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

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.

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

The Opera Gala — Live from Baden-Baden
16 Mar 2008

The Opera Gala — Live from Baden-Baden

As evidence of Deutsche Grammophon's proud status as a classical record label of the "old school," there appears this CD document of a typical opera gala affair, from July of 2007 in Baden-Baden.

The Opera Gala — Live from Baden-Baden

Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Ramón Vargas, Ludovic Tézier, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, Marco Armiliato (cond.)

Deutsche Grammophon 477 7177 [CD]

$15.99  Click to buy

A DVD of the same event is advertised on the inside of the back cover of the CD booklet, with the tag "the complete concert." So for a few dollars more, one can see the gowns and jewelry of the female stars (credited in the CD Booklet to ESCADA and Chopard), and even, as a bonus, have more of the performance. Apparently there are enough customers who want less of the performance and no visual distraction. Thus this CD.

Without the sense of celebratory fun that the actual event ostensibly provided, the CD feels unnecessary. Stuffed with all too typical gala repertory, the only real highlight comes with mezzo Elīna Garanča singing a "caraceleras" from Ruperto Chapi's Las Hijas del Zebedeo. A sweet zarzuela-type number, it comes as quite a relief after the forced fun of such ubiquitous fare as "O soave fanciulla" and "Una furtiva lagrima." The short booklet essay, greasily oozing with publicist's jargon, contains not a word as to the origin of the Chapi piece.

Ramon Vargas sings in half the tracks, with solos in the above-referenced Donizetti and the Luisa Miller act three aria. The tenor warms up in "Una furtiva lagrima," straining on the higher notes. He sounds much better partnering with Ludovic Tézier in the duet from The Pearlfishers, which seems to provoke the most honestly pleased reaction from the audience (yes, applause is included, sometimes fading out quite abruptly). The CD opens with Anna Netrebko and Ms. Garanča in a pretty run-through of the Lakme duet. Netrebko's next appearance finds her essaying Norma's "Casta Diva" scene. Online opera chat forums buzzed with negative responses to this rendition when clips appeared not long after the European telecast. Indeed, Netrebko doesn't sound near her best, and she cancelled a few performances not long after this Baden-Baden performance. Despite the hint of hoarseness and some inattention to detail, the performance still has enough that is attractive about it to suggest that she could, with better health and preparation, deliver a quality performance of the piece.

Tézier does a nice job with Rodrigo's death scene from Don Carlo, a piece that in the context of a gala almost counts as a rarity. Later he delivers a merely competent "Toreador Song," and the same can be said Garanča's Dalila aria. The ensembles for all four performers (the Rigoletto quartet and, yes, the Traviata "Brindisi" as a finale) feel very routine.

Marco Armiliato and the Baden-Baden forces support the singers with efficiency if not much distinction. If star power sells CDs, DG may do well with this CD. The DVD would at least add the element of suspense, as the many photographs had your reviewer wondering if Netrebko's strapless gown contained her — well, herself — throughout the entire evening.

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):