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

Pan-European Orpheus : Julian Prégardien

"Orpheus I am!" - An unusual but very well chosen collection of songs, arias and madrigals from the 17th century, featuring Julian Prégardien and Teatro del mondo. Devised by Andreas Küppers, this collection crosses boundaries demonstrating how Italian, German, French and English contemporaries responded to the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Laci Boldemann’s Opera Black Is White, Said the Emperor

We normally think of operas as being serious or comical. But a number of operas-some familiar, others forgotten-are neither of these. Instead, they are fantastical, dealing with such things as the fairy world and sorcerers, or with the world of dreams.

The Devil, Greed, War, and Simple Goodness: Ostrčil’s Jack’s Kingdom

Here is a little-known opera that, like an opera by the Swedish composer Laci Boldemann that I have reviewed here, and like Ravel’s amazing L’enfant et les sortilèges, utterly bypasses the usual categories of comic and grand/tragic by cultivating instead the rich realm of fantasy and folk tale.

Grands motets de Lalande

Majesté, a new recording by Le Poème Harmonique, led by Vincent Dumestre, of music by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) new from Alpha Classics. Le Poème Harmonique are regular visitors to London, appreciated for the variety of their programes. On Friday this week, (11/5) they'll be at St John's Smith Square as part of the London Festival of Baroque, with a programme titled "At the World's Courts".

Perpetual Night - Early English Baroque, Ensemble Correspondances

New from Harmonia Mundi, Perpetual Night. a superb recording of ayres and songs from the 17th century, by Ensemble Correspondances with Sébastien Daucé and Lucile Richardot. Ensemble Correspondances are among the foremost exponents of the music of Versailles and the French royalty, so it's good to hear them turn to the music of the Stuart court.

Maria Callas: Tosca 1964: A film by Holger Preusse

When I reviewed Tosca at Covent Garden in January this year for Opera Today, Maria Callas’s 1964 Royal Opera House performance was still fresh in my mind. This is a recording I have grown up with and which, despite its flaws, is one of the greatest operatic statements - a glorious production which Zeffirelli finally agreed to staging, etched in gothic black and white film (albeit just Act II), with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, if not always as vocally commanding as they once were, acting out their roles like no one has before, or since.

Hubert Parry and the birth of English Song

British music would not be where it is today without the influence of Charles Hubert Parry. His large choral and orchestral works are well known, and his Jerusalem is almost the national anthem. But in the centenary of his death, we can re-appraise his role in the birth of modern British song.

Camille Saint-Saens: Mélodies avec orchestra

Saint-Saëns Mélodies avec orchestra with Yann Beuron and Tassis Christoyannis with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Markus Poschner.

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV, with Ensemble Pygmalion, conducted by Raphaël Pichon now on DVD/Blu -ray from Harmonia Mundi. This captures the historic performance at the Chapelle Royale de Versailles in November 2015, on the 300th anniversary of the King's death.

Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

Mahler Symphony no 9 in D major, with Daniel Harding conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, new from Harmonia Mundi. A rewarding performance on many levels, not least because it's thoughtfully sculpted, connecting structure to meaning.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

The Epic of Gilgamesh - Bohuslav Martinů

New recording of the English version of Bohuslav Martinů's The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Supraphon, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck. This is the world premiere recording of the text in English, the original language in which it was written.

Maybe the Best L’heure espagnole Yet

The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac in Two Exotic Masterpieces by Maurice Ravel

The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

Stefano Secco: Crescendo

I had never heard of Stefano Secco before receiving this CD. But I see that, at age 34, he already has had a substantial career, singing major roles at important houses throughout Europe and, while I was not paying attention, occasionally in the US.

French orientalism : songs and arias, Sabine Devieilhe

Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

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.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Gaetano Donizetti Anna Bolena
28 Aug 2007

DONIZETTI: Anna Bolena

A career-making smash for Donizetti at its 1830 premiere, Anna Bolena eventually faded from the standard repertory.

Gaetano Donizetti Anna Bolena

Elena Souliotis; Marilyn Horne; Placido Domingo; Carlo Cava; Dame Janet Baker; Raymond Gibbs; Emilio Beleval; Orchestra & Chorus/Henry Lewis.
Live recording: New York, Carnegie Hall, November 15, 1966

Gala CD 100.659

$21.49  Click to buy

It got a boost from the 1950/60s bel canto revival, but in recent decades it has seldom been revived. Gala takes Donizetti fans back to the last years of that revival, with a four-disc set comprised of three performances dating from 1966 through 1977. The catch here: Only one of the performances is complete, that given in 1966 by the American Opera Society at Carnegie Hall. Starting on disc three and ending on disc four are some choice excerpts from a 1974 New York City Opera production, and disc four closes with an even more narrow range of selections from a 1977 performance at Rome Opera.

An in-house recording, the 1966 Anna Bolena captures an exciting performance, as the understandable but occasionally intrusive applause demonstrates. After one's ears adjust to the sound (decent for this type of source but buzzy in loud passages), the singing of fine vocalists in their prime can be enjoyed as they deliver Donizetti's passionate if unsubtle score with complete conviction. Elena Souliotis, the Anna, could not maintain the quality of singing evident here - dramatic, bold, fearless - and though her career ultimately did not fulfill its promise, she has this recording to substantiate the excitement she could generate. Marilyn Horne was establishing her greatness, and her Giovanna (Jane) Seymour has all her famed intelligence and control, with a voice not yet self-consciously beautiful. Placido Domingo went on to spinto roles fairly quickly, but his Lord Percy reveals how good a fit his dark, handsome tenor made in a Donizetti lead. Carlo Cava is a worthy Enrico (Henry the 8th), and in a wonderful piece of casting, Janet Baker takes the role of Smeton. Henry Lewis leads the orchestra, with the opening sinfonia sounding amazingly like a lost Rossini overture.

The NYCO performance gives very little away in terms of voices. Marisa Galvany (Anna) and Olivia Stapp (Giovanna) go at each other in the second act confrontation scene with delectable ferocity. Roger Patterson has a less distinctive sound than Domingo as Percy, but he is capable enough. A young Samuel Ramey contrasts well with the Boris Christoff performance in the third performance, discussed below. Ramey may slight the characterization, but he has all the music in his voice and that counts for a lot. Juius Rudel conducts well, at least as well as can be heard in an acoustic more constricted than that of the Carnegie Hall recording.

In his fine notes, Andrew Palmer cites Christoff as the main reason to enjoy the brief excerpts from the 1977 Rome performance crammed onto disc four. Christoff certainly roars and blusters, as one might expect an Enrico to do, but for these ears, his voice in 1977 is unpleasantly harsh. His Giovanna, Maria Luisa Nave, makes a much more appealing impression. Sadly, there is too little of Leyla Gencer, the Anna. Gabriele Ferro conducted.

Gala's decision to combine a full performance, a heavily cut one, and a fragmentary third ultimately doesn't make much sense. Those who only want the Suiliotis may resent having to pay for the others, and those who want the Galvany or Gencer will surely deplore the missing music. Lacking for any other alternatives, however, at least Gala offers this set at budget price, with good tracking information and, as mentioned, a solid though brief essay by Andrew Palmer.

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):