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This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.
We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.
Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
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.
21 Mar 2007
TELEMANN: Komm Geist des Herrn — Late Cantatas
Our modern sense of the eighteenth-century Lutheran cantata derives in large part from the works of J. S. Bach—works that have been foundational in the early music movement, works that have much shaped our understanding of Bach, and works that we now know in an impressive array of different recordings.
The emphasis on Bach has not yielded a static sense of the cantata, by any
means, but I suspect that we have tended to see its dynamic changes within the boundaries of
Bach’s career and not much beyond.
The present recording offers a compelling glimpse of the cantata in the years after Bach’s death
with three cantatas by Telemann from the late 1750s and early 1760s, works written when
Telemann was an old man in his eighties. If an old man, his style here has nevertheless moved
with the times. The cantata’s mix of recitative, aria, duet, and chorale shows a degree of
continuity with the earlier cantata, but the style, compared to the Bach cantatas, is decidedly
different. Telemann’s late cantatas feature line and phrases that are smaller-scale and more
focused on small motives; the music is less contrapuntal and arguably simpler. Those who
complained of the unnaturalness of Bach may have found in this music a more agreeable
vocabulary. And a distinctive difference, as well, is the relatively little amount that the choir is
given to do—some chorale verses and a few short movements. The orchestral and vocal lines
alike are often intricately ornamental, but it is an intricacy that graces rather than overwhelms.
The strongest link with the earlier and better known Bach works is surely the composer’s
engagement of the meaning of the text. Telemann will give melismas of delight in association
with words of joy, chromaticism and harmonic alteration for darker words and affections; he will
harness the orchestration to special sound effect, as for instance, in the use of timpani where
God’s voice thunders from Sinai; and his choral setting depicting an eerily quiet extinguishing of
the stars at the Last Judgement is highly atmospheric.
There is much to like in the performances here. Ludger Rémy reveals a fine sense of style and
his performers tend to respond in kind. The Telemann Collegium of Michaelstein plays with an
infectious buoyance and grace, and the Chamber Choir of Michaelstein, in what little they have
to do here, is nicely attuned to that buoyance, as well. Additionally, in their contrapuntal
passages, the tidiness of their articulation is a particularly welcome stylistic plus. Of the soloists,
both soprano Dorothee Mields and bass Ekkehard Abele are outstanding, with resonant sounds
that yet remain focused and flexible, and impressive execution of ornamental sections. The
soprano aria “Itzt steigt er” from Er kam, lobsingt ihm is an especially memorable chance to hear
Mields’ effortless and alluringly pure tone. Tenor Knut Schoch shares in the articulative grace
and focused sound of his colleagues, though on occasion there is a hint of force in the high range.
Alto Elisabeth Graf sings expressively, but with an unusual tone, sometimes strident, sometimes
forced, and sometimes sounding like unresonant falsetto.
That criticism aside, this is a recording that will amply gratify, both in its stylistic flair and in its
exploration of the cantata after Bach. The exploration is a journey well taken, indeed, and Rémy
and his forces prove to be congenial guides.