Recently in Recordings
As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.
Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and
Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.
This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.
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.
03 May 2007
Cesare Siepi: The Salzburg Recital of 1956; Arias from Norma, Faust, Don Carlo
For those who didn’t long ago purchased or exchanged this Salzburg recital via the pirate
connections, this is a fine opportunity to get maybe the best testimonial of this artist.
had a big voice that streamed along as the Mississippi but there is no denying that the delivery
could be a tiny bit monotonous, that the phrasing was not always very original. Maybe Siepi
belongs to that species in the artistic tribe that needs an audience to give the best of himself as he
did in this long and interesting recital. At the Met he sang several roles in German like
Gurnemanz and Don Pizarro. Therefore it won’t come as a surprise that he sings a few
well-known lieder from Schumann and Brahms. His German is acceptable, no more but still I
wonder what the composers would have thought of Siepi. I have an inkling they would wrinkle
their brows for just a moment and then they would sigh at the beauty of the sound and be happy
with the firmness of the line and hope that other belcanto singers would perform their music far
more often. In Ravel’s ‘Don Quichotte à Dulcinée’ Siepi is equally impressive — full of nuances
and proving he has splendid high almost baritonal notes.
The same can be said of his six opera arias though the accompanying piano is somewhat meager.
Here Siepi can be his own conductor, using more rubato than is usual in his official recordings.
As a result the phrasing is more original in Mefistofele and he shows some fine restrained
emotion in Jacopo Fiesco’s arias. Bongiovanni fills up this recital with live performances in
Norma (2), Faust (2) and Don Carlo. The firm doesn’t think it necessary to reveal the origin of
the sources for understandable reasons as these performances are in excellent sound and are
clearly taken from Metropolitan radio broadcasts. These renditions too reveal to us the best of the
singer: the velvety quality of the sound in the early fifties together with the power and the
nobility of the voice. Nowadays there is an incessant complaint about the lack of truly great
Italian tenors but this recitals reveals to us that not only in the high register there is a dearth of
outstanding voices. The great line of Italian basses that went on from De Angelis to Pasero to
Pinza ended with Siepi and we are the poorer for it. This record is proof.