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.
16 Oct 2007
“Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”
Okay, okay, I freely admit this up front: I am not inordinately fond of operetta. Just thought you should know. All the more remarkable then that I found myself listening to this new recording several times over.
Or perhaps not remarkable at all when you take into account the
considerable talents of Angelika Kirchschlager and Simon Keenlyside. Fans of
this pair (count me in) and/or operetta should revel in their fine renditions
of predictable standards along with some delectable excerpts that are less
performed. Strauss, Lehar, von Suppe,and Kalman are all well represented, of
course, alongside a pair of jewels from works by Milloecker and Stolz.
The recital kicks off with the duet “Weisst Du Es Noch” (“Die
Csardasfuerstin”) that alternates playful patter with a lushly expansive
and deeply felt “haunting refrain.” The duo establishes their impeccable
credentials at once, displaying sound technique, naturally beautiful
instruments, clear diction, compatible partnering, and complete command of
the material and style. It is doubtful that either artist has performed all,
or perhaps any of these roles in a staged production, yet each seems immersed
in the material, conferring each selection with an appropriate
The many waltz numbers do tend to have a certain (albeit lovely) aural
sameness to them, but that is not the fault of the artists. Still, von
Suppe’s 3/4-time “Mia Bella Fiorentina” (“Boccaccio”) offers some
diversity of mood, not to mention language. And both singers show imagination
and seriousness of purpose in quite successfully creating a fresh take on
My personal pick of the mezzo’s offerings would have to be the hushed
pleasure she lavishes on “Hab’ Ich Nur Deine Liebe” (“Boccaccio”
again). The underlying tango rhythms of the aria from Kalman’s “The
Violet of Montmartre” (oh, that again!) buoy the baritone to perhaps his
best and most nuanced reading in the collection.
Did the world really need another traversal of “Ich Lade Gern Mir Gaeste
Ein” (“Chacun a Son Gout”), “Viljalied,” or “Meine Lippen Die
Kuessen So Heiss”? Perhaps not. But Ms. Kirchschlager is idiomatic and
persuasive on them, and the first does serve to bring a needed bit of cheeky
variation in the material. If the “Vilja” does not have quite the freedom
and panache in the upper reaches that some lyrico-spinto sopranos have
brought to it, and if “Meine Lippen. . .” does not have the hedonistic
abandon that Anna Netrebko brought to it recently in Baden-Baden, they are
nonetheless beautifully voiced.
Among his other always enjoyable arias, the baritone charms us with a
delightfully sly “Da Geh’ Ich Zu Maxim” (“Die Lustige Witwe”)
marked as much by virile full-throated phrases as it is by playful, hushed,
and coy asides. The CD’s titular “Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz” finds
Keenlyside (standing in for the usual tenor) in rapturous command of all the
schmaltz, crooning, and tonal outpouring needed for maximum effect in
bringing the whole affair to a thrilling close.
The Tonkuenstler-Orchester Noe under the secure leadership of Alfred
Eschwe is an able partner in these highly enjoyable, and eminently listenable
results offering pliable phrasing, nice solo work, and solid rhythmic pulse
Operetta. Like it or not, you probably just aren’t ever going to hear
these tunes better sung. Maybe that is why “The Merry Widow” waltz is now
stuck in my head? Hell, I may just play the whole thing yet again and rejoice
in the guilty pleasure that two outstanding artists have perpetrated a highly