Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Recordings

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.

Honegger: Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher

Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne dArc au bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc

Far in the Heavens — Choral Music of Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Donizetti: Les Martyrs

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.

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

A worthy tribute for a vocal seductress of the ancient régime

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.

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

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.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

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: Notturno

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 Sings Mahler Lieder

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.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

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.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

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 Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

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.

Amore e Tormento

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.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 

Verdi at the Old MET

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.

Italo Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre re

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. 



Mahler: Urlicht
17 Jun 2007

MAHLER: Urlicht

Mahler: Urlicht is a recording of selected songs for voice and piano from various collections of the composer’s Lieder, including his early settings from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, the later Wunderhorn Lieder that Mahler set in the 1890s in versions with both orchestral and keyboard accompaniment, and also his Rűckert-Lieder, performed by the young mezzo soprano Christianne Stotijn accompanied by Julius Drake.

Mahler: Urlicht.

Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano, Julius Drake, piano.

Onyx 4014 [CD]

$18.49  Click to buy

The liner notes indicate that this is the first recording made in the Menuhin Hall at Stoke D’Aberdon in the UK, which took place between 10 and 13 April 2006. While Eveline Nikkels’ comments about the Lieder are prominent in the booklet, it is unfortunate that it lacks information about the criteria for the selection and, more importantly, any background on the talented performers involved. Stotijn has much to recommend, and audience are just learning her fine talent as she takes on increasingly more roles in opera and continues to perform Lieder recitals that include the kind of repertoire found in this CD.

In “Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz” Stotijn has some moments of dramatic intensity that set Stotijn apart from others. Her approach is reminiscent of Ferrier’s effective declamation in some passages of “Von der Schőnheit” in Das Lied von der Erde. In other pieces, though, Stotijn reveals a rich contralto, as in “Der Schildwache Nachtlied,” with the full voice effectively moving in the lower register. That song also contains some remarkably lighter sounds, as Stotijn captures the drama and lyricism of that well-known song in ways that certainly exceed some conventional interpretations of the song. Yet the apparently closely placed microphone overemphasizes the vibrato that Stotijn used in this song. It begs the question of how differently the voice and performance would appear with another recording configuration.

“Nicht Wiedershen” is another song in which the expressive palette of Stotijn’s voice becomes apparent, with some of the iterations of “Ade” rendered in a fully supported half voice. With “Urlicht,” the song used as the title of this collection, Stotijn is equally effective, and the upper part of her voice is as solid in softer dynamic levels as it can be in the more boisterous passages of some of the other songs recorded here. Her fervent interpretation of “Urlicht” has a parallel in “Um Mitternacht,” which is appropriately intense. “Um Mitternacht” fits Stotijn’s voice well, and gives a fine sense of the capacity of this young singer.

Julius Drake is a fine accompanist, who gives Stotijn excellent support in “Um Mitternacht” and all the songs in this collection. The attention that characterizes some of his earlier recordings with such singers as Sophie Daneman is present in this set of Mahler’s Lieder. His pauses and careful placement of sonorities suggests a performer who knows not only the literature but the singer with whom he is working. His chamber-music approach to “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” with its interplay between voice and piano is highly effective. In these and other pieces, Drake does not only set the tone, but helps the singer to achieve it as he subtly brings out various nuances in the piano part.

This recording of Mahler’s Lieder should introduce Stotijn to an international audience. With a solidly conceived program of songs that fit her voice, the selection has much to recommend. She clearly has an affinity for Mahler’s music that bears hearing in additional performances of the composer’s Second Symphony, something she has done to good effect already in her career. While the literature performed on this recording is known, the freshness of interpretation that Stotijn and Drake offer here bears rehearing.

James Zychowicz

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):