four major ensembles: a quartet for male voices, a quintet, a sextet, and a lengthy finale to the second act. Even the “love duet” for Matilde and Corradino, which is a part of the first act finale, becomes a quartet since two of the other characters are hiding behind some columns, and comment on the action. The hero and heroine have only one aria between them, that being Matilde’s rondo finale. On the other hand, Eduardo has two arias (one in each act), Isidoro has one and Aliprando has an extended solo, with the participation of the chorus in the introduction. Corradino did have an aria in the Rome version, but that was removed for Naples since it was a self-borrowing from another Rossini opera.

Both of the principal artists should be fairly familiar to collectors of 19th century operas. Annick Massis has recorded La dame blanche for EMI, several works for Opera Rara, including Meyerbeer’s Margherita d’Anjou, and participated in the previously mentioned CD of Mercadante and Pacini rarities. Juan Diego Florez is the leading exponent of Rossini’s light roles of the day, having also recorded Le Comte Ory and a DVD of the Barber of Seville, as well as several aria recitals. He is regarded by some as the finest tenore leggero of the recorded era, and is gifted with a brilliant top and great ability with coloratura. I am also very much impressed by the basso cantante Marco Vinco, and predict a bright future for him. Other fine relatively new singers in the recording include the mezzo Hadar Halevy who sings Edoardo and the buffo Bruno de Simone, the Isidoro of the recording.

I enjoyed this opera very much, and can recommend it to fans of Rossini and/or bel canto without hesitation.

Tom Kaufman © 2007

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):